I find that throughout all the interviews I’ve been conducting or have been a part of over the last couple of months, I’m faced with this question and am forced to stammer out an answer that I haven’t really thought about. Truthfully, marketing has just always felt natural to me since I finally came to realization that it was what I wanted to do. So by a simple process of elimination – mind you, a process that took nearly 5 years – I came to my decision. But a simple answer is never satisfactory for a prospective employer so I guess I’m stuck trying to come up with with a cohesive answer that makes sense.

So, why do I like marketing?

I like marketing because it is always changing. Over the past 50 years there have been drastic changes. It is an industry that is always adapting and morphing to the tastes of the consumer. It keeps you on your toes, and I love that feeling of chasing the next big idea. Not even 10 years ago social media was something that only a few people knew about, now it is a global phenomena, with Facebook reaching it’s one billionth active user this past week. A few decades before that, television was invented. Marketing took a hold of all these different innovations and used them as a medium for communication.

Which brings me to the second reason why I like marketing. It’s an awesome tool for communicating great messages – when used properly, of course. It brings great products to people who may or may not realize they need them.

The third reason is that it’s truly ubiquitous. In a recent book I read, I think the average person is bombarded with over 3000 brands a day! Each time you encounter a brand name, that’s marketing. Down to even what colour the text is on the package or where the logo is placed, it’s all part of the brand that the company is trying to exude, and that is part of marketing.

Another final thing that I find great about marketing is that is transparent, contrary to popular belief. During a pod cast by Terry O’Reilly, I can’t remember if it was the Edge of Reason or Age of Persuasion (I still high recommend both pod casts, they’re interesting, funny, and very informative, even if you’re not in marketing), he mentions that advertising will always reveal the truth one way or the other. If the product is crap, not amount of marketing will make the product great.

I’m sure my opinion of the industry will change once I gain more substantial experience. Or maybe it won’t, who knows.

The words of the man who first fueled my love of marketing.

Speed Mentoring

Last evening I attended a Speed Mentoring event that was held at my school. It was organized by a program coordinator at George Brown College. The even started at 5:30 with some light networking for everyone to get warmed up and then the speed mentoring started at 6pm sharp. How it works is that a few students (max of 4 students) are seated at a table and then the mentors speak to each table for about 15 minutes each. I was seated with a classmate in the same program as me (Marketing Management Financial Services – phew it’s a mouthful I know!).

Overall I felt a little disappointed that the event was catered more towards the students in the Strategic and Sports and Events Marketing programs as there was no one in attendance that worked at a Financial Institution. But that’s not to say that the mentors that were in attendance were not impressive! There was one executive from RBC in the Marketing department that I was very excited to see however she wasn’t able to attend. I even spent all evening the day before researching about RBC so that I could impress her!

Even though the mentors who spoke to use were not in the Financial Services field they were still very helpful and informative. I gained some valuable knowledge about the not for profit industry such as the CMA events that are specifically for not for profit and that there are agencies that have whole departments dedicated to servicing not for profit organizations. I also gained valuable knowledge as to how to develop my personal brand and interviewing tips such as always expect the unexpected. For example one of the mentors admitted that he liked to throw interviewees off by asking random questions like “how many gas stations are there in Canada”! Thankfully I’ve never been thrown such a curve ball during an interview! The objective of the question is to see the thought process of the interviewee and how well they work under pressure.

As this was only my second networking event that I attended…ever.. I think I have a lot of work to do in regards to how I communicate and the way I carry myself. Another volunteer I chatted with at the WIL luncheon told me that the only way to get used to networking is to become comfortable around people you don’t know. I don’t think I can do this all the time but slowly and surely is better than never at all! I’m already looking forward to my next networking event… whenever that will be!

I’ll let you guys know how I prepared for this event in my next post. Stay tuned!

On October 24 I had the pleasure of being a volunteer at the Women in Leadership Luncheon that was held in Toronto. You can read a bit more about it here. The panel speakers for the lunch included an impressive combination of very successful women in some different industries. They were Dianna Buckne (host of Dragon’s Den), Kristine Stewart (EVP at CBC), Kerry Peacock (EVP at TD), and Jennifer Klotz-Ritter (CEO at Make a Wish Foundation). Although the panel speakers came from different industries, their attitudes towards their jobs are all quite similar in that they felt that they still have so much to learn.

