The Career Refresh with Jill Griffin

Career Transitions: A Conversation with Michelle Harmon-Madsen, CMO at SponsorUnited

December 12, 2023 Jill Griffin, Michelle Harmon Madsen Season 5 Episode 146
The Career Refresh with Jill Griffin
Career Transitions: A Conversation with Michelle Harmon-Madsen, CMO at SponsorUnited
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Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Michelle Harmon-Madsen, Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) at SponsorUnited, capitalizes on her extensive 25+ years of experience in marketing and business transformation. This episode underscores her positive methodology and explores her career pivots, shedding light on her challenges and the strategic application of her prior skills for sustained growth and relevance. We also discuss:

  • The art of storytelling for impactful communication
  • Strategies for creating and maintaining momentum in one's career
  • Effective networking techniques and the value of informational interviews
  • Criteria for evaluating potential candidates
  • Why she uses the "margarita test" to foster authentic networking connections

Show Guest

Michelle Harmon-Madsen, CMO at SponsorUnited, leverages 25+ years of experience in marketing and business transformation. Her role encompasses brand marketing, content, demand generation, research, and PR, underpinning brand growth. Previously, as CMO at AccuWeather and in senior roles at ShopperX Lab, FreshDirect, and 19 Entertainment (responsible for American Idol and So You Think You Can Dance sponsorships), Michelle has excelled in fostering customer-centric businesses and new revenue streams. Her passion for advancing women's leadership in marketing, media, and tech is evident in her role as co-chair of the Executive Achievement Committee at She Runs It. Michelle is a proud alumna of Pennsylvania State University, actively contributing to alumni organizations, and she resides in New York, NY, with her husband and daughter. Follow her on LinkedIn

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Jill Griffin is committed to making workplaces more successful for everyone through leadership training and development, team dynamics workshops, and employee well-being programs. Her executive coaching, workshop facilitation, and innovative thinking have driven multi-million-dollar revenues for top agencies, startups, and renowned brands. Collaborating with individuals, teams, and organizations, Jill fosters high-performance and inclusive cultures while facilitating organizational growth.

Visit JillGriffinCoaching.com for more details on:

  • Book a 1:1 Career Strategy and Executive Coaching HERE
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  • Keynote Speaking
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Speaker 1:

Hey, this is Jill Griffin and you are listening to the Career Refresh. This week I'm inviting my friend and former colleague, michelle Harman Madsen, to the podcast. She is currently the chief marketing officer at Sponsor United and I invited Michelle on because she has had some really tremendous and amazing pivots throughout her career and I felt that it would be awesome to have someone who's done it, and done it well, to share with all of us how she thought about her various pivots and the success that she's creating today In her current role at Sponsor United. She does the gamut of marketing. It's everything from brand marketing, content demand, gen research, pr. Everything is underpinned by brand growth. Previously she was the chief marketing officer at AccuWeather. She's also held senior roles at ShopperXLab, freshdirect and 19 Entertainment, who you'd probably know from their work on American Idol. And so you think it can. So you think you can dance.

Speaker 1:

Michelle has excelled in fostering customer-centric businesses and creating new evidence streams. She also has a tremendous passion for advancing women in leadership across marketing, media and technology, and this is pretty evident with her role as co-chair of the executive achievement committee at SheRunsItorg. She is an alumnus of the Pennsylvania State University and she is really active in their alumni organization. She lives in New York and in this episode we talk about her 25 years of marketing and business transformation experience. Michelle talks about storytelling for effective communication. Again, it's that narrative folks that we keep talking about how to create momentum and stay relevant, how to build resilience, networking and informational interviews and why they are so powerful.

Speaker 1:

We also talk about what she calls the Margarita test, and you're going to have to listen in to hear more about that one. Friends, definitely grab your notes up, grab a pen. There are some beautiful gems that Michelle is dropping on us and I know you'll want to take note of those. So, as always, if you have any questions, email me at hello at jillgriffincoachingcom, and we will be sure to get those questions answered and have a great week. I'll see you next time. Michelle, I'm happy that you are here and we are finally doing this.

Speaker 2:

Well, Jill, it is so good to talk to you. I feel like you know, with between the pandemic and the rest of life, we have got to catch up, and so this is a wonderful opportunity.

Speaker 1:

That's awesome. I'm a dozen we have. So I want to start with you the way I start with almost all of my guests, and I want you to tell us what did you think you want them to be when you grew up.

