Getting Through Your PhD One Day at a Time with Dr. Stefanie Boyer

Dr. Stefanie Boyer, Professor of Marketing at Bryant University, is the Co-Founder of RNMKRS, a virtual platform for training and assessing sales talent. Dr. Boyer is a TEDx speaker, the recipient of the prestigious American Marketing Association Sales Educator of the Year Award and coauthor of The Little Black Book of Social Media, Strategies to Ignite Your Business, Influencer, and Professional Brand.
Her vast experience with previous professions such as firefighting, US Customs, and selling financial services have led her to a path of understanding how to help herself and others find their voice, build confidence, and make the most out of their lives while growing their business.



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Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn:

  • Panic will not get you through any situation
  • Getting your dissertation done to reach your real goal
  • No doctoral student is an island
  • The concept of whiteboarding
  • Being intentional about your goals
  • Creating a roadmap to where you want to be
  • Using your own voice and being your authentic self
  • You are good enough to help people

In this episode…

Are you overwhelmed by your to-do list for the month? Have you left many boxes unchecked this week?

In this episode of An Unconventional Life, Dr. Stefanie Boyer shares with Dr. Russell Strickland about taking things one day at a time, and the experiences that prepared her for her doctoral journey. She talks about the importance of having a support network to get you by, and the opportunities that came her away after making it through. Dr. Boyer also discusses about her book “The Little Black Book of Social Media,” and gives a piece of advice to doctoral students going through this unconventional path.

We’ve all been there—the frustration and panic that come from not knowing where to go or what to do when you have a long list right in front of you. Well, it’s time you learn to take things one day at a time with Dr. Stefanie Boyer.

Resources Mentioned in this episode

Sponsor for this episode…

This episode is brought to you by Dissertation Done, America’s #1 authority in dissertation completion for working professionals.

Founded by Dr. Russell Strickland, Dissertation Done serves people in two ways:

  1. If you’re struggling with your dissertation, getting ready to start your dissertation, or just plain wanting to get your dissertation done as soon as possible, go to and Let’s Get Your Dissertation Done
  2. If you’re busy living your Unconventional Life and have a message that you want to share, maybe you should join our Expand Your Authority Program to become a published author. Go to and let me know that you’d like to talk about Expanding Your Authority.

Visit to learn more about our other services and leave a message or call them at 888-80-DR-NOW (888-803-7669) to schedule your free 30 to 45-minute phone consultation.

Episode Transcript

Disclaimer: This transcript is here for your reading convenience. It was created by machines and may (a-hem) contain some errors. If you email us about these errors, the machines will undoubtedly find out. I hope they won’t get angry.


Intro  [00:00:03]

Welcome to An Unconventional Life, a podcast where we share stories about the crazy one percenters out there, who earned their doctoral degrees, and then went on to use them in crazy, cool, unique and unconventional ways. Here’s your host astrophysicist turned teacher, author, dissertation coach, and more. Dr. Russell Strickland.


Dr. Russell Strickland  [00:00:28]

Hello, and welcome to an unconventional life. I’m your host, Dr. Russell Strickland, the founder and CEO of Dissertation Done, and today I have with me Dr. Stephanie Boyer. Dr. Boyer is a Professor of Marketing at Bryant University and co founder of rainmakers, which is a virtual platform for training and assessing sales talent. She’s done a TEDx talk, and also was the recipient of the prestigious American Marketing Association Sales Educator of the Year award. She co authored The Little Black Book of Social Media: Strategies to Ignite Your Business, Influencer and Professional Brand. And that’s important for all of us. So we’re going to talk about that. She’s got a wonderful array of experiences we’re gonna get into here shortly, firefighting, US customer service, selling financial services. And that’s all before she got her doctoral degree. So I’m sure some of you guys can relate to some of this. I want to welcome you, Dr. Boyer. Thanks for being here today.


Dr. Stefanie Boyer  [00:01:23]

Oh, thank you so much for having me. It’s great to be here today.


