Headliner: Jyl Johnson Pattee (Q&A)

A Q&A with Jyl Johnson Pattee

Jyl Johnson Pattee is a community builder, world changer, super mom and according to her amazing husband Troy, the best wife ever. I first met Jyl nine years ago in Nashville at a blogging conference, and have stalked her ever since. The Sisters Hood have compiled a Q&A for Jyl, and we will definitely talk about her divine love of churros.  Her family describe her like this; 

  •  ‘Passionate. Other words they shared were Driven, Intense, Determined, Committed, Fierce, Extrovert, Strong.’  Jyl claims these words make her want to take a nap.

Tell us a little about life before Mom It Forward.

Prior to entering the online world and starting the Mom It Forward Influencer Marketing Agency and Influencer Network, I spent more than 10 years in Corporate America. I am one of the minority who got to use my English degree in every single job I have had, including in my current position. All of my jobs incorporated writing in a major way. For example, I started my career in advertising as a copywriter and editor for a local retail chain. While there, I got engaged to my boss (I mean, @TroyPattee was too cute and kind to pass up) and moved on to do a brief stint in news writing. From there, I spent nearly 10 years at FranklinCovey in instructional design, leading and creating training for Fortune 500 brands. This was right at the outset of online learning and was a fun time to be in learning management. During that time, I had my two boys—Chase (17) and Connor (almost 15). We’ve also had three dogs in the past 20 years: two yellow labs (Trooper and Parley who passed over 5 years ago) and Hashtag the Super Beagle (still with us).

You have an amazing family who have regularly shown up at your conferences, tell us about them too.

I have a husband (@TroyPattee) who, since day 1 in this social media world, has always been my biggest champion. He attended and often volunteered at each of our 8 social media-related conferences and 2 FAM events. Whenever possible, he joins me on trips and business opportunities. He also blogs and is involved in social media himself, which gives him great opportunities to work with brands and use his marketing experience. Additionally, he has co-hosted the #gno Twitter Parties with me for 10 years this September. Our two boys, Chase and Connor, are equally supportive and have really grown up with parents actively involved in social media, so it’s what they know. Attending the events as a family has helped us create fabulous memories plus get to know amazing people, such as you and your family. We consider all of the opportunities a huge blessing and bonding experience for us.

Having worked the blogging circuit for years, what do you think has changed with influencers and brands?

A lot of major changes have taken place in the past 10 years in Influencer Marketing. When we all started, only about 10 Influencer Networks existed. And, Google+, Instagram, Pinterest, and Snapchat weren’t around. Commenting on amazing blog posts and chatting realtime on Twitter was all the rage. Metrics often had to be done manually as sophisticated tracking tools didn’t exist. But one thing I’d say has dramatically shifted is the industry’s understanding of the importance of Influencer Marketing and agency and brand’s acceptance that influencer’s work needs to be compensated. In the beginning, it was like pulling teeth to encourage brands to work with influencers. Then, when they did, getting budgets approved, especially budgets that included fair compensation for the influencers was another uphill battle. But now, agencies and brands see the positive and proven track record of campaigns that include Influencer Marketing and most often, recognize influencers should be compensated.

What advice would you give #thesistershood when it comes to self promotion, and sharing their stories online to be a virtual shoulder?

Be authentic. Be honest. Be vulnerable. Share with your heart to connect so your life’s experiences can help and inspire others.  We’re all on a journey to reach our potential. Our stories and the connection they bring is what helps us keep going, set our sights on greater vistas, and find joy in the journey.

Tell us about your new business look, and your new direction – we are so thrilled for you. We’d love to hear your vision and the plans you have for your community.

