Written By: Adam Dince
Whether client or agency side, in order to grow your digital marketing/advertising career into an executive role, you must continually take your game to the next-level. As any football coach in the NFL will tell you, to be a great receiver, it’s not enough to catch the ball—it’s about gaining yards after the catch. It’s the same in marketing and really all professions. Those that regularly make plays after the catch, end up with promotions and opportunities. Those who are just satisfied with the catch, end up frustrated with their careers and tend to blame others for their lack of growth.
“The difference between a successful person and others is not a lack of strength, not a lack of knowledge, but rather in a lack of will.” Vincent T. Lombardi
Here are a few tips to help start your 2012 off right by breaking tackles and running the football into the end-zone for a career winning touchdown:
Never Settle: Some of the best coaching I’ve ever received was from our senior drill instructor at U.S. Navy Basic Training. One evening, after we had completed our final physical fitness exam, MRC (SW/AW) Lowe, called me into his office. He said, “Airman Dince, what do you want to accomplish in the Navy?” I said, “Chief, I want to become a commissioned officer!” He said,
“Well, always remember this—you can either take what they give you, or take over. When you get to your ship, find the job that you want, start doing it better than anyone else—and take it over.”
I took his advice to heart and ended up getting promoted three times in three years. On top of that, during our six month deployment to the Arabian Gulf, I was the only enlisted sailor to receive a letter of commendation from the commanding officer of the entire battle group.
To this day, I keep his advice close to heart and share it frequently with others. No matter where I go, I set my eyes on what I want and go for it. Chief’s few words of wisdom, which were spoken to me over 17 years ago, have helped me achieve more in life than I ever thought possible.
Manage Up: It doesn’t matter how junior you are in your current role—get to know your senior leadership team and develop relationships with them. Be personable, be respectful, and most importantly—be yourself. Let the executive team see you for all that you bring to the table. While this may sound like a daunting task, I promise it’s not so scary.
One morning, shortly after I started at iCrossing, I noticed a woman getting out of a beautiful BMW in the parking lot. That afternoon, she walked by my desk and I said, “Excuse me, is that your BMW outside?” She said, “It sure is!” After a little more banter, we ended our chat and she walked away. My co-worker at the next desk over said, “Adam, do you know who that was?” Of course, I had no idea. He said, “That’s Maggie—she’s the Chief Human Resources Officer.” He was blown away that someone as junior as me, was striking up a casual conversation with one of the principals of the agency.
Over the course of my years at iCrossing, Maggie and I developed a solid friendship and she was someone who fiercely advocated for me. The BMW chat opened up many future conversations about dogs, cars, career, etc… and we are still good friends to this day.
My friendship with Maggie taught me that we are all people regardless of rank or title, and no one is unapproachable. Since then, I’ve made befriending senior leadership a priority in my career plan–so should you!
Set Goals: Typically, when meeting with a client for the first time, an important question a marketer will ask is, “What are your goals?” If we know what our client’s goals are, we can develop a highly actionable strategy. You should treat your career as a client by setting growth goals for yourself and then mapping out a plan to get there. Once you’ve got a plan, formally share it with your supervisor and senior leadership team (if possible) so that they can help you on your journey. Trust me, it works!
Help Others Succeed: Everyone interviewing for a career or job opportunity says that they are a team player. But what does being a team player really mean? Being a team player is important and it goes way beyond simply integrating with others. Investing time in building up your co-workers’ professional skills will show your employer a few things about you:
- You are credible
- You’re a team player
- You care about others
- You care about your company/organization
Also, never forget where you came from. None of us would be where we are in life if someone hadn’t invested a little time into our future.
Be a Subject Matter Expert: Being a subject-matter expert is key to thriving in an ever-evolving digital ecosystem. What separates you from everyone else? It’s what you know, how well you leverage your knowledge and how you communicate it to others.
- Read, Read, Read: Keep up on the latest and greatest in the industry
- Test, Test, Test: Don’t believe everything you read. You’ve got to test the hypothesis to see if it’s legitimate
- Share, Share, Share: If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound? Let others know what you know!
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