Speaker 2:

Oh gosh. Well, you know, if you were Michelle, in second grade I wrote a whole poster about why I wanted to be a professional football player. I didn't realize it was just a bunch of guys, but anyway, it was just something kind of fun. But in reality, when I went to college, I went for three things and I was really serious when I looked at schools. I looked at schools that had aeronautical engineering, in case I went to be an astronaut. They had an art program, so I really loved art. And then I actually applied for pre-med. I went as a you know a med, going into medicine and, of course, after being there about like I don't even know if it was a full semester, I'm like I don't know if this is for me and I fortunately switched to the business school and majored in marketing.

Speaker 1:

Okay, all right, yeah, I was going to say, but I think when our audience starts to learn more about you over the next time you know the next 30 or so minutes we're going to spend together they're going to see how that level of curiosity, both from med school and engineering, how it feeds into the work that you're doing today. Take us from a fairly high level. So you mentioned going to university and studying marketing. Take us through your first. You know X amount of years of your career. Tell us about it.

Speaker 2:

No, listen, I was. I was very fortunate coming out of college to land some unique opportunities, and one of my early jobs was really working in media. And what excited me there was I was kind of thrown in the deep end to to create opportunities, working with big advertisers and to help their quote, unquote big idea we used to call it come to life. And so I'd have you know, a couple snippets on who their target audience were, what they wanted to be doing in the marketplace maybe you know who else they might be working with and then needed to come up with these big ideas to go back to them. Well, it was fantastic, it was a ton of fun, it was a ton of work, but I think for me what was really exciting is one of the big ideas that we started.

Speaker 2:

This is I actually been doing it for a little bit, but one of the ideas we came up with was to do a concert tour for one of our clients, and in this case it was for Maytag. Now, I don't know if Maytag and music go together particularly well for most people, but they were launching a new washer and dryer, but it was all going to be more energy efficient, and so I said listen, why don't we create a music tour? I should say it wasn't just me, it was a team of us. Let's create a music tour. It'll be about making music matter. We brought in an artist, kenny Chesney out of all things, who's certainly a Skyracted. Since then, anyway, I moved from really kind of being more sales oriented into a marketing oriented job to actually create this tour, and that really kind of led me on my trajectory of really being more involved in marketing and how can we create that wonderful partnership from a brand working with consumers and really fueling your business?

Speaker 1:

OK, so hearing that it shows us how you took me you were in media and how you pivoted to marketing and really making the connection between a brand talent and a product. I know your history, I know your background, but tell our audience some more of the really amazing opportunities you've had within brand partnerships.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, and that really, you know, it kind of was one of those things in the back of my head that just kind of was like oh, this is exciting to me. I just I love doing the work, and so I had some really neat opportunities that came forth from that. So one of the next ones was to head up corporate marketing for Rodale, and so we again it was kind of doing that, but I was leading kind of a corporate team so we worked with advertisers like oh, jeep and Nissan and Kraft and you know big names to kind of come up with programs, and we led that team across digital and marketing for several years. And then I got a really interesting phone call from a woman who I had happened to meet along the way, who said do you want to come work with me at 19 Entertainment? And most of you may not know that corporate name, but you'll know American Idol, and so they think you can dance. And what was fabulous there is. I actually got to come on board and really help revitalize their sponsorships with all their major advertisers. And it was really about thinking about them from a broader lens, like could we take the big on air sponsors and make them, you know, come to the tour, could we do more things with talent, could we think creatively about how we're engaging the fans? And was there for quite a few seasons and it was. It was terrific. I mean, I will tell you, it's one of those jobs where I was in New York, based in New York, we had a big team in the UK and, of course, la where things are being filmed. So I will tell you, I worked my tush off and but it was really an interesting time to be able to say how, again, how can we create these unique opportunities where it's more just more than a sponsorship, but really create opportunities to engage fans and then bring in our brand partners to make it be better.

