CMO Confessions & Resolutions

What did 2020 teach you? 

I have a number of guests joining me live to share their biggest lessons from the year that was, as we look ahead into 2021.

Here’s what we’re unpacking today:

  • Lessons from 2020
  • Tips for heading into 2021

Confession #1: pulling back on video

Darryl: When COVID hit, I thought that production quality of webinars and live streams would drop, so I made the call to pull back until when I assumed this would all be over. 

I thought people would relish the comeback we would make after the pandemic. I didn’t expect what actually happened, which was for virtual events and dynamic social communities to blow up.

Confession #2: being ‘too hands-on’

Michael:  While in my head, I was being right beside folks, I started to realize that I was creeping in a little bit on my team’s ability to execute on their own vision.

I was getting too close – too stuck in the weeds. At the later stages of Q4, I managed to pull myself out of it a little bit though.

Darryl: I’ve had employees come into my office, when I was VP of Marketing, and tell me “Dude, you’re killing us. You correct everything we do. You’re so much better than we are that you’ll always find something to correct. When are you going to trust us to do the job?”

I didn’t think I was doing that but when that moment came, I understood how it affected the team’s morale and confidence. They’re unable to move when they expect you to take over.

I changed my style at that point and jumped in only when there would be something critical. If they did underperform, I would use that as a teachable moment instead of me correcting them all the time.

Confession #3: to hire or not to hire?

Judd: I’ve talked to a lot of people who thought they’d be in a downward trend, but there’s actually growth.

Many of the confessions relate to this in the sense that there’s a fear of growing when the world seems to be shutting down. If they’re pushing forward, they’re doing so tentatively and it ends up even costing them.

I’ve often heard, “We should have pulled the trigger.”

People waited too long, thinking that the best people would become available to them when the market opened up again. 

Confession #4: starting from scratch

Lisa: Prior to 2020, I had earned my reputation working for other leaders who would ask me along with them as they entered new roles. 

As 2020 was my first experience of being without a job, it presented me with the time and space that I needed to think deeply about what I loved, where I really wanted to be with my career and what I needed to do to get there.

No longer having a reputation to precede me was a learning experience for sure. I had to re-learn about team engagement and management. 

I discovered that the only way for my team to get what they needed, to get their jobs done, was for me to pave the way. I had to be that connecting thread across all the different layers and parts of the company.

Darryl: What I can add in there is that the Head of HR and the Head of Finance are worth connecting with in that kind of situation: you’re new; you don’t know anyone; you haven’t yet established your reputation.

Those two people can help you with insights into your current people and budgets. They help you find the right new people worth including in your team.

Confession #5: “I didn’t ‘work the floor’”

Kira: My in-the-office behavior didn’t come with me to Zoom when I began to work from home.

All of the information and opportunities to help people, that I collected from walking around the office, disappeared. Zoom created a comfort zone where this no longer happened, and my personal brand suffered as a result.

I limited myself to only scheduled conversations, becoming less helpful and memorable to people. Now I know I need to focus on business development and arranging my day.

Judd: I think  personal brand is one of the biggest most imperative focuses for Marketer moving forward into 2021.

If you’re not focused on developing it in the right way then you’re going in the wrong direction. It’s not just external, either. It’s imperative for your own growth; to do your job properly. 

I hope more people take the reins on their personal brands this year – Marketers are the worst marketers of themselves.

Darryl: Collecting that data and connecting with the aim of helping people is even more important as a consultant. When the CEO/CMO hires you to overcome a specific challenge, you’re hearing only their perspective on the issue at hand.

Making that effort and reaching out to other people for insight will develop more relationships. It also helps with the up-sell goal that you have as a consultant in the space.

Confession #6: true colors emerge in difficult times

Glenn: There’s a famous quote from Maya Angelou: “When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.”

I’m not going to name anyone. It doesn’t matter who you think of, either. Co-workers, friends, family: in times of chaos and stress, like we’re living through right now, our real personalities surface.

Keep your eyes and ears open.

Confession #7: doubting remote work

Gaurav: I didn’t think remote work would be successful for marketing teams. Now I think it really works.

Because the entire world was shutting down in March of 2020, we paused for two weeks. We switched back on and decided it was a gamble worth our while. 

We’re still learning but it’s been a good year for us.

Key takeaways

  1. Don’t let fear take over. Be the best version of yourself and keep going.
  2. Togetherness: if we can continue to come together and support one another, we’re in for a good year ahead.
  3. Community: go out and find people who share your passion and can help you achieve your goals.

This is a #FlipMyFunnel podcast. Check us out on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or here.

And if a thriving community of growth-oriented marketers sounds like your kind of place, be sure to check out PEAK Community.