Dr. Russell Strickland  [00:01:26]

Awesome. I’d like to let everybody know that today’s episode is being brought to you by Dissertation Done. At Dissertation Done, we help adult doctoral students through the dissertation process. So if you know that you’re gonna have to complete your dissertation at some point, please reach out to us ahead of time, the best way to get the support and guidance that you need is to do it proactively. But if you’re like most of our students, and you’re struggling, you’re slowed, stalled or just playing stuck. Again, reach out to us we’ll have a conversation and see if you might be a good fit for our Fast Track Your Dissertation coaching program, you can reach out to us at That’s And if by any chance you are done, and you’re out there in the professional space, and you would like to really explode your brand and take your professional services to the next level, the best way to do that is by being a published author. So if your first name is “Doctor,” you literally wrote the book on your area of expertise, best thing you can possibly do for your brand. And you can find out more about how we help folks do that by going to So again, Dr. Boyer, thank you so much for being here today. And welcome.


Dr. Stefanie Boyer  [00:02:37]

Thank you.


Dr. Russell Strickland  [00:02:38]

So to start off with, I want to get into this interesting background and see how that led to a doctoral degree. So you mentioned firefighting, tell us tell us a little bit about that, and what you learned from firefighting, that actually paid off later on as you were pursuing your doctoral degree?


Dr. Stefanie Boyer  [00:02:57]

Sure, you know, it was it was such an interesting journey to get into firefighting. And I actually got into it when I was in high school, I was in some of the pageants where I would actually be on top of the fire truck, and I’d be waving and this long flowy dress. And I was just so impressed with all of these men and women who would just give up their time and risked their lives to help people in the community. I felt like it was such a sense of pride and, and something meaningful and impact that you could really have for the community. So as soon as I could, I think I was 16 when I started getting some of my training, I was 18 when I became a firefighter. And, gosh, you know, I learned so many lessons as a firefighter, but I think probably the most important one was when I was getting a call for my first fire. So, you know, it’s so exciting. You have to be 18 to finally have that official license and you have to get to the fire quickly. Because it’s an emergency people are literally calling 911 there’s an emergency something’s on fire, you have to go and so in the in the firehouse, you basically have your pants already set up with your boots inside, so that you could just step into them and you can get everything on and it’s really heavy. All the gear was so nervous I was running in I actually put my foot in between the boot and the pants and my foots hanging out my boots falling out as I’m trying to firetruck. I finally get into the truck and by the time we get to the fire I’m finally dressed with everything and it’s heavy. You have this huge oxygen tank on your back and it’s protected right You can’t just


Dr. Russell Strickland  [00:04:40]

Exactly how much the whole the whole gear weighs just just the suit. The stuff you were not anything you carry that stuff you were how much is that?


Dr. Stefanie Boyer  [00:04:49]

With the tank? I don’t know. I mean, it’s been a long time. I want to say maybe it was 70 pounds. Like for everything. Um, I don’t know


Dr. Russell Strickland  [00:05:00]

But I’m a pretty big guy and 70 pounds, just extra weight be carrying around is no joke.


Dr. Stefanie Boyer  [00:05:06]

