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Caroline Cotten-Nakken

By Tamirra StewartPublished: March 01, 2010

President and CEO,
Mass Connections


Age: 55
City of residence: Sunset Beach
Family: My husband is Allan Nakken and I have four kids – two boys and two girls, between 17 and 22 years old.
Pets: There’s a menagerie – four dogs, six cats and one duck.
First job: I was a senior in high school and I was a gas attendant – the blue shorts, the white blouse, the whole deal. Then, I was the first woman hired in Mammoth as a lift operator
Who or what inspires you: That one is so easy – the people at MC. We have such great people. They work so hard and are so dedicated. They bring accountability to what we do.
Advice to other women in business: Keep innovating. Keep reinventing yourself. I thought, “You can have it all - the marriage, the kids, the ducks.” But it’s important for women to have a reality check about starting a business – you will have less time for your family, and people will try to guilt trip you because of it.
Favorite book: It’s a tie. The first one is “Think and Grow Rich,” by Napolean Hill. It’s a lot like “The Secret.” You can’t just think about what you want – you have to say it and write it down. The second is “The Tipping Point,” by Malcolm Gladwell. It’s all about how you can move the needle and how trends happen.

« When Caroline Cotton-Nakken worked as a flight attendant as one of her first jobs, she was fired for questioning authority.  
But questioning authority and non-conformism got her where she is today – the CEO of a company that has an annual revenue of $100 million and is more than 100,000 employees strong.
“[MC] promotes products, new and current, to consumers. We do in-store, in-life events such as festivals.”
It is the only company in the marketing industry that has a patent on one of its methods, with four more pending. One such patent is for Consumer Alert, a program that delivers messages about in-store promotional events real-time to consumers through advertising media such as mobile devices and in-store television programming.
Cotton-Nakken says that her business wouldn’t be a success without happy employees.
“You have to cut the fat to pay people more,” she says. “It’s a huge undertaking. But everyone here is proud of having an honest shop.”
The business of business is “not a fairy tale,” but she’ll never go back to being an attendant – flight or gasoline.