Thirteen girls, one interview, and four rules you need to know to succeed.
This week I was asked by my 9-year-old daughter's Girl Scout troop to come and speak to them on the topic of "The Many Roles that Women Play in Life." The format was a Q&A with the 13 girls. It could have been the most challenging speaking opportunity I have had. I walked away with some key lessons that have already helped me improve the way I work. I hope they will help you too.
First, the girls asked me to explain what I do in 15 words or less. Words like "chief" and "officer" and "executive" mean nothing to them. Neither do words like "marketing," consumer intent," or even "ROI." The answer I went with was "I help make sure the world can read whatever they want."
Rule 1: If you need to revisit your elevator pitch, test it out with a focus group of 9-year-olds. Seriously.
Next, they asked me why I chose the profession I am in now. And did I choose to do this when I was 9 like them? Wow. Tough question because digital publishing did not exist when I was 9, and who in the fourth grade wakes up and wants to be a marketer? Oddly, I wanted to be a teacher when I was 9 and realized as they asked this question that being a marketer is like being a teacher - focused on engaging people, exciting them with what you have to say, and getting them to trust and build a relationship with you.
Rule 2: Stop reading this for a minute and think about what you wanted to be when you were 9, and why. Then see if those core principles apply to what you are doing today. If not, find a way to introduce them into your work. They are what you are passionate about - and your performance will increase 20-fold when you allow your passions to drive your efforts.
Then came the hard question - the gender question. I was asked if what I do as a woman can be done by a man, and if, "once you are old" you are treated differently if you are a woman than if you are a man. After wanting to cry for being called "old" (joke), I answered the only way I knew how to. By letting them know that what matters is how well you do your job, and that is all that matters.
Rule 3: We only get one shot at life. In life, some things are fair and others are not. There is no sense getting upset over it. Focus on making your effort the best it can be and the rest will take care of itself.
A final question came through. When did you get your dog? What day and time? Weird question, right? I asked the girl why she asked me that. She told me that anyone who is very important has a dog and she was curious to know if you become famous as soon as you get the dog, or if you have to have it for a few years. I must admit, being told I was famous was a nice way to end things.
Rule 4: Get dog and become famous. Or, in adult terms…perception is everything. Take the time to focus on the details in order to ensure your brand identify matches one of success.
There were many other questions throughout the event, but these few really stood out to me. I hope they can also inspire you. A special thanks to the troop for inviting me in.
Jeanniey Mullen is the vice president of marketing at NOOK by Barnes and Noble, focused on business growth and customer acquisition.
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December 2, 2015
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