It was a lot. And so you know, we’re going and it was actually this farm we went to and I had everything on I put my oxygen on before we even got to the fire, I’m trying to climb over a fence, I’m dying. By the time we get there, we get another call. There’s another fire. This is a structure fire. So we had to leave the farm fire, go to the structure fire. And you know, I still had the oxygen, taking the oxygen off, I’m going in, I get into this next fire. This is a real one. Like real real, we heard that there was a six month old that was left in this burning house. And so we’re going in, I’m terrified. I’m going into this burning building. And I ended up getting isolated. And my rebreather was going off, I had this little chime, oop, my I had like five minutes left of oxygen. And so I’m starting to panic. And I can’t seem to find my way out, I just feel a wall after a wall, I’m just trapped in the space. And so I really had to take a moment and just calm myself down. Because if you’re breathing too heavy, you’re going to use up the rest of the oxygen, I had to stay calm. And I had to remember my training, I had to remember the process that we learned, right and you put your right hand on the wall and you’re crawling around until you find the opening to get out. And it’s that process I learned at such a young age is the process is so important. If you panic, it doesn’t help anybody, it doesn’t save your life. It doesn’t get you through the situation, you have to follow your process. And so eventually I did I put my right hand on the wall. And I was I forgot to mention I was so panicked in there, because I thought I found this six month old baby. And you know, I see this I’m disoriented, you can’t see anything, you can’t really hear anything except for the beeping noise. And you can hear yourself breathing, you can’t feel very well because of your, your gloves that are on you, right. And so you kind of lose all your senses. I’m trying to get out of this place. Finally, I’m able to do that and get out. And luckily we realize it was the family cat. Because it was it was charged up. But I mean, really just such an emotionally charged time. But a time when I realized the lesson that I would take forever that you have to stay calm. You can’t rely on someone else to come rescue you, you have to follow that process, the process that you know, works that you were trained on.


Dr. Russell Strickland  [00:07:41]

Right, right. How long have you been doing this? When this this particular event happened?


Dr. Stefanie Boyer  [00:07:48]

Well, I was involved for two years. And I was going on the ambulance and you know, first responder but this was my first actual real fire outside of our training and certification.


Dr. Russell Strickland  [00:08:04]

Wow. To be able to do that, I mean, what, what what was the training like before that because you hear all the time about people in war and things like that, where the training just breaks down immediately on the very first, you know, kind of live fire event and this is for you was literally a live fire event.


Dr. Stefanie Boyer  [00:08:26]

It literally was I mean, we had a lot of training in the classroom and we had to pass exams. But then we also went into burning buildings and we went into different situations. We simulated it. I mean, you were in your gear and everything. And there were fires in the in the simulation houses. So we had great training and you know, I think I was just so terrified because I thought I found a baby. Yeah, that was burned and it just it shocked me out of my training.


Dr. Russell Strickland  [00:08:58]

Now was there you said that so this was the the cat that you found was was dead at that point.


Dr. Stefanie Boyer  [00:09:06]

Right right. Yes. Yeah, the stomach


Dr. Russell Strickland  [00:09:10]

Would be very traumatic.


Dr. Stefanie Boyer  [00:09:12]

I know and it was you know, it was it was about the same size as what I thought maybe a baby would be you know and and you can’t really see much or smoke everywhere and I could kind of feel it so it was you know, but a good lesson is make sure you clean your house up right nobody, keep your house clean. We want to get trapped in if you have a fire.


Dr. Russell Strickland  [00:09:33]

Yeah, very smart. Right but it’s you don’t want to when you can’t see, gosh, so I like to I like to barbecue and you you know smoke meats and stuff like that outside and I had the the the the smoker going and it was all full and I’m ready to put the food on. And this particular thing there was a lot of different little items I had to put on. And then I was able to turn away and take a breath and call off and stuff like that. But that smoke hitting you in the face is severe. I mean, it is really, really traumatizing. And I cannot imagine what it would be like if you couldn’t just turn away and get a breath of fresh air because it’s everywhere. Yeah, so so making sure that you guys are prepared and have your little plans together. This isn’t where I met this guy today. But it is an important thing to make sure that you have those, those plans together and on you know, I always like to be able to walk around my house in the dark. And if you had a fire, that’s essentially what you would be doing. So you need to be able to know where stuff is and be able to get from one place to another without the help of artificial light. So, but this process thing, how did that help you later on? Because I know you were telling me with regard to your doctoral degree that this came in handy. Your firefighter training, basically in later years?


