Meet Tracy Schmidt, founder of Socially Authentic, and social media maven.

1. In a nutshell, what is Socially Authentic?  
We are a social media education consultancy. Simply put, we empower business people to use social media to achieve their goals. We do that in a variety of ways—through organizational training, private  coaching & consulting,  and strategy design.

2. What inspired you to start the company?  
I worked in and around social media for the first decade of my career. Everywhere I went, I realized that people struggled with a) understanding how to use social media b) how to implement it to achieve their goals and c) how to keep up with it as tactics are always changing and new trends constantly emerge.

And I thought, this isn’t getting any easier for people. In fact, it’s only getting harder as the pressure increases and more networks are introduced. There must be a way to simplify social media marketing for people and create ways for them to succeed, both at their organizations and in their own careers.

3. Have you had a breakthrough moment when you knew SA was a success?
I think I’m in it right now. At the start of 2016, I had an Aha moment. I realized that what I like best is working with individual people on their own strategies and teaching them how to use social media effectively. So I started approaching individual people to provide private consulting and figured out the right model that would be both cost-effective and efficient.

4.How does your approach to your clothing (style or outfits) help you be the best leader you aspire to be? 
I learned at a very young age the importance of clothing and the message that it sends, particularly in the workplace. Throughout my 20s, I experimented with what was the right balance of being professional and youthful. Now as a business owner, I realize that how I look represents my company and the people who work with me as well. I do my best to always dress professionally and for the audience—if I’m at a tech company, it’s going to be a more fashion-forward. If I’m at a law firm, it’s definitely going to be more conservative.

5.Do you believe clothing has the power to improve confidence? If yes, please explain a time when you experienced this.
YES! I had developed this crazy idea for developing a social network for Chicago and my boss told me to email the idea to this guy named Bill Adee, then the digital editor of the Chicago Tribune. I emailed Bill my idea and two minutes later, literally, he wrote me a one-line email. “Can you meet with me today?”

I got in my car, went to the Gap, bought a new outfit and drove downtown to Tribune Tower. He pretty much hired me on the spot to help him launch the website that would become ChicagoNow. Considering that he placed me in a public-facing role as the Editorial Director, I am certain that how I looked and presented myself made him feel confident that I was the right person for the job.

6. What is your favorite outfit to wear? How does it make you feel when you wear it?
I swear my sheath dresses. They’re SO easy to manage—all you do is throw on a dress, a necklace and heels and you are good to go from a breakfast meeting through a long day at the office to an event at night. If it’s cold or you’re in a conservative environment, you can throw on a blazer as well. A sheath dress makes me feel confident, appropriate and that clothing is one less thing I have to worry about.

7. How has helping others - both through work and outside of work – impacted you?
I launched my business with the goal of helping others. I also became a journalist and a teacher with the goal of helping others. It’s what I feel that I’m called to do and I’ve always been that way.

I should say that sometimes I overdo it and say “yes” to too many people and too many projects—simply because I want to help everyone. As a result, my health takes a hit and I burn myself out. So I’m working on saying “maybe” a lot more and also delegating more, too. It’s really a hard thing to learn, but I know that if I’m not healthy and recharged, I’m not going to help anyone.

8. Do you have a female role model? If yes, what have you learned from her?
My mom. She was a female business owner in the 1980s when hardly anyone was—certainly not in our affluent suburb. I know now that she paved the way for female founders and showed how women “can have it all”—just not all at once, as she tells me. As I’m in my 30s now, I’m starting to think about how I will continue to grow Socially Authentic while planning to have a family.  It’s exciting to think about and I’m so glad that I have my mom to turn to for advice.

9. Please include anything else you would like our readers to know.
Always plan for the unexpected when it comes to fashion! I have a closet in my office with a dress, heels and clutch that is appropriate for any kind of event. You never know when you’re going to be invited to a fantastic event and you don’t want to have to say “no” because you have nothing to wear.  

By looking like the rock star you are, you will have the confidence to be your best self and incredible possibilities will open up to you. I guarantee.

 

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