women / Women in Business

Meet Woman in Business Daina Middleton

"Meet Woman in Business Daina Middleton"Meet  Daina Middleton, Global CEO Performics

Tell us about your business (what product or service you provide and who your target audience is):

Performics is the largest performance marketing company globally. We provide performance media services to an impressive list of blue chip clients around the globe. Our customers are interested in connecting with their customers online through a variety of channels and we help them generate actions, which deliver bottom line results.

Please tell us what being a business owner means to you and why you became an entrepreneur in the first place?

While I run Performics globally, the company is owned by one of the largest media holding companies, Publicis. Performics has been around since 1998 – a long time in the performance media industry — and at one point in time was owned by Google who acquired it for the Doubleclick technology. My role was to take the company and transform It from a technology to a services company.

I have always had an entrepreneur approach to life primarily driven by the desire to create something that fills a need. For example, I recently created a travel computer bag for women that is functional AND beautiful. The right product didn’t exist and I was driven to create something because I travel often and had a need and felt there were other women who have the same need. What we do at Performics is similar because the landscape is complex and constantly changing, so having an entrepreneur mindset is critical to survival.

What or who has been your greatest influence in business and why?

Creating a unified vision for the organization and then getting people on board to make it happen. I believe effective leadership is about creating hope in helping people believe in the cause, and then the journey toward the goal. It also means marrying marketplace opportunities with untapped capabilities. This is something I think women do very well – being able to see the promise of something if it’s nurtured. Of course, timing is everything as well, meaning reading the marketplace is vital.

What would you say is your greatest professional accomplishment to date?

It is transforming Performics from a lost and ailing US-only entity into a global powerhouse in less than four years.

What’s the best advice you have received in business that you wish to pass on to our readers?

If you feel something is the right decision, don’t’ second and third guess yourself. Nine times out of 10 if I have a strong feeling it’s usually been correct. Early on, I would agonize over whether to go with it or not. I know now through experience to listen to my instincts. I was given this advice early on and didn’t always follow it. Experience helps.

What has been the most effective marketing initiatives or programs you have used to promote your business?

One I’m very proud of is being honored as a “Best Places to Work” company. This is not something that we can truly “market,” nor do we have control over being named as Best Workplace organizers poll employees who provide feedback of our work environment. Being named a “best places to work company” says a lot about who Performics is and what it’s like to work with us as a partner and work as an employee in our company. The visibility has driven growth for our business, and it’s been a great recruitment tool for attracting and keeping the best talent.

What one thing have you learned as a business owner that has served you well over the years?

Being an intuitive leader. It’s easier said than done, but balancing when to step in and make a unilateral decision because a team is struggling versus allowing them the freedom of autonomy and independence is critical. Flexibility is key here because I believe it’s my role to constantly balance these things. The best leaders are constantly assessing situations and carefully leading without impeding, yet are decisive when they need to be.

Are there any resources or tools you’d like to share with other business owners that have helped you run your business? If yes, please describe (and include links if available).

I think learning from others is important, particularly women who may not have sounding boards, which are a vital resource given how women conduct decision-making. Always have someone you can trust who is outside the situation and who will be honest in providing guidance.

Do you have any new projects coming up (or have you just completed a big project ~ reached a milestone, etc.)? If so, please tell us about it.

The challenge for our business is the constantly changing marketplace and staying ahead of it. I believe we should always be looking to break something (a product, a service, organizational structure) before it happens unplanned through external forces. This is challenging, because change creation takes time and energy, but it’s the one constant in our industry.

What do you do for fun/relaxation?

I live in Alta, Wyoming. The outdoors is how I refill my soul: riding horses, fly fishing, Nordic skiing, hiking, enjoying wildlife and outdoor photography in the amazing fabulous place I am lucky to call home.

What is number one business goal you plan to accomplish over the next year?

Continuing to build out our phenomenal global Performance Marketing practice.

You want to write a book on Women Leaders. It may sound like a cliché’ today given the rise in popularity around the topic with Sheryl Sandberg’s book Lean In. However, there is another level of discussion that needs to happen around the gender differences related to leadership. For example, women have a very different decision-making style than men. Women tend to be more inclusive, gathering information from a number of sources, and actively involving other individuals in the process. Men, on the other hand, have a more independent style involving fewer, and are more comfortable making a call without gathering as much information. Both styles are legitimate, they are just that different. However, this is not always acknowledged as a difference in gender style, and lack of recognition of this can lead to misunderstandings. I have seen women lose their jobs because their peers and/or boss who were men didn’t believe she could make a decision by herself. Identifying gender leadership differences and having open dialogues around them is key. Now, is the time for women to step up and to lead. Collaboration is a valuable skill for the Age of Participation, and women are certainly an untapped resource.

What’s the best way for our readers to connect with you (feel free to include the links to your social networks and websites)? www.performics.com via my blog www.dainamiddleton.com or twitter @dainamiddleton

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