Building a Platform: OEP Alum Ann Marie Houghtailing Comments

AnnMarieHoughtailingAt the last happy hour in San Diego, West Coast Regional Manager Chelsea Carmona asked how I built my platform and if I might give her some tips. Chelsea was impressed by the number of women I had referred to The OpEd Project seminars over the last year.

I believe that The OpEd Project is an excellent product with a great purpose, so I want my clients and those who will benefit to have access. It benefits those who attend and it benefits The OpEd Project.

I’m genuinely, sincerely invested in the success of others. This builds a kind of trust and loyalty that I can’t purchase. My commitment to others increases my social capital, which is worth more to me than any transaction. As your social capital increases, you become a valuable resource critical to the community. Developing an inspired, engaged tribe is about what you have to give, not what you have to get.

How do you increase your capital? Introduce people, recommend people to other people or, even on LinkedIn, champion people, and solve their problems. Surprise people. Your contribution will inspire a ferocious loyalty. When I meet people, I’m not trying to figure out how I can be advantaged from our contact, I’m trying to determine how I can help them in some way.

The Millionaire Girls’ Movement (MGM) is a platform that I developed with my Marketing VP, Linh Tang. MGM helps women generate, grow, and sustain wealth. It’s free, not monetized in any way, and completely funded by me. I don’t allow anyone, including myself, to pitch on the site. It’s there to serve. Have contributors benefited? Yes. I know that some of our contributors have gotten clients and that’s a great benefit and I hope they do, but our primary purpose is to deliver content to our followers and create social change.

I want to be clear. I’m big on asking and self-advocacy and I don’t give away my work. I am the antithesis of passivity. I believe in creating your own luck in life and live and die on that sword. Generating revenue and creating opportunity is literally how I earn my living. I’ve coached lots of women and men to higher salaries, greater opportunity, and more market share, but I also believe that you lead with an offer not a request. It’s what you can do for others that establishes your worth. No one does you a favor by paying you more. They pay you more because of what you have delivered and the level of integrity with which you express your value.

Technology is an extraordinary and exceptional tool, but it’s just a tool. Communities, virtual, and otherwise are created by and for people. If you’re trying to build loyalty for selfish purposes that don’t serve the community, you’ll find yourself alone. Determine what you uniquely contribute, and how others can benefit from knowing you, and your following will grow in breadth and depth.

Share information, knowledge, and access. There’s plenty of the room at the top, so reach out and bring someone along. If you’re stingy and you don’t want to share or you’re keeping score, you’re not just limiting others, you’re limiting yourself. This isn’t to suggest that you offer referrals and contacts up to anyone who asks. Everyone must earn his or her place at the table. However, if you know someone is worthy and deserves opportunity, you only benefit from helping them to advance. Why? Well, let’s go back to the beginning. When I connect a potential candidate to The OpEd Project both the participant and The OpEd Project benefit. The participant walks away grateful that I connected her to an organization that can uniquely help to advance her ideas and The OpEd project values my reach. Both parties tell others that I’m a valuable member of the community and before you know it I’ve created relationships that run deeper than a contact in a database.

Ann marie Houghtailing is founder of The Millionaire Girls’ Movement. In the past, she has also partnered with a private university to launch an Institute for Sales and Business Development and toured her one-woman show, Renegade Princess. She is an entrepreneur, writer, speaker, and performer who can be reached at You can also check out her TEDx presentation to learn more.


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