I’d been adamant I would not attend any future industry conferences. If you’ve caught the few posts (and tweets) where I lament about the strains at work and the feelings of anxiety about my career, 2013 (thus far) has not been good. I don’t know if this amounts to a ‘mid-life crisis’ or what. What I do know is, “ain’t nobody got time for no mid-life crisis” because this roof over head and these utilities are not going to pay for themselves, Sallie Mae wants their money back and my 5-inch heels — even on sale and with additional percentage off coupons — needs to be paid for in full.
Several months ago, I confided to a colleague at another company (who has been doing this professional services marketing gig for a helluva lot longer) that I had no desire to attend an upcoming marketing conference. After a very long discussion, I was encouraged to re-consider. If I didn’t attend, it would be the second year in a row I would have missed the conference. She didn’t think it was wise to give the executives to whom I report the satisfaction of having their highest and sole marketing professional unaccounted for at a setting where I deserved to be. I ask them for very little. Actually, I ask them for a lot for their benefit, but I ask them for almost nothing for me personally, and the least they should do, as she drove home the point, was to make sure every year, certain activities were not a “May I…?” but an “We expect…”. In other words, industry conferences, seminars and the like, for example, should be a given — not a request (or akin to begging). Yes, it had come to this. Why? Because they claim poverty. They claim poverty for not having the money to invest in training and development. They claim poverty for not having the money to update and upgrade infrastructure. They claim poverty for not approving the hire of a junior marketing staff person to assist me. They claim poverty for not paying me what I should be paid, at the level where I am, in a market where I am and for all the years I have been a loyal (and obviously, foolish) employee.
This colleague and Momma Rockstar (my BFF) have snapped me out of my “loyalty” crap good and plenty with their tough love talks from time to time, and I am forever thankful and appreciative for them being by my side. This disturbing “loyalty” has done nothing but stagnate my growth, lowered my self-esteem and kept me professionally paralyzed.
Yes, the truth hurts, but truth is truth. No-one is fooling anyone here. I accept much of the blame.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
So, last week, I attended an annual conference for professional services marketers. Although much of what I heard I’d heard before, it was good to be present. Yes, I deserved to be there. I picked up a few nuggets of information and reconnected with other marketers who I hadn’t seen in some time, met some really intelligent professionals, but most of all, the conference was a tremendous confidence booster. Tremendous.
During one of the sessions — on sales culture in marketing (yep, that), I had an “A-ha!” moment. Positive energy rushed to the surface (I’m not kidding). I was almost overwhelmed with emotion. I thought:
I can do this. I am good at this (marketing). I may not know it all or be perfect, but I’ve always been a quick read and a fast learner. I deserve more than what I’m receiving and being given. I don’t owe this company one iota more of loyalty. I am truly am done.
This was a carpe diem moment.
In the middle of this interactive and very spirited presentation, I jumped on my LinkedIn and fired off an e-mail to the presenter. (Note: I’d met this person about two years ago, but I suspect they would not have remembered who I was.) I was direct. I needed a fresh start in a new environment, would they have any suggestions about moving forward based on the credentials I had, and was it realistic to believe I could transition without necessarily starting from the bottom?
Would you believe, within an hour after sending that message, the presenter responded? We are to connect this week to schedule a call to discuss.
Yes, carpe diem.
If I’d sat back and did nothing, not fired off the message when it moved me, I may have missed a golden opportunity. I set my nerves aside, grabbed hold of that shred of self-confidence and pressed “send”.