Working in healthcare for the past 25 years has been interesting psychologically. When working with clinical people, I’ve marveled at how neatly they tend to self-select into certain specialties. Native personalities tend to steer us down career paths if we are lucky. I’ve discovered that it is best to harness those innate God-given talents when we strive to find our purpose in order to find both satisfaction and create the greatest possible impact.
My path toward a career in marketing was circuitous, to say the least. My father asked me when I was a teen what I wanted to do with my life. He was so good about trying to help guide his seven children to the place where their talents might be best applied. I really appreciated that. I told him I was thinking of an advertising agency. Now, where I got that, I don’t really know (might have been Bewitched–Wasn’t Darren an executive in an ad agency?). Dad set up a call with a friend who owned an agency in Pittsburgh. The man (whose name I can’t remember) told me that I’d make very little money (something like $15K a year, and that was back in the early 1980s) and that he preferred I major in Russian studies. He literally said, “We need interesting people, and a marketing degree doesn’t mean anything.” Well, that made an impression, and off I went to study economics and finance.
After a master’s degree in business and finance and seven years at Ford Motor Company and Ford Motor Credit, I finally got back on track. I worked my way into a marketing function and ultimately out of the auto industry. It wasn’t a waste, as I learned some useful skills, but I didn’t love it, and I couldn’t imagine turning 50 at Ford Motor Company. Marketing has been a lucrative, challenging, and perfect match for me. If I were to describe a personality that marries well to marketing, I would say hopeful. We tend to see the best in things. We also easily describe something new and innovative in terms that anyone would understand. Streamlining the complex, taking something cold and tech-based, and turning it into an appropriate emotional description are just a few of the activities I love. Sounds like 100% the opposite of finance—that’s fair, it very much is. Many career paths don’t have an onramp like those geared toward math and science. Thankfully, now there are tools like www.youscience.com to help determine where an individual’s natural abilities are aligned.
When we have an open job posting, I’m often asked, “What skills are you looking for at Punching Nun Group?” I’ve learned over the years not to trust a resume and an interview. We utilize some tools to help with both skill sets and general fit. By comparing applicants to excellent team members doing a similar job, we gather real data (over and above intuition) when seeking best-fit applicants. That has been immensely beneficial and nearly always accurate. Years ago, at a Telcom start-up, we had a head of sales with a background in chemical engineering. He was a very unhappy guy who didn’t like managing people. We all took an assessment (a light version of You Science), and it was no surprise to me that I was a perfect fit for my position, and he was not. Money won’t make you happy, and entering a career based on jealousy is never a good move. Dad also shared that if you do what you do for a living, you’ll never work a day in your life.
Marketing requires some common sense, great communication skills, and a positive, hopeful personality. It is important to understand the life cycle of a new service or solution or the reality of the challenges in a particular industry segment. But it is equally important to see past that to where a client’s offering might make a huge impact if given the right opportunity. What problems will it solve, what burdens might it remove, and in the best cases, what lives might be saved?
That’s what gets me rolling every Monday morning. A big dose of hope!