Family First w/ Global Brand Manager, TikTok Influencer Nicki Maher
Nicki Maher has made a name for herself through her can-do approach to business. Her reputation as a “people advocate” is apparent, as are her main beliefs are a in the power of human connection and the ability to form meaningful and lasting bonds in business. Maybe this is why she’s become such a successful voice on social media. Today we learn why and how Nicki Maher made her pivot- Enjoy!
A bit more about Nicki: Nicki’s management career started in the travel industry where she earned the title of “top business development manager” in Travel Agent Magazine while representing global brand, Royal Caribbean International. In 2010, she began a rewarding career with jewelry and lifestyle brand, ALEX AND ANI, at their vice president of sales, serving as the right hand to the founder, creative director and CEO. Under this title, Nicki was responsible for building the foundation for a soon-to-be exploding omni-channel business. Along with focus of sales strategy, Nicki led efforts around strategic partnerships, licensing and all corporate social responsibility efforts. During her time at ALEX AND ANI, the company grew from $2.7 million in 2010 to more than $500 million in 2014. This growth was soon recognized by Forbes Inc. 500, Digiday and many other publications. Under the leadership of Nicki and her peers, the company grew from one retail location to more than 90, supported over 1,500 nonprofit organizations, and led more than 1,300 employee volunteer hours. The company also donated more than $48 million to charity through the award-winning CHARITY BY DESIGN division, which Nicki led and grew from its infancy. Nicki was promoted to senior vice president in 2015, just after returning from maternity leave with her firstborn, Leila Louise. Under her watch came company-wide partnerships, community relations, corporate social responsibility and employee engagement efforts. Today, Nicki is the founder of Nicki Marie Inc, where she works with brands and thought leaders whose mission is beyond the brand or product that they are selling. She serves as a brand advisor and offers services in social impact programming, digital storytelling and internal culture strategy. She is also a social media digital influential creator with over over 1.8M organically grown followers. Here, she shares daily bits of life, humor and home within her modern day world of “motherhood reinvented” after divorce, loss of job and overall change of direction. Here, she is stripped down from all “titles”, reminding others that it doesn’t have to be the seat in the board room, or the nuclear family that defines you, but the foundation you have build at home when everything else fell apart, that matters most. The rest is the cherry on top.
In this episode Peter and Nicki discuss:
00:46 – A slider
1:42 – On traveling recently
2:03 – Intro and welcome Nicki Maher!
3:48 – So why the career switch and how did you did you make it? Ref: Alex and Ani
7:15 – When were you diagnosed, were you diagnosed?
9:09 – Where did you grow up?
9:28 – A lot of parents don’t want kids to just be themselves- they want them to fit in; how have you been relating to your own kids?
11:00 – On a mesh of parenting styles
11:58 – Parents have to grow too..
12:38 – Less perfection, more acceptance
13:05 – What do you tell other parents if/when they get misunderstood or misrepresented on Social Media?
15:13 – On handeling comment sections
16:20 – On the foundation of family
17:30 – Knowing your strengths and communicating with your kids
18:40 – Thank you Nicki! Guys, as always, we are here for you and we love the responses and the notes that we get from you; so please continue to do that! Tell us who you want to hear on the podcast, anything at all; we’d love to know. Leave us a review on any of the places you get your podcasts, and if you ever need our help I’m www.petershankman.com and you can reach out anytime via [email protected] or @petershankman on all of the socials. You can also find us at @FasterNormal on all of the socials. It really helps when you drop us a review on iTunes and of course, subscribe to the podcast if you haven’t already! As you know, the more reviews we get, the more people we can reach. Help us to show the world that ADHD is a gift, not a curse!
