By Ramunda Lark Young
This column is a series created by entrepreneur and community leader Ramunda Lark Young and is poised to connect and learn from extraordinary women of color who’ve surpassed obstacles and rose to great success.
Marlo Thomas Watson serves as the President and Chief Engagement Officer of The Marlo Company. She possesses a Master’s in Public Administration and a Graduate Certificate in Human Resource Management. Marlo has over 20 years of people and community development experience and is a transparent leader who shares her professional experiences to assist others in their professional growth. She is a proven leader within her industry and in the community where she serves on a variety of boards and is currently President of Keep Prince William Beautiful. Marlo is a graduate of Emerge Virginia and was named one of the Top Five Influential Women in Prince William County by Prince William Living Magazine.
Ramunda: What made you want to move to Prince William County?
Marlo: I was hired by Homeland Security’s Transportation Department and at the time our daughter was in middle school. We visited Fairfax County and several local areas, but none ever felt quite right. After making a trip to Prince William County, we immediately liked its community-like feeling. My husband Steve and I have been here since 2008.
Ramunda: What three words best describe Prince William County to you?
Marlo: diverse, political and unique
Ramunda: Tell us about The Marlo Company:
Marlo: We are a human resources and community develop firm. We are focused on people and provide talent acquisition, teach onboarding best practices, training – – all aligned to the needs of the organization. Our goal is to bring human resources back in line with the company. The Marlo Company is poised to remain a change agent in these areas and we do it well utilizing a True Colors assessment which gives our clients the language and framework for them to blossom.
On the other side of the house we have a community development focus lead by my husband, Steve Watson. We create programming for parents to really arm themselves with tools to foster greater relationships with their children. We host workshops that focus on children with Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD), Asperger’s and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD).
Ramunda: What has been the most surprising part of your transition from employee to full-time entrepreneur and how have you handled it?
Marlo: The most surprising and hardest part is learning to juggle the variety of additional skills I needed to acquire and master that were never part of my wheelhouse. I have to be the janitor, the chef, the brand developer, the facilitator and more! You have wear all of those hats when you first transition because you’re building up clients and don’t have the resources just yet to outsource additional help.
One of my biggest challenges was managing unpaid invoices from others. In balancing my household budget and business income, sometimes clients were late with fulfilling their payment obligations to us.
All I could do was simply put it into God’s hands while praying and hoping the lights wouldn’t be cut off.
Taking those leaps of faith were non-negotiable.
Ramunda: You are a well-respected community leader and serve as a director on several boards. Why do you think it is important for women to step outside of their comfort zone to establish authentic connections with thought leaders, and mentors when part of these organizations?
Marlo: When you make authentic connections and are transparent with needs you and your organization has, you are able to gather support from people who truly understand your journey from personal experience. Serving with other leaders and surrounding myself with those who want to see the best in me is similar to being planted in rich soil. You begin to sprout and grow because the relationships nurture you and your development in a healthy way. Additionally, those connections create opportunities to identify skills you may not be the master of, but now you’ve connected with someone who is strong in those areas. By not engaging, you miss out on those exchanges with people who are thinking of greater and better ways to address business and society’s ills resulting in your limited ability to soar.
Ramunda: How has face-to-face networking impacted your business overall since many entrepreneurs make their primary focus marketing, promoting and connecting with potential clients online?
Marlo: Face-to-face connections have remained a tremendous asset for me. So much can get lost in translation. Even if you do use emojis to convey emotions, when you are face-to-face, you have to engage, process and respond to someone else’s comments and emotion’s in real time.
If your response lacks authenticity, the other person can quickly sense it. It will show up immediately. When grabbing coffee or lunch with someone, you can get quick solutions to issues because both parties are at ease, the ice has broken and you are apt to be more transparent. Having a conversation with someone can introduce you to an entire new circle of influence. During a Wednesday lunch, I shared with my guest my predicament of needing a promotional video ASAP. I was introduced to a video producer via email right on the spot. I emailed him my needs Thursday, and had an amazing product by early Friday morning…all because of a lunch meeting with someone and them introducing me to someone I never would have ever met!
Ramunda: What would you tell your 12-year old self about fear?
Marlo: To let. It. Go. I hadn’t realized how paralyzed by fear I was in my life as a whole. It manifested itself even as I transitioned to an entrepreneur. I was preparing projects, and documents like I had to present them to a boss to get approval instead of making a decision on my own. I was bound by fear that was deeply hidden it resurfaced in a variety of ways.
I’d tell 12-year old Marlo that fear only handicaps you of your potential. If I held tightly on to fear, I would have never experienced the wins I’ve had like presenting keynote speeches at conferences, facilitating trainings for large corporate agencies and so much more. I had to face it. Even if I walked with some level of intimidation or fear, I faced it and God has allowed me to experience great things. I’ve learned that the worst thing that could happen is simply that I didn’t do it right or that yes, a client would be upset, but at the end of the day…those experiences would simply help me rise up and become better for the next client. Remember, let fear be a motivation instead of a hindrance to the very thing you’re afraid to do!
Ramunda: What is next on the horizon for you?
Marlo: Keep your eyes and ears open for publications I may be included in or writing for. I’m keeping everyone in suspense, so stay tuned.
Ramunda: How can our audience learn more about you?
Facebook: The Marlo Company
LinkedIn: Marlo Thomas Watson
About Ramunda Lark Young: Mom, SocialPreneur, wife, community leader, lover of people and God. She is the Chief Encouragement Officer and Connection Strategist of Ramunda Young, Inc. A firm dedicated Encouraging Extraordinary Women to SOAR! Built on the premise that leaders can exceed beyond their expectations when given the proper tools and connections, Young has dedicated her life to equipping women for success
She and her husband co-founded MahoganyBooks, an online award winning bookstore whose books are by and about people of the African Diaspora.
Facebook: Ramunda Lark Young, Connection Strategist