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Sep 14, 2022

In this episode, Dan connects with award-winning marketer, public speaker and chair of the American Marketing Association’s ethics committee, Lisa Bowman. In 2020, Lisa’s tenure as United Way’s Chief Marketing Officer ended after she endured years of retaliation for reporting a fellow executive for sexual harassment. Her bestselling memoir, “Harasshole: A Cautionary Tale of My Time at ‘America’s Favorite Charity,’” chronicles her experience. 

Today, Dan and Lisa talk about the marketing challenges she faced as CMO at United Way, how the company repeatedly chose to shelter the “harasshole” despite complaints from multiple women, the retaliation she experienced for reporting him, and her path forward as an advocate and public speaker. And of course they also talk about marketing, leadership, ethics, purpose, and more. 

In This Episode

  • (04:11) Lisa’s background, and the path that led her to (and from) “America’s favorite charity,” United Way
  • (10:40) What drove Lisa to accept the job offer “that fell out of the sky” 
  • (13:51) The scope of Lisa’s role as United Way’s de facto CMO 
  • (18:23) The massive marketing challenge of building back brand equity 
  • (35:33) The “harasshole” 
  • (40:05) “From minute one, he began harassing me.” 
  • (45:52) What does harassment really mean? 
  • (52:11) Retaliation 
  • (58:49) “I don’t need you anymore” – Lisa’s firing 
  • (1:08:45) The aftermath 
  • (1:13:30) Lisa’s path forward

Notable Quotes

  • “What does this mean? I've just had two men tell me that I'm intimidating. And yet I don't have power over either of these men. One is my boss. One is a candidate I'm interviewing. Like, like what is intimidating about me? I think there was something about me that made them uncomfortable. But then you question and go, ‘Is that my problem? Or is that their problem?’ And I've come to the conclusion – it's their problem. Not mine.” – Lisa (40:00)
  • “I went back to HR this time on behalf of myself. And from that minute, I had a target on my back. A few weeks later in a conversation with my boss, the CEO, the harasser's name came up in a business context. And I said, you know, ‘Are you aware of the fact that I've had to go to HR about him twice in the past couple weeks?’ And his response was, ‘Yeah, I heard about that. You know, you just need to learn to get along with him.’” – Lisa (49:37)
  • “There are thousands of women that deal with this every single day. If it could happen to me as a C-level female, you know, what happens at lower levels? You know, what happens to women that don't know what to do, don't know how to fight back? There were things that I didn't know that I learned in the process. I feel an obligation to pay it forward and just share my experience.” – Lisa (1:14:57)