TOP Talk

A Conversation with Tier One’s Female Entrepreneurs

Posted November 14, 2018 By Tier One

Topics: Thought Leadership, Tier One 15th Anniversary

Woman holding a coffee cup with the NWBOC badge on it

This November 19th is Women’s Entrepreneurship Day and as a proud, badge-wearing NWBOC agency, Tier One appreciates the value of women entrepreneurship.

Being an entrepreneur is already about pushing boundaries and trial and error (and the lessons they teach us), but it’s safe to say women have a slightly steeper uphill climb (i.e. wage gap). Nevertheless, the “shes” have persisted, and a growing number of women entrepreneurs have emerged from the startup trenches with tales of triumph, including Tier One’s three co-founders and managing partners.

So, in preparation for this year’s celebration of female entrepreneurship, we sat down with our own in-house entrepreneurial women to pick their brains on what lessons they’ve learned from building and running their own business.


Kathy Wilson

Are there any special advantages female entrepreneurs bring to the table?

“It’s a generalization, but one I've nevertheless found to be true: women usually have higher levels of Emotional Intelligence (EQ) than most men. This presents an opportunity for women entrepreneurs to combine their IQ with a real passion for connecting emotionally with others to create long-lasting business relationships.“

How has that shaped the way you run Tier One?

“At Tier One, we pride ourselves on acting as an extension of our clients' teams and feel incredibly invested in their success. These relationships help us retain clients longer than most agencies. We also work hard to create an office culture that values camaraderie, honesty, hard work and a sense of humor — without office politics. Taking an EQ-centric approach to building a company full of great people who all have one another's backs is the key to a successful business.“


Sue Parente

What’s the number one piece of advice you’d share with aspiring entrepreneurs?

“My biggest takeaway from co-founding a company is that it doesn't matter who you are or what you do — what matters most is finding a need and filling it. You can't make it about money. If that's your goal, you'll fail. Money only comes after you've first identified something people truly need and want, validated it through trial and error, and then worked incredibly hard to be the best solution for addressing that need.“

How did you come to that conclusion?

“Before we started Tier One in 2003, we saw tech company after tech company looking for smart, proven PR counsel to help get their business to the next level, but the traditional PR firms were just too expensive and inflexible. The market had a clear need, so we figured out a way to meet it. It's incredible to me, but here we are 15 years later and that need is just as prevalent today as ever.”


Marian Hughes

Is there a secret to building a successful (in the long run) agency?

Dr. Carol Dweck's concept of the fixed vs growth mindset is applicable to the success of a growing business. You have to be open to change and comfortable with trying new things to stay fresh and relevant. Over the past 15 years, our business model has been far from 'fixed' — it has carefully grown and evolved for the better — with new service offerings, leadership models and skill sets among many other things to respond to our customers' and employees' changing needs.”

What’s the most important lesson you learned from co-founding Tier One?

“You don't always learn by doing. You can learn a lot from listening and observing. When growing a business, it can be easy to get caught up in the day to day of running it and miss out on the multitude of learning opportunities taking place around you that aren’t related directly to it. When we read the news, listen to an interview, watch a crisis unfold, or admire a creative marketing campaign or product launch, we are mindful of the potential learning opportunities that may exist for our both our company or our clients. Having a 'never-stop-learning' mindset has helped fuel our innovation and growth.”

Tier One

About Tier One

We help innovators in technology, digital health, financial services, and energy technology promote new ideas and solutions for a better future.