How Every Funeral Professional Can Succeed in the ‘New Economy’

Posted March 22, 2017

7 min read

“I believe this is one of the best economies to succeed, whether you are an employee or a business owner. But to do so, you need to understand how the marketplace has changed, what today’s customer and employers are looking for, and the specific actions you need to take,” says Meridith Elliott Powell, an internationally certified coach, award-winning author, keynote speaker, and business strategist.

In her popular speaking engagements, Powell shows her audiences how to do just that—and how to attract more business, retain top talent, and win in our “new economy.”

She’ll be covering these topics at this year’s NFDA’s Professional Women’s Conference, set to be held on April 7-9, 2017 in Franklin, Tennessee. “Attendees are going to walk away with a plan of action that will put them in a position of control,” adds Powell.

We sat down with Powell to talk about what attendees can look forward to at the conference, what you should know about the new economy, and how you can begin to apply her ideas about continual learning. Here are the highlights from our discussion.

Q: You provide real-life strategies that funeral professionals can put into practice on a daily basis. Beyond what you’ve already described, what else can attendees look forward to hearing at your speaking engagement at NFDA’s Professional Women’s Conference?

Meridith Elliott Powell: We are going to dive deep into how this economy has changed, how those changes are impacting today’s customer base, employees and your industry, and specifically what you need to put yourself in the position (business owners and professionals) to succeed no matter what this economy does.

Q: Stepping back, can you describe what you mean by the “new economy”?

We all hear reporters, politicians and “experts” say that this economy is recovering. They tell us the economy is up, only five minutes later to hear it is down. Well the truth is this economy is not up, down, or struggling…what it is, is changed.

Think about how we gather information, buy or make decisions. We can in an instant google anything we want need or desire and have it delivered right to our door. This is an economy where I can order food, buy a bed, get a degree, or make a friend all online. All without ever leaving the comfort of my own home ever again. That makes this an economy like none of us have ever lived in, worked in, let alone grown a business in before. A new economy calls for a new set of skills and strategies to succeed.

Q: Although the conference is for every funeral professional, focusing in on women, do you see any top “mistakes” women make when growing their careers? What can they to overcome some of the associated barriers that may exist?

Meridith Elliott Powell: That is a great question, and while I do think there are “mistakes” we all make as we are moving along in our careers, there is one big mistake; it‘s one mistake, that if we correct it, we simultaneously correct the others.

I know this because this a mistake I made in my career, and once I figured it out and took action, it changed everything. The biggest mistake is – get ready for this – waiting for someone to notice.

In other words, the “mistakes” is assuming that hard work, quality of work and commitment will speak for themselves. For anyone looking to advance, be well compensated or just be rewarded for hard work take, you need to find your voice.

Know what you want, what you need to learn to get there, and then you need to ask for it. Waiting for someone else to notice or tap you on the shoulder to give you a raise will do nothing but ensure you get passed over.

Work hard, excel in your role that is first; that is what gives you the right to ask for what you want. But never leave your career or professional growth up to someone else. No one cares more than you do. So find your voice, have the courage, and go for what you want.

Q: Another important part of growth and career advancement for funeral professionals is continual learning and, as you say, “Always being the student.” What do you mean by this?

Meridith Elliott Powell: Always being a student is critical for success, especially in today’s shifting economy. Successful people never see themselves as finished when it comes to learning and professional development.

They are always open to new ideas and innovative ways of solving problems and seizing opportunities. They understand that confidence and motivation come from progress and to progress you need to continue to learn.

Q: What are a few ways funeral professionals can adopt this mindset shift?

Meridith Elliott Powell: Here are several ways:

  1. Embrace that today’s marketplace is constantly shifting and that ideas and strategies that worked this year, may not be enough to take your company forward.

  2. Be open, be curious and question everything.

  3. Professional development and learning need to be a weekly goal. Whether you watch a few videos, read an article or attend a conference. Set goals each week for what you will do to broaden your mind.

  4. Make the investment to add a new skill or product/service once a year. The most successful companies I see are always broadening their offerings.

  5. Always set a goal to take at least one action. Time is your most precious resource, so attending a conference, going to lunch with someone or reading an article is you giving up time you could have done something else. Be mindful of that, and if you invest the time to learn invest the time to act.

Q: Why is community so critical for funeral professionals?

Meridith Elliott Powell: Community is everything! In today’s marketplace who you spend time with, who you surround yourself will have a direct impact on the amount of success you have.

One of my favorite sayings is, “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” It is my favorite because it is true. Our mindset, attitude and belief system is shaped by our community, the company we keep.

As a professional, you need to protect your community, fill it full of people that are success driven, innovative and supportive. Do that, and I promise you your business will grow!

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About Meridith Elliott Powell

Meridith Elliott Powell is an internationally certified coach, award-winning author, keynote speaker and business strategist. In her highly engaging keynote sessions, she shows her audiences how to attract more business, retain top talent, and win in this new economy. No walking on coals, no breaking boards, just real-life strategies you can put into place first thing Monday morning.

Her unique background includes high-level leadership and executive positions in sales, marketing and finance. Her highly interactive style and ability to rapidly connect with people make her a sought after speaker, coach and strategist. She is the host of the podcast “Secrets to Success,” and the BrightTalk series “The Client Connection,” both programs showcase leaders in the areas of business connections, development and growth. Find more at

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