Speaker 2:

After that I shifted. I got a call on the agency side of the business where Jill, you and I got to collaborate, and that was to work with Procter and Gamble and then Microsoft, really more in the content space, and it was really helping them to for P&G, really think about how could they engage their brands on a global basis to again work with you know better, get connection with consumers, but also use entertainment and media in a bigger way, and so one of their big properties was the People's Choice Awards, and so we brought in even outside brands, outside of the Procter and Gamble world, to come be sponsors of this program and really, you know, it was terrific because we had a whole live event in LA but so much stuff leading up to that event as well as after it, so it was really a full marketing component. After my time on the agency side, I went to Fresh Direct and I would say that was probably a pivot. That from the outside, may not have made much sense, but to me personally, it made a ton of sense because I was helping them to launch their shop or marketing platform. And that, basically, is how? Again, how can brands come to life in a way that's authentic in this e-commerce environment? How can we make it be right for the Fresh Direct business? And they were, you know, one of the largest e-commerce centered grocers on the East Coast and they really they didn't want to step away from their fresh, they didn't want to step away from their vegetables. So how could we make this fit their brand and these other brands that we sold on the site? So, whether that would be, you know, a PepsiCo and maybe Stacey's, or or even it was Coca-Cola, how can we make it be authentic to what we were doing at Fresh Direct so led that for quite a few years, before I shifted over to actually launching at my own company for a while, which was really about how could we accelerate tech within the retail space, because I knew there was a ton of opportunity.

Speaker 2:

I will also admit to you that I realized after doing that everyone said, yes, this is a great idea, but they know I wasn't a hurry, and so I thought to myself, maybe this is not the time to start my own company.

Speaker 2:

And that's when I was fortunate to get the opportunity to be Chief Marketing Officer at AccuWeather, and so for that, for me, was a wonderful mix between doing consumer B2B marketing and having teams across that organization. I'm really thinking of ways to kind of bring weather to life for people, not only when you need it, when there's bad weather, but also on days when it's sunny. And then I was. I've been really fortunate to come over here to sponsor United, because to me that you know, even though I think again, it looks like I've made big pivots Some people think about my career, but I think for me it's all been about these partnerships, and that's really what we're focused on here, it's how can we elevate all sides of the partnership and so, whether that be the right tolder or the media company or, for that matter, the brand and their agency, to be able to have more information, to make smarter partnerships and to accelerate their business. So that's my long version of telling you a lot of my career story. Yeah, no.

Speaker 1:

And I think you know again, for listeners and I want to go a little bit deeper on some of that, but I think for listeners you know what I heard from what she's saying is one the power of storytelling has been throughout the power of partnership, our partnerships and sponsorships.

Speaker 1:

Partnerships, right, they are technically different, right, but from an interchangeable. It is about creating that win-win and finding the alignment of what is going to serve all the parties. And then, even when going to a place like AccuRather, where it is a utility that we all need and use regularly, and how do you create an experience that would require someone to come back or use it to come back more often is some of the intricacies of the strategy, of what you're doing that you know. It's really compelling to watch those various pivots. So it's not only the pivots within the roles you've taken, but the pivots in the positioning that you're doing with various brands and companies. Tell us a little bit about what do you think were the most important skills to be able to continue to have that kind of trajectory and pivot.

Speaker 2:

You know, I think, depending on the time when you're in it I don't know if you realize it, but I would say there's certainly a resilience that I think that's really important, and that, to me, is about being open to new ideas. It's being really kind of being a little honest with yourself on what you're best at and what you're good at, but it's also about a little bit of that positivity and in creating your own momentum too. And so I feel like when, anytime, you're gonna make a big pivot, particularly when you're gonna go from an agency side to the brand side or, for that matter, you know, back to media, you have to be able to tell your story. And I think you're really right, jill, as you keep talking about you know hearing you say the word storytelling. As much as I'm talking about that is is how can you tell a story and make it be relevant for that new audience you're speaking to? And that is such an important skill.

Speaker 2:

And I will tell you that there's some days I do that. I think I do it really well, and other days I'm like, oh, that wasn't so my best. But I think that's been something. I've needed to do a lot to help people to understand. What have I done? Why is it relevant in this new environment and why would I be the one to help lead it, particularly in the new environment, as I've also been able to be a manager and leader of teams and businesses?

Speaker 1:

So I also love the you know you're talking about. How do you keep a story relevant, to keep a brand, a partnership, the end user or the end viewer involved? But it's also the idea of within your career. Your resume is not about you. Your career trajectory when you're on an interview is not about you, it's about them. So how are you telling the story so that whoever you're speaking to goes oh, this person is the solution for my problem. I wanna know more, I wanna engage with them more. I wanna, you know, have them meet my colleagues and continue on. The interviewing process and that's what you have to remember is like everything we're putting out there. We are the product when we're looking for work and we have to remember that we have to have the story to whoever's receiving the product to make it useful and relevant to them. So it works for brands that we purchase and it works for people that are looking for their next opportunity.

