6 Pieces of Advice from Marketing’s Leading Ladies

Marketing is an ever-changing high paced industry. In order to keep up, you need to be able to push yourself to think faster, work harder, and imagine bigger. You must be vulnerable, willing to fail, and most of all… motivated.

The women on Carney’s team live by this to push expectation and produce exceptional work. Being a part of a male-dominated industry doesn’t slow us down, it actually makes us work harder. But that made us wonder. If our team of phenomenal women does well lifting each other up, why not do the same for others?

We decided we needed to be a microphone. A microphone to reach young women entering the marketing field and those who are eager to conquer new heights. By sharing positive reinforcement from the women who are currently making an impact.

We asked strong female leaders in the marketing industry like Ann Handley, Yasmin Marinaro-Basone, Jennie Akins, and Anna Sullivan questions meant to inspire young women to push past the limitations that come with advancing in one’s career.

Here are their answers.

Q1. How did you choose the marketing field? Do you think any childhood experiences led you to your success?

Ann Handley CCO of Marketing Profs

“I’m not sure I actually chose the marketing field… I more or less tripped over it in the dark. So many of us marketers have… or so I’ve come to realize.

When I was 8 years old, I wrote in my diary that I wanted to be a “writter.” I couldn’t spell, but I wanted to write. Pretty quickly I abandoned that diary because it was boring to write only to myself.

I wanted an audience—someone to write to. I craved community, feedback, interaction.

As a kid in the Boston suburbs, my ability to build an audience was limited. The Internet hadn’t happened yet. So I used what was literally within my reach: I created a neighborhood newsletter, which I delivered on my bike straight into my neighbor’s mailboxes.

I didn’t know that slipping unofficial mail into postal boxes was a felony. But still, I’m pretty sure it had a 100% open rate.

When I got older, I wrote to a bunch of pen pals around the world. And because my life was pretty boring, I invented new lives for myself and wrote about them to my pen pals. I researched places I’d never been and things I’d never seen. I wrote about the life I didn’t have….

It was entertaining. It was content. It was persona-development. Even if none of it was true.

Eventually, I learned to spell “writer.” I became a writer, journalist, editor, and (when the Internet happened) a content publisher.

I worked for newspapers, magazines, and became the first Chief Content Officer at ClickZ, which I co-founded. I now hold the same title at MarketingProfs.

What I love about having an audience is that ultimately? You are a teacher. You are helping people make clear sense of news or ideas. You’re helping to solve problems. You’re inspiring them.”

Click Here to Tweet This 👆

Yasmin Marinaro-Basone Vice President of Publishing at The Penny Hoarder

“As a teenager, I would read as many beautiful glossy magazines (Vogue, Elle) as I could afford on my allowance.  Over time, that evolved into an interest in the interplay of content and advertising.  

I attended high school in New York City. One of my favorite projects in school was assigned in a visual arts class — we had to deconstruct a collection of print ads from magazines to understand the connection between all the visual and written cues and the campaign/brand messaging.  

The actual science behind marketing campaigns and audience behavior continue to fascinate me.”

Jennie Akins Growth Marketing Manager at Unilever

“I sort of fell into marketing early in my career. I was given some opportunities to work on marketing projects and just knew that it was a fit for me. Growing up and while in school, I always loved stories and storytelling and that component of marketing really drew me in. Then I had a close friend who believed in me, encourage me to pursue marketing full time and my career just grew from there.”

Anna Sullivan Founder of The Creative Exchange

I remember growing up and watching Full House. I loved that Joey and Jesse made jingles for brands – I literally thought that was the coolest thing and I had determined I wanted to do that one day.

Fast forward to college, I actually got a degree in fashion/consumer behavior, so that plan didn’t totally pan out. It wasn’t until I was working for a small boutique, as a buyer, that sparked my interest in marketing. They needed someone to start their social media accounts and test out some print advertising. I volunteered for the task and really fell in love with the entire process. I haven’t done anything other than marketing and content creation since that day.”

Q2. Was there a key person/book/podcast that made an impact on your career?

Ann Handley CCO of Marketing Profs

My mom and dad.

E.B. White.

My college professor Sean Gresh, because he told me that learning to write well would give me an advantage in life, and I took that information to heart.

And my editor at the Boston Globe, Dick Powers, who was an early career mentor.

Dick’s biggest gift to me was that he told me I was actually a terrible news reporter. That doesn’t sound like a gift— but it was (LOL). Because he also said that I was a terrific storyteller, so he switched me to Features. And that changed everything for me.”