19:10 – Faster Than Normal Podcast info & credits
‘Sup yo! Welcome to another episode of Faster Than Normal! My name is Peter Shankman. We have travel on the agenda today, which thank God, because I tell ya I.. pre COVID man, I was doing about 350,000 miles a year. Uh, and then it just stopped. All right. If you use a skydiving analogy, when you, when you open your parachute, you go at like 120 miles an hour, you open your parachute and they have this it’s called a slider, and a slider comes down the lines of the parachute buffered by the wind. So it’s slowly comes down because the wind is pushing you. And it sort of slows you down as the parachute opens, because if you didn’t have a slider, you’d go from 120 miles an hour to about five miles an hour in about half a second. And that would hurt. Imagine doing that in the car. I’ve done that before in a parachute, broke two ribs in the process. So what.. up because when COVID hit, it was essentially like opening my parachute without a slider. I went for 300,000 miles a year to zero overnight and that shit just sucked. That was truly horrible. I don’t recommend that at all. Fortunately, travel seems to be coming back now. And I think we are at the point where we can safely say that people are traveling. I’ve been on planes I was in, I was in the hell, was that I was in South Africa a few weeks ago. And it was like, people hadn’t even heard of Covid, so they were wearing their masks, but you know, flying down there 14 hours, 16 hours on the plane was, it was kind of like normal. So it felt pretty good. Anyway, that’s where we are right now. And we have someone on the podcast to talk about that we’re talking to Nikki Mayer, my pronouncing that right. It’s Mar Mar Nickie, Maher. All right, cool. That’s all right, Nikki. So Nicki Maher has been in travel forever. Um, she’s a reputation as a people advocate. I love that. S he started in travel. She started out Director of Development manager, travel agent magazine. She was at Royal Caribbean. We all know them, cruise people. Um, she worked for Alex & Ani. What else do you do? She founded NikkiMarieInc. She works with brands and thought leaders, her mission is to serve and beyond the brand of product they’re selling. She’s a brand. She’s a social media influencer. Ooh, stop using that term. You’re hurting America when you use that term. Oh wait Social Media influencer, it gets even worse. You’ve got over 1.8 organically grown followers. Organically grown followers is like something out of the Matrix where they’re literally like you’re growing people. You have 1.8 million. Yeah, you didn’t buy them. I didn’t buy them. Nope. She talks about she, she has daily bits of her life, humor and home with her modern day world of motherhood reinvented after divorce, loss of job and overall change of directions here, she is stripped out from all titles, reminding others that it doesn’t have to be the seat in the boardroom where the nuclear family defines foundation you built at home when everything else falls apart. Now, this is granted an ADHD podcast and ADD podcast. And we talk about that all the time. I think sometimes it’s fun to bring in someone else who may or may not be neurodiverse, but has a different perspective on life. I found you, um, I believe, cause I was following you on, on, on one of your socials, right?
Yes. Yeah. Somebody connected us. Somebody said you two have to meet because I was doing some ADHD mama content.
That’s right. So Nikki, tell us what it was like. You’re working in corporate, you’re working for global tourism boards, things like that. Major tourism companies. Now out on your your own ADHD, mom running content, things like that. What prompted the shift? How’d you do it? How scary was it? And talk to us about how that happened.
Okay. I mean, it was, so I love the question because it does sound show massive. It sounds like, oh, she went from corporate life to motherhood to, you know, influencer and I’m with you on that word, by the way, we need to reinvent the wheel on that word. Um, so I was just, I mean, I’ll just jump back to 2017. I was working for a very fast growing jewelry brand. I was with Alex and Ani. I was one of the first six employees there. So very, um, homegrown family business to all of a sudden, within my four years, first four years there, we were on red carpets. We were sitting with celebs. We were, you know, our founder was on the cover of Forbes and I was one of her right-hand girls. So it all, um, went fast and furious. I had my daughter in 2014. Go back from maternity leave after having her and got a big promotion. And I was like, wait, this isn’t the stuff they write about in the books. Right? Like Sheryl Sandberg is talking about like lean in. And, uh, as a woman and going for the, the seat and I’m it’s happening for me. And then jump ahead to having my son, my son was a twin. Um, we lost his twin sister Gracie a week before delivery. It was a really difficult time in my life. And, um, listen, it’s what made me the mother that I am, I was back in the corporate seat, doing all these amazing things I had, like the dream job. What people think is the dream job. You’ve got the, you know, the big seat, you were leaning in. And, um, I just wanted to be in that home. I wanted to be with my kids. I didn’t want someone else to be home with them on sick days. I didn’t want somebody else, you know, getting to pick them up and getting the hug at the end of the day at daycare. So I made a huge shift. I shocked a lot of people. Um, cause when I got back from that maternity leave for my son, it was a complete 180 from what I felt when I got back from my maternity leave with my daughter. Um, the changing of was becoming more political. There were more big, bad, you know, um, resume people in there and it was no longer for me. So made the jump, um, started consulting and I was like, see, I’m proof. You can, you can consult. You can create your own world of magic with your business knowledge and make just as much money as working for the big dog. And, um, and you know, jokes on me then came a really, really difficult divorce. Um, a really difficult COVID and I all of a sudden was home with a three and five-year-old went on to good old tech talk just to learn the app because some of my clients business-wise would ask about it and, um, just started sharing myself and a lot of my add ADHD-isms. And, uh, here I am with a following and able to kind of reinvent myself in the world of digital today. I guess. I still haven’t figured it all out. I sound so much more buttoned up than what this originally is in real life, but that’s specific.