We started Mom It Forward in the heyday of the “mom blogger.” We were all about promoting women and moms, which often meant parenting bloggers. But, over time, so many different niches developed. Influencers may be women, moms, married, single, or identify in so many different other ways. They may write on parenting or a lot of other topics: DIY, food, health/wellness, travel, etc. We found our name (Mom It Forward) to be confusing for the agencies and brands we work with as they felt we only represented the parenting niche, specifically women who were moms. So, we rebranded to Forward Influence to reflect the variety and diversity of our network as well as to spell out the vast services we offer. Phase 1 was building out our client-facing website, which we just launched in March 2018.(http://forwardinfluence.com). Phase 2 will be to move our Mom It Forward Community and Influencer Network over to our new database where we can be more targeted in our outreach. That is a bit more involved but will be complete no later than the end of this year and hopefully sooner. News surrounding that will be announced at the time of the launch and we can’t wait to continue moving FORWARD, helping influencers take advantage of more and more opportunities to work with amazing brands.families, career, home, etc. The world needs to be a kinder, gentler place and if we stick together and help each other, we can make it a better place for everyone.

In a world that oftentimes seems lacking in compassion, what are you most passionate about?

I am passionate about so many things, but one that tops my list is growth.

You have traveled far and wide as a speaker, what do you most enjoy talking about to a crowd?

At social media events, I find that people want solid take aways and action items they can immediately implement to take their blog or business to the next level. In those situations, I love to share how influencers can find, pitch, and negotiate partnerships with brands they love. Outside of social media events, I love talking about choosing joy and taking advantage of creating and capturing WOW moments.

And do tell our readers about your 50 state photo challenge.

Growing up, my parents were in a friendly competition to see who could visit all 50 US states first. They often planned our family vacations around a state one or the other hadn’t been to, which was really fun for us kids. Due to their example and from a young age, I started counting the US states I had visited. Then, when I got married, I told @TroyPattee about the friendly competition. He was excited for us to compete as well, but I was more amused as I had been to 32 states and he only been to a handful. Many years later, I was at BlogHer 2010. I actually was in Connecticut staying with a friend (I had gone a week early for work). One day, I was on Twitter and one of our mutual friends tweets to @TroyPattee: “How’s Missouri?” I scratched my head and then it hit me. He was going to try and beat me. And sure enough, while I was at BlogHer, he had dropped our kids off at a sleep away camp in Colorado and just kept driving until he caught up with me. Sneaky! Ultimately, I ended up winning the friendly competition by visiting my brother in North Dakota 5 years ago. @TroyPattee still has two states left to experience—Alaska and Hawaii. I can’t wait to help him cross them off his list. It has been such a fun time reaching out goal to see the entire US.

Your family road trips are epic, share some favorite moments with your boys on the road.

We are a little coo coo for Cocoa Puffs when it comes to road tripping. As in, we LOVE them!  The journey to any destination is our absolute favorite part of any trip. And going off the beaten path gets us so excited. We often know a general direction we like to head, but leave our days open to exploring. For example, we recently road tripped from Salt Lake City to Tonopah, Nevada to Palm Springs to Mesa, Arizona through some National Parks in Southern Utah and back to Salt Lake City. I had always wanted to visit Salvation Mountain about 2 hours outside of Palm Springs. As we were driving there, we saw the International Banana Museum. Who can pass that up? We did a U Turn, stopped in, checked out the huge collection of banana paraphernalia, got the world’s best banana shakes, and got back on the road. So yum and fun! Our trip included a random line up of activities by just going with the flow and determining what we wanted to do as we went along. For example, our son skateboarded on the Bonneville Salt Flats; we went hunting for ghosts at the haunted Clown Motel in Tonopah, Nevada; we stopped to hear the history of the Goldfield ghost town (also in Nevada); we saw a rattlesnake at the airbnb we stayed at on 5 miles of Mojave Desert land just outside of Twentynine Palms in Wonder Valley, California; we went on a 3-hour desert art airbnb experience in Joshua Tree city; we climbed the Jumbo Rocks in Joshua Tree National Park, etc., etc., etc.
Choosing our favorite road trip would be impossible. Each one has been so exciting and bonded us as a family.

Which brings us to your significant other. You two are well known in this world of ours, so share a little of your love story.