Yasmin Marinaro-Basone Vice President of Publishing at The Penny Hoarder

“I was raised by a single mom who was fearless and also a perfectionist.  She worked her way from an administrative assistant role to a career in law.  That influence, by far, was not only inspiring but also was a great source of strength to pursue passions and success, both professionally and personally.  

I’ve also always been interested in self-made success stories, and I think that’s where my affinity for entrepreneurship and start-ups stems from.  The concept and the process of building something from the ground up energizes me.

Jennie Akins Growth Marketing Manager at Unilever

“There hasn’t been just one influence that has made an impact on my career, but I would say it’s been more a collection of people. Both colleagues and mentors that have empowered and challenged me constantly to develop my skills and grow as a marketer.

I’ve also been blessed to work with some very strong and inspiring women leaders that I’ve learned so much from and am really grateful for.”

Anna Sullivan Founder of The Creative Exchange

Hmm that’s a tough one. I am pretty self-taught when it comes to marketing, however, I really love reading or listening to people who talk more about the entrepreneurial side or to the actual brand side – so I can understand pain points and try to brainstorm possible marketing solutions.

If I had to answer, I have about three podcasts that I really love: Gary Vee, Startup, and Taste Radio.”

Q3. What has been your greatest hardship and how did you overcome it?

Ann Handley CCO of Marketing Profs

“Two things, which are more or less related:

  1. Overcoming vulnerability. It’s scary to put your ideas out there, because it opens you up to criticism. People won’t like what you have to say.

“It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are,” to quote E.E. Cummings. For me, it took years to truly tap into that courage and let it flow – sluggishly at first, then more freely.

It took me a shockingly long time to not flinch at sharing my inner thoughts and ideas.

  1. Fear of public speaking. If it’s scary to share your ideas… it’s effin terrifying to do it standing on a stage.

I was never the kind of person who craved the stage, who lived for the spotlight. I have some very good friends who are born public speakers—literally born with a lavalier clipped to their onesies.

In both situations, I overcame it by… well, doing it. Not very well at first, probably. But speaking and writing is a muscle—you get better and stronger by flexing constantly.

Yasmin Marinaro-Basone Vice President of Publishing at The Penny Hoarder

“At a young age, I was bullied in school. I clung to the feeling of victimization for a long  time but somewhere along the way I made a conscious decision to turn those emotions into motivating energy.

It was a difficult process but I finally came to the conclusion that I could not give anyone or anything power over my well-being and happiness. Overcoming adversity became very empowering and it propelled me in ways I could never imagine well beyond those haunting school days.” 

Click Here to Tweet This 👆

Jennie Akins Growth Marketing Manager at Unilever

“More of an obstacle than a hardship has been learning to quiet my own self-doubt and stop getting in my own way. I’ve done this by finding any win (even the small ones), things I can be proud of and know I made an impact.”

Anna Sullivan Founder of The Creative Exchange

“I don’t know that there was one overall, but one thing that is a learning curve in the beginning with some clients is creating something for them and having to explain why you did something a certain way, or why we are using certain terms or creative pieces. Sometimes they don’t understand the entire funnel and niche you are targeting to and it scares them or makes them feel we are being too specific. It can be draining having to explain your creative process or thought process, even though I totally understand why they want to know.”

Q4. How do you stay on top of the ever-changing digital world of marketing?

Ann Handley CCO of Marketing Profs

I avoid social media as my news source.

To clarify: I love social media – just not as a reliable source of information.

Instead, I rely on an always-evolving fleet of email newsletters I’ve opted into as a key source of the changing digital marketing world. I find that the best ones don’t just tell me what’s important… they help me understand why.

That second part is key, and what’s usually lacking on social media for me.

Also: conferences. I go to a lot of conferences because I speak at many of them. I learn a lot from other speakers there. And more broadly, I learn a lot from what subjects the organizers have curated for the in-person audience.

We go through this same exercise at MarketingProfs every year, when we program the agenda for our B2B Marketing Forum (mpb2b.marketingprofs.com). We put that together with the help of an advisory board of smart people we assemble each year—kind of like business-to-business reconnaissance work!”

Yasmin Marinaro-Basone Vice President of Publishing at The Penny Hoarder

“I subscribe to a LOT of industry newsletters and I make time to catch up with them a few times a week. I stay close to developments in topics beyond marketing, especially technology, data science, and psychology. The essence of successful digital marketing is a brilliant patchwork of content, tech, data, and behavioral science. I also stay up on trends in business and law that impact our existing and emerging platforms.”    