Speaker 2:

I think you make an absolute excellent point. I mean, you know, I know people who are so good at what they do, but also a very good and very narrow window, and so that's like the vernacular they use, that's how they describe everything. They would use very specific terms for their industry, and which is fabulous when you're in that role. But if you wanna switch to something else, it's really about how.

Speaker 2:

Can what words make you know? Can your mother understand what you're doing there or what you know? And so how can you apply it to another industry? And sometimes you have to go, take a look and you know, ask, you know I love doing, or recommending, I should say, informational interviews, because if you can do an informational interview where there's not a pressure, if you're really applying for a first job or you're not interviewing for the job that you absolutely want, you can learn some of that vernacular, learn some of the language to really integrate into your own story. So this way you're telling the story that makes the most sense for that individual or that company to hear, versus only telling it from your perspective.

Speaker 1:

I love it. And in addition to that, I would pile on and say take your resume and run it through any of the AI filters, go open a search browser and see how else the words and phrases you're putting in, how else they might be described. Because whether it's for your resume, your LinkedIn profile or actual human speak conversation, you have to have a broader way of saying it to your point that my grandmother understands as much as you know someone who's new to the marketplace can understand. We have to keep it simple and then, when they bite, sure, go deeper. Show your brilliant, show your expertise and your industry knowledge, but in order to get them to bite, you have to be able to tell a story that's broad enough that someone doesn't have to say I'm sorry, I don't know what you're talking about, because they're not gonna say that to you.

Speaker 2:

No, they'll just skip you and say next.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, they'll skip. What obstacles or challenges did you find along the way, right? So, while your various roles were similar, and there's clearly a thread, there's also a pivot from going from the media company side to a brand side, to a tech side, like when you were starting your own business, or even while you worked at FreshDirect. You're still starting up a whole new tech stack for them, right, making sure that they have partnerships within their e-commerce. What would you say were some of the challenges or obstacles you encountered and then how did you overcome them?

Speaker 2:

Oh, there's a lot. I will tell you about Plasma First, so I tend not to focus on them. However, you do learn a lot from them. So I would say listen.

Speaker 2:

The same idea of pivoting and using the right language and storytelling is so relevant in the job, and that became really apparent. I can tell you a story when, particularly at Fetch Direct, where we knew we had to come over some issues with customer service, we needed to make some changes, but everyone had a different point of view on how this was going to get done and we really need to come to alignment, and we need to come to alignment quickly. And so what we did is we said, ok, let's start this mini task force. We brought those kind of key individuals from each different department so all the silos, if you will and we brought them all together. And the first meaning was OK, let's just spew everything that's wrong, because everyone has a really easy time telling everyone what's wrong. So we made that be the first meaning.

Speaker 2:

The second meaning we said OK, let's pretend you're literally Walt Disney. You have got this huge creative influence. You can make this be this magical new solution. What kind of magical solution would work for us? And we came up with all these big ideas and then the third meaning was OK, how can we take the magical big idea and how can we root it a little bit more in where we are today? And so this way we said here's kind of step one, here's our idea for step two, and we actually came up with something in the future. Well, I think what was great about that is everyone was invested in the situation, everyone was part of the problem solving and we actually came up with, I think, ideas and solutions that were far better than any one of us had as individuals when we started. So those kind of techniques I have found to be really helpful and that really moved us for us quickly. It was a great way to overcome a big obstacle for the business and produce results in a really quick amount of time.

Speaker 1:

So it's kind of the adage of how do you need an elephant one bite at a time.

Speaker 1:

That's what's making me think of, as you're talking right, where, if you put the big, hairy challenge on the wall and said we have to solve for it, it's so big and broad, people can spend. But what you're telling me is breaking down those steps, breaking down those obstacles for yourself and others, and therefore people could all lend their brilliant brains to solving one challenge at a time. It also then feels less overwhelming. And what we know and my listeners know this too when the brain is in stress or overwhelm it's really hard for it to think. So when we break it down and slow down, we can get back to our prefrontal cortex and be able to think strategically. We cannot be in the overwhelm and also think strategically. It's fight or flight, folks. You can't do both.

Speaker 2:

I think you're absolutely right.

