Joanne Thorud is the Marketing & Business Development Director at Davis Malm in Boston. She is responsible for the strategic marketing and business development efforts of the firm and its attorneys.

Jo has worked in the legal industry for over 30 years. One of her favorite things to do – in and out of work – is introduce people who would benefit from knowing each other. She is an active member of the Legal Marketing Association Northeast Region. Jo currently co-chairs the Boston Small Firm/Solo Marketer SIG and is a past chair of the Boston Local Steering Committee.

Jo is a woman who wows for so many reasons – we met through our work in the Legal Marketing Association several years ago and have kept in touch through social media (love the power of social media to build and nurture relationships!) and she is just an all-around great person. I love her profile because who she is really comes through – especially the love she has for her mom – and the great advice she has for women of all ages.

What do you love most about what you do?

No two days are ever the same. Being a department of two at a mid-sized firm means we both have to wear many hats and be able to switch gears pretty quickly. I love the creative aspects that go along with advertising and event planning (back when events were a thing), creating social media posts and designing the images that go with them, coming up with new ways to help attorneys and practice groups reach their target audiences, and even finding ways to be creative during budget planning season.

And then there are the projects that require heavy writing, such as developing new website content, editing client alerts, developing collateral materials, and preparing directory and ranking submissions. Handling all of the marketing and BD functions keeps me on my toes and allows me to exercise both sides of my brain.

Tell us about a woman you look up to and why.

It may seem cliché, but my mom is the most inspirational person in my life. My dad died when I was 2½, and although my mom had very loving and supportive parents and a strong support system, she essentially raised me on her own.

She was the one who disciplined me and set boundaries. She kissed many skinned knees. She never missed a dance recital, skating competition, basketball game, art show or school play, even though she worked two jobs. She made me push myself to go beyond my self-imposed limits and instilled in me that “can’t is not in our vocabulary.” Our house was always open. We hosted all of the holidays, and my mom made all of the preparation and execution look so effortless.

While there were just the two of us, she cooked in large quantities on a regular basis “just in case someone dropped by,” which was often the case. She did an incredible job at balancing her life and all of the challenges she faced, so much so that I never realized she ever had bad days. To this day she remains my best friend and my superhero.

What do you wish you could tell your younger self?

Hindsight is always 20/20. And when you’re in the depths of any challenging situation, it doesn’t seem like you’ll ever come out on the other side. Various experiences have helped me gain perspective, and here are some words I share, especially when I see people struggling for acceptance, deliberating over difficult decisions or stressing over things they can’t control.

  • It’s ok to fail.
  • It’s ok to not have all the answers.
  • It’s ok if not everyone likes you the way you want them to.
  • It’s ok if plans go sideways.
  • It’s ok to not be first or the best at something (or at everything).
  • It’s ok to not know what you want to do with the rest of your life.
  • It’s ok to laugh at yourself.
  • It’s ok to say no.
  • Trust your instincts because they’re usually right.