Talk about the ADHD aspect of it, because here you are, um, you know, right-hand person to a, you know, a multi-million dollar company is growing and growing, growing. When were you diagnosed? Did you use it to your advantage? How did you know you have it? What kind of response was it?
Yeah. So I was never, I mean, I was an 80 blue collar kid eighties, right. So our parents weren’t like, oh, you’re, um, you’re having trouble focusing and you’re having trouble in school. It was more like, this is who you are, girl own it don’t let anybody tell you
or, or, or sit down and disrupting the class. Yeah.
And I’d get social butterfly and chatterbox on my report cards. And it was like, my, my grandparents would laugh about it. They’d like, okay, really? Like, we didn’t know that already. So, um, jump ahead your grad school. And I, I had, um, I had a lot of trouble with school, actually jump back. middle school. Seventh, eighth grade really started having a hard time. Ninth grade. I failed D’s and an F in every single subject. And what, in my mind, What did my mom do? Took away basketball all this winter. You know, like the Italian mom, like. Worst thing you could do to a kid.
take all the dopamine away now you’re really in trouble.
So, um, I just was more social driven and more sports driven. I ended up, um, being able, why I got through school so well was I was able to dive fully into my athleticism. Um, so she took away basketball, but it led me to track. I became, um, I was second in New England shotput thrower. Yeah, all state, all state track, All-American softball player and Allstate field hockey player. I had a full ride to UConn for field hockey. So tell me about, I mean, ADHD, you got to find what works for you.
Where in Massachusetts are you from?
Um, Somerset, Massachusetts. So Southeast. Yeah, I was a BU kid. So small town and, um, sports was my. Social, friends and sports was what made me thrive. And I just dug in and luckily I had the type of family that let me try all different things until I landed in something so that’s how I’m trying to be with my kids. It’s like, you’ve got to find your shit.
And talk about that for say, because a lot of parents, especially growing up and even today, right? A lot of parents are afraid to let their kids be themselves. Right. There’s still this aspect of it’s changing a little bit, but there’s still this aspect of, of, oh, if you don’t fit in, that’s going to cause you trouble down the road you know, I think you and I are living proof of the fact that not fitting into will be the best thing that ever happened to you. But, you know, I’m seeing, I see in my daughter school, for instance, there are, you know, and it’s just, it’s just, I think it just continues throughout time. There are cliques and there are the cool kids in there, the, the, the nerdy kids and their, this and that, you know, and, and I keep telling my daughter, it doesn’t matter what you are, be yourself, you know? And that’s a hard lesson to teach, especially when you have a child with ADHD or ADD or anything like that, where there, or where you are. And you try to say, well, you know, I know I’m weird, but it’s okay. You know, what have you been telling your kids about that?
