image of susie ramroop
Jun 27, 2019

Imposter syndrome? Feeling stuck? Lessons from Susie Ramroop, ex B2B marketing leader turned performance coach

By Matt Dodgson

Co-Founder - Recruiter & Marketer



Fiona: 00:00:11  Welcome to Market Mentors a podcast for the marketing leaders of today and tomorrow. I am Fiona Jensen, a director and co owner of Market Recruitment. For over a decade, I’ve been helping B2B marketeers find the best jobs with great companies. Together we’ll discover how marketing experts reach to the top and learn from their experience. Ask career related questions you can’t get answers to elsewhere. Be Tough, be challenged, be mentored. Ever feel like you’re holding yourself back, stuck in a Rut with your career, leadership skills or life in general then one solution might be to hire a coach.

Fiona: 00:00:53  Susie Ramroop is an experienced mindset coach and speaker who has a track record of taking business leaders from good to great by focusing on what truly makes an impact. Having climbed the B2B marketing career ladder herself as a speaker, she authentically but truthfully tackles the trickier subject matters around impostor syndrome, why being you is enough and how to focus. I’m here with the lovely Susie Ramroop. Susie and I were lucky enough to bump into each other at a STEM connects event, which was with Separate Technologies I think was in, about a month or so ago.

Susie: 00:01:37  Yes. Something like that. Imposter syndrome.

Fiona: 00:01:38  Yes. And Susie stood out head and shoulders for me from the event just with some of the wonderful stuff, advice and just straight talkingness that happened in front of a bunch of people who were all probably being a bit too polite and not really talking about how we were feeling and the challenges that we having and Susie just kind of broke us all down and just told us straight what was happening and how to over come it. And with that I had to ask you to take part in Market Mentors. So thank you so much.

Susie: 00:02:10  You’re so welcome. What you’ve just said actually summarises really nicely what we do all the time. Be polite. [inaudible 00:02:15] the boat.

Fiona: 00:02:18  No, that’s right. That’s right. So with that, we’re going to be ruthless, rude, and totally obnoxious. Great. I’m excited. Are you excited? So let’s talk about how you’ve got to where you are. So you’re a mindset coach now, that’s probably a bit like being a Jedi master in my head. So I’ve got no idea how you get to this.

Susie: 00:02:41  That’s funny, one of my clients does call me Yoda. So, yeah, it’s absolutely like that. People would probably say that I’ve always been a straight talking, but I totally wasn’t. So, I started off my career, I did a philosophy degree mainly because I had no clue about what I wanted to do, but I was a French speaker and realised that after law philosophy is the most respected degree on the planet. And I thought, “Right, okay, well what’s that going to teach me? It’s going to teach me clarity of argument.” And I thought, “Well, that sounds to me like it will be useful in the future.” And clearly it has been. But so I started out thinking that the sexiest thing to do would be to work in the media. And I did start off working in the media.

Susie: 00:03:25  I had the job of everyone else’s dreams, just not mine. It turned out. So I doubled around the edges of marketing with PR, with marketing agency. And the thing that really struck me was how I just didn’t fit in. And it felt to me like my personality looked like it ought to fit in. But the reason I didn’t fit in is because everyone else was faking it. And it took me a while to have that reflection. But I basically lost trust in myself. I thought I’m not making the right decision about where I do fit. So let me find something somewhat bland, but with opportunities. And the thing I chose after a summer of sponsoring the cricket was to work with Cable & Wireless as a team secretary and sort of serendipitously, that was in the marketing department and I was supporting two teams.

Susie: 00:04:15  One was channel marketing and the other one was product marketing. I had great fun. It was a temp to perm role. They made me permanent really quickly. And the reason I got a good reputation was just because I helped everyone with everything. And in helping, I was learning. So I used to offer to write up documents, restructure things. I learned about bandwidth because I wrote the bandwidth product description. A guy who was expert in this field, highly technical, could not describe it to anyone, which is a marketing person’s kind of fundamental. So I learned how to write clearly and how to convey features, benefits through doing that sort of work. And then I got myself a product executive job and my product was mobile.

