“As a woman you’re under obligation to have a legacy: you have a responsibility to let younger women learn from your mistakes.” Jamie McPhee means business—not just professionally, but in way she impacts those around her. Based between New York City and Los Angeles, she’s the creative business manager for photographer Kenneth Cappello and artist Curtis Kulig (Love Me). While she might manage others for a living, Jamie wants you to know that managing yourself is worth more than any paycheck. 

“I’ve been managing Kenneth for 9 years and Curtis for 3 years. It’s more of a creative partnership with each of them, less of an agent relationship. Prior to this I was an advertising creative, so my brain translates from ideation to business which is a good combination. I started out as a secretary at 22-years-old, which then turned into a copywriting position. I had a really smart mentor, Jennifer LeMay, who believed in me. She told me that for the 15 minutes you’re presenting an idea, you’re the best part of that client’s day. She taught me that what I had to say mattered, and if I remembered that I’d never have to fear or worry. That if I spoke from my heart I would be heard.

I was lucky to have her and I’m not sure I see that mentoring relationship enough among women. More often I see jealousy of women who are younger, more attractive or have stronger ideas. The more that women connect and collaborate with each other, the more we can get done. We’re competitive by nature—I actually think a lot more competitive than men— but I believe women could rule the world if we helped each other instead of competing with each other. Your biggest impact is going to be the legacy you leave. It’s easy to focus on your own successes, but when I’m older and looking at the lives of people I’ve touched,

I’d hope that their collective success amounts to more
than I could ever
achieve on my own.

Thats the whole point, right? It’s weird to be raised as a girl in terms of what we’re taught to value. There’s a lot of emphasis on the wrong things which can lead to so many insecurities. My mom used to say: If you have a girl who’s pretty tell her she’s smart, if you have a girl who’s smart tell her she’s pretty, if you have a girl who’s both tell her she’s strong. It’s easy to have visual markers and make judgement calls on who we think someone is and what they’re capable of doing, which can be dangerous. Even in creative endeavors, there are a lot more guys at the table than girls. It’s not because girls are less creative, it’s because we shy away from the spotlight. Fear is the ultimate dream killer—and our nurturing sense often wins over ego. I’d like to see more ego! Achievement in itself is not easy and doesn’t happen by accident.

Often, all we see are
those at the top. No-one
thinks about what it
takes to get there.

This is one of the reasons I was so impressed reading Sophia Amoruso’s book, #GIRLBOSS. She worked ridiculously hard and stayed true to her own voice. To write that book not only took work, but was really brave. Or take Natalie Massenet from Net-A-Porter: people thought that she was crazy to start a business as a pregnant woman. What she did was an incredible feat: selling high end luxury goods online without anyone trying them on. That was outrageous at the time. She created something that became not only the standard, but the model. And I have countless friends who are amazing at what they do: Paola Fernandez who designs accessories for Banana Republic, Ruba Abu-Nima who works for Estee Lauder and has her own design studio Water; Maria Rubin who was my intern and is now Creative Producer at Milk Made—each one is highly creative, hard working and most of all knows her worth. With every success story, women use words like luck and being fortunate—like their achievements are happy accidents. We don’t claim enough dominion on what our accomplishments really are.

We should be taught to own our achievements from a young age.

As I get older and my perspective widens, I see how my priorities have changed. Things that seemed really important when I was 25 don’t seem as important now. There are so many things I wasn’t told when I was younger that have taken me a long time to learn. I can’t figure out why I learned calculus in high school, but no-one showed me how to get a mortgage or fill out taxes. There is a major flaw in the system. Being educated about finances might help women deal with them—or at least help us talk about it. We get so overwhelmed by money, it’s as if we think we’re not qualified to understand it. We need to look at money differently. Growing up, my mom always told me to invest—she put money into stock and that’s how she earned a living.

As I began to earn money myself, I understood that money gave me choices. 

I think it comes down to our self worth. My first mentor told me a story which really influenced my own personal value. She was 23-years-old, doing well at an Atlanta advertising agency in the 80s. She attracted the attention of an agency in Chicago, who asked her in for an interview. At the time she was on a $30K salary. Before she went into her interview, her father asked what her salary expectations were for this position. She hadn’t thought about it, so he suggested she say $100K—which she thought was crazy. Sure enough, the woman she met with said, “There’s a number you could give me that would be too high and there’s a number you could give me that would be too low. What’s the number in the middle?” She said $100K, and the woman said OK. 

You need to have the the confidence to ask for what you want—not because you need it, because you deserve it. Unless it’s a commodity with a price tag, worth can’t be determined by anyone else. It’s up to you to assign your own value.” 

Jamie’s #OKREALTALK Tips

  • Support and foster the success of those around you. Make your legacy a loud one.
  • Own your achievements with no apology.
  • If you were not fearful, what would you do? Be bold.
  • Take your finances seriously: money will give you choice.


t. @skipperlovesu

i. @skippermcphee

As told to Amy Woodside, June 2014