Dr. Stefanie Boyer  [00:10:53]

It sure did. You know, anytime I’m in a situation where I just feel completely overwhelmed, like in a dissertation, right, you have this dissertation and you think how am I going to come up with an idea that’s great? Get this published, get something that’s going to get approved? And you know, you’re you’re kind of on your own, you have a committee but you you have to come up with it, you have to explore it, you have to find all the research and you know, you’re in this like love hate relationship, you’re like, yes, I think I found it. And then you’re like, oh, this is the worst idea ever. And then you like it. And by the time you’re done your just like, like I definitely don’t like this. I don’t wanna published it anymore. But you’ve got to get it done. And, so there’s times where you’re like, oh, my gosh, this is so much. I feel overwhelmed, then you have to come back to that process and think about, you know, what do I have to do? What is the process for completing the research? What are the elements that I need to put in this? What is my end goal for this? When do I want to graduate? And if I want to graduate at this date in May, what do I have to do? What are the different steps, you know, who are the people on the committee that I can rely on and, you know, what has to be accomplished? How much needs to go into that. So following that process, and setting many goals to get you there is going to be so much more effective than just looking at a blank screen. And feeling like I’m never gonna become a doctor because I can’t put words on paper. So just thinking about, what is this whole process? What is the end goal, working backwards from there. And then every day, doing a little bit more to reach that daily goal, which is your weekly goal, which is your monthly goal, which is a semester goal, eventually leading to a done dissertation, which is the best times and it doesn’t have to be perfect.


Dr. Russell Strickland  [00:12:53]

So there’s one thing I heard you say in there that I absolutely love, and that was these kind of glossed over a little bit, that’s really, really important. And that is what is the end goal. You You know, you mentioned that for some people. And and it’s not just getting your dissertation done. By the way, that’s not really the end goal. The end goal for this is something is what comes after you graduate. So for some people, they want to be a professor. And and I know that that’s that’s, that’s the path that you’re on. And for. And for those folks, if they’re if you’re talking about a research institution, where you know, grant writing and pulling in those funds, and doing research is an important part of being a professor then your dissertation is vitally important, like what you’re writing your dissertation on is really, really important. But if you want it to go on to be working in teaching university, or if you want it to go on to do something in industry, hang out a shingle, all the other things that a lot of our students do, then the dissertation is not really important. It’s the doctoral degree, that’s really important. And folks won’t ask you a whole lot about your dissertation. You know, if you were a counselor, you know, a psychotherapist or something like that. I bet you that none of your patients ever asked you what did you do your dissertation? Doesn’t come up and happen. So you have to decide where it were? Why are you pursuing your Doctoral Degree in the first place? What’s that end goal? So that you can then figure out, you start to strategize? What does this dissertation actually accomplish for me? We’re back from there. But yeah. My kids went to an elementary school where they featured us a magnet school and they the their kind of pedagogy was all framework around Dr. Stephen Covey’s Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. And number two is begin with the end in mind. And we use that with folks all the time. It’s so very important to make sure that you know where you’re going. Because if you don’t know where you’re going, you just might get there. And you won’t, you won’t like where you showed up. So very, very important. But


Dr. Stefanie Boyer  [00:14:58]

That’s absolutely right. And you know, at the end of the day, your committee is not going to let you get through with a bad dissertation, it’s going to have to be good. It’s just a matter of how much trauma you’re going to put yourself through and getting to that point.


Dr. Russell Strickland  [00:15:12]

And that’s one of the things that I also like to tell folks that are particularly that are on this, what we call unconventional doctoral path. You know, if you’ve done other things in your life before getting your doctoral degree, and you don’t want to be a research professor, you want to do other things with the degree afterwards, then, again, the dissertation ultimately won’t matter. It is getting it done and getting the degree that matters. So this perfectionist gene that we all seem to have, it seems to be a requirement for getting into a doctoral degree program, it can also be a real impediment for getting out of a doctoral degree program. And so I tell students all the times, listen, you’re not qualified to decide whether your dissertation is good enough or not. Let the folks on your doctoral committee who have done this before, tell you if it’s good enough. And if it’s good enough, take the money and run like don’t write, don’t say, no, it can be better. Yes, it can be better. And I’ll tell you this, on your deathbed, your dissertation could still be better, it doesn’t matter how you work on it, it can always be better. The point is to you put a bow on that at some point and move on to other things, you can always come back to it later on if you really want. If it’s a problem that you’re really passionate about, which I try to steer folks away from, for this very reason. But if it is something that you really are interested in, you can come back to it later on. You can write books about it, you can do research projects, you can do all sorts of things. That’s the nice thing about having a doctoral degree.


