Noetic Consultants is celebrating our clients, wonderful partners and old friends at TLC who know that Everyone Needs a Little TLC right now! #StayHome #TLC #DynamicPositivity
At Noetic Consultants one of our company values is “Dynamic Positivity.” Living that value, we always start our weekly status meetings sharing a positive update to the team. Even in a time of extreme fear and uncertainty, as the world faces the COVID-19 pandemic, we are seeing incredible selfless acts of kindness and empathy all over the world. At Noetic, we believe in the power of positivity and how it can change lives. We’d like to highlight some of the people showing their Dynamic Positivity and we’d love to hear from you and how you’ve seen this – let’s all try to spread some positivity!
Today we’d like to highlight one of our clients, St. Clair Hospital based in Pittsburgh, PA. We’re proud to be affiliated with great people going above and beyond to support their community.
Noetic has experienced a lot of growth in the past few years, as many businesses have in what was a long standing, booming economy. Times have suddenly and drastically changed and, like all businesses today, we are grappling with leaner and more difficult times. Before COVID-19, we began a brand refresh to reflect our growth as a brand and a company, and turning into the final mile of our launch, life as we know it changed.
Like so many aspects of business and life these days, we thought about tabling it. Delaying it. Even skipping it all together. We thought, with so many difficulties going on for us personally and in the world at large, why refresh our brand NOW? It seemed a luxury, a lesser priority and perhaps “tone deaf” to the struggles of our world.
But as we thought about setting it aside, at least for the time being, a voice deep inside told me this would be the exact wrong thing to do. Caring for our brand is exactly what we need to do right now – more than ever – all of us, each day, even each minute of each day.
WHY? Your brand, during the most trying times, is all you have, and one of the few things you can control during even the most uncertain times. I have always believed that one’s personal brand, as well as the brand of a company – large or small – is one’s promise to the world: who you say you are and will be, then, how you act – to be consistent with what you promise. When we are stripped of certainty, when we are fearful, when we are frustrated, disappointed, not feeling well, worried for our family and friends, worried about our finances, our freedoms…when we are deeply challenged personally and in business, this is when our brand is most tested, and we are most at risk for wandering off course. Perhaps Emma Jameson said it best: “Circumstances do not make a person, they reveal a person.”
At Noetic, we are focused more than ever on being true to our brand, and launching this refresh at this extraordinary time in our society is helping us remember who we are and who we always want to be: A company that leads with kindness and helping, with collaborating, with dynamic positivity, even in the darkest of days. A trusted partner and strategic advisor that empowers and inspires, especially if you’re struggling to find hope. A team that thrives on helping people and brands be the best they can be: authentic and true to themselves, and to the audiences they serve. A “North Star” for brand authenticity, who guide clients as they unlock their full potential and ensure their customers’ believe in what their brand represents.
As you work your way through your day to day, adjusting to the ever-changing and difficult climate of your personal and professional life, please know that we are here for you. We will continue to pursue our “North Star” and wish you good health and peace of mind as you pursue yours. We are here to help at any time.
Recently, Noetic facilitated a brand positioning workshop with a client group of 20 leaders and “next generation” leaders. We divided the group into five tables of four to answer these key brand-building questions:
- WHO do you serve?
- WHAT do they want or need?
- HOW can you – above all of your competitors – satisfy that want or need?
The result: The group had five different points of view on their brand positioning.
Most brand marketers would have been uncomfortable with that result. However, we were happy to see this in the room! The differences sparked a candid and passionate conversation about the brand and the value it creates for clients. Moreover, ideas and “a-ha” moments filled the room. In the end, the group agreed on a brand positioning that connected to its vision and mission.
The story continues
A few months later, our client rang us. The brand positioning exercise sparked deep internal conversations about their business strategy – specifically, their mission and vision. At the workshop, they were committed to their existing mission and vision statements but now wanted to revisit both.
Hearing this was music to our ears because although we all landed on a strong brand positioning, we know that a brand strategy not only connects to a business strategy but also emanates from it.
The Noetic Brand-Building Framework
Business strategy and brand strategy are what the first two stages of the Noetic Brand-Building Framework are all about. We use the framework to help brands see where they are in their lifecycle and within their broader business context.