Speaker 1:

I love that. So did you do anything to prepare? Was there any additional education or schooling? I mean going from media and marketing, and you and I know from the time we worked together and just in our friendship over the years, the marketplace every three months is changing with some new technology or some new ad tech stack or technology stack that needs to be integrated. How did you find the way to stay on top of all of that?

Speaker 2:

I have definitely been more of the roll up your sleeves kind of mentality, if you will, trying to read things, trying to do stuff. There was points in my career when I thought, gosh, do I go back and get the MBA and I would have opportunities, and I'm like I'm not giving this up. I want to be here and do it. I will tell you, of late there's been a couple good sources that I might recommend to your listeners to go and think about. One is, of course, linkedin Learning. They're probably quick snippets of stuff, but I will tell you, on the B2B side, the B2B Institute is really great, great research, great insights, and so if people are not even familiar with B2B marketing, it's something that could be interesting. Or if you're in that kind of side of the business, I would definitely recommend it. The other one which really has surprised me, I will say, is Scott Galloway has a series of classes called Section 4. And now I think it's just called Section and I ended up taking one of them. I was like you know, I'm just intrigued. I mean, I was a major in marketing, so took a lot of these classes and I said, oh, I'm going to go do one. Well, I think for me the most interesting thing was is that one. Yes, I knew a lot of the information of course he was talking about, but I think he presents it in a very unique point of view.

Speaker 2:

But they also had these really wonderful breakout sessions where they put you with other individuals and so it could be at your level or area of interest.

Speaker 2:

They kind of divided you up into these smaller groups and you meet three or four people who were doing similar kind of things but in very different places. So one was had his own restaurant chain, one had come from big retail and they just had interesting points of view and so you'd have these discussions then and I really found it to be a great way to you know, yes, you went to a class, but really kind of think about how it applied to what you were doing and what your business was doing, and that to me was really kind of a fun takeaway. So, because I always think you know, when I go to a conference, like I want to learn, I just don't want to go and meet people to sell people or that kind of like. I want to walk away with learnings. And these were two other examples where I'd say that I'd really recommend people Like you. Can I particularly recommend the section one because you had that engagement with other people in different places.

Speaker 1:

And making it almost applicable, right, so it's, you know, from the clinic of learning to the actual doing. Yeah, that's a great output. That in the show notes for everyone listening so you can find some of those links. So it sounds like learning has been a thread for you. Is that what inspired or motivated you along the way to take the various pivots?

Speaker 2:

Well, I think the motivation was at times, like sometimes I knew I'd gotten in places where there just wasn't something else that I wanted to do there, like I knew I had had kind of for what I could see in the future. Here we there. I just didn't see the great next step for me as the next opportunity. So I think there was some of that. I also knew gosh. I was at least savvy enough to know some of the things I was best at to say I want to do more of this and I will give your listeners one other exercise which I'd highly recommend. It's called the seven stories and it was actually created back in the 20s. I believe you'd have to kind of look it up. It was. It was a group and I think it was called like the five o'clock club, but go look for it.

Speaker 2:

But what it basically you do is you list down the 25 stories, if you will, that you're most proud of, like things that you've done in your career, your college, high school, pick elementary school, if you'd like 25 things you're proud of, and what you'll find very quickly is the first 10 or so you're going to write down right away and then you're going to believe I haven't done anything else. And we're going to say and that's the point where you have to push yourself really think what have I done that I've enjoyed? What have I done? That just makes you smile and literally I will tell you like.

Speaker 2:

One of those things for me was a Bolton board I created in the sixth grade. I can still visualize this silly bill to more than I created, but I was so proud of the work and the creativity that went into it, and so you have to write down the why, like why does this make you excited? So when you go back and look at your all these 25 stories and I think even do more than that if you can pick the seven that really resonate the most with you, because that really helps to remind you of not only what you're good at but what makes you happy. And because if you can find that touch points of when they come together, like those are the jobs you want to have, those are the ones you're excited to wake up in the morning. And when I've taken the jobs, that were the shiny disco balls that look sexy on paper, and I got there and I was like, oh my gosh, this isn't anything that I enjoy doing. Those are the ones where I knew I needed to make a pivot.

