Mack McKelvey’s mission as CEO and Founder of SalientMG is to help women, minority and LGBTQ executives build their personal brands. The marketing visionary executive who helped Millenial Media fast-grow to IPO, Mack shares talks about mantras, epitaphs and why silence is the voice of complicity.
Melinda Wittstock: Hey, Mack. Welcome to Wings.
Mack McKelvey: Hi, Melinda. Thanks for having me.
Melinda Wittstock: It's wonderful to have you. What's inspiring you right now?
Mack McKelvey: I think the biggest thing is watching multiple movements go on around the world. Over the last two years, I feel like there's been a lot of talk about these movements, but now I think we're seeing a lot of action and a lot of passion around it, and I have to tell you I derive a lot of energy from that. It's exciting.
Melinda Wittstock: It is, isn't it? I think when we all make our voices heard, there's a, just I don't know, a collective empowerment all around.
Mack McKelvey: Agreed, agreed. It's funny, my whole life, you can look back as early as high school, we had to write our, “What is your epitaph? What would you have on your epitaph? What is your mantra?” And my personal mantra my whole life has been “Silence is the voice of complicity,” and I think when you stand by and see things being done and you don't do anything or say anything, you become in a way part of the fabric of the issue, and I guess that's why I'm very excited right now to see people lending their voice and their actions to solving major issues in the world, or at least discussing major issues in a move forward type of way.
Melinda Wittstock: Yes. Well, you were very prescient if you were doing that in grade school. You knew.
Mack McKelvey: I did, I did. It's funny, my father's mantra was, “If you don't make dust, you eat dust,” so I think mine's a little bit of a, similar but it's a little bit more around if you see, you know, “If you see something, you say something,” which is unfortunately being used for security purposes now. But I think I've always sort of stuck up for the underdog and for those that didn't have a voice, which is interesting that that's the career path that I'm on.
Melinda Wittstock: Yes. And on that path, what are the challenges that you're facing right now? And you work with a lot of women, too, in business. What are some of the challenges they're facing also?
Mack McKelvey: I think, we'll start with the latter question. So, I think for, so we represent women and underrepresented minorities overall and help them with their disability. And I'm continuously surprised that we have to convince people that they're worth it, that they should be visible, they should be empowered to build their own personal brand in the market and they should be champions for themselves. It's frustrating for me when I meet extraordinarily talented people that don't see what the other people see in them and they're not curating that in the market. It's frustrating, but that's what we're here for, so I think that it's frustrating and challenging work for us as well, it's challenging. And it's exciting.
I think for me personally, I think my frustration comes in, there's a lot that I would like to do and there's so much time in the day and days in the week and weeks in the month that I can't do it all. So, I have to remain very focused and that's frustrating for me personally because I feel like if I could clone myself, maybe I could just get more done. But I have to stay really regimented and focused.
Melinda Wittstock: These are two things that oh my goodness, repeat over and over and over again on this podcast. We all feel we need to do it all, we need to clone ourselves and it can stand in the way of us scaling our businesses. It's a continual challenge for women and the other one is personal branding, like we sort of prefer to succeed in silence for some reason.
Mack McKelvey: Which goes back to the original question, why is there a movement right now, is because if people don't speak up and be part of something bigger, then they become the fabric of whatever is quilted for them. You have to be part of it or you're not, and I think people have to make that decision now and that's exciting.
Melinda Wittstock: Nicely said. So Mack, you have built businesses and scaled and done all kinds of amazing things. So, your top three go to pieces of advice, please, for women who are either on the entrepreneurial journey right now, on that wonderful roller coaster of ups and downs, or they're thinking of taking the leap, what are the top three go to pieces of advice you have for them?
You have to constantly be learning your trade and your industry and be a sponge. #WINGSPodcast #WomeninBusiness @mackmckelveyClick to tweet
Mack McKelvey: I think, something that I've really tried to take a little bit of my own advice is thinking of my life and myself as a professional athlete would. They train constantly. They have milestones and goals that they have to hit. This is very true in business, it's very analogous. So, you have to constantly be learning your trade and your industry and be a sponge. And that's how athletes are.
Number two, again, they create milestones and goals. And they hit them, and if they don't hit them, they learn from that and they figure out how moving forward to set your more attainable goals or to meet the goals that they set. And that could be a change in behavior, but there's always some goal setting there.
And then I think number three, and we talked about it a little bit already, they do more than talk. They really do create a way for themselves and it's interesting. My name is Mack, that's obviously not my given name, that is my brand in the market. There's one thing you're given your entire life and that's your name. That's the only thing you ever own. And if you don't curate that, if you don't curate that brand, then your legacy is maybe half baked, half thought through, half planned. I think everyone's name should be their legacy and you should build that as early as you can and you should curate it through your entire life.
I think everyone’s name should be their legacy and you should build that as early as you can and you should curate it through your entire life. #WINGSPodcast #WomeninBusiness @mackmckelvey Click to tweet
So, I think those are my three biggest pieces. Thinking like a professional athlete, it's create and hit goals and learn form the goals you don't hit. Number two, stay focused and really think about curating your brand. I think those are three huge pieces that all entrepreneurs can learn from.
Melinda Wittstock: So valuable. Thank you. So, Mack, how can people find you and work with you?
Mack McKelvey: Sure. So, Mack McKelvey, I run a company called Salient MG and you can find me at SalientMG.com or @MackMcKelvey on Twitter, and we, like I said, we run, I have a marketing firm and we focus on executive visibility for women and underrepresented minorities and that's again executives of color, LGBTQ, etc. And we do go to market programs for technology companies.
Melinda Wittstock: Fantastic. Thank you so much for putting on your wings and flying with us today.
Mack McKelvey: Thanks so much.