Red Pens, Invisible Budgets and Knowing Who You Want to Become October 17, 2011Posted by christinapappas in Marketing, Strategy.
While I was growing up I often said to myself or anyone else listening ‘I am going to be the coolest mom ever and let me kids do and say whatever they want’. This usually came after I was either a) grounded, b) not allowed to do something or go somewhere or c) totally mortified by something my parents did, said, wore or drove. Every felt like that as a kid? So why am I telling you this? Well, I started thinking lately about the types of people I have worked for and the types of companies I have worked in and found myself thinking ‘I am going to be the coolest boss at the coolest company ever’ and couldn’t help but recall my childhood fantasies of being a ‘cool mom.’
I’ve had tons of bosses (perhaps in another post Ill delight you with all the various jobs I have held in my lifetime) but there are a couple that really stuck out as the ones that I will ultimately learn from in the way that I ‘don’t want to try that with my team’.
This looks great except for this, this, and this, o and this too. You know what? I can just write it.
The first boss I had out of college was really nice. He genuinely wanted to see me succeed – up until the point I did turn in my resignation letter anyways. But he had this big, giant red pen and used it often. Most often on anything and everything I had written or created. I was crushed daily wondering if I would ever be a good marketer. I read so many books, logged in tons of hours in online marketing forums (HT MarketingProfs!) and asked for advice from the best marketer I knew – my Dad. But nothing stopped that red pen – for TWO YEARS!
The red pen wasn’t the problem. Marking up my projects wasn’t a problem either. The problem was that I wasn’t learning from my mistakes. I wasn’t even being told I was making ‘honest mistakes any junior marketer would make’. I was just edited and sent back to my desk to accept those edits into the content and complete the project. I left the company not knowing much except that I didn’t want to work for a manager like that ever again.
If we were to ever spend any money – which we won’t – how should we spend it?
Another boss was labeled as ‘Jekyll & Hyde’ by the team. I didn’t know who I was going to get on what day and it was extremely stressful. But I was given a lot of freedom in which I learned a lot. My boss was a great mentor but not a great teacher. Fortunately, I had been a self-taught marketer carried over from my previous job so I took initiative and started learning about email marketing, html and website development. I spent tons of time in social media and developed a knack for it. I got leads from LinkedIn groups and started thinking about blogging and content marketing. I was constantly asked to research, develop and present a marketing budget. I gained experience in building spreadsheets and presenting to senior executives.
The problem wasn’t my crazy boss (we get them sometimes J ), and the problem wasn’t the fact that I had to really be creative in my approach to ‘free’ marketing. The problem was that I was hired to do a job that I wasn’t allowed to do. The company was constantly showing every attempt to spend money but never actually pulled the trigger on anything. It was SO frustrating! I was constantly screaming in my head ‘why did you hire me if you don’t trust me?’ One thing that irks me deep down inside to this day is that I will never know if my ideas would’ve worked.
So what am I going to be when I sit in the big girl’s chair one day?
I want to be a mentor. I want to give people a chance (because you can’t get a job without experience and you can’t get experience without a job…). I want to hear people’s opinions and let them takes risks. I want to encourage them to fall on their faces and blow their budget. Exceed their goals by 1,000,000% and then not even come close the next quarter.
Come up with something new. Do something new. Create something. Learn something. Teach me something.
I want to set real expectations. When I hire someone to do a job, I expect them to do it and do the job in the way I described it to them at our first meeting. I want complete transparency between me and my team when it comes to the workplace (and they can come to me for other stuff too of course if need be). I want them to succeed, to want to succeed. And I want them to be better than me.