For Mary Nichols, account director at Murmur Creative in Portland, the past is filled with learning — especially in this industry. Growing up outside of Chicago, her father was general counsel for Leo Burnett and at any opportunity, she was at his side at the agency.
“Our clients are putting you through college,” she mentioned her father saying.
That was the first initiation into the importance of connection and loyalty to clients.
But in her second job, working for Coors in Colorado, another, more important lesson emerged — to be herself — and it came from criticism. Playing into the “old boys” network way of thinking, Nichols veered from her own way of presenting, trying to be “cute” and fit the audience. Her boss said simply that there was never any reason for that.
“You are smart. You're accomplished. You're strong. You just need to be you. Don't throw the woman card out there when you're presenting, just throw the Mary card out there,” he said.
Sage advice and a great foundation from which to work.
In Portland, Nichols exemplifies her rich past, abundant now and bright future. A highly-social master connector, she is very much in tune with the realities, both good and bad, of the place she calls home. Make no mistake, Nichols is infinitely optimistic and a great caretaker of her work and life — including raising her six children — but the fact that there is still a great deal to be accomplished is a driving factor. Her natural curiosity combined with a love affair for clients and the promise of humanity helps illuminate the potential of all that’s around her, including the Rose City.
Nichols deals from the deck of life daily. And those who experience “the Mary card” are always better for it.
Exceptional Women Out West is a podcast that highlights and celebrates both the great achievement, lives and POV of amazing women in the Western US and Canada. Listen to previous episodes here. If you would like to nominate women out west to be part of the show, please contact North America Editor at Large, Doug Zanger.