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.”