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Have you ever cut of your nose in spite of your face? If you think that you haven't - ever - then perhaps you are kidding yourself. We have all done it in life and our careers. It's the lessons we learn from our mistakes that often take us to where we need to be. We've all heard this many times before, and without sounding like a broken record, it needs reinforcing. No matter what age we are or what stage we are in our careers, we will make mistakes, choose the wrong option and be afraid to the take risks that might just lead us to where we want to go.
Why your marketing career isn't lifting off – and how to change it

Having worked in the marketing industry for three decades, I have seen many marketers go through the ranks. The stars go on to be CMO's or entrepreneurs themselves, and the people that never quite learn the lessons, or do the 'work' seem to flounder.

The first thing for everyone to remember is that a career won't bring you happiness, but it will bring you satisfaction and a sense of accomplishment. If you are lucky, it will bring you purpose and a few coins in your pocket that will set you up for life.

Eight (8) or so years ago, we hired a young woman who had been an intern in our Sydney, Australia, office the year before, in our new Atlanta operations as a Marketing Executive. During her internships she displayed some incredible traits; determination, fearless decision making, hard work, intelligence and a knack for marketing and sales. In short, she stood out.

We hired her as a Marketing Executive and within the year she became a Marketing Manager. Over the course of three (3) years with the company, she transformed our business and grew it exponentially. She also fosters growth in young interns and marketers that joined the company. She was a star. To take on the role, she had to move from her beloved New York to Atlanta. It's a huge shock moving from a bustling city to a big country town like Atlanta but she did it. Like a few others that started at that time, she was soon driving a BMW and living her best life.

But she really wanted to move to the beach so she moved to the West Coast and we lost a great talent, who remains part of our 'family' but has gone on to bigger and better things. She needed experience in other companies, with new products and ways of doing things to get to where she is today - a Marketing Director.

I share this story because a) I'm proud of her b) I learned just as much from her as she learned from me c) She went onto bigger and better things accomplishing so much in her short career.

We've seen others start who did not reach their potential but the good one's always do. Reasons why marketing careers don't take off often have little to do with the company you work for or the product or service you market, and more to do with your mindset.

Here are a few challenges that young marketers have that stop them from reaching their full potential:

Goals for your career

If you don't have a goal or a plan, then you tend to try things and easily walk away. You lack vision and a path forward which ultimately lessens your focus on your career. If you set up goals and plan to achieve these goals, not only are you setting yourself up for success, you are putting into action something that you need to do in your career and that is have a strategy.

Knowledge to do your best work

With the internet the way it is and the abundance of information from thought leaders happy to share their pearls of wisdom, there is no excuse for any young marketer to not have the knowledge to do their jobs. If you want to know how to write a marketing strategy, you can Google it, and there will be thousands of blogs on every aspect of a marketing strategy and marketing plan. The internet will even tell you how you can implement it. If you want to know how to develop a results orientated email marketing campaign, there are examples all over the internet and lessons on how to optimize an email marketing campaign.


You're young and you want to enjoy life with your friends. I get it and 100% support it but you need to learn young how to departmentalize your life. Work is work and outside of work, you should be enjoying life. If you don't check your text messages every 5 minutes at work, or your social media accounts, you will find that you are able to focus on your work when you are at work, and when you are at home, you can live your best life. This takes training and discipline and also requires you to educate your friends as to when your lunch break is and why you want to be efficient with your time.

Mindset extends past just managing your work life and home life. It's about how you think about things. Working on your mind as much as you work on your body or trying to eat healthy will help you navigate life with less angst. If you want to be successful, have a successful persons mindset. 

Surround yourself with people better than you

You want to work with people that are better than you that you can learn from and in your private life, while school friends are key to keeping your grounded and bringing a sense of family into friendships, you need diversity. If you surround yourself with people that you aspire to be like, in no time you will be there alongside them. Don't be afraid to be the dumbest or least talented person in the room because you have the biggest opportunity to grow when you surround yourself with smarter and more successful people.

Network your ass off!

Network at college, in every job, in the industry and in any circumstance that you are able to extend your circle. Be just as nice to the receptionist as the person you are meeting - every single time. They are more powerful then your ego is telling you. You will notice that in the big companies that everyone aspires to work for, people have have head hunted people that they have worked with before (that they know and trust) to work alongside them. Together they achieve goals and have each other's back. There is a lot to be said for that.

Get a mentor 

Mentors are easy to find if you are a good person, with a goal in mind and you don't feel entitled. I've always had mentors and still today have some of the mentors I had as a teenager. I have everyone from academics to billionaires in my circle of mentors - because I feel privileged to have 5 minutes with them and never, ever take it for granted.

Bring something to the table - always

If you don't bring something to the table in a job interview or in your role that no-one else is able to do, then your at the wrong the table because no-one wants to be around people in business that are by-standers. Show why you 'showed up'.

Don't treat your job as a job

If you treat your job as a job, it will show in everything you do and how much you are recognized by senior managers. If you treat your job as an opportunity to learn, develop, be curious, experiment and share skills, you will be noticed in a nanosecond. There is nothing more exciting when a manager sees someone with potential that they can coach all the way through their career.

Stay in your job for a minimum of 2 years

This is a big one. I have looked through more than 100 resumes in the past few weeks and 98% of people have not stayed at their last jobs for more than 1 year. Shocking. What does that say about the people who are applying for the job? Job hoppers are out of fashion and show that when the going gets tough, they give up. 

There are so many great lessons that I have learned from failures - but I learned and that is the difference between people that climb the ladder and someone that falls down. Choose to have a great life, and a great career. Live the best of both worlds and find the challenges your biggest reward.

Photo By Edu Lauton on Unsplash
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Mellissah Smith

Mellissah Smith is a marketing expert with more than 20 years experience. Having founded and built two successful marketing companies internationally, she is well recognized as a industry thought leader and innovator. Mellissah started her career working with technology and professional services firms, primarily in marketing, public relations and investor relations, positioning a number of successful companies to list on the various Stock Exchanges around the world. She is a writer, technology developer and entrepreneur who shares her thoughts and experiences through blogs and written articles published in various media outlets. Brag sheet: #2 marketer to follow on Twitter (2003), Top 150 Marketers to Follow (2015), Top 10 innovative marketers (2014), 60K+ followers on Twitter with 97% authentic.

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