Speaker 1:

Oh, that, I mean, that is like wisdom that is so important Knowing career stories and career narrative and, in your case, the seven stories. It was more than that. We'll. We'll dig up that link and put it in the show notes. But just the idea that there was something around the action of that bulletin board, probably around creativity and inspiration, as you were in the sixth grade, that was a thread of knowing that, that was a why for you. And yeah, I just I love that as a way for an internal navigation, like your own internal GPS, of knowing and knowing those stories and then being able to tell them well to others. Brilliant, Brilliant. I love it.

Speaker 2:

And one thing I'll add to what I realized is why it was important. Because, like listen, I've had some jobs that are sexier than others, right, and I've worked in media and entertainment. I've worked with big name, you know, shows, and now in sports and media and entertainment too. But but a lot of people say, well, I want to work in sports, I want to work in entertainment or music, and I'm always like, well, what do you want to do? Because that's the difference. Because sometimes you can work for a wire hanger company, but if you're doing the right kind of stuff, like, that's super cool and you can drive a lot of business, and so I want people to think bigger about it versus just, oh, sports are something I love, and I love sports, I love watching sports, but doesn't mean I need to be there, right, so it just opens up your mind to so many different opportunities. If it isn't just about the one you know, just music or just sports or you know, it just really kind of opens up your, your purview.

Speaker 1:

So I know that you are very involved in. She Runs it, which is an organization dedicated to paving the way from warm women in leadership positions across. You know marketing, media and tech. What advice would you give to people who are trying to make connections and networking?

Speaker 2:

I am a huge believer of networking. I'm a huge believer in getting out there and participating, so I will typically, if you're happened to be in college, I would say what are you involved in active on campus? If you are starting your career, I would say what other organization or industry trade groups have you joined? They do not need to be fancy big organizations. It's about meeting people who do something similar to you or, for that matter, other sides. I think the reason why I have particularly loved being involved with she runs it is it's women across the whole, so they're in media and marketing and ad tech, and there's people in HR, legal and not what I do.

Speaker 2:

And what I found is is that every time I go to an event, whether it's virtual, in person, I meet someone else who does something different that I haven't had a chance to engage with.

Speaker 2:

I oftentimes have been able to call them up when I've run into situations like gosh, have you run into this and what did you do? And they're like oh, I'm happy to share with you, here's what I did and here's what I called, and it saves you hours of work and resources. But I think it's just such important because it opens up your mind about the whole industry that you're in, and I will tell you that's absolutely how I found some of my job opportunities. It's all been from networking, like that, and it's not been forced. It hasn't been like, oh, I'm looking for a job. It's just been like when I've said to him, gosh, I think it's time for me to make a change, he said oh, I want you to meet such and such because they're doing interesting work, and it's opened up doors when I really have needed it, but also when I've least expected it.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, perfect way to be networking. What advice specifically would you tell people, because a lot of people are like, well, I feel weird. I met them at the event, yeah, they gave me their card, but like I don't know how to follow up. What would you tell people to kind of break that ice?

Speaker 2:

Well that I might go back to the idea of informational interviews, and the reason being is the whole idea of why you want to reconnect with someone is hey, can you help me understand? How did you get started in your role? What are you doing on a day-to-day basis? What is your team focused on? You're basically learning about them, learning about their career path, learning about their company, and it's not about just saying, gosh, I want to meet with you to focus on a job, and so you're almost giving the meeting another purpose or a broader purpose. That makes it much easier to reach out, because most people are happy to share how they've gotten here. What do they look for in new hires? What's of interest? And so I think that's a great way.

Speaker 2:

The other idea I would say is, if you do set up a meeting to go talk to someone, tell them you're interested in one, two, no more than three things. The reason being is, if the world's your oyster and you say the world's my oyster, I can do anything. I can't help give you any direction. But if you say, gosh, I'm interested in working in sports for a team, or I'm interested in working on the marketing side for sports, making this up. Of course I'm like oh then, boy, you might want to think about X and Y, because they're doing some unique things and I think they're expanding their team.

Speaker 2:

But even if you have to make it up, even if you're not sure that's what you want to do and I will give that advice to myself at points, or sometimes I wasn't quite sure pick a point, just pick one and say this is what I'm thinking about. And you can even say to them what do you think about that? Do you think that's an area that's growing or an area that's shifting? And they may say, gosh, they are looking for people to hire. Have you thought about this company? I mean, that's when the door is open. So I'd say, if you're unsure, pick one, two, no more than three ideas that you'd be willing, that you've been open to share with someone I love it People she is dropping.

