Project Description

Kelly McDonald

Kelly McDonald

Consumer Trends, Marketing & Sales Expert

Speaking Style: Interactive, Engaging, Insightful, Informational

Travels From: Colorado

Fee Schedule: 2

Kelly McDonald is considered one of the nation’s top experts in marketing, customer service and consumer trends. Her client experience includes brands such as Toyota, Subaru, Kimberly-Clark, Nike, Harley-Davidson, Miller-Coors, and Sherwin-Williams. Kelly was named one of the “10 Most Booked Speakers in the U.S.” and she was also #1 on the list of “26 Hot Speakers” by Successful Meetings Magazine.

She has been featured on CNBC, in Forbes, Bloomberg BusinessWeek, Fast Company, on and on The Focus Group show! She is the author of three bestselling books: “How to Market to People Not Like You”, “Crafting the Customer Experience for People Not Like You”, and her latest is: “How to Work With & Lead People Not Like You”.

Kelly lives in Denver and when she’s not on the road speaking, she enjoys hiking – and shopping for high heels.

Why Do I Have to Be Politically Correct?

Mention the words “politically correct” and you can almost see people’s eyes roll. The words have come to mean tip-toeing around subjects, issues, phrases or people so as not to step on a landmine and offend a person or group of people. The eye roll comes from feeling so constrained in expressing yourself that you’re not able to actually speak your mind at all.

From a work standpoint, it can also means taking the “safe” route: fear of saying the “wrong” thing to the “wrong person” in the “wrong way” can result in severe consequences, such as formal reprimand or termination.

So employees and associates stay quiet. They say nothing. But inside, they’re frustrated, exasperated or resentful. They resent having to be “politically correct” just to stay afloat at work. And their fear and silence mean real issues, real problems and real situations may not get discussed or addressed because the topic is just too provocative.

For business, that’s not healthy. We need to be able to identify and discuss the issues that can become barriers at work or that hinder teamwork and productivity.

This session tackles what’s behind “political correctness” and how employees and associates can move past this restricting mindset to better work with each other, through all kinds of issues.


  • Why the phrase “political correctness is associated with so much negative baggage now
  • How being “PC” can co-exist with freedom of speech. How you can express what you’re really thinking and feeling AND not get in trouble for it
  • How to have difficult conversations respectfully and constructively
  • How to communicate, empower and lead diverse teams without being bogged down by being “PC” – and without getting fired

Transformative Women’s Leadership: How to Move the Business Forward with the Teams You Lead

What are the core capabilities for effective women’s leadership? Assertiveness is a key one, but it’s a widely misunderstood characteristic and a word with a lot of baggage, most of it negative. Some interpret it as being “bossy”; some interpret it as “standing your ground” or “speaking your mind” and some interpret it as “taking charge” or being aggressive.

Assertiveness is none of these things, yet it’s an essential skill in business and a quality that all successful leaders have. And it IS a skill – it can be developed and honed, like any other skill. Effective assertive skills manifest themselves in better negotiating tactics, stronger leadership, better team performance and higher levels of employee engagement.

Often, women who work in predominantly male industries feel pressure to perform at their peak, while also not appearing to be seen as too “domineering.” This balancing act requires women in executive roles (or rising stars at their company) to become more assertive, in order to lead effectively.

For many women, negotiating can be challenging because women tend to be “people pleasers” and often put the needs of the group (their team or your associates) before their own needs. Effective negotiating is not about “winning” – it’s about ensuring that both parties arrive at a place of mutual benefit. And being assertive is not at odds with teamwork – in fact, it is constructive for your team and your organization. Assertiveness is a management and performance quality that is highly charismatic and appealing.


