In this special edition of the CMO Series, Jennifer Green welcomes Robyn Addis, Chief Operating Officer & Chief Marketing and Business Development Officer at Legal Internet Solutions Incorporated (LISI) to the podcast to talk about her career in professional services marketing and the very personal experiences that inspired the creation of #FollowFriday and its inaugural conference.
Jennifer and Robyn discuss:
- Robyn’s background and career journey to her current role at LISI
- The catalysts for creating #FollowFriday and next year’s inaugural conference
- The importance of creating a platform and network that empowers women in professional services
- What people can expect from attending the 2023 conference
- The different ways people can get involved in Follow Friday and the conference
- The success #FollowFriday has seen so far
- Guidance for anyone interested in joining the community
Join #FollowFriday Conference 2023: Gaining Entry
This first-of-its-kind conference takes place on International Women’s Day - 8th March 2023 - and will showcase current, former, and aspiring professional women, promising inspiration, discussion, and skills training all in one place. The conference is designed for anyone at any stage in their career who is looking to gain entry. It might mean gaining entry into a new industry, or to the next level at your company, or perhaps into a leadership position.
The program consists of key themes including:
- Building a supportive community
- Resourcefulness and Resilience
See the full agenda and register to attend here.
Intro: Welcome to the Passle Podcast CMO series.
Jennifer: Hello, everyone. Welcome to a special edition episode of our Passle CMO series podcast. My name is Jennifer Green and we're joined by Robyn Addis, Chief Marketing and Business Development Officer of LISI. Thank you so much for joining us, Robyn.
Robyn: Hi, Jenna. How are you?
Jennifer: Good. Doing well. I had a nice little long holiday weekend. How about you?
Robyn: I also had a long holiday weekend, but I can bet $100 I didn't have as much fun as you did.
Jennifer: I was going to say I don't have kids yet, so it's a fair assumption. But, Robyn, anyone who knows you knows that you've been a powerhouse in the Philadelphia legal marketing world for the better part of the past 15 years. However, for those who maybe don't know you, can you give us a bit of background of who you are and what exactly it is that you do?
Robyn: Sure, yeah. So I've spent my entire career in professional services marketing, which is really funny because I was a political science major at a Philadelphia university with a very strong marketing program, and I didn't take a single marketing class. But I joined the legal marketing community in 2007. I started at Dechert LLP in Philadelphia in 2007 as a marketing assistant. Spent a few years there, kind of rising up the ladder. By the time I left, I was the firm-wide events manager. I had responsibility for overseeing our global events team with responsibility for over 100 events internationally annually. From there, I moved on to Ballard Spahr, where I started out as the Marketing operations manager again, sort of grew my career there. By the time I left, I was the Director of Marketing, with responsibility for overseeing the events, operations, and marketing technology teams. I had responsibility for team size of about 16 to 20, I think, depending on the day, by the time I left. And then I moved over to Lease, where I oversee all the things, as I like to say, operations, business development, marketing, HR, finance, whatever the day holds for me.
Jennifer: All the good stuff, right?
Jennifer: Amazing. And for anyone who doesn't know, can you just enlighten us really quick about who LISI is and what LISI does?
Robyn: Yeah, of course. So, LISI or Legal Internet Solutions Incorporated is a digital marketing agency that specialises in law firms and legal services providers. We've been in business for the better part of 24 years. The agency was founded by Jason Lisi cute little play on his last name for the acronym. And Jason is a former practising tax attorney in Philadelphia who, right about the time Google was founded, decided that having an Internet agency focused on lawyers would be a good idea. And fast forward 24 years later, here we are. We've got a team of I think the last count was 13 or 14 of us, and we specialise in three main areas. The first is website design and development we produce or we craft fully bespoke websites based on WordPress for law firms, we also have our search engine optimization and marketing services. We help optimise organic content online from websites, as well as manage pay per click and other paid search marketing campaigns. And then our third leg of the stool, so to speak, is our outsourced legal marketing services area. And that is essentially exactly what it sounds like. We plug in as an extension of or a team of legal marketing professionals for law firms of really any size, but especially ten to 200 attorneys, and provide services like graphic design, social media, strategy and management, content development and strategy, and so much more. Kind of more than I had probably had time to talk about.
Jennifer: That's super helpful. Thank you so much. And something else to add that I think is definitely worth mentioning is the Follow Friday series that you started. So I would love to just sort of transition into that and find out what the catalyst was for starting that. If you could just enlighten us a little bit more about what that is.