Speaker 1:

I hope you have your notes up, open pan out paper and be writing, because she is giving really, really great tips today. I want to switch a little bit into you are a chief marketing officer of a major company. What do you look for in candidates these days and I know you're not speaking about hiring specifically, we're talking more in general- Well, I mean, listen, I will go back to.

Speaker 2:

I look for people who are active and involved. I'm a big believer in what else are you if you're coming out of college? What activities were you a part of If you were in the middle part of your career? All right, what else is happening? What have you done there? Are you involved in a trade industry? I love seeing people are participating, because not only are you involved in a trade industry, because me, those are people who are learning, so I really strive for that. That's a big area where I look for.

Speaker 2:

I also look for people who I used to call it the Margarita test, and what I mean by that is, which is, if you don't like Margaritas, pick whatever. But I want people who like listen, you don't have to be like me, you don't have to be my best friend, but, boy, I want to learn more about you and I want to go spend time Like I'd want to go out and have a Margarita with you to get to do that, and so I always kind of use that and so. But it's not about being like me or having the same experience, about like, oh, I'm interested in what you're doing, so I. That was always one of the things I kind of use as a, as a fake interview skill, but I but maybe I should change it up and come up with a different name for it?

Speaker 1:

No, but I like it it's. It's the idea of are you, are you in reciprocity, are you learning about me as much as I'm learning about you, or are you just not really interesting because you're just talking about yourself, right? People remember when you ask them great questions and you're interesting, in addition to sharing, about things that you've done in your life, and it's not just you know what you're doing for eight hours or so a day, so I think that's really great. Great points too. What are you looking forward to for the rest of the quarter, like you know within your, within your day job? What's going on at Sponsored United, like? What are you excited for for the back half of this year?

Speaker 2:

We have. I'd say we're going to be focused a little bit on well, I call it the planning, but it's really getting ready to launch a new product next year, all the step that goes involved in what we need to have ready and prepared for that. There's some days where I'm like, oh gosh, we pulled together this great list, we've got the good handle on strategy. And then the next day I'm like, oh gosh, we've got a lot more work to go. But I think that's the exciting time it's about.

Speaker 2:

Okay, we've got to do a little bit of a transition from just spending time on some of the day-to-day stuff that is enough work for the entire team to manage in our 40-hour work week to now, okay, how can we carve away some of that to really spend some time to focus smartly on the new product launch. That's everything from messaging and content to building out media plans, to just good old creativity, to how can we use not a lot of resources to make something sexy happen. It's exciting part, but it's also the tough part where we're really having to push ourselves to come up with new ideas and new ways to do things so we can be smarter about it.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, Any books or podcasts you're listening to. That would be helpful for our listeners.

Speaker 2:

Yeah Well, I must admit I am a big fan of the CMO podcast by Jim Stengel, so that is one I listen to. Then I will have team members just send me things that, whether it be old did you listen to how I built this? Or RCO, will come give me one. There's a couple of the goodness. I'm going to forget his name, adam, who's at University of Pennsylvania, adam Grant. Adam Grant, thank you very much. His name escaped me. I do really like listening to some of his things, because you could say they're not about specifically marketing, but yet they're specifically about everything and people. So I think his stuff is really great. So I'm constantly looking for new ones. It's funny. I just went to a conference and I wrote down some new books and I was trying to remember what the name was, and so I will try to send them over to you if I can find it.

Speaker 1:

Okay, we'll drop them into the show notes. That's great, michelle. This is really great. I love the speed round of just dropping wisdom on everyone and letting people see that career pivots are exciting and challenging and yet, at the same time, really touching in with yourself. And what is that internal story or that internal why, to know what you're choosing next. So I think all of that is really helpful for people who are looking at what's next for them in their career. So thank you for that.

Speaker 2:

You're very welcome. Well, I'll give you one more tiny piece. Jill that I just thought of is when you go and have a meeting with someone and you realize that your story and how you pivoted didn't come across as well as you might have. Instead of being very negative on yourself like, oh, I didn't do it well, use it as a learning. You know what I mean. We can't all do it great the first time. So I would say practice, practice as much as you can before you go. But if it didn't go so well, find someone to maybe bounce it off with, or even tape yourself on Zoom to try some things in the future, to keep learning, because it's most likely your first time you try it out. It's not going to go 100% the way you'd expect it.

Speaker 1:

So good, so good. Thank you so much, Michelle. Thanks Jill.

Speaker 2:

Great to see you.

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