Susie: 00:05:01  So fast forward then I went into product manager’s job. Fast forward a bit more and I just kept my eye on the next job and the next job was always obviously the next rung up. And I got to associate director of marketing and I started sort of puffing a bit and going, is this it? Is this it? Like all this time, this is what I’ve been working for. And all this time would’ve been about five years, I think I was 26 at that point. And my boss saw the hump thing and saw my talent and just said, “Look, there’s nothing more I can do for you. You are the best person in the department, but you don’t think that you are. And that’s the problem.” So he got me a coach and when he got me that coach in I think it was 2004-5 I thought, “This could really help my team.”

Susie: 00:05:51  So I thought I was a pretty good leader, but I didn’t think I was perfect. Why would you? So I thought there’s a couple of people in my team, they’re not quite with the program. The way I can help them is to become a coach. So that was originally my driver, just to help them. And in doing that, I embedded myself as this sort of coaching voice throughout the wider organisation. I was at Colt at the time. So, big organisation, multiple thousands of people getting wind of the fact that not only was I good at marketing, but I could also coach them. And so I qualified in 2006 as a coach, really good at marketing, terrified of sales. Therefore, I didn’t have the confidence to set up my own business. So I did what I think most women do.

Susie: 00:06:35  They were led by their capability and their comfort largely. And I moved another organisation into another marketing role, director of product management. And I just stayed in that comfort zone for a really long time until I got made redundant I think four years later. And I still didn’t make the leap into coaching because I was terrified. So instead I looked at the newspaper and at the time the NHS was in real trouble needing market management skills is what they were describing as. The McKinsey report had said, the NHS will not survive without market management skills. And I thought, “I’ve got those, I can do that.” And I was looking for more meaning at the time-

Fiona: 00:07:15  I was going to say that, was it really worth it.

Susie: 00:07:17  I wanted to make a difference. Yeah, I wanted to make a difference. I did a bit of shadowing in a school, saw some year nines and thought, “Yeah, no, that isn’t where I’m going to find meaning, but maybe the NHS.” [crosstalk 00:07:27] I just haven’t got the patience. It struck me that, I mean, I don’t know why that was a surprise to me to be honest, but I just didn’t have the patience. So I started on a journey in the NHS. where using those skills, I did a number of things around service transformation and performance improvement. But increasingly even with innovation in my title, I was being sort of forced along a finance route to look for cuts rather than look for opportunities to grow, which is where my skillset is. And so looking for opportunities to grow like a true marketer does.

Susie: 00:07:59  Efficiencies come, but the NHS weren’t as sophisticated as my corporate experience. And so whilst they on the surface needed me and wanted me, they didn’t really. So I really struggled there and struggled sufficiently enough that I decided actually now was the time to start my own business and go it alone as a coach. So I started that about four years ago. And I have niched and niched to niched to the point where I now focus on professional women largely who have got issues like imposter syndrome. Who are highly capable, very hard on themselves, often don’t feel like they’re making enough progress and ultimately they’re feeling tired and unfulfilled. And so I come in, shake them up a bit and focus them on marketing themselves.

Susie: 00:08:48  Which is what are you here for? What is this to do? And so that’s pretty much where I’m at now and coming full circle slightly and I’ve now been asked to do more business coaching, focusing on positioning a strategic intent. So all of that marketing experience is now, yes, technically coming into play. But also it’s a sort of new realisation that really when I’m coaching people, I am marketing them. I’m asking them what is the purpose of their existence and who’s going to buy into that and do they buy into it? Which is the sort of more philosophical question. So yeah, that’s how I got here.

Fiona: 00:09:28  Lovely. Sounds amazing. Well, thank you so much for talking us through how you’ve got to where you are today. And it’s really interesting actually your tech background and then taking that to the NHS and then moving into your own business. And then that realisation piece, I think we all live and we learn as we go. Don’t we? We never going to be the finished article, but I think we do just get stuck on occasion. So when we get stuck, what do we need to do?