Robyn: Yeah. So Follow Friday is a weekly series I do on LinkedIn, and it started in October 2020 during the pandemic for a few reasons. The surface-level reason was I was interested in connecting with people during the pandemic. My good friend Dawn Sheiker had been doing a series on LinkedIn where she would be highlighting a professional as often as she could and just sort of create an opportunity for people to network and interact on the platform. She kind of trailed off with doing it, and I reached out to her and I said, hey, I really like this idea. I want to pick it up and run with it. She was like going, God bless. Yeah, exactly. Don and I are just right now, don and I are a great pair because she's like a big idea person and this is how it actually comes to pass kind of person. So between the two of us, we say we're unstoppable. Absolutely. But that's the surface level reason for doing it. Connection during the pandemic. But when I sat back and thought about really what I was looking for at that point in my career and my personal life, there are a few more deeper reasons that I don't often share. But it starts with the five years leading up to The covid 19 Lockdown was by far the most difficult I've ever experienced in my entire life. In 2015, I had a miscarriage at 18 weeks between my first and my second child, I had that miscarriage, which was hard, and then in 2017, my father died, which was not sudden, but it was definitely too early, too soon for him to pass. And I had really modelled my entire career after him and his success and the way he gave back to people in his own profession. So that was very hard for me to sort of handle. And then in 2019, I had been in a toxic work situation for a long time, and that really came to a head right before my maternity leave with my third child. So then there was COVID. And during COVID, which was really awful for pretty much everybody in varying degrees of awful. Well, during COVID, here I was with three small children at home, one of them not even a year old. My husband at the time was in the Philadelphia Fire Academy, which was gruelling for him emotionally and mentally. And I was working full time, I say working in air quotes. So one reason I started Follow Friday, because I was genuinely looking for a lifeline. I wanted Follow Friday to sort of be that antidote to that despair and that loneliness and helplessness I had felt with all of these things happening. But it was also more than any of those things. Those things were all catalysts, as you say, for me, starting the series. But Follow Friday has become my way of not waiting for something to happen to or for me. I was tired of waiting for somebody to give me a platform on social media. I was tired of waiting for somebody to see sort of what I recognised, what I was trying to do with my career and giving back to my professional community. So it was me taking ownership of my career and me taking ownership of an opportunity to gain entry into something that was all my own. So I created this platform, this Follow Friday series, and with it I am using that platform to amplify professionals, especially women, in the hopes that they can in turn see how incredible they are and believe in the value that they bring.
Jennifer: That's really amazing. And I think I don't just speak for myself when I say it's really, I guess you could say, extremely admirable to see someone pull something so positive out of such a hard period of time in their life. So I do remember when I first started seeing Follow Friday posts on LinkedIn. I was so intrigued and I found it to be so uplifting during a rough time for all of us. I feel like we were all sort of craving that human interaction and connection, if you will. So fast forward a couple of years and now I'm still looking for your Follow Friday post. So it's really cool to see how much it's taken off. Robyn.
Robyn: Yeah. Thank you so much.
Jennifer: Absolutely. Yeah, absolutely. I'd love to take a little bit more into what the Follow Friday conference is all about. So can you elaborate a little bit on that for us, please? Yeah, it's funny you say two years later, I'm here still looking for your Follow Friday post. I'm going to be honest, I did not set out that first time, that first few weeks or months thinking, okay, I'm going to do this for the next 50 weeks or I'm going to feature 50 women, or whatever it was. I just sort of said, let's see how long this lasts. And then I got to about 20 some people and I was like, okay, I'm going to get to 50, and then I get to 50 some people. And I was like, well, now I'm going to get to 100 because I'm at my core, a competitive, motivated, driven person. So I was like, I can do this. Let's see how far I can get. And then eventually I started thinking to myself, okay, this series is great and I could do this for forever because it really is just selfishly, It's very uplifting for me. It's so rewarding to see people feel seen and to realise how many people think that they're awesome. But I wanted to be able to kind of elevate it to the next level. So for a minute, for like a hot minute, I thought to myself, maybe I'll write a book. And then I realised I don't write like that, so I can't do that. The earlier days in my career managing and producing these large-scale events, corporate events, and I thought, oh gosh, I'm one hell of an event planner. I can throw together a really awesome conference focused on women and allies that brings together all the types of speaking and presentations and skill building that I am always looking for when I go to conferences. But I don't necessarily always find. I attend a lot of events and a lot of them are great. It's not to disparage any of those programs, but I feel like I get small tidbits out of those events as opposed to come away feeling like the entire conference was fulfilling for me.
