Tag Archives: learning

4 Things I Learned From A 26-Year-Old Marketing Director

4 Things I Learned from 26 yr Old Marketing Director -Adrian Parker

Several years ago in New York City I met a young guy doing fairly big things. Only 5 years out of college, he had been handpicked to lead marketing, public relations and advertising for the retail division of Liz Claiborne, what was then a $4.8 billion Fortune 500 fashion manufacturer. He named his own salary and secured a semi-corner office in the Empire State Building.

As Director of Marketing, his leadership peers were at least 10 years his senior and had spent several years in the fashion industry, a new vertical for the young up-and-comer.  When we first met, what struck me about him was his apparent confidence – some would say arrogance – and professional demeanor that seemed well beyond his years.  As we got to know one another, inevitably the subject of his age and “success” came up. He shared a few things that I’ve taken to heart throughout my career.

1) Don’t let people despise your age or use it against you. Misperceptions about demographics are part of life.  Age, race, gender and other characteristics are words that describe you, not define you.  Only you can do that.

2) Learn quickly but be honest about what you don’t know.  Great leaders are good learners.  Every new role comes with a knowledge gap that you must quickly close in order to add value to the organization.  It also helps immensely to do a personal audit of your professional assets and liabilities so you can improve in critical areas.

3) Recognize your opponents and allies before they pick a side.  Usually it takes about 100 days to accurately size up the architecture of an enterprise: skills, staff, systems, strategy, etc.  Early buddies may be getting close to figure you out.  Those co-workers that at first seemed stand-offish may just be more guarded than others. Be careful about who you align with and attempt to stay above any existing tensions until you can diagnose why they exist.

4) Lean in to your strengths.  He was a creator, an innovator and a change maker. The iconic Liz Claiborne was in desperate need of his skills and he knew how to quickly move the brand needle.  A key success element to any position is knowing the specific job you were hired to do and the role you fill.  In his case, the fashion house had plenty of style gurus but not many brand drivers.  He knew his role and where he could be accretive to the vision.

As you may have guessed, that 26-year-old corporate stud muffin was me.  I learned all these things because I really didn’t do any of them with the level of diligence that I would have liked to.  In hindsight I can glean powerful pearls of insight so I’m grateful for the lessons learned.

It’s funny how life is lived moving forward but understood looking backward. Happy learning.

The good ol' NYC days when I had a little hair, lots of clothes and a 1.5 hour commute.

The good ol’ NYC days when I had a little hair, lots of clothes and a 1.5 hour commute.

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365 Days of Social Media: How I Learned by Shutting My Mouth

One year ago today I traded in my brand consulting hat for a full-time gig as head of social media for RadioShack Corporation.  RadioShack (aka “The Shack”) was an iconic retail brand in the middle of an immense push to amplify their voice and give consumers a compelling reason to tune back in.  And there I was, a guy who made a living showing, telling and selling others on how to make their marketing work smarter. A love affair ensued.

Of course, as with interpersonal relationships, there were strings attached. To be quite transparent, though I was blessed with a career working with some really great brands and people, I was not a social media guru (imagine the shame). To effectively embrace the shift from employer to employee, marketing generalist to social specialist and agency to client, I decided to do something I’ve never done before. I shut up.

Why? After years of always having the answers, it was nice to listen, learn, unlearn and focus on asking the right questions.  Focus is a fruit of priorities so I chose to do a little self-pruning in order to make social media a professional priority, not just a personal hobby.

I went radio silent on my own social branding efforts. No more personal blogging. No more consulting sessions. Tweeting was sporadic at best. Though I love speaking at conferences and swapping ideas, you couldn’t find me on any panel. Equipped with only a handful of questions and a good attitude, I jumped head first into this space, determined to understand both social media and The Shack from the inside out.

There’s a material reason practically every business planning process begins with the same first step, research.  Afterall, being understood as a problem-solver requires that you first understand the problem. The not-so-obvious challenge to many in interactive marketing and emerging media, especially on the brand side, is we oftentimes must construct our own research through experience.  This isn’t research in the traditional sense of analytics, insights, segmentation and data mining, though that’s critically important too. The experiences required to birth and grow a sustainable social media presence on the enterprise level involve an additional layer of education.

I like to call it a Social Media Learning Plan. Essentially, it’s a hands-on approach to figuring out what to do while testing how to do it.  Mine consisted of 3 related, yet discreet, phases:

Phase 1: Identify and understand your audience from the outside in.

Phase 2: Transform social media goals into enterprise-wide objectives.

Phase 3: Test, learn and implement the strategy while building the tools to support.

It begins and ends with doing, learning is the hard earned by-product. A learning plan means making a deliberate effort not to pull the trigger and, instead, opting to educate yourself about your weapon, the ammunition and, most importantly, the target.  While considered table stakes in some industries, planning for interactive learning is a luxury in retail that often decays under tremendous pressure to perform, exceed and adjust simultaneously.

Over the next several days, I’d like to remove the virtual duct tape from my mouth and share this learning plan along with the fruits of my 365 days of social learning. From missteps and milestones to failures and discoveries, experience has been a great teacher. Of course, I’d love to swap learnings, resources and perspectives on interactive marketing with you. It’s also an exciting time to be in the Consumer Electronics and Mobility sector – I’ll discuss tech info when I can.

As always, feedback is a gift.

Thx for taking the time to read and feel free to connect with me on Twitter at @adriandparker.

AP

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Filed under Innovation, Interactive Marketing, Learnings & Insight, RadioShack, Social Media