Natalie Boden, Hall of Femme 2020

President and founder, Boden

What word would you use to describe your childhood and why?
I had a very happy childhood growing up in Honduras. I think of two words — entrepreneurial and multicultural. Entrepreneurial in that as early as I can remember I was trying to make money: I set up a lemonade stand outside the bus stop when I was seven and worked with my parents until I left for college.

Multicultural in that I grew up with an English dad and a Honduran-Arab mother. That made for everything from cups of tea to kibbeh, and many interesting conversations at the table. Growing up among so many cultures and languages gave me the opportunity to understand the rich world we live in — and I’m lucky to carry it into my life and work every day.

Do you have a nickname? Explain.
People call me Nat. Some people call me Nana (that’s what my brother called me when he was little). But the one few know of is Natalie “Joden” Boden. To joder in Spanish means to be a pain in the *&^%. I don’t think we can get far in life without jodiendo, so I’m proud of my nickname. Although I prefer to think it means relentless or, as I read on a Female Quotient t-shirt the other day, “Chief Troublemaker.”

Tell us about your most embarrassing fail. How did you recover?
I don’t know if it’s embarrassing, but I definitely felt like a failure. In 2008, as a result of the stock market crash, I lost all the clients I was working on (I freelanced for several large agencies and they lost the clients I was working on for them). I had just given birth to Sasha and I was feeling tired and at a complete loss. So, I picked up and said “time to strike out on our own and put our own stake in the ground.” Looking back, it was the best thing that could have happened.

What fictional female character (in a book or movie) has always inspired you?
Mary Poppins. I dressed up like her a few Halloweens ago. Her can-do, no-nonsense attitude is awesome. "In every job that’s to be done there is an element of fun — you find the fun, and SNAP! The job’s a game"is a great attitude to bring to work every day.

Any real-life women or men you look up to?
I admire my mother and my grandmother, both businesswomen and great mothers. My grandmother Tita came from very little to build a business selling textiles in a male-dominated field in the ’70s in Honduras — an incredible feat at the time. My mom Miriam and my dad Peter built a business from scratch as well and gave us a wonderful life, a great education and all the love in the world. There’s no one I look up to more than them.

What’s something about you no one knows?
I wrote a children’s book, out this Mother’s Day, called Sasha’s Big Question. It’s about a young girl who asks her mom why she works, and her mom answers the question by taking her on an adventure called work. As a result of gender bias, dads do not tend to get asked that question, but moms do. I wrote the book so that moms who work outside the home can have a tool when explaining to their children why they do what they do every day.

Favorite song and why?
I don’t really have a favorite song. I love classical music as much as I love rock en español. I do though have a Girl Power —The Ultimate Feminist Playlist that includes Andra Day, Cyndi Lauper, Dove Cameron (my 11-year-old loves her), Alicia Keys, Paulina Rubio — and more. Happy to share it and would love recommendations on what I should add.

Tell us about your hobby.
I love to play tennis. Always have. Competing (I’m a sore loser though —haha), being out there in the sun, sweating. Some of my favorite memories growing up were playing competitively in Honduras, going to the Central American games and then getting the opportunity to play college tennis. You think it’s something that will not last a lifetime, but it does. My ultimate dream is to bring the power of sports to underrepresented communities in the U.S., working to ensure all girls have access to sports.

Finish the sentence: To ensure career advancement and pay parity for women, I will...
Continue to do what I do every day, building a company that allows women (and men) to grow and prosper in their careers; build thought leadership around the power of women, especially women of color, being a part of organizations that support women. Investing in women is investing in the growth and prosperity of a country, and I’m happy to infuse that in everything I do —at home and at work. Equality is something I speak of often at the dinner table (do you hear the sigh from my kids?) and in any speaking opportunity given to me.

What is it about this industry that frustrates the hell out of you?
When you talk about “Hispanic public relations” it’s not only about pitching Hispanic media. On the same token, when discussing “D&I” in public relations it’s not only ensuring a team has diverse talent on it. It’s about looking deep into an organization’s values and understanding how they want to invest in celebrating different journeys, and how this translates to rich storytelling and engagement across the stakeholder landscape— the community, employees, suppliers and consumers. It’s an exciting time, where brands realize that "inclusive public relations" is a business imperative, not a nice to have.

When have you seen this industry or your organization really shine?
As a proud member of AIMM, the Alliance for Inclusive and Multicultural Marketing, I attended their annual all-member meeting a few weeks ago. It was an incredibly proud moment to see CMOs and global presidents from the largest organizations in the world, all from diverse backgrounds, talk about the future of marketing communications. These are not the multicultural CMOs, they are the CMOs. It was a proud moment to see them carrying the torch for diversity and inclusion in our industry.

The second, if I may add, is this year’s ColorComm board meeting. The result of the meeting was a robust action plan aimed at continuing to elevate women of color in communications. The power of diversity and inclusivity in that room (not to mention girl power) was unbelievable, and I was proud to be a part of it.

What is your golden rule at work?
Excellence. Excellence in how we celebrate each other’s uniqueness, excellence in the way we are accountable to our clients and excellence in the work we do every day. It’s not about perfection, it’s about striving for excellence.

And please — NO GOSSIP. If you have a problem, speak up. Email me, text me, walk into my office. I will always be all ears and will always work on fixing the problem. No company is perfect — but they can certainly strive to be excellent.

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