Each stage of the framework has a specific purpose and a set of hard-working questions to ask about your brand. Ask the questions at any point in your brand’s lifecycle to understand where it is, where it needs to go next, and what it needs to do to get there.
1. Define Your North Star
Purpose: To clarify your “north star” by asking questions like:
- What is our vision for the company?
- What is our mission?
- Do we have a strong growth strategy?
2. Identify Your Brand Distinction
Purpose: To identify your brand distinction, we ask questions like:
- Who is our core target audience?
- Who are our main competitors?
- What is our unique offering (vs. that of our competition)?
3. Bring Your Brand to Life
Purpose: To bring your brand to life internally and externally by asking questions like:
- How do we educate, inspire and empower our internal teams to grow themselves and our business?
- How do we prioritize messages and media spend?
- What campaign metrics should we track?
4. Improve Your Brand Performance
Purpose: To improve your brand’s performance by asking questions like:
- What are the right benchmarks for us to track against?
- How will we adjust to optimize our brand?
- How do we optimize our culture for growth?
A strong brand marketer embraces two things about the Noetic Brand-Building Framework.
- The Noetic Brand-Building Framework is cyclical. Your brand is a living, breathing entity that needs to be cared for continually. Last summer, I planted sunflowers in my garden. They grew over six feet tall, wilted, and went away. I decided not to plant new ones this year. To my surprise, little sprouts popped up in the soil a couple of months ago. Last year’s sunflowers dropped seeds that turned into new sunflowers this year. Similarly, a brand will root, grow, and produce the information needed to help develop or evolve into a new brand. Continually nurturing it will help it survive and, more importantly, thrive.
- Bringing Your Brand to Life and Improving Your Brand Performance are just as critical to a brand’s success as Defining Your North Star and Identifying Brand Distinction. We’ve seen brands come out swinging with a business strategy and brand strategy they love and wonder – a year later – why it seems no one is “living” their brand. The lack of traction is usually due to an ineffective activation or not keeping track of brand performance, the two stages in which most brands do not spend enough time.
When a brand does not gain the traction marketers hoped for, we will conduct a brand audit to help uncover what may have gone wrong.
The review usually reveals one or more of the following about the brand and its efforts:
- A business Strategy does not exist or has not been adequately communicated.
- The brand Strategy was developed in isolation without the contribution or – more importantly, the buy-in – of key stakeholders outside of marketing. (Read more about the perils of this approach in this article adapted by Fast Company).
- Internally bringing the brand to life was limited to making a brand guide available to employees who were expected to read and execute rather than understand and embrace. Limiting internal communication negatively impacts marketers’ ability to create brand experiences externally effectively.
- Brand performance elements were not put in place to ensure continued learning, innovative thinking, and progress measurement (i.e., learning programs, KPIs, etc.).
What do you do next?
In conclusion, we hope you use the Noetic Brand-Building Framework to look at your brands – and the business strategies from which they emanated – with fresh eyes and objectivity. If you feel you would benefit from help with this, we hope you reach out to Noetic Consultants. We are committed to strengthening brands and the people who build them. Guiding your brand through the lifecycle – in whole or in part – is a big part of that. We welcome the opportunity to explore with you.
Today marks one year from the day my book arrived at my doorstep. I smiled broadly and did the only thing anyone would do upon receiving the book they wrote – captured the moment for social media!
As I look back on that picture today, I remember how forced my smile felt. I sat there on the floor with those shiny new books and self-doubt descended. Rather than feeling euphoric, I felt the opposite. I wondered if anyone would find this book worthwhile. I wondered why I had not realized how uncomfortable I would feel to have it out in the world. And I wondered how I would muster the confidence to promote it.
But I forged ahead knowing that I owed it to myself, my team, and my company to try. Fortunately, I quickly learned that my anxiety was misplaced. The community of marketers who generously gave their time as interviewees assured me that there was tremendous value within these pages. Across the past year, I have spoken on Jack and Jill around the country, sharing the stories of these fantastic Jacks and Jills of marketing who are scaling the heights through art and science. Their stories – and the insights they unlocked for me in Jack and Jill – are inspiring and informative for both rising and senior leaders alike.