Jennie Akins Growth Marketing Manager at Unilever

“Learn something every day is really my mantra. I read as much as I can–books, blogs/web content, research, and industry papers. I also listen to a lot of podcasts. I think it’s important to have the perspective that inspiration and knowledge can come from unexpected sources, so don’t limit yourself to just diving deep into marketing-related content. Commit yourself to be a life-long learner in anything that interests you and it will continue to nurture your intellect and career.”

Anna Sullivan Founder of The Creative Exchange

Constantly reading about things happening in the digital space, keeping up with campaigns other agencies are producing, etc. But, bigger than that, I think it’s crazy important to actually be IN the platforms that you are using and integrating yourself into the communities that you are marketing to/within. It’s one thing to do research, but a totally different thing to be fully immersed (as much as you can of course) in the actual conversations and happenings in that key demographics.”

Click Here to Tweet This 👆

Q5. What experience do you think every marketer should have?

Ann Handley CCO of Marketing Profs

“The joy of a marketing campaign that truly connects with an audience. And the heartbreak of a campaign that fails miserably. We learn a lot from both.”

Yasmin Marinaro-Basone Vice President of Publishing at The Penny Hoarder

“Every marketer should seek out opportunities to hear live feedback from users or consumers as they are experiencing their product or brand.  One of the most impactful marketing moments I ever had was when I was a marketing manager at Priceline.  We conducted exhaustive live user testing in preparation for a site relaunch.

Watching and hearing user feedback and pain points while interacting with our product was a compelling experience that reiterated for me the importance of keeping the end user in mind — first and foremost.  Start and end there. Always.”

Jennie Akins Growth Marketing Manager at Unilever

“Learning to work with and integrate data into your day job. You need to get into the numbers and be an expert in performance data. Learn how to work in this world and partner closely with the analysts that will help you show the value and true ROI of your work. The world of marketing has evolved, and you can’t just go on gut anymore. If you have data to back-up your opinions and ideas, you will not only find it easier to gain alignment with your colleagues and leadership, but it will set you up with the foundation to become a data-driven marketer, which is a well sought-after skill today.”

Anna Sullivan Founder of The Creative Exchange

Working on the brand side as well as the agency side. It can really help understand both ends when you are working on the other. And the work, processes, and everything else really, will only get better.”

Q6. What advice do you have for the young professional who wants to reach executive level?

Ann Handley CCO of Marketing Profs

“Learn how to write and speak well. There’s nothing else I’ve done that has delivered more results and happiness.”

Yasmin Marinaro-Basone Vice President of Publishing at The Penny Hoarder

“Stay humble and keep finding ways to learn.  Watch, listen, be aware. Do not discount the value of mentorship and continue to seek counsel from those who have paved the way before you.  They have the wisdom to impart.  Even a negative experience can be transformed into a learning moment that will help you create aspiration.

Have a micromanaging manager who is the bane of your existence?  Remember those feelings when you’re in the position to lead an individual or a team — and turn that into fuel and lessons learned to become an inspiring and motivating leader.”

Jennie Akins Growth Marketing Manager at Unilever

“Say yes as much as you can. What I mean by this is don’t be overly concerned with ‘that’s not my job. I’m not paid to do that.’ Opportunities come unexpectedly, and you don’t necessarily know where it will take you or how it will serve you in the future. But do you want that one opportunity that could have changed your career to be the one you passed on because you felt it technically wasn’t your job? Be less concerned about climbing the ladder and more concerned about having rich career experiences and working on interesting and varied projects.”

Click Here to Tweet This 👆

Anna Sullivan Founder of The Creative Exchange

Pushing yourself, your limits, over delivering, and never giving up. No one is going to get you to where you want to go other than yourself. However, if you ever feel your superior or team isn’t in this with you and they are competing against you, you may be in the wrong place.

You have to make things happen for yourself, but it is really important to have a team cheering you on and pushing you as well. That will only accelerate the process.”

Inspired by what you heard from these intelligent, strong, and professional ladies? We were too. So, we aren’t going to stop.

Look forward to hearing from more of the leading women in the marketing industry on the first Monday of every month until the end of 2018. Plus, something bigger is coming March 1, 2019.

Stay tuned!

Don’t miss out!

Sign up to be notified of new issues and exclusive content.