One of the first questions almost everyone asks when I say I started a business is, “did you get your MBA?” Well nope, I did get a Masters in Public Health. Is it really that different? Not really actually. One of the biggest barriers I’ve had to overcome in starting a business, outside the traditional brick and mortar and not being a freelancer (that’s literally a bad word to me, I hate it) is helping people understand what it is I do. This was especially hard starting my company in a small town, in a mom and pop county. I would always say, ‘I’ll let you know when I figure it out.’ This is the life an entrepreneur, you have to constantly be changing, but there truly are very few true entrepreneurs out there. I am also a social entrepreneur, someone who believes in running a business that makes a social change. Studies show in fact that millennial are starting far less nonprofits and far more social enterprises (for profit for good businesses). We aren't afraid of profit and want to see change. See my blog "5 reasons Why MaberMe, Inc. is not a 501.3c Tax Exempt Corporation" for more on this.
I’ve always been an expert in understanding people, how they think, and therefore a avid learner about branding strategies since I was very young. What I also recommend to any up and coming consultant that comes to me is, ‘start a company.’ Do not call yourself simply a consultant or freelancer (bah no!!). This is what I did, branded a company from the get go, and it worked because it adds so much more validity to who you are. 'I’m Domenica and I own and run a company who provides consulting services.' Ah, doesn’t that have a nice ring to? That of course, did not address most my barriers, BUT has helped me develop a very strong brand over my six years in business. Three re-brandings later and a huge jump from being a sole proprietor to an S-Corp resulted in moving away from using my name to a communal brand, MaberMe, Inc. I should add that I started my company because I was angry about being told I wasn’t qualified for the positions I was seeking because my lack of business degree or marketing degree. ‘I’ll show you!’
Most people know that side of the story. I mean not all over the country (yet), but it is what I’m known for. HOWEVER, most recently I’ve realized many people, even those I have know or worked with for years have no idea what I've actually done during my academic and professional career. Most everyone knows me based on the original service set I provided as a company, social media marketing. This is going to get me in trouble, again, but I quickly realized that in itself was not a sustainable business model. Further, the marketing field had been watered down in so many respects to what I like to call a pool of content pushers. Marketing and Public Relations in in my opinion a highly specialized position that needs a specific skill set.
This is wear things get muddied about the on the ground work I’ve accomplished. First, I function with a consultancy; I don’t do all the work myself. I also have a knack for recognizing a talented person and putting them in the right place. This also includes recognizing my limitations. I theorized and now know there is a huge correlation between operations and marketing/PR. I’m an analyst. I can go into most any company’s business operations and identify gaps, compliance issues, revenue gaps, etc. I’m talking about back end operations which is usually lumped with technical operations, which overlap, but aren't necessarily the same thing. I don’t need to understand how every bolt is distributed or every customer reached, I need to know how the company is functioning in a global sense. So, with this analysis skill set, I jumped into marketing/PR. I learned that as a academic scientist and analyst I was, analyzing market trends and human behavior is the same thing. Also, you can’t marketing something that isn’t operationally sound. If you’re honestly and effectively marketing a company, there is an opening for scrutiny. This is also what the millennial driven market is looking for. They don't want to be sold to whether they are voting or buying a product. There has to be a personal connection. I do not do product advertising or sales (also a bad word to me). Traditional direct to consumer sales has been dead for for at least 5 years. The Steve Jobs' of the world saw it coming about 15 years ago. I stick to social and content marketing. We are telling your story, not ours.
To make things more difficult, my personal consulting expertise is in government operations and compliance as well as health based marketing. *Mind blown.* Health education is dead in the USA. Show people how to live, don’t tell them how to live. What the actual hell is that? Well, government is a business also and my overarching goal in life is to move the needle on government transparency and efficiency (marketing and operations). Lately, I’ve had many people, when I have time to tell my whole story, be surprised. I also used to be WAY TOO HUMBLE in my resume. It was ridiculous. Take some credit sister! So, I thought I’d share my resume (I am also not by any means saying i'm an expert in resume writing, there are sooooooooo many different methodologies):
June 2010-September 2011 – Touro University California – Vallejo, CA
• Obtained a Master Degree in Public Health
• Community health emphasis with a global field study (research) in Debre Markos, Ethiopia
• Media relations director for the Public Health Club
• Worked with the Fighting Back Coalition of Vallejo
September 2006-June 2009 -University of California Santa Barbara - Santa Barbara, CA
• Psychology Major, BA
• Special coursework in general biology, chemistry, calculus, accounting, business, philosophy, cultural studies, Law and Society, and economics.