Art and Science in the Marketplace
It is exciting to witness how the importance of art and science in marketing – and the power being a marketing generalist – have become widely and passionately held beliefs within organizations. A recent article on Forbes.com called “Why You Can’t Choose Between Creativity and Data,” asserts that creativity and data cannot be isolated from each other. A recent report from Walker Sands found that 56 percent of marketers believe that creativity and technology will be equally vital to developing effective marketing strategies five years from now; 41 percent feel today’s strategies are already driven by an equal mixture of both. Likewise, McKinsey’s recent study with CMOs showed that the most successful amongst these leaders know how to identify and nurture talent who “balances creativity and analytics.”
When I speak on Jack and Jill, I share what I’ve uncovered on the power of learning, facing fear, and the value of being a generalist. Individuals and teams also take the Art & Science AssessmentTM, which, I have heard countless times, helps people gain a deeper understanding of their skill strengths and opportunities. Perhaps most importantly, they understand that strengthening their weaker side is within their grasp.
From East to West and Back Again
A year later, I am in quite a different place when it comes to promoting the book. Beyond grateful for the time and feedback readers have given, I am now motivated and inspired to promote this book. And what a year it has been! DC events included launching the book at Busboys & Poets with the amazing Heather Roymans, speaking to the local broadcast marketers at Tegna in Northern Virginia with Meredith Conte, and spending a morning with Jessica Wilson and her inspiring students at American University. On the west coast, I met with all of Discovery Channel’s marketers led at the time by Lara Richardson. I also spoke at Promax with AlterEgo’s Heather Roymans and Justin Kanner on the power of being a marketing generalist.
Leo Burnett in Chicago hosted a gathering of marketers to celebrate Jack and Jill where my friend and colleague Dan Baldino was MC. It thrilled me to have colleagues from my 25-year career attend this event, including Andrew Swinand, CEO of Leo Burnett (and one of my book interviewees).
Recently in NYC, Tim Nolan, Executive Creative Director at A+E Networks, invited me to speak to his entire department. We workshopped “Balancing Art & Science” action plans for his whole team, which they will use throughout the year. Next up is an event in northern Maryland for TechFrederick, hosted by Tom Ehart and Nick Domaulokis. I will round out the year by hosting an event at my company’s headquarters with our valued partners at Accelerent.
In between these live events, I’ve done podcasts and my team has written blogs (with “vlogs” soon to follow) to spread the word about Jack and Jill. The more people I reach, the more grateful I am that those Jacks and Jills of marketing shared their stories with me. Their stories of resilience, learning without fear of failing, embracing generalization, and unlocking the power of art and science are truly inspiring. These marketers scale the heights every day. I am honored to give voice to their stories to help marketers understand that they, too, have what it takes to scale the heights. All they have to do is strive for it.
Give the Power of Art and Science
I would be delighted to bring the power of balancing art and science to you and your team. If you would like to learn more, please email firstname.lastname@example.org. I would be happy to provide you with more details or answer your questions.
They say if you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together. Thank you for your continued support on this exciting journey. I know we will go far together.
Nancie McDonnell Ruder
By Stephen Ruder
In summer 2019, I was Noetic’s very own Intern. Having no previous experience in the corporate world or as an intern, I was ignorant to the type of work and involvement I would be conducting. What I learned about Marketing, Noetic, and the people that make up Noetic’s team is something that will stay with me for years to come. It truly has been an amazing experience that has given me incredible insight to use as I plan my future career.
At most companies the intern is the bottom rung of the ladder, and this makes sense because they have little to no experience. This often manifests itself within the company as turning interns into glorified errand runners. This is not the case at Noetic. While I did get lunch semi-frequently for the office, it was something I strongly pushed for because while I do believe that it should be an intern’s responsibility, it also gave me a chance to catch my breath out of the office. Why did I need to catch my breath? Because in my ignorance of the responsibilities I would have as an intern, I had misjudged the workload I was receiving. My initial (unfounded) assumption that my daily routine would be getting coffee and lunch for the office, quickly reconciled itself. I was given a laundry list of projects that I, the wildly inexperienced intern, was to complete by the end of the summer. Quite the wakeup call.
Some of the projects that I was tasked with for the summer included doing an extensive competitive analysis of how Noetic matches up with other marketing consultancies, nominating individuals within Noetic as well as the whole company for various awards, helping refresh our online presence and creating this blog post :). The summer kicked off with trying to get acclimated to the work environment, a 5am wakeup call on my third day for an all day meeting, and a daunting list of projects. By the end of the first week I was rethinking the whole real world internship job that I had committed to for the whole summer.