I wouldn’t even say, have you had. So I just, I, I just get a TikTok relate it to a TikTok because when a Tiktok talks go viral or whatever, they get the legs behind them, it’s because they’re relatable. Right? So I yesterday did a post where my daughter is seven years old. I was the biggest tomboy Peter. And, um, my daughter was wearing these like, press on glam nails. I’m talking like the nails, like the Cardi B level nails. And I have a video of she’s doing her homework and she’s clicking the nails on the pencil and my face and my hot mom, mass bun and my coffee cup and my like no makeup. And my hoodie. And I take a screenshot of myself with the face, like what is going on and the whole thing. And I put, as the caption, I said, when the tomboy mom gets to raise a glam squad daughter, that’s right. So I left, I absolutely I’m here to keep them alive and to teach them right and wrong. I am not here to teach them who to be or what they’re into. So I not identify with any one parenting style. I identify with a mishmash of everything, including the way I was raised. They’re not going to be eighties kids. They’re not going to be in the neighborhood, playing with everybody, solving their own problems after school every day. But if it’s the new modern day of, Hey, you’re going to watch some Ted talks, innocently, and you’re going to identify with some people or some creativity that you’d like to be part of, then go put the damn nails on as long as you’re not wearing them to school. Go ahead. Do mom’s makeup? Do the wings get crazy. Make me look like Amy Winehouse. It’s all good.
I love that though. I mean, that’s a great, it’s a great attitude to have. So how did you know? I think that, that, again, the issue is you’re, you’re chill enough that you can have that a lot of parents don’t and I think a lot of parents need to understand that there’s nothing inherently wrong with that.
That’s cause a lot of parents haven’t found themselves, right. A lot of parents are insecure, that their kid’s doing something that they’re not sure they’re comfortable about. And that’s really takes a lot of self love and a lot of self identification to be a parent. In terms of times I flip out at my kids is because it’s something that else that’s going on in my life. Right. That I didn’t think what would make me look like a good mom, but in the grand scheme of things, I think, you know, the positive side, Peter, that I’m seeing on social media is that it’s less perfection and it’s more acceptance. We’re all Artists, and we’re all trying to do our best. We’re all trying to raise great kids.
And I think two years certainly haven’t helped. Absolutely.
It hasn’t helped, but at least it’s let us see a different side of social media. That’s not the cookie cutter family with the matching outfits on the perfectly decorated front porch. It’s like.
That’s very true. Very true. So, so what do you tell, you know, what do you tell, I guess, other parents, other than just, you know, go for it. What do you tell the parents when they; do you get crap for being the way you are, have you been outed yet for being on TikTok, but you know, at school or whatever. And I know, I know a couple of parents, um, I’m friends with a woman who lives on the west coast, who, uh, was a lot of trouble. She had her job basically evaporate during COVID. She lost her Only Fans and she was making a fortune and she had, you know, on the flip side, she was also a mother. She was running the PTA, all that she was, and she got found out and it was very, very difficult for her. Right. And she’s recovered and she’s fine now, but you know, there was a time when, when she’s like, oh my God, we have to move etc. What, what have you gotten discovered? Have you gotten, are you that weird mom? I mean, I know that I’m the weird dad, I’m the class parent in school and, and, and, uh, you know, none of the parents it’s been two years now, none of the parents. So what the hell?
That’s so funny. Um, the only things that I’ve gotten mis.. you know, um, I guess, I guess where I’ve been misunderstood are only two things. One, I sometimes do these, um, I call it like drunken Dunkin. I say hot mess moms run on drunken Dunkin. Right? So. But like a nip in my coffee as just entertaining. And I think when there’s people that, that take social media literally, and they take that set 10 second snippet and they ident, they make it my identity, it’s like, oh my gosh, I can’t believe there are people that would take a cent 10second grain of salt. That’s two weeks. It’s a ten second out of my two weeks. I barely drank. Yeah, your making me as this, you know, drunken mom, or when my son said he needed help with the F and jam, he was three. He didn’t know. I thought it was obvious that he didn’t know what the word meant. Hence why I thought it was funny. And I did get a lot of heat for that. I can’t believe you staged your son to say that for clout. It’s like, really? You don’t know me, but I will say if people follow me and they see the whole story, they see there’s as much heart as there is humor.