Their discussion lasted about 1.5 hours followed by a question an answer period from the audience. To me, the overall theme of the talk seemed to surround the idea of overcoming obstacles. But then maybe I was honed in on those topics since they resonate so much with where I am in my life right now. The following is some points that were touched upon that I felt is worth mentioning:

What is your definition of a leader? – The first question the panelists were asked was what they thought a leader is and when did they think they became a leader. The answer that I thought was the most noteworthy is the idea that a good leader is someone who inspires success in others and are enabling a greater good. I really liked this answer because it isn’t always about how much money  you have in the bank or how many people you manage but about how you treat others. One of the women mentioned that she sees leadership in even the entry level employees when they help their colleagues with something or take initiative for a project.

If you could tell your 25  year old self some advice, what would it be?

Jennifer: “Hold on, don’t look d0wn, and keep lowering the rope”

This one needs a bit of backstory: During the summer, the executives decided that it was a good idea for Jennifer to join the others and rappel down city hall for a fund-raising event. As she was going up the elevator that day she was terrified. To calm her nerves she spoke to a young cystic fybrosis survivor who had a double lung transplant earlier that year  who was also doing the rappelling. Jennifer said she gave her some of the best advice she ever got. She said “hold on, don’t look down, and keep lowering the rope”. She said it inspired her to be brave because here was a teenage girl who has overcome so much and is still strong and optimistic. So whenever you feel like things are getting to scary or hard, just remember to keep holding on and go at one slowly and not to think about how scary it is (don’t look down), and eventually you will reach the bottom and be okay.

Kirstine: “Don’t let others define you”

As a young woman is heard to cut through the clutter and figure out who “you” really is. I can attest to this nearly impossible task of finding oneself because I’m still trying to figure it out. While you’re in the process it’s important to keep in mind that no matter where your soul searching takes you, it’s you who is driving and not someone else. Sometimes it might be easier to let someone else have the reigns for bit but then you become complacent and lazy.

Kerry: “Don’t take yourself so seriously” (have fun!)

Although all four women are very accomplished in their fields of work, they all spoke humbly and were very down to earth. I’m glad I got the opportunity to hear them all speak and look forward to the next Women in Leadership Luncheon next year.

I apologize for the lack of activity in the last month or so, I’ve been swamped with work and school! Although this month is going to be by far my most busiest month, what with working 20 shifts plus 3 big group assignments due – not to mention all those smaller assignments and quizzes here and there that always seem to take their toll when you least expect. Furthermore, the weather in Toronto has been less than stellar this last WEEK and it’s making me lazy and miserable. So what better way to feel productive than to finally get to this blog post that’s been simmering in my head out of the way!

As some of you might know, I’m currently in my last term at school (only 1.5 more months to go to be exact!). With that in mind it’s time to really put my networking activities into high gear while also trying to maintain my GPA. This past Wednesday I got the amazing opportunity to be a volunteer at the Women in Leadership (WIL) Luncheon that was held at the Royal York Hotel downtown. I got this opportunity through a former coworker (yay networking!).

I hate to admit it but this was my first real networking event! It’s shocking, I know, since I’m already 24! Not a few days go by without my regretting not taking advantage of all the networking opportunities that I missed while at McMaster but there’s no use in crying over spilled milk, right? I was very nervous, to put it mildly. I’m a shy person by nature so I was worried about what I was going to say to all these people that I didn’t know. But I took out my trusty book, Networking for People Who Hate Networking, and reviewed some key points such as my 30 second elevator speech and what my goal is going to be for the event (example, I will make 2 new contacts), and that calmed my nerves… a little.

The great thing about volunteering at these kinds of events for those people who are shy is that it gives you something to do while also providing you chance to meet new people, albeit in a more structured environment. This gives you something to focus on instead of simply worrying about what your next conversation topic should be.

I arrived a little late (gotta love Toronto transit) but luckily nothing was started yet. In about 5 minutes we plunged right into assembling the gift bags for the attendees. Surprisingly for a group of girls that didn’t know each other, we organized ourselves rather quickly and were done the job in no time at all! I could already tell that this was going to be a great experience because the energy in the room was full of excitement and interest.

