This mentor relationship was definitely going to be a ‘No Bullsh*t Zone’.

“You need to get out of there.” 

I knew that.  I’d heard this from others.  I’d even said it myself countless times, so many times, I can’t count.  But to hear it out loud during the first meeting with my mentor, someone from my industry, a person who would help me figure out where I am, where I wanted to go and how to get there, it was like, “Boom!”  No sugar coating would be acceptable during this or any other meeting.

This mentor relationship was definitely going to be a ‘No Bullsh*t Zone’.

We’d talked for over an hour before the words were uttered.  I was asked to speak candidly about what my responsibilities were, and to highlight how I carried out specific tasks.  It was a well-needed purge.  It was uncomfortable.  I had to be honest about what I was and wasn’t doing, and I had to spill dirt about my employer.  Not a good place to be, but I had to trust the mentor.  I had to trust the process.

If this person was going to help me, I would have to lay all my cards out on the table.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

I’d never had a mentor like this before.  No matter how old you are and where you are in your career, if you have hit a wall, a mentor may be just what you need.  As individuals, we don’t have the answers for everything.  So, having someone, especially in your industry, a phone call away can be the difference between making rash decisions and making sensible and smart ones.  For years, I reached out to more “seasoned” professionals, many with more years of work experience, but those were and are one-off “what do you think I should do?” exchanges about tasks — not specifically, about my career.  These informal relationships, although sincerely appreciated, would not do.  Now that I’m at the midpoint in my career, my life and livelihood depended on major help.  Yes, it’s that serious.

I swallowed my pride and reached out to my professional association.  They found a mentor match for me.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Marketing is one of those disciplines that the average person has no clue about but they think they do.  Trust me, they don’t.   If you’re contending with those in “lofty” professions (and you know who they are), the perception is anyone who says they’re “in marketing”, that means in their eyes that the person doesn’t have a “real job” and they’re essentially a colossal waste of time, space, and basically, add no value.  You, Ms. or Mr. Marketing Person are a Money and Profit Suck.  You say “marketing”, they roll their eyes.  Worst, most people think “marketing” equals “advertising” — and that’s about it: You put up a billboard, you run a television commercial, you put an ad in a newspaper or magazine.

I’m not here to beat things into people’s heads.  After spending years doing my job, if you don’t get it now, you never will.  To quote a YouTube “sensation”:  “Ain’t nobody got time for this.”  I’m old and I’m over it.

Although I’m not sure where I should be, I know where I am is not the place.

Just as an F.Y.I., “marketing” as defined and approved by the board of directors of the American Marketing Association, an organization with over 30,000 members worldwide is:

…the activity, set of institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners, and society at large.

If you’re not happy with that definition, check Wikipedia and Investopedia.

If there was a metaphor for where I see myself, this would be it.

Professionally, the last five years have been especially rocky.  I believe when times are tough or tougher than normal, co-worker behavior changes, and often, not for the better. The “Me” and “Mine” mentality really kicks into high gear.  Just because they’re walking around in polished shoes, well-pressed suits, shirts and ties, doesn’t mean they’re not vicious.  I don’t want people screwing with how I put food in my mouth and keep a roof over my head.  Once that starts to happen — and there is one such person I’m keeping my eye on at my job that falls into this category — I am truly Your.Worst.F*cking.Nightmare waiting to happen.

My assessment about this Knife in Your Back behavior comes down to three things:

  1. Ego
  2. Power
  3. Insecurity

Anyway, before I do something that could put me on the news or in jail, I need to do everything I can to get myself out.

While I sat there answering questions posed by my mentor and asking my own questions, while we sat side by side going over my resume, while we shared personal stories about experiences we’d had at certain points of our careers, I realized several things:

  • I’m not crazy.  The things I shared that I thought were horribly wrong with my company’s expectations and with their management practices, were wrong — at least from where we both sat.
  • My confidence was slowly eroding.  If I continued to remain where I was, essentially doing nothing, I would never, ever have the courage to leave because I would become complacent and afraid to move somewhere new eventually.
  • I was angry and negative.  Not only was I angry at myself, but I was also angry at things I could not control (like the economic situation the past 5 years that made me feel I shouldn’t dare leave), and I would have to let that all go — “channel the anger” so to speak — to move forward.  I needed to use all that negative energy I was exerting to move in a positive direction and focus on the things that really mattered — with me being first and foremost, not the company.
  • I was exhausted.  Not only am I physically drained, but emotionally drained.  It has all caught up to me.  I simply have no extra energy to be (overly) ambitious, to try to change an establishment that has no interest in changing and moving with the times. I have no energy to keep putting things forward and for them shooting them down for reasons that are complete B/S.
  • I love marketing.  I don’t secretly want to be a doctor or florist.  I get to use my writing and communications skills.  I get to help people.  I get to strategize about ways to promote our place of business, how best to influence consumers in order to entice them to buy what we’re selling.  I get to be creative.  I’m on the Web, I’m doing design, I’m involved in marketing research.  Yes, marketing is my gig.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

This is what I’m hoping for…an open door…

I have a big homework assignment.  I start this weekend.  We will reconvene in a month.  In that time I need to edit my resume, and the killer:  I need to go through  my memory bank of all the things I have done, the outcomes I can characterize as “successful” and create mini stories about each.

Bottom Line:  I need to be able to walk into interviews and present what I have accomplished with quantifiable results included in a way that makes an employer see me as an irresistible candidate who will work well with their team.

My mentor also suggested I take a very challenging public speaking / communications training course.  It addresses things like delivery of your message, tone and body language, among other things.  I’m nervous about this, but very close to signing up.  It isn’t cheap. But, I made it very clear to my mentor:  I will do whatever it takes for change to happen.

This is an investment in my future.  If I do nothing, I get nothing.

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9 thoughts on “This mentor relationship was definitely going to be a ‘No Bullsh*t Zone’.

  1. Pingback: The fact is, I threw up my hands and said, “@%* it”, a long time ago — yes I did. | brainypintsizer

  2. Good for you for taking control of your life and not letting it pass by! I’m sending all sorts of good vibes your way and can’t wait to hear how things work out!

  3. I love this plan of action, esp the public speaking/comms sessions. They go a long way. And you have a very powerful advantage over many in that you know without a doubt that “marketing is your gig”. Now you own it and own it ;powerfully. I have stopped defending to people like engineers and attorneys that what I do is critical. When the shit hits the fan, they see my value for themselves. Own it and take it. Good luck!

    • Thank you! This week, when I’m not sidetracked by the family bonding, I’m supposed to do my resume edits and my homework from my mentor. The edits should not be difficult but the real challenge is part two — figuring out my successes and crafting stories around them. Strange…I can help people to do these things but I can’t seem to help myself.

  4. I understand what you mean about the response to when you say you work in marketing, there’s so much more to it than people realize. I applaud you for being brave in pursuing passion in your job search.

    • Thank you so much! This is not easy. But, I also think it could be much, much worse. At least, I can try to help myself to do better and to be better. What if you don’t have that? Before I lose all sense of confidence, I need to do this. I want that a year from now, I am not as I am today — but better. Fulfilled, challenged and happy.

    • Thank you! Thank you! Oh, this is not going to be easy. I mean, don’t get me wrong. I feel good about this step, but there is a lot of work I have to do. Some things will work; some won’t. Like I said, I have to trust the process — and I have to trust my mentor.

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