Robyn: So I have this very ambitious goal of providing this one-day professional retreat for women and allies on March 8, 2023, which happens to be International Women's Day, which is a Wednesday, funny enough, not a Friday, but whatever the irony, I know, but it's a one day retreat that's really focused. It has content focused around several key themes and those are inclusion, openmindedness building, a supportive community, resourcefulness and resilience, innovation, collaboration and hope. And it is truly for women at any stage in their career, there is programming tailored to various career levels and tracks or different options for women depending on what career level they're at. And it is meant to be a way for all of those women to come together to network, to build and expand their own networks and their own professional sort of sphere and also learn from other leaders about those topics I listed, on how that they can take those themes and the skills that they acquire at the conference and immediately put them into practice in their own professional and personal life.
Jennifer: Absolutely brilliant. And I'll say personally, watching from the sidelines, it's been such a joy to watch this extremely unique and amazing idea come to life. So can you just tell us a little bit of how exactly people can get involved and just about registration and whatnot?
Robyn: Oh, my gosh, of course. Happy to. So the month of September is the last month to register for the early bird discount, which ends on September 30, and then general admission opens as of October 1. We also have as far as registration goes, we have discounts for students, currently enrolled students. We have first responder discounts. I mentioned my husband is a firefighter, so I care very much about the first responder community. So current and former armed services personnel, firefighters, police officers, any of those sort of categories are welcome to take advantage of that discount as well as government. One of my very best friends who is on the committee, and my father had a career in civil service, so I'm also happy to offer a government discount as well so that's it for registration. As far as getting involved with the event, there are lots of ways to get involved. We have our content and programming committee who are working vigorously to sort of put the finishing touches up on our agenda so that we can announce this later in the month of September. And we're also going to be looking for ambassadors who can attend the conference and help people help facilitate networking and connection. You know that feeling when you walk into like an exhibit hall or registration area to conference and you know like two people and you get into those two people with your life?
Jennifer: Yes, I do.
Robyn: Believe it or not, I do the same thing. So I've been starting to talk to women about being ambassadors at the conference who are there specifically, obviously for their own personal learning and growth, but also who know that their role is to help go up to groups of women, introduce themselves, help facilitate connections with other people. I don't know. Sometimes I talk about this conference and like, oh, gosh, I'm biting off more than I can chew. But I really do have a lot of big hopes for it.
Jennifer: I think that's so amazing, especially the ambassadorship. That's such a fantastic idea because I have been to a few conferences now, and I know that I usually cling to those that I know. So I think it's just a natural reaction. But can we hear about success or any successes that Follow Friday has had up to this point? I know that the conference is going to be an absolute success, but I'd love to hear about how it's taken off on LinkedIn and whatnot.
Robyn: Yeah. So it's funny, I'm looking at my show notes when we were prepping for this. I definitely gave you the wrong number for this.
Jennifer: Oh, that's okay.
Robyn: We've actually had over half a million impressions of the Follow Friday posts today. I think we just featured our 79th or 80th person. So of the 80 people, which has been all but two have been women. But I did have to feature two men who are incredible allies to this community and to my profession as well, which that was Jason Lisi, who, you know, is just a gem.
Jennifer: Yes, he is.
Robyn: Yeah. And then Patrick Fuller, who's at ALM Intelligence, he's just also a gem and such a supporter of mine and a supporter of women. So I was happy to feature them both as well. But, yeah, 500,000 over 500,000 posts or excuse me, impressions. And it just keeps growing. We've got followers, so I have my own personal LinkedIn, which that follower account grows daily. We have social media presence across LinkedIn for Follow Friday. As a company presence on Instagram, on Twitter, people can certainly sign up for email updates. We send you monthly email updates. I always get that wrong by monthly, semi monthly with information. We actually have one going out today and now saying our keynote speaker. So if you want to figure out who that is, you have to sign up for the emails or look on the website. I know, it is exciting.
Robyn: Yeah. It's a really thrilling community. And it's funny you said this earlier, Jenna. I have been shocked by how many people have said to me, I get on LinkedIn every Friday to look for your or follow her.
Jennifer: Yes, it's a true thing. Yeah, absolutely. It is. It's so fun. It's feel good, especially. I appreciate you so much highlighting women in this industry. It's just to have that camaraderie and that allyship as well. It's just something really special. So you're doing something great. But I wanted to say, it's been so fantastic having you on our podcast and I want to thank you for joining us because I know you're a very busy, busy lady.
Robyn: Yes. But it's okay. I can always make time for you. You know I love you.
Jennifer: I know. I love you, too. You're the best. And obviously, we're going to drop some of the links on how to register, how to get involved, but anyone who wants to just go right to the website, you can go to www.followfridayconference.com/register. We're personally really looking forward to it at Passle. We're one of the sponsors, which is extremely exciting. So hopefully we will see you all there.
Robyn: Awesome. Thank you so much for having me, Jenna.
Jennifer: Thank you, Robyn.