What followed that first week changed my mind about the trajectory of the summer. I decided that I would not be mailing it in this summer and that I would throw myself into this opportunity to make the most of it. What I realized as soon as I began working on the first task on the list, the competitive analysis, was that the entire team at Noetic was chomping at the bit to aid me. My belief that help from coworkers would present itself as an “it’s your first week I’ll offer half hearted help then leave you to your own devices” was truly incorrect. The interactions that I had were much more in resemblance of “when is your schedule open? Let’s meet for two hours instead of one so that we have time to become familiar, then I’ll help you do significant work.”
The competitive analysis of Noetic took over a month, and since it was my project, my totally unbiased opinion is that the finished product and presentation was top-notch. This was not how I felt leading up to the completion of the project. Laura Longbardi will deny the credit but she was integral to my success here. Consistently she gave both constructive criticism and was able to point me in the direction of our end goal for the project. The last bit of the competitive analysis was to present my findings to the company with a Q&A session.
What I realized as I looked more towards making the slide deck and gearing up to present, was the position I was actually in for this project. In essence, I was about to stand in front of the entire company of which I held the title of intern, and in detail critique everything they were doing wrong and cite what their competitors were doing right. After the 45 minutes of picking apart Noetic I would then field questions and comments from the people of whom I had just critiqued. Needless to say, I was THRILLED to give the presentation and not the LEAST bit anxious.
The day of the presentation was a Friday and this meeting was the last bit of work I had to do for the week. Despite over a month of gathering information, compiling findings, creating numerous drafts of slide decks and rehearsing in abundance, I felt wildly unprepared. I had a quick conversation with Laura where she tried to hype me up and I realized it was too late to call in sick that day; we began the meeting.
As soon as I got the first sentence out I realized that not only was I absolutely equipped to give this presentation, but also that I wasn’t highlighting Noetics shortcomings. The presentation was about raising awareness for areas where we could grow as a company. A question that had been bothering me for most of the project was also answered. ‘Is this work I am doing even helpful for Noetic?’ The answer was a resounding yes. Everyone was engrossed in my presentation and had thoughtful questions and commentary that left all parties with the feeling of collaboration and productivity.
It is very easy to tear things down, whether it is individuals or businesses, being critical is not a daunting task. What is difficult is acting as a company in such a welcoming and sincere manner, that an outsider can feel at home. This is what sets Noetic apart in who they are. Noetic brought in a summer intern and the first concrete task they gave was to look as critically as possible at the company and point out its flaws. This sense of humility and pursuit of self betterment on a company wide level is scarce in the professional world, and is just one part of what makes Noetic so special and unique from any other company in the market.
The rest of the summer has blown by with each project being more challenging and rewarding than the last.The “first week version of myself” would not believe me, but I am immensely saddened to be leaving Noetic. I wish the company as a whole, as well as each individual, nothing but the best in future endeavors.
By APRIL VARA-PAGÉS
For nearly 25 years, I’ve built a multi-faceted career in marketing and communications within the non-profit, start-up and global media categories. Specializing in global brand management and operations, I was the central point of contact for more than 50+ offices worldwide, responsible for developing and maintaining consistent brand strategy, marketing creative and communications for brands like Discovery Channel, TLC, Animal Planet and ID Investigation Discovery, available to consumers in more than180 countries. I’m excited to expand my focus on how brands can more effectively deliver on their consumer needs through marketing strategy, best practices and process working with Noetic.
In just a couple of weeks, summer will shine upon us. My mind fills with visions of lively beaches, endless days swimming in the ocean, treasured moments with family and friends, and new dreams taking flight while sleeping in the sun. In the immortal words of Will Smith, summertime is “time to sit back and unwind.”
A Fresh start
Record scratch… but this summer, instead of building sand castles on the beach and diving headfirst into the water, I’m thrilled to be back building great brands. I am making an exciting professional plunge working for Noetic Consultants, a team I have partnered with and admired for the past several years. After spending a sizable amount of my career focusing on global media brands like Discovery, TLC and Animal Planet, I’ll get to dig into brand and marketing strategy for Fortune 500 clients, small companies and non-profits within a significant variety of verticals, brands marketers salivate over like an ice cream cone on the boardwalk. This truly is my summer daydream come true.
