What Advice Would I Give My 24-Year Old Self?

Today I was doing an interview with someone about being a female leader in marketing and in the staffing industry and was asked an interesting question….what advice today would you give your 24-year old self?

Oh my.  Lot’s of advice, much of which is not mentionable on a blog titled “Marketing Meets Motherhood.”  As I reflected for a moment on this, I thought a lot about Joe Haynes.  Joe was my first boss at Procter & Gamble.  He was a Finance Manager when I was a Cost Analyst.  Joe taught me a lot, and in reflection was a very influential person in my own journey as a leader.

So, what was the advice I would give 24-year old self?  It was one of the lessons that Joe taught me – to be authentic and inquisitive.  Joe lived a life of authenticity.  From the day that I met him, he was who he was with no apologies.  He told me early on to be comfortable in what I know, ask questions about what I don’t, and always be good with either.  I wish at many points in my early career that I would have listened to him more.  When I finally learned that I should and I could do this, I became more comfortable in my own skin.


It is a lesson that I wish that learned earlier, and often one that I need to remind myself of today.  Each time I either succeed or fail at being an authentic leader, and trust me there are both, I think of Joe.  We are rarely in touch today, but I imagine Joe, retired from P&G, living a life of authenticity.  He may not ever know how influential this was for me, or even that he said it.  Joe, I hope that our paths cross again.

Commitments: Staying Fresh

How do you stay fresh amongst an ever changing marketing landscape?  I was reading a number of things this week regarding programmatic buying.  I am amazed at the speed of change in marketing as well as the amount of content written about it (insert irony as I am writing about it!).  It made me think a lot about staying fresh.  It is so hard to do while trying to spend my day doing my day job – or at least what I perceive as my day job.  On a daily basis, I pride myself in linking what we do in marketing to sales results.  I often worry that by spending my time so focused on analyzing this linkage makes me and my team too focused in the past.  All the while the future is being scripted through change in the marketing landscape.  Welcome to my mental dilemma.

So, I am channeling my inner problem-solver, and here is what I am going to do…

Listen to my customer:  No matter the change in the marketing landscape, one thing never changes….what my customer needs, we should deliver.  Without listening, it is impossible for our marketing, and ultimately the products and services we sell to deliver.

Ask more questions that I ever have:  I love inquisitiveness.  That said, sometimes it is easy to get lazy versus to ask why.  With enough questions, I learn from every encounter and experience more than I ever could another way.

Read everything for real:  Sometimes in light of my busy life, and my short attention span, I skim.  The number of content outlets, particularly Twitter, just makes this worse.  There is so much to consume and not enough time to consume it.  So, instead of the skimming, I am committing to really reading again.  This almost makes me giggle just writing it.

Look for inspiration in the unlikely:  An Executive Creative Director I know preaches to look for creativity in the ordinary.  My version of this is looking for great marketing in the unlikely.  This evening while watching a movie with my kids (from Disney’s Fairy series), the power of marketing was crazy.  Matthew (my two year old) told me in his toddler-speak, “Mommy, me go to magic kingdom.”  Say what?!?!  How does he know this already?

Discuss:  Per a previous post of mine, often time the best ideas come through discussion.  I am surrounded by smart people every day, and to talking about marketing with them and what is or isn’t changing can help sharpen my point of view.

I am committing this evening to staying fresh and making this a part of my day job.

Commitments: Ask More Questions


Today at work, I had a hard meeting.  While the objective of the meeting was good, and while the person I was meeting with is one of the nicest people that I know and very well intentioned, it was one of the harder encounters that I have had in a long time.  This evening, after I got my kids to bed and I am here alone watching stupid television shows on my iPad while typing this blog post….I have been spending some time digesting why I felt like I did.

I think it comes down to one primary thing.  The person I met with didn’t ask questions.  He led the meeting with an agenda of things to communicate to me based on the perceptions and thoughts that he had about the effectiveness of my team.  While helpful in the long run, because he has a lot of great ideas and advice, it made me feel a lot like my opinion didn’t matter.  There was a rare moment in what was a long conversation where he asked me what I thought, how I was feeling and what I think we should do, or any question for that matter.  It was primarily a one-way conversation.

As I think of how I want to be both as a marketing leader and as a mom, wife, friend, person, this stands out to me as a great learning experience.  I want to know how my team, how my kids are thinking about things so that they can share their perspective – and not just broadcast things and communicate things one direction.  Easier said than done, but I am hoping that living through today helps me commit to that in my life no matter what the setting.