Dr. Stefanie Boyer  [00:16:40]

That’s exactly right. And you know what, there isn’t one thing that is published out there, that couldn’t be a little bit better.


Dr. Russell Strickland  [00:16:47]

Absolutely. 100%. I again, every time I this idea comes up in mind, I look over at my dissertation on the shelf, and I say I know there’s mistakes in that. But the perfectionist part of me is like, I’m not going to go look for them, because then I’ll be upset. But I’m okay. There are hypothetical mistakes in my dissertation. I’ll gladly admit to that. But I’m not so strong yet to say, yeah, that comma wouldn’t bother me. Because I thought I checked before I got it. But but that’s but that’s the thing is at some point, you let it go, and you move on to other things. And it’s been sitting on my shelf now for several years being dusted occasionally, but never types. So that’s again, I do what I do, and my dissertation means, you know, that’s what it means at this point.


Dr. Stefanie Boyer  [00:17:30]



Dr. Russell Strickland  [00:17:31]

Well, tell us about what, what led you from things like firefighting. You mentioned some other things. Tell us about the path that led you to this doctoral degree program. Now? What, what made you decide to go that route?


Dr. Stefanie Boyer  [00:17:45]

That’s a really good question. Um, you know, I did do a lot of different things. I kind of dabbled in different areas to figure out what I wanted to do. And I always knew that I wanted to have enough that I wouldn’t struggle. And I and I always knew I wanted to have a really good life with my family, because my parents were involved in my life. And so I kind of dabbled in different things. And I remember one of the career paths I went in, I was looking at the divorce rate, and it was something like 98% was in the in that career profession. And so I said, you know what, no, I don’t think this is for me. And when it came to firefighting, I loved it. And I loved being able to tell people like hey, if you need me call 911. Just joking. But it was so much fun to to be able to feel like you made an impact and to go out into the community and help people. But then it was just really emotionally draining. And I realized I can’t handle that. That heart that heartache all the time to see people die, and try to


Dr. Russell Strickland  [00:18:56]

Considered to be the number one most stressful job out there. Isn’t it firefighting?


Dr. Stefanie Boyer  [00:19:02]

I you know, that’s a that’s a good question. I’d have to look into that.


Dr. Russell Strickland  [00:19:05]

But I remember hearing when people talk about most stressful whatever’s I seem to recall, firefighting always seems to come up in that conversation. And so yeah, it’s got to be a very difficult thing to keep up with. The other one they talked about is air traffic controller. Because again, a little blip on your screen is like 150 200 lines.


Dr. Stefanie Boyer  [00:19:26]

Right, right. No, you know, and it was it was amazing. Being able to go to places and knowing exactly what happened, right? If you’re driving by some kind of accident, and people are always looking because they want to see what’s going on, you were there. You got to know the truth of what’s really happening. Right. And so and I love that but for me and my emotional state to see people dying on a regular basis and seeing their family and you’re in their homes. It was it was just a lot. So I realized like that wasn’t good for my mental health. I had to find something that was good. And when I was getting my MBA, I was working for a man named Marvin Collins and I was teaching his management classes, and his sections were like 450 students in a section and he’d have two of them. So he would come in, and he would do his lecture for about an hour. He yeah, it was, it was huge lecture hall.


Dr. Russell Strickland  [00:20:20]

I mean, 200 is a huge lecture hall. That is insane.

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Dr. Russell W. Strickland

RUSSELL STRICKLAND, Ph.D., has been referred to as a “rocket scientist turned management consultant.” In truth, he applies an eclectic body of work from astronomy and nuclear physics to dynamic inventory management to market research to each of his student engagements.