Noetic strengthens brands and the people who build them – everyone from NPR, Marriott and Wells Fargo to Mayo Clinic, Nike and SC Johnson. My experience working with them as a client – seeing firsthand their collaborative and positive spirit, their ability to take complex issues and simplify to core truths, and their help-first and solutions-focused mindset – was one where Noetic were the steady horizon in the choppy waters of gaining consensus on brand attributes amongst marketing strategists and creative leads from around the world. This was no easy task, but they led us to this best practice as easily as a sailboat glides across smooth waters.
a new chapter
So, while my summer won’t be a time of sitting back and unwinding, it will be equally as invigorating as a summer recharge. I am so happy to share my news – if you are a marketer working on a brand challenge, contact me… I’d love to explore how to help you solve, or as an excuse to reconnect. I can now be reached at April@NoeticConsultants.com.
And if you’re looking for that perfect poolside read this summer, I highly recommend Jack and Jill Went Up the Hill: How Senior Marketers Scale the Heights Through Art and Science written by Nancie McDonnell Ruder. For marketing executives, it’s a validating and enlightening read, no matter your level of tenure. With its two parts conversational and relatable, and quite a few parts humor, it pairs perfectly with a chilled mojito at your side.
By Marci Klugman
Marci is a consultant for Noetic, and her career spans both the agency and the client side of the marketing industry. She has worked on iconic brands for companies like Procter & Gamble, Frito-Lay and Campbell Soup Company and spent more than a decade at Discovery Channel. At Noetic, Marci works with clients across various industries on brand strategy, research initiatives and marketing training.
For most of us, January means making resolutions. A time to look back at the year before and identify those areas that we can improve upon. It brings about a renewed purpose, and vigor to try harder—whether in our personal or professional lives. As part of this fresh start, January is often the time of year when many businesses resolve to become more customer-centric organizations.
Let’s face it. It’s easy to think about being customer-centric and preach its importance to our teammates. Many of us are familiar with the 3Cs model by Japanese strategy guru Kenichi Ohmae that rightfully integrates customers as one of the three critical factors needed for success. Our founder, Nancie McDonnell Ruder, has adapted this model to guide Noetic’s philosophy. In her book Jack and Jill Went Up the Hill: How Senior Marketers Scale The Heights Through Art & Science, Nancie states that the first Noetic “c” focuses on “staying connected to the customer, or being customer-centric.”
But how can you achieve that goal? How can you stay connected to your customer so that you put them at the heart of your business decision making? Implementing a customer-centric approach within an organization is a challenge that takes discipline and focus. There is no one-stop shop answer. But there are actionable steps to help you live up to that resolution.
define who you’re talking to.
Can you accurately define your customers? Are you able to embody them when you’re making key decisions on their behalf? As mentioned in Jack and Jill, marketers “must be well steeped in your products or services; you live inside this environment on a daily basis. It is never going to be natural for you to be with your customers on a daily basis, unless you are physically with them.” Yes, it’s unrealistic to physically have your customers next to you. But it’s critical to keep a clear, tangible definition of your customer alongside you—literally. And you can get creative with how you bring that tangible representation to life. Noetic worked with a client that constructed a muse from a mannequin, and brought “him” to every meeting to be sure he was represented as decisions were made. Creating a clear, tangible representation of your customers, based on qualitative or quantitative data, ensures they always remain top of mind.
take your definition further.
Being able to describe your customer is a critical first step, but it doesn’t end there. As stated in Noetic’s book, “customer-centric marketing goes further. It’s about empathy—putting yourself in your customer’s shoes.” Uncovering customer insights is a crucial component of gaining deep customer understanding that ultimately leads to empathy. This is a muscle that needs constant flexing, and Noetic relies on a tried and true methodology to move from audience definition to insight. Once you’re able to uncover what your audience needs, you’re equipped to respond in the most relatable, effective and appropriate manner.
ACTIVATE customer insights.
If you’re working in a marketing research or strategy capacity, it’s likely that you’re responsible for generating audience insights. But, everyone within an organization needs to have a firm grasp on customer needs so that all have the ability to empathize. A great insight doesn’t do much good if it sits in a strategy deck filed away in Dropbox. Instead, share those insights across all facets of your organization—either formally or informally. Everyone needs the ability to empathize with your customers in order to problem solve for them accordingly.
keep the dialogue GOING.