Of course. Well, it’s funny. I did one of the, um, I did one of the, you know, uh, Instagram rail that was going around for awhile, um, recently about here’s how, y’know when you hate someone, everything they do for this job, it says, look at that beach, eating chicken. And it’s, it’s a very funny bit, and I happen to be recording my daughter. And she said something at the same time, as you would laugh when you heard that, if you were an adult hearing that and it worked perfectly. And so I submitted it, I posted it and it went crazy. People loved it. Right. And the irony was it it wasn’t her hearing that she’s eight years old. Right. I’m not gonna call my daughter a bitch ever, but it worked perfectly. And so to shut off the comments because everyone was, everyone was liking it and oh my God what kind of .. But then they’re gone.
Listen, Every song put on Alexa has explicitly or X rating is literally the least of my concerns. If my kids are treating people well, if they’re treating their teachers with respect, if they’re treating the other players on their sports teams, you know, with inclusivity, like my job’s done. Yeah. They say at home or what they hear at home, like that’s our private space. Leave us alone. Yeah. I agree with that. So yeah, I am laid back, but I also, you know, I’ve also got a lot of that old school, which I think people agree with. I’ve got enough traditional in me, I believe still in traditional family, whether it’s nuclear or not. I believe in the tradition of family being your main priority and what you do everything for. And then I’m a modern day mom where it’s like, listen, get with the times. I want to be a cool mom. I want my kids to identify with me and come to me on whatever the hell it is in their life. And I think I represent a good balance of both. Um, my friends in real life say that when they’re around me, they’re like, I need like more of you in my life. I need you to influence me. And what I say to them is my super powers are different than yours in parenting. We all need each other. We’re all good at different stuff. So don’t compare because then you’ll really be depressed. So I’m never going to have the organized Marie Kondo, stocked fridge and the organized cabinets. It’s just not me, but I’ll play a mean game of Barbie with you.
Exactly. I think at the end of the day, that’s what, that’s what we have to teach our kids is to understand that, you know, everyone’s different. And just because we’re not what people think is perfect doesn’t mean we’re that way,
Absolutely. Absolutely. And you gotta, you gotta know your deficiencies, right. And if it’s attention span, I say to my daughter, I go, did you have a really hard time when the teacher was explaining this? Because I understand when I was in first grade, I had a hard time with this. So let’s talk about it. It’s I think to talk and to communicate with your kids is the number one most important parenting tip that I have so much more than we give them credit.
Yeah. Very, very cool. All right. So how can people find you, tell us your, tell us your socials. *18:00 – How can people find more about you and what you’re doing? @NickiMarieInc on Twitter + INSTA @NickiUnplugged on TikTok and on her podcast Homebase with Nicki
So Nicki Marie Inc is my Instagram and it’s NIC. K I M a R I E I N C. And the Nikki unplugged is my TikTok handle Well, because I didn’t expect to have anybody find me on Tik TOK place. Um, so yeah, that’s, that’s where I’m at. I’m I’m starting a podcast and trying to do these cool things. And then I’m also getting my feet back into the consulting game. So a little bit of everything, which is how us ADD people thrive. Get me on everything coach put me in.
Yeah. I love it. I love it. Very cool. Thank you so much for taking the time. Truly appreciate it guys. We were talking to Nikki Maher. I’m gonna screw that last name up no matter how I say it, but we love having you come back again. We’ll definitely have you another time. Guys, you’ve been listening to Faster Than Normal. As always, if you liked what you heard, drop us a note. We’d love to have you on the podcast. And if you have a fun story to tell, ADHD story to tell if you wound up working in corporate and now you’re like a TikTok Mom, let us know. We’d love to talk to you. We’ll see you guys next week. Thanks for listening as always ADHD, it’s a gift, not a curse. If you know how to use it, take care.
Credits: You’ve been listening to the Faster Than Normal podcast. We’re available on iTunes, Stitcher and Google play and of course at www.FasterThanNormal.com I’m your host, Peter Shankman and you can find me at petershankman.com and @petershankman on all of the socials. If you like what you’ve heard, why not head over to your favorite podcast platform of choice and leave us a review, come more people who leave positive reviews, the more the podcast has shown, and the more people we can help understand that ADHD is a gift, not a curse. Opening and closing themes were composed and produced by Steven Byrom who also produces this podcast, and the opening introduction was recorded by Bernie Wagenblast. Thank you so much for listening. We’ll see you next week!