@TroyPattee hired me at my first official job when I was a senior in college. We worked in retail advertising in the copy department. He was the Copy Director and I was a Copywriter. Shortly after I was hired and on Halloween, we learned that both of our Halloween plans had fallen through and at the last minute, decided to spend Halloween together. It seemed innocent enough, but started our relationship. We dated on the sly from then until we got engaged 6 months later at which time I had to quit my job. We were careful about not telling our co-workers we were dating in case we broke up. But, @TroyPattee, being the jokester that he is, would do things like send me a dozen roses to the office. Everyone knew I didn’t have a boyfriend, so they were all into the drama of my secret admirer. And @TroyPattee ate it up and kept up the shenanigans. Everyone was SO SURPRISED in all caps when we announced our engagement.

Your husband is a huge part of your business – what are your secrets for staying sane when you are together 24/7?

We keep things pretty separate: work and family. @TroyPattee helps me with Twitter Parties and here and there when I have an emergency situation at work. Otherwise, he is dad extraordinaire and keeps our household running like a champ. When the Mom It Forward opportunities entered our lives and my travel schedule picked up in 2008/9, we decided we felt strongly about having one parent at home with the kids as much and for as long as we possibly could. That meant that one of us had to give up our job and since the economy had tanked and opportunities weren’t plentiful and since Influencer Marketing was taking off, @TroyPattee stepped up and has rocked it ever since. Staying sane has required having our own separate spots in the house, being clear on roles and responsibilities, and pitching in when each other needs help. I can’t say it was easy in the beginning, but we’ve got it down now. Yay for growth!

How do the two of you keep the magic – share a little something that maybe no one knows about the two of you.

Things that strengthen us? Road trips, so much laughter (thanks to @TroyPattee), shared values and belief system, therapy, binge watching way too many TV shows, making the decision to be in it to win it, and having each other’s backs.

Churros – you confess to not being a sugar lover, but you are obsessed with Peeps and churros.

Yah! I am not a big dessert fan (#TeamCheese). But, I have always loved PEEPS. Weird, right? I can eat boxes and boxes of them. Just around Easter though. I think it must be a childhood thing. And churros? So funny! We started partnering with Universal Orlando Resort in 2011. At first, we helped coordinate a couple of FAM events for them. Then, we created the Family Forward events for digital influencers and their entire families—a FAM on steroids. We vacationed there for 7 years in a row. On our first visit, we all got churros. They were the best churros we had ever eaten. So, it became a tradition. We were so addicted that we finally had to put a “3 Churros a Day” limit. It’s funny, because we rarely have churros outside of vacations, but we never missed churros at Universal Orlando Resort. One year, I was off sugar and made an exception to eat churros in the name of family traditions. #FamilyFirst, right? 😀

Since you ran a hero theme at a Family Forward conference that we loved, who would you most want to be if you could be a Super Hero for a day? 

Spider-Man is my favorite super hero. I’m a big proponent that we all have awesomeness within us. We just have to learn to tap into our super powers, grow into our own strength until we can maximize our potential, choose to do good, accept help from our friends, and ultimately, make a huge difference in other’s lives. I love how Spider-Man, when he first got his powers, was breaking things left and right, making a mess of everything. Isn’t that how we are too as we learn to maximize our strengths and get our weaknesses under control? But, when we truly see how powerful we are and how much good we can do, we can literally make such a difference. It’s just about recognizing our power within and using it for good. I don’t know that I’d want to be Spider-Man. I just want to be the best version of me I can possibly be.

Who would Troy be if he could create one of his own with special powers?

@TroyPattee said he’d want to be Aquaman because he can breathe under water. I think that has something to do with his love of scuba diving.

And then because everyone in #thesistershood has to share this – what is your favorite quote?  And why.

Be the change you want to see in the world. (Ghandi)
Human nature is all about blaming, pointing the finger, distraction. But true change happens when we all look inside and change ourselves. When we identify the type of world we want to live in and be the person that contributes to creating that type of an environment, everyone benefits. One person truly can make a huge difference simply by being the best person they can possibly become (maximizing their potential).
Nicole Morgan
Nicole Morgan

Mom, Homeschooler, Marketer, Writer, Wine drinker, Friend. Saved by Social Good, the grace of God … and Blogging.