My first two mentoring sessions with The Marketing Academy were brilliant. I thoroughly enjoyed them, both great experiences paid testament to by the fact that I left each of my mentors practically skipping down the street. All the way to Euston I skipped, with a big grin on my face which lasted my whole journey back north. Why on earth was I so elated? If you’d have asked me a month ago, when these sessions took place, I wouldn’t have been able to tell you. I just felt good. A month down the line however, with a good bit of reflection under my belt, I have a better idea.
The first realisation I came to was just how lovely it was to listen. In so many of my experiences through The Marketing Academy (this blog included), I talk about myself, a lot. What a gorgeous indulgence it was to listen to someone else share their experiences and lap it all up. My second major takeaway was just how soothing the experience was. With all the personal development, vision planning and learning taking place, it’s sometimes hard to see how it’s all going to come together. Having two people you massively admire tell you they’ve been through exactly what you are going through, somehow, you feel a little reassured that everything is going to work out alright.
Much bigger lessons were learnt, of course, with two incredibly experienced mentors to learn from. I met with Jonathon Stead of Rapier, an integrated communications agency with a focus on services marketing, and Gail Gallie of Gallie Godfrey, a strategic communications and campaigns agency. Both were warm, personable and very down to earth, and generously gave over an hour of their time to discuss their careers and go over the three questions I had put forward, providing me with some insightful and incredibly useful answers to them.
My first question posed to both was how you stay passionate about your career. Gail’s advice was to work in areas where your passions lie, and Jonathon stressed the importance of continually learning and developing and knowing where you can make a difference. Both advised the importance of working with other passionate people too, and the ideas posed left me with a warm glow, envisioning a great organisation with engaged and driven people, loving what they do, as well as learning and making a huge difference to their business through the work they deliver. All that and feeling personally fulfilled too! Very good stuff.
My second question was what skill had been most valuable in developing themselves personally and in making progress with their careers. Gail advised being flexible, trying different disciplines and roles and testing out what works for you personally, an idea I love, because I usually feel I have to have everything sussed right now. Jonathon on the other hand suggested I question everything, turning situations on their head, asking why and contemplating things from the other perspective to determine new solutions. So often I take things for granted, and already has been massively helpful in finding different view points and better solutions to problems I face.
The third question was specific to each mentors area of expertise in marketing; I asked Gail how you tap into the heart of a brand and Jonathon how you portray a services brand without relying on tactical messages, and interestingly, both came back with the same answer. A brand is what people feel about it and stays with them over time, and comes through any point a person connects with a brand, though for a service brand this comes most through the people delivering it. I get so bogged down in the detail sometimes, and this piece of advice helped lift my head and focus better on where my attention should lie, seeing the bigger picture and has helped me come up with some great ideas over the past month.
Looking back, the mentoring sessions have helped me move on in many ways, more subtly than my coaching has perhaps, and not as immediately impactful as say the faculty sessions, but in strong and increasingly apparent ways. I have a clearer vision of my future, a better idea of where to focus my personal development and a wider perspective when it comes to applying my skills. Most impactful though, has been the better understanding I have of myself.
The questions I asked, all beautifully answered, have gently pointed me in the right direction. Along with my other touch points in The Marketing Academy, I am increasingly realising how important it is for me to feel passionate about the work I do, how much I strive to continually learn and develop and which areas of marketing I enjoy the most and want to focus on. As it turns out, the questions I asked, I was really asking myself, to help better understand my motivations. My mentors, with their fantastic advice, helped me come to this realisation in such a positive way, and I left feeling inspired about my future and great about myself. Mentoring really is a beautiful thing.