Once a rich insight is uncovered, customer engagement shouldn’t cease. On-going customer engagement enables you to remain customer-centric. This continuous dialogue can take on many forms—surveys, ethnographies, or store visits. And all team members, from the most junior to the most senior, should be involved. The most customer-centric companies ensure executives have direct customer interaction, as corroborated by Suddenlink Communications CMO Jerry Dow in an interview featured in Noetic’s book: “Keeping frequent customer interaction, getting on the road with technicians, working a day in the store—not as an executive but as an employee—experiencing the customer and seeing the front line.” Having first-hand knowledge and understanding of your customers across all levels of your company maintain a customer-centric approach.
Becoming and staying customer-centric takes focus and determination. But, if you can tangibly represent your customers, understand their needs, and activate this critical knowledge throughout your organization, you can turn your business resolution into a reality.
Note: This blog is the fourth in our ongoing Noetic series inspired by Jack and Jill Went Up the Hill: How Senior Marketers Scale the Heights Through Art and Science. This month, Noetic’s guest blogger is our own Laura Longobardi who has insight to offer to help start 2019―with purpose.
The sparkle of a brand New Year. For some, it is a blinding reminder of what was not accomplished during the past 12 months. For others, it is glowing with possibilities of what lies ahead.
I admit, I’m usually one of those people who tears up on New Years’ Eve when the clock strikes midnight. It can be a stark realization of goals where I may have fallen short.
But this year I am taking a nod from Noetic’s (Nancie’s) new book and from many of our blue-chip clients who have already begun their annual due diligence and reflection process as they look to brightly take on 2019. Let’s look at how they are using the New Year as a way to reflect and reframe their strategic and marketing plans.
1. Find comfort in discomfort
As Barri Rafferty, Partner & President, Ketchum states, “You used to have an annual plan and a quarterly; now the scrutiny is so much tighter. You have to have the ability to bounce back. To strike out and get back up to bat again.”
Like Barri, the best marketers understand the importance of reflecting on the past to enable them to bring clarity on their path forward. They embrace learnings to become smarter, more strategic, and more adaptable. They realize that in order to be successful, we need to be comfortable being uncomfortable. There’s not a person in this world that likes to fail. But there are people who see it as an opportunity to learn and grow. Those learnings are the building blocks of your road ahead.
2. Use mistakes as seeds for success
If you look at failure differently―even call it by a different name―you’ll realize it’s a key ingredient to success. Think about a time when you lost your footing in public. What did you do? Maybe you made it look like you meant to do it, or laughed it off and kept walking quickly to escape the embarrassment.
Sara Moscowitz, Senior Vice President, Content Marketing & Merchandising at Audible states, “You cannot innovate if you are afraid to take a risk. Make sure you try to think through every possible thing that could happen and plan for it, but if something does not work, learn from it – it is not a failure.”
Many of the brands we work with use the 70/20/10 methodology as a calculated way to lead with trusted bets, but also leave room for thoughtful marketing innovation.
3. Fast forward to the future
Norman de Greve, Chief Marketing Officer, CVS Health stated in Noetic’s recent book: “I believe what you do tomorrow is more important than what you did yesterday….Just go forward and do something better. No one really knows the answers, so iterate and go forward. I don’t hold onto failures at all.”
When thinking about marketing or strategic planning with our clients, we use the analogy of having one oar in where you are today, and one propelling you where you want to go tomorrow. It is OK to be (realistically) aspirational when planning and not totally subsumed with where you are at this moment. At Noetic we apply a Who/What/How framework to ensure our clients stay narrowly future focused on goals and objectives―keeping our eyes on the prize.
As you gear up for the holidays―and that final countdown of the year inches closer―I encourage you to reflect on all that has happened. Think about the good, the bad, the scary. Remind yourself of the times you lost your footing and how you’re a little more certain of the path now. Acknowledge that you will fall again, but you’ll get back up and keep on moving. You’ll always keep on moving forward―because that is how we pave our path to success.
Note: This blog is the third in our ongoing series offering key insights found in Noetic Founder Nancie McDonnell Ruder’s recently published book, Jack and Jill Went Up the Hill: How Senior Marketers Scale the Heights Through Art and Science.