  • The four core capabilities for effective leadership and how they can differ or manifest themselves for women executives
  • Which natural characteristics women bring to work are assets and those which can be a liability if not expressed appropriately
  • How to develop your assertive style in a manner that appeals, not repels
  • How to communicate, empower and lead in predominantly male industries or teams
  • Effective negotiating strategies that yield best outcomes for all business partners and associates

Six Consumer Trends You Need to Leverage Now

Consumers – and their behavior – are changing at lightning speed now. The companies that stay abreast of rapidly changing consumer trends win: in business growth, loyalty and customer satisfaction.


  • consumer communication preferences
  • customized service and access,
  • technology and the ensuing expectations it puts on businesses (especially financial services)
  • desire for simplicity
  • Millennials craving for information that doesn’t make them feel stupid
  • the shifting view on frequent job changes

These key macro trends affect all businesses today, but for small or independent businesses, the impact is more immediate and profound. Organizations that demonstrate that they “get” their customers and “get them now” are positioned as experts and trusted guides.

This presentation covers current macro consumer insights and real-world examples from successful brands and companies. Additionally, actionable, low-cost/no cost strategies will be presented so that attendees can apply what they learn right away.

The New Demographics & How They Affect Your Business, Today & Tomorrow

The latest demographics for the U.S are startling and profound. One in three Americans is not White. Five states have “minority majority” populations. Young people are increasingly opting not to get married. Rural communities are losing population fast. Religious affiliation is at record lows. And Millennials’ top reason for buying their first home is “for their dog”.

Now, more than ever, it’s imperative that you understand the changing demographics of the communities and groups you serve. How can you best serve a local community or organization if you don’t know what your community looks like today?

And the changes in demographics take many forms: racial, ethnic, gender, generational, sexual preference, linguistic, even life stage and level of affluence, to name a few. Diversity of thought helps companies stay leading-edge and proactive as well. And learning about differences in values among different groups is the key to maximizing relationships, marketing efforts and business opportunities.

This presentation will focus on why changing demographics and diversity are business opportunities and how these changes affect your business today and tomorrow.

KEY POINTS: • The five biggest consumer trends and what they mean for your business right now.

  • Key market segmentations and the values associated with each to better understand customers and coworkers.
  • The differences between generational segments and how the varying wants and needs of generations impacts the service you provide.
  • Common obstacles will be reviewed in order to avoid communication or service mistakes, both internally and externally.

Marketing & Selling to Women: “How to Win the Hearts and Reach the Wallets of Today’s Modern Woman”

Women today are different from every previous generation. They’re busy. Whether they work outside the home or not, they work long and hard to manage their households and the well-being of their family. For brands and companies, cultivating this important consumer segment means big bucks and fierce loyalty if you reach them with relevance. But that can seem difficult to do. Women today don’t watch much TV or listen to the radio. They can’t be reached through traditional marketing channels – they’re simply not there. They spend considerable time online and are tightly linked to their social network community. They are skeptical of hyperbole and marketing “promises”.

But they listen to and respect the companies, brands, products and services that meet their needs and market to them by building relationships with them. And they listen to other women. It’s key to understand what women want: they are more selective than ever about who they do business with and how they spend their money. Women and moms make 80% of the purchase decisions for U.S. households. (Some say it’s closer to 100%)

This session will show you exactly how to effectively tap into this large, lucrative and loyal market.


  • Learn why women are so influential in the purchase process and how to satisfy their criteria and retain them as loyal customers
  • Key values of women – and moms – and their media consumption habits will be reviewed
  • Learn how companies and brands are harnessing the power of the women bloggers and influencers to grow their business in low-cost and no-cost ways
  • Key social media tools will be reviewed, with best practices shared from companies that are successfully using them to win over women
  • It’s not just about marketing and selling to women – the customer experience for women will also be dissected, with do’s and don’ts covered in detail

How to Work With & Lead People Not Like You

We all know that a diverse workforce leads to better decisions and solutions – it has been proven to grow business and profits.

