The Memphis public relations veteran, Amy Howell on her new book, “Women in High Gear: Guide for Entrepreneurs, On Rampers & Aspiring Executives”
Interview by Janna Fite Herbison
How did you first meet your co-author Anne (Deeter Galloway), and what was the primary inspiration behind the book?
Interestingly we joined Twitter in 2009 within hours of each other; Anne in Pennsylvania and I in Tennessee. Twitter is about finding like-minded people so it wasn’t long before Anne and I were tweeting back and forth mainly about PR and this new social media craze. After a year or so I decided to get a plane ticket and a bunch of us planned an “in real life” up in Philadelphia. During our stay in Philly (a city I had never seen) we spent a lot of time talking about best practices and comparing what our two firms did. We also used our time with our fellow Twitter friends to talk about social media and what challenges and opportunities we were all having.
Our inspiration behind this book was born when Anne and I were on a train to New York City for a conference on social media as guests of Mark Ragan of Ragan Communications. Mark told us if we’d come to NASDAQ we could attend the conference and ring the stock market bell. How could I resist that? Anne and I were so amazed by this force of social media bringing like-minded people together and knew it had changed our world. We said on the train, “we have to write a book,” not about social media but about shifting into high gear in lots of areas.
What is the main message you all want to get across?
Simply put: you can find paths to success and we can help you. It’s not about gender but about being a high-gear thinker and doer. No matter what phase of your life or where you are in your journey, we have stories and lessons for you in this book. Another main message is that you must find the right solutions for you and your families that fit your needs. There is not a universal way to do it. This book is about celebrating choices, shedding guilt, promoting others and staying in the strong zone.
What’s in store for your upcoming book tour?
It launched in April at our big Social Slam conference in Knoxville where I was the emcee and Anne was a speaker. It’s one of the top 10 social media for business conferences in the country. On May 20 we are having a launch party in Harrisburg, PA, where Anne lives. The next day we are taking the train into NYC where we plan to have a book party May 21 at the Waldorf Astoria’s Peacock Alley. Once we’ve been in New York, it’s time to head south for a Memphis party in late June!
How does your advice in the book mirror your own experiences, particularly as a female business owner?
Our book is a true and straight reflection of what we have done. We walk the talk here. We tell stories (successes AND failures). Our advice is a collective 40 years of lessons learned in the trenches and particularly working in a male-dominated world. But it’s also a pro-male book. Anne and I both think the key to moving ahead with your goals (business, civic, family) is learning to work side by side male counterparts. Success and profitability know no gender. This book is also for any working woman at any stage of a career!
What are your views about the business community in Memphis as it relates to women leaders?
Memphis has made great strides in moving mountains in our community in civic and charitable ways. There are also so many great women who work in Memphis who go unnoticed, unappreciated and unrecognized. Memphis needs more women leaders in the business community and more women need to have a seat at the C-suite table. Our book talks a lot about the importance of what women bring to problem solving and team building.
In honor of Mother’s Day this month, what’s the best advice (as a mom yourself) that you can offer working mothers in this day and age?
I have a whole chapter about this. The main message is that women must be good role models for kids as well as others. High gear means shifting in the right ways to get things done, whether that’s serving on a PTA committee, coaching a team or running a department or business. That means we must balance a lot, prioritize and make sure we are doing the right things first. I think that if my kids see a successful mom who is happy and has a passion for her work, they have a healthy role model.
What’s next for you?
Anne and I will have to stop taking train rides to New York City! Seriously, I want to continue to run my PR firm, mentor and promote my team so I can shift into teaching, speaking and writing gear. Anne and I would like to write another book and we hope to seriously be viewed as two women who came from a normal background who have created businesses and economic realities while raising kids. Our story though is more targeted to the everyday women who don’t have drivers, chefs and nannies. Our story is for the women, men, young, experienced or anyone who wants to know tips for achieving high gear in our worlds.