It’s hard being a person.
It’s also wonderful, exhilarating, and joyful—but there’s no denying that at some points in our lives, every single one of us faces challenges, personally and professionally. We hit walls, we hit ceilings, we fall. Sometimes things are just plain hard.
As we make our way through our careers, this can be especially true. It’s hard to break into a new job, into a new role, into a new market or industry. It’s hard to get the right people on your team. It’s hard to adapt to change.
We’ve all been there. Every single one of us.
The pivotal word that gets us through these hard parts is that last word—Us. It’s the people who’ve reached out to us with wisdom, kindness, and patience—the ones who believed in us until we believed in ourselves again; those who help us pull out of hard places and rise in our careers.
Borrowing Wisdom from Our Neighbor
The recently released critically acclaimed documentary, “Won’t You Be My Neighbor” surfaced a tremendously powerful moment from Fred Rogers’ 1997 Emmy Lifetime Achievement Award acceptance speech where he expresses gratitude to all those who helped along the way. In a tear-jerking twist, he calls on the audience to do the same, stating:
So many people have helped me to come to this night.
Some of you are here, some are far away…
All of us have special ones who have loved us into being.
Would you just take, along with me, ten seconds to think of the people who have helped you become who you are—those who have cared about you and wanted what was best for you in life.
Ten seconds of silence. I’ll watch the time.
Whomever you’ve been thinking about, how pleased they must be to know the difference you feel they’ve made.
The power of being on both the giving and receiving ends of helping, the power of us, is critical to rising up the professional ladder, in marketing and well beyond.
At Noetic, we believe this so important that one of our core values is to “Help First.” This means that we commit to doing a kindness for another just for the sake of doing it. It’s not always about a project or a way to move an initiative forward. Sometimes our clients and colleagues just need a confidential ear as they work through an issue, or a pep talk when things feel especially hard.
We believe in actively propelling and seeking out opportunities to advance the power of us, because we’ve all felt and are grateful for the impact others have had on our successes. And it’s more than just a notion of “Karma points.” There’s immeasurable value and positive energy generated through the cycle of giving and receiving. We are energized by it, and see renewed energy in others when we are able to help.
The Power of Mentors
This value proved a key theme in Nancie McDonnell Ruder’s interviews with top marketing leaders for her recently released book, Jack and Jill Went Up the Hill: How Senior Marketers Scale the Heights Through Art and Science. “Help first” was most often mentioned in the form of mentorship.
A mentor is someone who allows you to see the hope inside yourself.
As Nancie described, “Most of my Jacks and Jills spoke reverently about their mentors’ roles in their learning. They cited former bosses who took them under their wings, marketing guardian angels who appeared at key moments in their careers, and role models who are ongoing influences.”
Throughout the interviews, it was as though several of the featured “Jacks and Jills” had their own “Mr. Rogers” ten seconds, pausing to reflect on those who helped them rise up.
My best mentors have been less about helping me understand marketing or strategy or management techniques; it has really been about emotional intelligence learning. Understanding how to deal with conflict, ambiguous situations, complex organizational structures, and sophisticated board discussions… how to present oneself. If you listen and you are reasonably talented, you are going to pick things up that are very important.
–Steven Schiffman, Chief Executive Officer, Cooper Media
When my boss got promoted, she asked me if I would throw my hat in the ring for her role, and I had not been thinking about that at all. Then she prompted me again, and I really thought about it—and I got the job. Having a boss who believes in you is really motivating, because it makes you feel like you can take some risks, sink yourself into the work and not worry about the political waters. If you are performance-oriented in the first place, this can really give you a launch pad.
–Amy Winter, Executive Vice President & General Manager, UP TV
Take Your Ten Seconds
Now pause for a moment and give yourself the same Mr. Rogers’ ten seconds to reflect on who helped you become who you are today…
- Who comes to your mind?
- What did they do that was so important in helping you become?
- How has that experience fueled your success?
- Who do you think would think of YOU in those ten seconds?
As we move towards the Thanksgiving holiday, we at Noetic want to express our deepest gratitude to all of you who’ve played such critical roles in our success. We promise to continue paying that gratitude forward by helping first and doing our absolute best to keep propelling the power of the greater “Us.”