Elizabeth and GrandsonWhen people first meet me by phone they assume I am in my late 20s.  They phone me because their business needs to attract more potential customers through search marketing and they’ve heard that my company and I do this well.  I suppose they assume that I am young because I am in a young industry and perhaps because my voice sounds a bit young for my age – after all my primary instrument in college was voice so I guess voice is something I am actually formally trained to do.

Then when they meet me in person they’re a bit taken aback to find I’m a middle aged mom, recently turned grandma.  And when they ask about my education and background they’re shocked that a former elementary school teacher knows anything about technology and Internet marketing especially when they note I can’t even read my smart phone without pulling out my reading glasses.

So how did I get here?

It’s a bit of a long story but I’ll try to summarize the highlights.

I was born in Portland, Oregon to parents who mainly were second and third generation Americans descended from hardworking Finnish, German, Irish and English common folk.  At sixteen I moved with my family to a small town in Southern Oregon.  As the firstborn I couldn’t wait to leave home after high school and so with encouragement from parents and teachers I went as a first generation full ride scholarship student to Mount Holyoke College, the oldest institution of higher education for women located in a very small town in Western Massachusetts.  There among “Uncommon Women” from all over the world at first I felt rather lost but subsequently I learned that women can become strong leaders and so I aspired to become one too.

Next I married my hometown honey and we began a three year adventure that took us to three corners of the US as I followed his short-lived career as an EA-6B Naval flight officer.  Our daughter was born on Whidbey Island and then we learned that my husband had brain tumors.   A year later, as a single mother, I returned to Portland with my daughter where we had the support of family to begin a new life.  During this time I worked for a private preschool, an aerospace company, a medical products manufacturer and a leverage buy out company and went back to school to learn basic computer skills, financial accounting and bookkeeping.

Next we moved to Seattle, Washington where the job market was stronger and I married Glynn Paulsen, a handsome aerospace engineer.  I found work in healthcare administration and in under eight years grew in that field from a program assistant to the manager of a 14 person department that had responsibility for monitoring and verifying the credentials of a very large medical staff and significant responsibility for responding to audits by the federal government, state government, insurance companies and health care accrediting bodies.

During this time two more daughters were added to the family and my husband adopted my firstborn.  So raising three daughters to become “Uncommon Women” became a priority and the next step was to change our lives by finding a way to work from home.

Glynn began an active pursuit to find a business opportunity that would fit our personalities, experiences, skill base and lifestyle.  He brought many ideas home and I poked holes in each of them until he came across the idea of providing payment processing services to small businesses such as bank drafting and credit card processing.  We went to Texas for training and launched our business, Cascade Automated Processing, Inc. in October 1998.  As we developed this business we learned to promote the business via a website and email newsletters and we joined business organizations such as our local chamber of commerce.  As we did this we found that small businesses were saying, “It’s great to get paid better, smarter, faster, but really what we want to do is promote our business on the web like you’re doing.  Can you do that for us?”

It was a great question and it sent us in a whole new direction and so we added a trade name of “Cascade e-Commerce Solutions, Inc.” and took on clients for this new set of services.  Then our business took off as each client saw their business get more sales via the work we performed.

Ever since I’ve been spending time each week reading articles about the Internet marketing industry, reviewing data from our own clients Internet marketing results and testing new ideas.  Since the core of every job I’ve ever held has included research and technical writing, I bring this skill to our business while our other wonderful staff bring programming, design and social media skills to the mix.

And our clients continue to see business growth despite ups and downs in the economy and constant changes in Internet marketing.

So the next time you find yourself assuming that only young folk are in the field of Internet marketing, remember this 52 year old grandma and smile about how even old (okay actually middle aged, but my daughters think I’m old) folks can find themselves in the middle of new industries.