Advertising pioneer Myra Daniels spoke to Ave Maria University students last week at the first of this year’s Professional Lecture Series. Daniels is a fixture of the Naples business community, the founder of the Naples Philharmonic Center, a longtime supporter of Ave Maria University, and recent recipient of the Salvation Army’s Other’s Award. Dr. Gabriel Martinez, Interim Vice President for Academic Affairs and Associate Professor of Business & Economics, introduced Daniels as a “great friend of the University and a great human being.”
Daniels spoke to the students gathered on Tuesday night about some of her experiences—both successes and failures—in business and marketing. She referred to herself a “Rutbuster”—someone who breaks rules and makes dreams (which is where the title of her book comes from). She shared stories about the various ruts she has busted over the years—from making it through college on $5 a week to being the first woman in the United States to hold an executive title in a major advertising agency.
One piece of advice Daniels started off with was: Don’t ever cover up with a lie. “I have found that in business,” she explained, “you hurt somebody else so badly by telling a lie. …That is not fair.”
In her mid-twenties, while Daniels was working on a Master’s degree, she opened Wabash advertising agency in Terre Haute, Indiana. Her agency made a million dollars within the first year. From this experience, Daniels learned that “you have to give if you want to get.” She generously divided up the earnings among her ten employees and invested the rest back into the company. Daniels urged the AMU students to consider the benefits of treating a business as a family and of truly listening to employees. Her own motto, with which she found success, was: “Together we did it; together we share it.”
Daniels spoke a little bit about her husband, Draper Daniels, upon whom the Madmen character Don Draper is based. “He believed in something you don’t do enough in marketing,” she said. “You should know the product and like it.” One of her biggest and most successful accounts was with her favorite candy—Heath Candy Bars. Together, Myra and Draper would purchase the stock of products they were marketing to signal their confidence in the product; oftentimes they would accept stock as payment for their advertising work. “You have to believe in it,” Myra said. “You have to eat it, sleep it, and live it.”
Daniels closed by emphasizing the value of living the golden rule. “One thing I believe,” she said, “is that everybody in this room, whatever you come to be, should master the art of giving, because if you give, and you give with the truth and the understanding of what you’re doing, you will get.”
The next lecture in this series, “My Advice to Young People: A Talk by Mr. Michael Timmis, Sr.”, will be held on Thursday, December 3rd, at 5:45pm.