But when the person in the next cube or office is different from you, friction can arise. Different people may not see eye-to-eye on an issue. They may have vastly different approaches to work. Their communication styles may be very different. Their comfort in working with technology may be miles apart. They may see work as a formal environment or one that is casual. They may even have different reasons and motivations for working in the first place. Cultural backgrounds and norms can differ. Even men and women can see situations differently. How do you work alongside someone who may be quite different from you, respect those differ ences and be effective in your role?

And what about leading a diverse team? Leaders face daily the challenges of inspiring, communicating and executing strategy with their teams. Now imagine the challenges

of leading teams that may be incredibly diverse! How does one motivate and lead groups of people who come from different backgrounds? How do you do that when people are motivated by different values and view the world and work through different lenses?

This session will cover the many ways we can be different from one another and how those differences manifest themselves in work situations. It will show how employees can succeed in today’s diverse workplace without losing their minds or becoming frustrated by approaches to work that may differ from theirs. For those in leadership positions, or those who aspire to manage and lead others, this session will identify key ways in which you can effectively communicate, guide, and lead associates and colleagues who are not like you.

Whether you’re working with internal associates or external clients and customers, it’s imperative that you know what motivates people – and what doesn’t. Leadership isn’t about seniority or position – it’s about influence, forming connections and building trust. It’s the ability to move the business forward.

Regardless of gender, age, life stage, race, ethnicity or even communication preferences, you’ll learn to create a deep, values-based connection between you and your associates, clients and prospects.

Finding Future Hires in a Gig Economy: How to Recruit, Hire, Retain and Get the Best from Workers Now

SUMMARY: Here’s a startling and provocative stat: a study by Intuit predicted that by 2020, 40% of American workers would be independent contractors. Growing numbers of Americans no longer hold a regular “job” with a long-term connection to a particular business. Instead, they work “gigs” where they are employed on a particular task or for a defined time. Borrowed from the music industry, the word “gig” has been applied to all sorts of flexible employment, including “contingent labor,” “temp labor,” or “contract labor”. While this flexibility is appealing to many workers, it often means that the gig employee has little connection to their employer. That’s not ideal for companies and organizations that need to differentiate themselves and demonstrate value to their customers like never before.

Gig employees tend to be younger workers and are typically very different from past generations of workers. They’re driven by different goals and values and their approach to work differs from that of previous generations in almost every way. They’re utterly bewildering to experienced managers trying to groom them into the leaders and managers of tomorrow.

There are numerous industries in dire need of new talent – now. In the next 10 years, more than 50 million Americans will exit the work force permanently for retirement or semi-retirement. There will be a scramble for good workers and great talent.

Whether your new hires and future employees are gig employees or not, you need to know how to find and recruit the best so that your brand survives and flourishes. And you need to know how to keep them and develop them once you’ve hired and trained them.

Many industries have not done a great job of making their field attractive to new workers. You’ll learn what turns younger workers off about a company or an industry and how to address these issues to position your company competitively against other competing and attractive professional opportunities.

This session will focus on key values of gig employees and younger workers and how you can harness their talent, ambition, skills and loyalty to generate high performance, today and tomorrow.

How to Market & Sell to People Not Like You

Our marketing environment has become more complex, and consumers have become more sophisticated. Diversity marketing is the new norm, and this doesn’t simply mean racial diversity. Diversity comes in many forms: gender, race, age, life stage, language preference, sexuality, and hobbies or special interests are all ways in which people’s differences are recognized.

By recognizing these differences and tailoring your product, message or marketing efforts to reflect consumers’ uniqueness, you are validating the importance of a consumer group. It may be counterintuitive to focus on differences rather than similarities, but this can really stretch your marketing muscles and bring incremental results.

KEY POINTS: • Learn about the hottest new market segments and how they’re shaping culture.

  • Learn the key emotional drivers for important target segments and how your business can leverage those in marketing messages.
  • Learn which group represents the largest opportunity for your business right now and which group will be your greatest opportunity tomorrow.
  • Specific strategies and tactics will be discussed for identifying your high-potential prospects and reaching them effectively.

