Here's a few excerpts from a recent interview I did with a student seeking content for their communications programming. I'm a HUGE proponent of mentoring and advise anyone to give back and much and as often as they are able.
Company and Position Title:
How Long have you been with your company/employer?
- Magruder Laser Vision: 2 years
- Big Block Studios: 18 years
- QueensCast: 2 years
Can you tell me a little about the culture of your company/employer?
- Magruder Laser Vision provides correction procedures (predominantly LASIK) that have the highest levels of precision, safety, and patient satisfaction. Doctor Magruder, is not simply one of the nation’s finest refractive surgeons but he’s simply a good person that means people well. This professional and personable manner is reflective of his staff with high morals and cultural support.
What do you like most about your career? Or what do you find you unique?
- My career has spanned almost 25 years; in that time I’ve found that working in my current role as CMO for Magruder Laser Vision to be both rewarding and creatively unique. That said, it's not without some risk from my employer, this is an industry that does not always have its own marketing representation. Often, they're trying their best to do it internally OR seeking services of marketing and agencies at great expense. Therefore, we have a unique symbiotic relationship. I bring decades of agency training to an industry that is all too often trapped in it's own lexicon. Bringing a natural consumer voice to the brand was one of the first things I tried to do.
As someone who has worked in marketing & web design for quite some time, I’m sure you have some aspects of the field which offer the greatest opportunities for professional growth. What are your thoughts on what specializations I might focus on as a good starting point?
- I see digital analytics (marketing; commerce; sales cycles; demo; etc.) as the forerunner to the new economy. It’s not enough to simply ‘design and deploy’, you have to back all that creative influence with optimized proof. Moreover, statistical analysis of growth, efficiencies and forecasting models will quickly become the norm rather than their scatter-shot approach of the past.
What skills or characteristics do you feel contributed to your success in this industry?
- “The gift of gab.” Extraverted personalities seem to thrive in my line of work. It helps when you can create trust with your client and guide them into understanding the vision for the work, and then there's "The Golden Rule" of course. But marketing intelligence is going to become the norm. Agencies will need to [really] work to maintain credibility now — which is something I like to be frank.
How often do you get to interact with customers/clients?
- Often in my past roles with advertising agencies, I would have daily interface with clients, however not as much in my current role. Since my client now is really the patient guest, that interaction is most often facilitated by the staff. It's a 50/50. I bring a consumer into the office and that point I have to believe that the staff can create a unique experience that will enhance and show consumer differentiation, enough to be selected.
What courses proved to be the most valuable to you in your field?
- The journeyman’s approach to learning on the job, sometimes you just have to jump into a project/client/challenge and adapt. You have to ask questions and accept that it’s ok; you need to learn! The most creative and inspiring people to me are other seasoned professionals that feel that they are simply "a student of the game."
What entry-level jobs offer the best opportunities for the greatest amount of learning?
- Anything to do with watching various diversities of skilled labor, varying personality types and unique traits that trigger action. Examples might be a cashier; assistant to a leader; support services. Anytime you're faced with 'the human condition' I think it's a good thing. You're forced to listen, learn and understand the consumer's perspective.
What trends in the field would be most likely to affect someone just entering this career now?
- Marketing is constantly evolving, you need to consistently keep tabs on social, cultural, technological, niche’ demographical trends and then reassess constantly. Just because “X” demo wants to buy “Y” product this month, doesn’t mean the popularity will be ever-present, or something better coming out.
What is the most important thing that someone planning to enter this career should know?
- Like countless jobs, your clientele will often discourage you by downplaying your role, ability and question your decisions. But left to their own devices, the same clients WOULD NOT be as successful as they are with your services. In short, do what you know is right to do — right now. That will change. You will fail. Simply, fail fast and learn from it.
No matter how great someone is in this industry, accolades don’t make you better; they’re a byproduct of past action. Therefore, never stop seeking, ask questions, be humble, be fearless and abide by the rule – that there are no actual (typically budget restrictions only) rules.
- At some point in your career, you’ll need to realize that you need to hire people/services that are better you are. This is really hard for some people (we all inherently get territorial when someone’s not doing the same way we think it should be done), given that you can grow past this point your abilities will transition into that of a director and not of a producer.
- Don’t be a dick.