The other week, thousands of people flocked to San Francisco for Dreamforce. Everyone was hungry to hear the latest, cutting-edge ideas, be amazed by new products that could transform the way their company does business, and be inspired by thought leaders from around the world. I, being one of these hungry people, was on a mission to make the most of my time and see what I could learn and apply to my marketing role here at Marketo.
I was fortunate to have had the opportunity to attend a Women in Technology panel hosted at InsideView’s Open Lounge at One Kearny. The panel featured seven successful women who have excelled in their careers and emerged as respected leaders. The session covered a variety of topics, including the importance of taking risks and how to create balance in your life.
The main takeaway from the session? Women in marketing are a force to be reckoned with and they’re not slowing down any time soon. We can all take a page or two (or three) out of their playbook!
So, I ask, are you one of those individuals like me who is looking for some guidance on how to get to the next level in your marketing career? Of course you are! Here are four pieces of advice from accomplished women in technology that we can all apply to our own professional lives:
1. “Don’t put it off. Do it now. You don’t know what will happen in three years.”
—Robin Saitz, CMO, Brainshark
The way I think about this tidbit, is, “If not now, when?” Life changes dramatically from year to year. I think it’s incredibly important to go after what you want now. Life is unpredictable and will most likely not end up the way we think it will. If you’re a practitioner-level marketer and aspire to rise to the position of CMO, you should actively seek skills and opportunities today in order to set the stage to get you there tomorrow. Or, if you work in healthcare, but dream of being a marketer in the automotive industry, why not take a leap of faith and change industries? You might have to start from scratch, but if it’s something you want, why not go for it? Better to do it now than a year from now when you’re still aching with the same dream…but have lost a year of valuable time.
2. “If your heart doesn’t race at least once a week, you’re not taking enough risk.”
—Judith Hammerman, VP Sales, Connexity
We should all strive to take more risks, because honestly…what’s the worst that could happen?! We know we are taking a risk when we can feel it in our body; our pulse quickens and our hands might even shake. This is the physical indication that we are stepping outside of our comfort zone. How can you do this? As a practitioner–level marketer, ask to be a lead on a new project, volunteer to moderate the next company webinar, or simply raise your hand and offer up a fresh perspective in a meeting with your superiors. Get comfortable with being uncomfortable! You will be noticed and eventually become trusted to take on more responsibility over time. This is how you set yourself a part from others and make a name for yourself.
3. “Find what fills you up and guard it fiercely.”
—Alison Holmlund, VP Customers for Life, Host Analytics
Everyone needs something outside of work. Some of the women on the panel expressed a love of running or biking early in the morning before they start their days. My thing is dancing. I can’t really dance, but it makes me feel joyous and helps me forget all the worries circulating in my head. It frees my mind and allows for clarity. So, I ask, what fills you up? What brings out the happiest side of you? I promise your fellow marketers will appreciate working with the best version of you. Happiness fosters positive thinking. And so I would bet that your marketing ideas are stronger when you’re in a good mood. Don’t let your “thing” fall to the wayside when work is demanding. There is always time for you!
4. “A confident person is not afraid to admit they don’t know something.”
—Nicole Campbell, General Counsel
It’s okay to not always have an answer. You shouldn’t always have an answer, or there wouldn’t be anything left to learn. Marketo’s CMO, Sanjay Dholakia, always says, “The biggest room in the world is the room for improvement.” Look around you. I’m sure you’re surrounded by a breadth of people, full of knowledge on topics you’re unfamiliar with. Go to lunch with those people. Ask them questions. If you’re a junior marketer, get to know the more senior people. Ask them to slow down and explain things you’re unsure of. Asking questions is not a sign of weakness; it’s a strength. It illustrates a sense of curiosity. The best marketers are those with a variety of skills, but also those with a yearning to grow.
I left the lounge that afternoon feeling inspired and ready to take on a new day. These accomplished women in technology are individuals we can all learn from. They didn’t have all the answers on how to achieve a perfect “work/life” balance, nor do we expect them to. They are a reminder that we are all human and make mistakes along the way. They remind us that it is important to keep perspective, make time for those in your life who are important to you, and be sure to find the humor in it all. I aspire to be a leader in the technology space. I know it’s a long road ahead, but I realize that taking risks and asking questions will shape me into the best marketer I can be.