Next I was held responsible for greeting guests and providing their name tags as they entered the room where lunch was to be held. After everyone had arrived all the volunteers had a chance to be part of the luncheon and listen to the wonderful speakers that WIL had lined up. The format of the luncheon resembled a ladies lunch, where all 4 speakers sat on the stage and just discussed topics amongst themselves. Dianne Buckner described it perfectly as “girlfriends having lunch except with 200 people staring at them” (Lol).

The luncheon lasted about 1.5 hours altogether and included a 15 minute question period for the guests, and boy did that pass by quick! The impressive group of women who spoke at the luncheon are Dianne Buckner (CBC host), Kerry Peacock (TD), Kirstine Stewart (CBC), and Jennifer Klotz-Ritter. For more information about WIL and the speakers, you can visit their website. The theme of the luncheon was “That’s What She Said”. How that really related to the topic discussed I’m not completely sure but they were very good topics none the less, such as when they realized they were leaders and what they think makes a good leader. One topic that really rang a cord with me was “what would you tell your 25 year old self if you could”. I will reveal what these notable women in business said during the luncheon in my next post so stay tuned!

While listening to Songza’s playlist of “90s Crowd Pleasers” Coolio’s “Gangster’s Paradise” started to play while I was (attempting) to study for my upcoming midterms next week. My brain, being the scumbag that it is, decided to make some random connections about Coolio’s song to an old show I used to watch, Duckman, where Coolio made a couple camios (don’t ask me how I can remember random bits of shows from over a decade ago yet can’t even remember something I read in a textbook 10 minutes ago lol). That resulted in my spending half an hour watching old clips from the beloved show on YouTube and completely forgetting about Direct and Interactive Marketing – fun subject that it is. That’s when I stumbled on this gem that really resonated with me and how I felt about life at the moment (damn those impending winter blues and the inevitably colder weather that’s to come):

Here’s the transcript: “And driving. And shopping. And eating. And working. Somewhere, somehow, they’re different now, none of ’em are the same, they all got chewed up and spit back out, and they don’t taste like living anymore! Don’t you see what it’s like in this deranged Whirring Blender of a world?! Every day is an agonizing ordeal, like balancing a pot of scalding water on your head while people whip your legs and butt … Aaaah, you never forget your senior prom … YOU think I’m “sick”?! Well the only disease I’ve got is “Modern Life,” a schnutbusting gauntlet of inefficiency and misery that’s one long parade of let-downs, put-downs, trickle downs, shutouts, freeze outs, sell-outs, numb nuts, nincompoops and nimrods, all making every day as much fun as waxing a flaming Pontiac with your tongue, where even if you do luck into the possibility of some fleeting pleasure, like, say, if some nymphomaniac telephone operator with the muscle control of Romanian mat-slappers agree to a little strip air hockey, it’ll be over before it starts ‘cuz some vowel-lacking, feta-reeking cab-jockey slams his checker up your hatchback and the cab is owned by some pinata spanker from a Santeria cult in Xoacalpa who starts shaking chicken bones at you and gives you a boil on your neck so big all it needs is Michael Jordan’s autograph to make it complete, and even with all this, with ALL THIS, I still drag my sorry butt off the Sealy every morning and stick my face in the reaping machine for one more day, knowing when it’s time to flash the cosmic card key at those Pearly Gates, I won’t be in the coffin anyway ‘cuz some underhanded undertaker sold my heart, pancreas and other assorted Good ‘N’ Plenty to that same Santeria cult so does anybody really wonder why anybody is hanging onto sanity by the atoms on the tips of their fingernails while life dirty-dances on their digits, and is it really any wonder that I seem DERANGED???!!”
Makes everything feel.. futile doesn’t it?

Half Broke Horses is the second book by Jeannette Walls (the first being The Glass Castle, also one of my favourite books). It follows the life of her grandmother, Lily Casey Smith as she lives through her many adventures in the American mid-west. Lily’s life consisted of flash floods, tornadoes, droughts, and a heart breaking family tragedy just to name a few events.

This is the first book that I couldn’t put down in a long time. I was so engrossed while reading that I missed my stop on the subway while on my way to work! That hasn’t happened to me in years. That’s how I know I’m reading an excellent book: when reality ceases to exist and it’s just you and the story.

