Learn How These Ladies are Killing It in the Marketing Industry

Moving up in this big bad world is terrifying. It’s terrifying because you want so badly to make a difference, but you’re not sure where to begin. It’s daunting to have a conversation with the CEO, let alone share your ideas with them. It’s exhausting because the harder you hustle the more emotionally drained you get.

Yeah, we hear you and we know exactly how that feels.

But think about the feeling you get after you publish an article, when you get that promotion, or even when you accomplish something simple like your daily to-do list. That feeling is ah-mazing isn’t it?

We started the Marketing Leading Ladies series wanting to inspire more women to push past the limitations of moving up in a marketing career.

To finish this series, see what Victoria Ekwenuke, Global Brand Manager at eBay; Danielle Ryan, Founder & CEO of BriteIdea Marketing; and Noorjahan Akbar, Founder of Free Women Writers and Marketing Freelancer have to say from their own journey to success.

Q1: Was there a piece of advice that has inspired you throughout your career?

Victoria Ekwenuke Global Brand Manager of Ebay

“I think everyone aspires to be successful. Perhaps we want to get promoted, be recognized for our accomplishments, maybe make it on the cover of Forbes or be interviewed by Oprah one day lol… The thing is that not everyone can be promoted at the same time. In fact, some people are recognized for their accomplishments today, while others will be recognized 10 years from today.

Success doesn’t happen to everyone simultaneously. I’m a true believer that if you want it bad enough and you’re willing to work for it, then it’s only a matter of time until you’ll have it. The piece of advice that has inspired me throughout my career, goes a little something like this:

Everyone has their time to shine. Your time is your time and it can’t be compared with anyone else. Sometimes, you have to keep your head down, build make progress, and stick to the belief that no matter how long it takes or what it takes, you will get there.”

Danielle Ryan Founder & CEO, BriteIdea Marketing Group

“You’ll never be the best at something, but what you can be is better. In order to do this, we must continuously evolve as human beings and professionals.

Be willing to accept constructive criticism, understanding that there is no one right way to accomplish things, and to spend 40% of our time learning and 60% doing.”

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Noorjahan Akbar Founder of Free Women Writers and Marketing Freelancer

“Not throughout my career, but recently I’ve had the chance to work with Allison Shapira, who is a public speaking trainer and author, and one thing she said has stuck with me.

She argues that in public speaking, as well as other things in life, it is more important to be authentic than to be perfect. This is among the most thoughtful advice I’ve received and I try to keep it in mind in all of my work, whether I’m speaking at an event or writing an article.”

Q2: How do you stay productive on days when you just feel like binge-watching Netflix?

Victoria Ekwenuke Global Brand Manager of Ebay

“Ha! I give in and binge watch Netflix! … Seriously, I do and this is why. Most people who know me would say that I’m very structured and disciplined. I spend a lot of my free time working on the many commitments that I have. Being busy all the time doesn’t necessarily equate to productivity.

Yes, constant hustle and drive are great and at times are needed. However, it can also lead to unhealthy habits and in fact be counterproductive. I’ve learned that rest (in whichever form you need it) is ok. Sometimes your mind needs some “off” time, so there’s nothing wrong with taking a Netflix escape.

It’s more than ok to give yourself permission to step away from your task list in order to enjoy simple pleasures. I think taking an hour (or maybe two) to unwind before going in hard with work is an excellent way to be productive overall.

Danielle Ryan Founder & CEO, BriteIdea Marketing Group

“I think it’s important to find a balance between work and play so you don’t have those days where you feel burnt out and just want to binge watch Netflix. Whether that is a daily workout or taking short 15 minute breaks throughout the day, taking care of our bodies and mental health is the key to staying productive.

Personally, I have a daily meditation practice and I reserve 10 days a year where I completely unplug and focus on personal development. Knowing that I have a responsibility to our clients and my employees encourages me to show up in the best state of mind I can possibly be in, every day.”

Noorjahan Akbar Founder of Free Women Writers and Marketing Freelancer

“Usually, I’m overworked. I write freelance, I manage social media for a company, and I run my own nonprofit (Free Women Writers) so if I feel like binge-watching Netflix sometimes, that’s okay. It is important to take breaks and take care of our mental and physical health. Often, that actually helps us be better at our work.

I try not to feel the pressure to be productive every single day, but rather work smart when I am feeling creative energy and give myself time to rest when I need it. I learned this the hard way after burning out twice. I’m only 26 and I’ve crashed and gotten physically ill or depressed, from overworking and measuring my worth by my productivity twice. It shouldn’t be that way. I’m learning to work differently and create healthy boundaries that allow me to pause and breathe when I need to.

When I really need to get things done and I can tell that I’m procrastinating for no good reason, I try to refresh by going for a walk or watching an inspiring Ted Talk. That usually helps me get back to work.”

Q3: How can more women achieve a more prominent role in their organization?

Victoria Ekwenuke Global Brand Manager of Ebay

“Doing the thing that scares them the most. Intuitively, we all have ideas about how we can make something better at work – whether it’s driving the business, solving an issue, championing diversity or pushing the boundaries to change or think differently. Many times we silent these ideas or initiatives because we fear how they will be received or we fear that we are not authored the right to make such suggestions.

We will begin to see more women in prominent roles when we kick “fear” to the curb and learn to accept the fact that those roles are as much ours as it is theirs. In other words, you don’t need to ask permission to be magical.”

Danielle Ryan Founder & CEO, BriteIdea Marketing Group

“Plain and simple – treat everyone as an equal, including yourself. I think it’s important that women start talking about themselves as equals and ditch the faux-empowerment titles.

We all go through the same things, we all have the same fears, we all overcome the same crazy milestones and when we reach our first million in revenue, it is the same million no matter your gender.”

