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Digital Natives Explore Career Options

  |  February 17, 2012   |  Comments

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.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jeanniey Mullen

Jeanniey Mullen, a recognized women-in-business and tech, is known for her entrepreneurial style and her ability to build, shape, and grow brands into well-known dominant, successful entities. Jeanniey is a pioneer in email, mobile, and digital marketing; publishing; and brand-building. She now leads her own agency, YellowBean LLC, focused on assisting companies of all sizes with driving innovation and growth. Most recently, Jeanniey was the Global EVP, CMO, and subsequently Chief Growth Officer for Zinio, where she worked to define and implement strategies creating explosive growth through strategic partnerships with publishers, technology companies, brands, and consumers during her five-year tenure. Jeanniey has authored and contributed to multiple books, blogs, and magazine articles. She is a regular columnist for ClickZ, a blogger for Huffington Post, and a frequent keynote speaker. A serial networker, in 2005 Jeanniey founded the Email Experience Council, which was sold to the Direct Marketing Association in 2008. She sits on the Advisory Board for IndieFlix, and on the International Executive Council of the Internet Marketing Association. Jeanniey is recognized as both a Top CMO and Top Author on Twitter, and was most recently featured as Mover and Shaker by the Professional Woman's Magazine, and a featured Woman in Technology by The Legacy Series Magazine.

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