A recent survey that polled 7,000 professionals nationwide found that marketing and communications professionals fared the worst among job functions with the highest burnout, with 83.3% reporting they were burned out. As a University-trained career coach, I love employing evidence and research-based theories. I’ve spoken about motivational theories, transitional theories, three top career theories, self-efficacy and more, but I also know that without practice or exploration, theory falls flat.
As you think about your next career move, I want you to expand your awareness through pointed questions, introductions and resources, particularly at this time when you’re experiencing greater occurrences of burnout. Meet Maquel Shaw. She serves as a Vice President of Marketing at Overstock.com, a tech-driven online retailer.
Rachel Montañez: Let’s start off with the industry, what do you feel are the three biggest challenges?
1. Finding the right balance of acquisition vs. retention remains the classic challenge for marketers; how to attract new customers without alienating existing and loyal ones. Today, marketers have access to tremendous amounts of data to solve this problem. Yet, with it, new questions arise on how to accurately attribute efforts and budgets as either acquisition or retention measures.
2. Secondly, Walled Gardens. As the online world transitions to support more consumer privacy, marketers have fewer tools to track each advertising avenue’s efficiency. Cookies and tracking will become more challenging, so I see an opportunity to test new methods.
3. Lastly, the shortened attention span of consumers. As a child in the 1980s, I woke up early on Saturday mornings and watched cartoons. Every 5-8 minutes, advertisers were allowed to talk to me while I waited eagerly for the TV show to continue. The next generation is not watching as much television. As a friend put it, they’re “watching the phone”. The once 30-minutes episodes are now 3 minute YouTube videos or 15-second TikToks. Marketers must find creative, new ways to build a memorable brand message.
Montañez: Community is key to avoiding and beating burnout. What are some of your favorite events and organizations that exist to build community?
Shaw: ShopTalk, one of the top retail industry conferences, brings together a dynamic combination of success stories, industry leaders and cutting-edge marketing vendors. Their annual event creates a solid balance of education in the eCommerce and Digital Marketing fields and networking opportunities to meet peers and share ideas.
It was at a ShopTalk event in 2018 that I was introduced to The Girls’ Lounge (now known as The Equality Lounge) hosted by The Female Quotient, an organization supporting gender equality. Through their lounge, studies, publications and network, I discovered the challenges I face as a woman in a business leadership position are not unique nor indicative of my abilities. This sense of belonging freed me to explore what leadership style was authentic to me and find confidence in it.
Makers Women is another organization I follow on LinkedIn for motivation and inclusion. They uplift through relevant information and spotlighting talented women.
Montañez: Let’s talk more about your career. What was the biggest influence that got you from your last job to where you are now?
Shaw: Sponsorship. In my former position as Chief of Staff, much of my day-to-day was learning how the Chief Marketing Officer thought and responded to different scenarios. This unofficial mentorship provided me a different angle to the problems we solve, and my boss sponsored my candidacy based on his experience with my abilities.
Montañez: What are some of your recent most important leadership decisions?
Shaw: The most important decisions I’ve made recently are defining the person and leader I want to be. Defining and committing to my values sets boundaries around the feedback and criticism I seek and filters out what does not serve me.
Montañez: Talk to us about your transferrable skills?
Shaw: I consider my transferrable skills as things that enhance my performance in multiple roles. I currently serve in many roles as a marketer, leader, employee, woman, mother and ally. Within those guidelines, I have found empathy to be the most transferable skill. When I can actually put myself in someone else’s shoes (be it a customer, employee, boss, child, friend), my understanding of the situation increases.
Montañez: What are your best tips for success in the marketing industry?
Shaw: Stay curious. What products and services do you buy? What do you value in making those decisions? Ask your family and friends the same questions. Most importantly, ask your customers – either through surveys or testing other experiences. Understand the varying motives of consumers and how your brand and product can stand out in their journey.
Montañez: This is a tough time for many people, is there anything that’s filling your cup?
Shaw: I recently finished Brené Brown’s Dare to Lead. Evaluating myself on the leadership principles she teaches of courage, vulnerability, empathy, and growth makes me more inclusive and thorough. I’ve also learned how to improve my energy and time management to deliver financial results with a resilient team.
This conversation has been edited and condensed for clarity.
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