• Board member on the UCSB Excursion Club and Recreational Sports Student Athletic Training Intern
June 2004- August 2012 - Santa Rosa Junior College - Santa Rosa, CA
• Received an Associates of Arts Degree- University Transfer- August of 2006
• Doyle Scholar (2004-2006)
• Dean’s Honors (Spring, 2006)
• Returned to pursue courses in graphic design and HTML/CSS
Computer Proficiency and Special Skills
• Advanced level skills working with Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Canva, web research, social media marketing, InDesign, and website content management systems - Can type 50 WPM
• Intermediate level skills working with Photoshop, Illustrator, and HTML/CSS
• Intermediate skill level in writing and speaking Spanish
• Special training in Federal Finical Management, DOJ Community Based Strategic Planning, Tribal Court Development, and RFP/RFB development
January 2013 – Present – CEO & Founder – MaberMe, Inc. (formerly known as Domenica Giovannini Creative Marketing) – Petaluma, CA
• Specialize in major social change campaign development, business development, compliance, fund development, staff development, and branding for non-profit, government and social enterprises
• In 2017 helped secure and/or managed $18 million of funding including securing a contract for a client with the City and County of San Francisco for over $8 million
• Support advocacy for cross sectoral collaboration, government realtions, policy development, and governmental compliance
December 2015 – Present – Grants Manager – Hopland Band of Pomo Indians – Hopland, CA
• Management of over 30 grants/contracts totaling $7 million from federal, state, and private sources including regular reporting, compliance, program development, and training of necessary personnel in order to accomplish grant goals and objectives
• Work directly with the agency CFO, Tribal Administrator, Tribal Council, and Department Managers to ensure program success including Tribal Self Governance planning
• Contract negotiation and project management on projects as necessary including construction of the Hopland Education Center, a $750,000 project.
• Identification of new funding sources and completion of responses and all supporting documents
September 2016 – June 2017 – Interim Court Operations Manager – Northern California Intertribal Court System – Hopland, CA
• Management of all day to day operations of the court including development of policies and procedures as well as managing three staff members and contractors
• Management of federal grants and monitoring of budgets totaling over $1.5 million
• Regular communication with four member tribes, police departments, county agencies, federal agencies, and regular reporting to leadership
• Development of relationships with applicable partner agencies including working with the Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Affairs, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, and Office of Violence Against Women
December 2012 – December 2015 – Policy and Communication Analyst – Marin City
Community Services District – Marin City, CA
• Responsible for managing operations, data collection, program analysis and fund compliance which includes reporting to the State of California and private funders.
• Managed all organizational marketing and public relations including print, online, and social media outlets including securing Marin City as one of the 15 finalists in the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Culture of Health Price out of over 300 applicants nationwide
• Assisted with fund development, grant writing, general grant management, and compliance
• Worked with leadership on the planning and fund development for a $20 million capital campaign for the Marin City Center of Community Life as well as building/completion of the $5 million George Rocky Graham Park
• Acted as a liaison with nonprofit and government agencies as well as government officials at the local, state and federal level
• Started the Marin City Youth Council & Action Academy Leadership and Entrepreneurship Programs
Community Service & Associations
• Treasurer of the Petaluma Community Access Board (Present)
• National Small Business Association Leadership Council Member (Present)
Small Business Technology Council Sub-Committee Member (Present)
Health and Human Services Sub-Committee (Present)
• North Bay Business Journal Under 40 to Watch (2015 & 2016)
• Board Member for the Petaluma Young Professionals Network (2013-2016)
• Chair of the City of Petaluma Technology Advisory Committee (2013-2015)
I went from saying, ‘I helped with this,’ ‘I assisted with this.’ No, I did these things and while I got no credit at the time, there is no reason I shouldn’t take credit now. Business ownership has its ebbs and flows. One day I am pulling my hair out asking myself why I ever did this. What keeps me going is the impact, my company has made. Shout shout shout boss girl!
So why the title of this blog? Well, you don’t have to have any sort of degree to do these things. It will definitely make it more difficult to, in the beginning, to get the experience needed in certain types of work, but identifying your unique skill set and running is powerful. Further, just because some has an MBA or other Masters degree really means nothing. I hate to be brash…ok I don’t hate to be brash. It is people’s work ethic and establishment of a niche, whether they are in a job or in business. I’ll end by saying, I had a great experience in my Masters, met so many people, and got to travel the world, but…I’d never do it again. I’m stuck now with tens of thousands of dollars in debt and frankly it hasn’t really helped me. I’m sure if I went to a tip top school in Public Health I would perhaps been able to get a job offer higher than an admin assistant for the government or an non-profit agency, but I’d also get fired quickly. I don’t like being told what to do, especially in government which moves slower than molasses dripping down the side of its plastic bottle. Celebrating your successes isn’t cocky or overly aggressive. Y’all know who I’m talking to…the women. Beef up that resume and stand tall, it took me too long. I’m not this cute little girl behind the curtain, I’m a straight up highly intelligent badass. Go forth...