Noorjahan Akbar Founder of Free Women Writers and Marketing Freelancer

Women can, and do, the same things men do to succeed and move forward. In fact, I’ve noticed that my women colleagues are less content with where they are and more likely to seek opportunities for growth and learning.

Women are not held back in industries because we are lacking something, but rather because those industries are not giving women opportunities to take prominent roles. That needs to change. And if you are a woman in a position of power, it is important that you create the space for other women to succeed.”

Q4: What steps did you take to shape who you are as a professional?

Victoria Ekwenuke Global Brand Manager of Ebay

“Doing the work. The hard stuff. The mundane stuff. The stuff that no one really wants to do. Setting goals. I write down goals, all the time actually. It’s a good way to review progress over time. This allows you to be grateful for what you’ve accomplished and hungry for those things you have yet to achieve.

I’m always learning. I take the time to attend conferences and various events; both within and outside of my industry. I love meeting new people and networking ( believe it or not, but it’s something I really enjoy). I’m intentional about building my tribe of supporters. I surround myself with those who hustle and dream big; people who continually push for ideas that seem crazy to most people lol… I read, I give back, I surround myself around positivity and most importantly I’m rooted in my purpose and faith.

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Danielle Ryan Founder & CEO, BriteIdea Marketing Group

“Growing up, my family didn’t have much. Both of my parents worked long and late hours to make ends meet. Observing the hard work they put in to provide basic necessities helped me develop a strong work ethic at a young age. I knew if I wanted something, I had to develop irreplaceable skills and work for it.

While studying Business & Marketing at SDSU, I received an opportunity to work for an established company as their Marketing Assistant working directly under the VP of Sales and Marketing. While there were never enough hours in the day between going to school full time and maintaining a full-time job, I knew the experience I was receiving would mold my career.

I dove into every department of the company, soaking in who did what and how they did it. Learning all facets of the business inspired me to take marketing to the next level, to go beyond the campaign and learn how to not only get customers – but how to retain them for life. When you can look at a business as a whole and continuously develop efforts to benefit their bottom line, you become irreplaceable.”

Noorjahan Akbar Founder of Free Women Writers and Marketing Freelancer

“For me, the most important part of my professional career has been to always be open to learning. It is not only dangerous to our careers, but also to our growth as people, if we stop learning new things, experiencing new perspectives, and making ourselves uncomfortable.”

Q5: Can you name one or more moments that helped shape your career?

Victoria Ekwenuke Global Brand Manager of Ebay

Throughout my career, I’ve had many great mentors but must say that failure was by far the most instrumental of them all. In the beginning, I truly thought that career progression was a linear occurrence. No one tells you that this isn’t necessarily the case.  My career is more like my 4c hair – it comprises of kinks, bends, twists and curls lol… Each inflection point could be labeled a failure that affords the opportunity to learn, grow and excel. My perception towards failure and how I’ve learned to embrace it, rather than avoid it, has helped shape my career for the better.”

Danielle Ryan Founder & CEO, BriteIdea Marketing Group

“The most monumental moment would have to be when I worked for a startup tech company who initially had an annual revenue of less than $1M per year and was sitting stagnant in its 4th year of business.

After 2 short years, we helped grow their annual revenue to $10M. When you are able to see such a large impact from your efforts, you feel unstoppable. It gave me the confidence to branch out and meet with other small business owners to help them feel “unstuck” and help them build sustainable, profitable businesses.”

Noorjahan Akbar Founder of Free Women Writers and Marketing Freelancer

“Burning out from being overworked and emotionally drained at the age of 22, when I was a full-time student, worked on campus, and ran a non-profit organization, was really key to me prioritizing my life. It taught me to be kinder with myself. I am still working on this because I’m a bit of a workaholic, but baby steps are important.”

Q6: If you had all the marketers in the world’s attention for 30 seconds, what would you say?

Victoria Ekwenuke Global Brand Manager of Ebay

Marketers are brand builders, inventors, business drivers … We make something from nothing and insert ideas into the world. We are the creators of trends; we dictate what’s hot and what’s not. We shape people’s thoughts and actions. We are influential. We are powerful. We are at the forefront of the status quo.

The world is our market. At times we forget how culturally and economically diverse it actually is. Personally, I think we are failing as marketers by not having the representation within our field to influence and challenge the status quo. Strides to ensure that diversity is represented across both traditional and nontraditional mediums is simply not enough.

We need to shed light and educate the world on what we do as marketers and the endless career possibilities available in our field. We must do this so that young boys and girls from underrepresented groups aspire to become marketers so they can, in turn, become vessel to help shape strategies that better address their communities. We need to stop operating within the status quo created by marketers before us. Let’s be bold and shake things up.

And in the strange case, I couldn’t convey this in 30 sec. I would create and share a 30s digital ad detailing the above with a bit more emotion and pizzazz.”

Danielle Ryan Founder & CEO, BriteIdea Marketing Group

“Don’t follow standard textbooks, or go through the same motions. Understand that each business you work with is unique and that their marketing strategy should be too. When you find success, celebrate it and then find new ways to better your best.”

Noorjahan Akbar Founder of Free Women Writers and Marketing Freelancer

Create authentic content that celebrates and highlights our common humanity. Skip the gimmicks and the fancy stuff and tell a human story.”

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Have you enjoyed this Marketing Leading Ladies series? We hope you did because now we’re getting ready for something big. Yep, that’s right. You’re going to hear from all these amazing women again plus a few more surprise contributors!

Wait, you haven’t read the full series?! Well, we need to fix that.

6 Pieces of Advice from Marketing’s Leading Ladies

3 Impressive Women Paving the Way in Marketing

How 3 Women Broke Barriers in the Marketing World

Make sure you share this article with your bestie, co-worker, or anyone who could use some inspiration.

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