The prose is excellently written in the voice of Lily Casey Smith herself. The chapters are short enough that it feels like every time you read one it’s like Lily herself was sitting in your kitchen and you were just “shooting the breeze” with her over some hot cups of coffee. That’s just the way I like it. I find that if a chapter is too long I get bored half way through. I prefer short bursts of action and then long chapters for events that warrant one. Short chapters also make it easier to read because I don’t have to push myself to finish a chapter if I’m reading right before bed (I have this weird thing where I can’t stop reading a book half way through a chapter before I go to bed but if I’m on the bus or something then that’s okay).

Similar to The Glass Castle, the message of the book is good old hard work coupled with some personal resilience and integrity leads to a happy and fulfilling life. Lily is never fazed by any of the setbacks she faces. And trust me, she faced some pretty bad setbacks. Even when her dad failed to pay her second year tuition and bought dogs (to breed) instead, she accepted it because it was done already and there was no use to crying over spilt milk. She was 13 at the time I think. I hate to admit it but if that happened to me at 13 I probably would have cried for the whole week.

A couple of parts that stuck with me about the book is includes some lessons that her dad taught her. Lily’s dad was very well read and always had these philosophies and ideas floating around in his head. One of those theories was the Theory of Purpose. He told her that everyone has a purpose in life and if something doesn’t work out then it wasn’t your purpose. Once you find your Purpose things will begin to fall into place. It’s so simple and yet it’s something that everyone should live by.

Lily’s dad trained carriage horses for a living and he recruited her to break them in at the tender age of 5. On one occasion she got thrown by a horse and she tried to break her fall with her arms. The result was a nasty break that left her bone sticking out and Lily howling from the pain (as anyone would!). After setting the broken arm and bandaging her up Lily’s dad sat her down and told her that she should never try to break a fall and let her body move the way it’s supposed to. He says “once you’re going down, accept it and let your rump take the punishment. Your body knows how to fall” (pg. 22). This lesson can be applied to life. My interpretation of it is when you find yourself in an exceptionally dire situation that is inevitable, you should just let things run their course (i.e. “fall”). The more you try to stop the events from happening the worse you are going to make it for yourself.

Half Broke Horses is a book filled with life lessons that also make you chuckle from time to time. The protagonist Lily Casey Smith is a woman with lots of integrity and someone I would admire if I had known her personally. I finished the 270 page book in 2 days and by no means am I a fast reader. It’s a good book!

End of Summer

My internship has come and gone and thus marks the end of summer and the beginning of the fall and the school term. I am both excited to be going back to school yet anxious to be done with it already and start working so I can pay off all these damn loans.

With that said, here are some things I learned from my internship at Rivet:

  • Every task is important – no matter how small or menial it might seem. As an intern I was often left with the most banal of tasks such as “pick up cookies for the client meeting” and “print these out and give them to X, Y, and Z”. Needless to say I always took them on with a smile on the face because that meant I had something to do! But all these tasks are important in their own right. The cookies help pep up the client before a meeting so they actually pay attention and work can get done and sometimes X,Y, and Z don’t have time or access to look for said papers on the server and print them, or they require copies with signatures on them.
  • The devil is in the details. I proofread quite a few CTPs, lives, and proofs and all I can say is “BE EXTRA MINDFUL AND TAKE YOUR TIME”. As I was reading legal 80% of the time, this was sometimes quite hard since your eyes start to get cross-eyed after the 10th page. Not to mention the fact that it’s all “legal font size” so you’re left squinting the entire time. But this is all quite important because the later in the game you catch a mistake, the more money it costs your client and the worse it makes you and your team look so it’s very important to do it right the first time (or at least try very hard – we’re all human!).
  • Get to know people. Being a person who’s quite shy and quiet, this was pretty hard for me. But I forced myself and don’t regret it one bit. I think I’ve made some lasting relationships and expanded my network considerably – which will help give me a leg-up once I start job hunting for realsies.

I’m so thankful that I completely lucked out and landed myself a position that taught me so much and more. Thank you, Rivet, for an unforgettable experience!

Some of the great people I had the pleasure of working with