Mary Lou Wichlacz

First, tell us a little about yourself: Name, Title, Company, How you got there. We want to know your story.

Mary Lou Wichlacz, Senior Manager, CLICK Talent

I call this my mid-life rebranding or Act 2 of my career. I was a creative producer in the world of live events for 15 years and had made some personal choices that allowed the pace, travel, and stress of that career manageable. Then the biggest, most wonderful and unexpected moment of my life happened. I became a mother. Both my husband and I were traveling quite a lot at the time, so after our little guy turned three we realized more stability/flexibility was needed in our household. After talking to my good friend Kathryn Duncan, she presented the opportunity to make a career change, get off the road and join her in recruiting talented digital advertising and marketing professionals. Inspired by her philosophy of creating relationships with talent and clients, making ideal matches vs. just filling a role, I took a chance and changed my fate.

In addition to recruiting, I tap my previous experience to help industry organizations with their event and production needs. I've been assisting MIMA as an Executive Producer for their Annual Summit, I act as an advisor to Mpls MadWomen, the Minneapolis Chapter of Women In Wireless, and FRWD on each organizations' event programming. There are so many amazing events in our community and I'm inspired by the great content delivered. This year CLICK is writing quick recaps of each event we attend, highlighting the Top 3 Takeaways. All of this has been a fantastic way for me to funnel my creative energies into efforts that help further educate and inspire the digital advertising and marketing community.

What is your personal definition of what makes a "MPLS MadWoman", and what makes you a MPLS MadWoman?

A MPLS MadWoman is self-aware and authentic; has a healthy amount of ego while being supportive of others. She/He is genuinely positive; takes the time to vent, but never complains. Instead, we take that vent and transition the conversation into devising solutions for change. A MPLS MadWoman is passionate about life, always strives to do her/his best, is accountable and takes responsibility for personal mistakes and successes.

How do you strive to embody what it is to be a MPLS MadWoman, in both your profession and personal life?

It's my goal to meet 10 new professionals every week, on top of ongoing conversations with those I've met before. With each conversation, I strive to go in with natural curiosity and a positive, supportive approach. I call myself the Good Karma Recruiter, thinking of myself more like a career therapist, trusting that if my advice doesn't turn into a match through CLICK, the goodwill makes a statement about our level of integrity and positive intentions for our professional community.

Working in production for many years, I'm naturally solutions-focused, which I've been able to funnel into my recruitment career. I use the principals that guided me in production to drive thoughtful conversations, getting at the root of a person's professional motivations and inspiring them to think about possibilities. I get great satisfaction out of helping people connect with others, and with themselves and their true motivations.

I always try to do my best, whether in the office, in conversation with others, or at home hanging out with my family. Of course, the level of what is my best changes with each day. I take the time to better myself, whether through reading, journaling, exercising, or having a conversation and cocktail with my favorite people. End of last year I started seeing a personal coach (I call it action-oriented therapy with Allison Ballou). With Allison's encouragement, I've started meditating and gratitude journaling. Incorporating those two tasks in my morning routine sets the tone for my day, and better enables me to do my best. I'm still a work in progress, but progress is being made.

What advice would you give to other aspiring MadWomen?

Own it. Whatever you do own it. Do it to the best of your abilities. With each task think, "how could I make this better?" If you find you're stretching your abilities, call in support. Ask questions, seek advice, and be authentic.

If you find yourself complaining, change your perspective. The one thing that you can always change in any situation is your attitude. Positive, practical and passionate will get you far in life (and life will be more enjoyable, too).

What is one characteristic that you believe every leader should possess?

This question is tough because strong leaders need to be able to possess and call upon in any given moment multi-faceted characteristics. There are times when a leader needs to be charismatic and strong, and other times when that leader needs to be authentic and show a bit of vulnerability. I guess tact would be my answer – knowing when to appropriately react to any given situation.

Who are some MadWomen you admire and why? (They may be some you know, some you don't, or some you'd like to know.)

Kathryn Duncan, the Managing Partner at CLICK. Honestly, this is not a shameless ego stroke to my "boss". She's truly my partner. I respect her and I know the respect goes both ways. Watching her juggle the various priorities and situations that recruitment brings is amazing. She's sharp, ethical, and has a gift for connecting opportunities to people fast. She inspires me to be better, has taught me a lot about the agency business, and her unconditional support professionally and personally enables me to perform at my best. Plus, we laugh every day, which is a remarkable gift to have. I’m so lucky to get to spend the working week with her and to spend it doing positive work that impacts peoples’ careers, and therefore their lives.

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MadWoman of the month is a monthly series of interviews highlighting an amazing woman each month in our community, voted for by the community, and published on the Egotist. We’re thrilled to shine a light on inspirational women. Nominate the next MadWoman of the Month on twitter.