1. What was your first (or favorite) job?
Almost every job I’ve held has been a “favorite” at the time I held it, so I’ll talk about my first job.
At the age of 15, I landed the swanky role at the town swimming complex as a “locker room” attendant. This consisted of playing nanny for the 10 and 12-year-old boys running through the place, cleaning the showers and toilets, swabbing the floors, and vacuuming the swimming pools on the weekend. Growing up on the swim team made me intimately familiar with the “pool lifestyle,” but seeing the dirty side of the gig gave added perspective: having an early job involving manual labor, cleaning solutions, and human waste has always helped keep me humble and appreciate the folks that clean our offices. It also made me really appreciate “wielding the whistle” the following year, when I was promoted as a lifeguard.
2. What are the 3 most important components for your personal and professional success?
The single most important thing for me in life is leadership. For me, leadership is composed of three parts: communication, development, and amplification. While I can – and have – written reams on these topics, I’ll boil it down to three statements.
Communication is about having a plan and articulating it, listening before speaking, and having a data-based point of view. Development applies equally to yourself as well as to your people – it’s about constant improvement. Amplification is about collaboration and support in a way that allows the team to deliver beyond its individual parts – think about what Robert E. Lee did with limited CSA resources, or what Bill Belichick does with limited star(t) power for the New England Patriots.
3. Name an “inflection point” experience that prepared you for your current position.
I don’t think there was an “inflection point” that prepared me for this position. My CEO often reminds us that, “Experience is the sum of experiences.” Most of my major life decisions worked in concert to prepare me for this role: my educational background, military service, and diverse assignments with Procter & Gamble all contributed to my ability to deliver results in my current position.
4. What characteristics do you value most when hiring new marketing talent for your team?
I always consider the three “C’s” for my organization as a whole, and for individuals on the team. Do you have the Capability we need to succeed? Do you have the Capacity to contribute in this environment? And do you have a Cultural fit for how we operate?
The more time I spend in leadership, the more I value how important culture is for long-term success.
5. What technology are you looking forward to using or implementing for your brand in the next six months?
I really look forward to expanding our use of Bonfyre, a new social media tool for internal communications. Our pilot study has indicated the use has increased social interactions, employee engagement, peer recognition, and information sharing. Taken all together, it’s a tool that helps drive efficiency for our geographically diverse organization.
6. Which book would you recommend to your fellow CMO Club members right now?
Zag by Mary Neumeier remains one of my favorite business books of all time because it brings design-thinking into a business strategy context. And the opening introduction of David Kidder’s The Startup Playbook is a must-read for anyone that has responsibilities for product, brand, or business model innovation.
7. Name one Head of Marketing who impresses you today and tell us why.
Beth Comstock, the former CMO for GE, has always impressed me. Initially, I found the example she set of learning from other CMOs as something to always follow. Now, as she has moved into her Vice Chair Innovation & Growth role, she continues to lead and prove that marketers can contribute at all levels of any corporation.
8. Do you have a personal mantra, words of wisdom or favorite inspirational quote?
“There’s never been a better time to lead than now.” – Brian Barren, Cleveland Indians EVP, Sales & Marketing.