Come Together: Generational Differences and How to Effectively Work with Someone Much Older or Younger than You

Matures. Boomers. Gen X. Gen Y. Gen Z. Or are they called Millennials? Why is Gen X called What is a “digital native”? Why don’t Boomers realize there’s more to life than work? And why don’t Millennials realize that their 5:00 pm yoga class does not take precedence over a client deadline? What happened to “paying your dues”? Why doesn’t my supervisor praise me and appreciate me for all the great things I do every day?

These questions are being asked and grumbled about in every office everywhere in the country. Any time two or more generations work side by side, there are going to be potential differences in the approach to work and collaboration. But never have the differences between these generations been so profoundly marked as they are now. Why? And more importantly, how do you learn to work with someone who has such a different approach to work, not to mention their values and priorities?

This presentation focuses on key generational differences and how you can work effectively with someone much older or younger than you – and enjoy it!

Participants will learn the 5 generations and the experiences that have shaped and defined them in meaningful ways.

Specific examples will be provided on how different generations can come together to better serve your company, both internally {employees) and externally (with clients).

Crafting the Customer Experience for People Not Like You: How to Delight & Engage the Customers Your Competitors Don’t Understand

Deliver a better business experience, for every kind of customer. This session will show how companies, brands and products struggling to differentiate themselves in a sea of sameness can foster long-term loyalty and brand preference with exceptional and customized customer service. A “one-size fits all” approach to customer service is no longer viable. Businesses competing on service need to understand and cater to customers’ racial, ethnic, religious, generational, lifestyle and geographic differences in order to meet or exceed customers’ service expectations.

Core customer groups will be covered, including women, the five generations (Matures, Boomers, Gen X, Gen Y and Gen Z), racial and ethnic segments, such as Hispanics, Asians and African-Americans, as well as those who are defined by key lifestyle and life-stage attributes. Includes consumer insights that will help you deliver a better business experience for every customer.

You cannot control the economy, the stock market or the costs of goods and labor. But you can control your organization’s customer experience. It’s an empowering thought. Customer service is 1 00% in your control at all times and it’s more important than ever in today’s competitive business environment.

And terrific customer service doesn’t have to break the bank: it’s about understanding your customer’s values and catering to their priorities.


  • Learn the latest techniques that innovative companies are using today to train their staff to deliver exceptional customer service.
  • Best practices among leading companies and brands will be reviewed.
  • Learn how to listen for what a customer wants, not just what he/she may ask for.
  • Learn key insights into delivering terrific customer service to the Hispanic customer.

Specific strategies and tactics will be discussed as well as Do’s and Don’ts.

  • How to Market to People Not Like You
  • Crafting the Customer Experience for People Not Like You
  • How to Work With & Lead People Not Like You
  • Toyota
  • State Farm
  • Nike
  • Harley-Davidson
  • Miller-Coors
  • Sherwin-Williams

“Kelly was my favorite presenter of the entire conference! Was one of the first in line to buy her book after. This woman gets IT. She had the data, facts, examples, and the dynamic personality to keep everyone engaged. Everyone working for corporate America would benefit from this presentation.”Attendee at Midwest Energy’s “Energetic Women’s Conference

“Kelly’s enthusiasm was contagious and her message was very well received by our audience of utility industry attendees. She was very relatable and left our customers energized and ready to apply techniques to relate to all customers into the work they do every day. We would highly recommend Kelly for any event.”Sharelynn Moore, VP Corporate Marketing & Public Affairs, Itron

“Kelly, I  just wanted to take a moment to THANK YOU for your presentation at “Leader Things.”  The feedback on your session was overwhelmingly favorable and our in-house survey showed that you were, far and away, the “fan favorite” of the day.”John Sexsmith, VP of Finance, FireKeepers Resort & Casino

 “Kelly, your message was right on target and you were – once again –our highest-rated speaker.” – John Brigance, Executive Director, Wealth Management & Trust

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