Susie: 00:09:55  Well I think the first thing is to recognise that it’s temporary. So I think some people go, “No, I’m stuck.” And then they look for reasons to almost keep them stuck or to justify being stuck. They look for other people who were also stuck then they build this like stuck society. So I think-

Fiona: 00:10:15  A community of stuckness,

Susie: 00:10:17  A community of stuckness. I can’t think who said it, but we’re the product of the five people we spend the most time with. Loads of people have said this now, which is probably why I can’t pin it on any one person. It was probably someone like Jim Rome. But when you’re feeling stuck and you start to talk about feeling stuck, people tend to buy into that. And so it’s not that you necessarily find other stuck people, but say you share it with your closest friend or you share it with your family who love you and want to keep you safe. They’re just going to give you they’re there or variations of. But actually when you feel stuck, it’s really important to have someone that who will lovingly support how your feeling, but have an interest in moving you forward. And I think that’s the main problem when you don’t have a coach frankly.

Susie: 00:11:08  So that moment in my career when I was given a coach, I realised that at no point in my life need I stay where I am and that there are always choices. Now what I’ve learned to do as a coach is to always question, well, what do you actually want? Because there’s no point, from your stuck place, looking at your options and choosing one because you’re going to see limited ones. You’re not going to ask are they relevant ones and you’ll probably going to choose one that just gets you further down the same path. So for example, if you believe you’re stuck in a job or you might buy into the fact that it’s the company that’s the problem. You move companies and yes it’s new, so it might take you six months to climatise. And in a year you go, “I’m stuck.” Because you didn’t change anything apart from your environment.

Susie: 00:11:57  And typically it’s not the environment that’s the problem really it’s the lens through which you see it. Or the body that you’re occupying that just experiences that as stuck. You’re just really moving the problem in that circumstance. So I think you have to talk to someone. Ideally a decent coach, I say decent because they’re not all decent, who can just ask you and qualify what it is you really want and challenge you a little bit on why you want that. Because if you can’t explain that, you’re probably trying to please someone else. Or probably doing what I did in my marketing career, which is just focus on the next step and plot a path there not questioning do I actually want to do that job? Will I be any happier doing that job? If you can’t be happy in the position you’re in, you’re unlikely to be happy moving, if that makes sense.

Fiona: 00:12:52  Yeah, really does. And you did bring up a valid point as per normal, just straight to it. But I think one of the main concerns people have of working with a coach, if we’re a cynical business person with 15, 20 years marketing experience, normally they’re a bit like, “well, what’s the coach going to do for me that I can’t do for myself? Or how is your experience going to make a difference to my experience? What can you do for me?? Should I engage with someone who doesn’t know me or what’s that value?

Susie: 00:13:28  So there’s two ways to answer that question. The first is if you don’t value it, then you don’t get one. Simple. If someone came to me and had that conversation, I’d say, “Well, why are you even talking to me? Don’t waste your time then. Obviously don’t, why would you?” But the other way of answering that question is with a bit of my own experience and some of what I see in the people coming to me is that we always think we can do it ourselves. I am an experienced and highly effective coach. You might say, “Well, why do I need one?” Well, because we can’t see everything ourselves. And actually we need someone who we can come clean with. If I go and talk to someone at work about what I want to do at work, I’m going to try and give them the right answers.

Susie: 00:14:15  I’m going to try and present a picture of me that is favourable. I’m unlikely to go, “Do you know, every night I go home I cry because I’m so miserable doing what I’m doing.” Yeah. I’m great at it. I’m probably one of the best in the department. My boss would regularly and publicly say that I was the best in the team, but I can confidently say I was the only one going home crying every night because I was so miserable. Because even though I was putting all of myself in my working hours and beyond into this job, I wasn’t getting anything in return. So I think those people can remain cynical. My question to them is, is it getting you anywhere? Is it making you feel good about yourself and your life?

Susie: 00:14:59  And some people that are cynical don’t feel the need to ask those questions, in which case they’re quite happy the way they are. But quite a lot of the time that’s in the system, it’s just a cover for the fact that there were a bit afraid to look beneath the bonnet. And I am very direct. I do, do it in a loving and invested way, which is I’m only going to challenge you on the path to a certain place to check the A, the place is right. B, is it the only part and C, do you really want to go at the pace you’re going? Because cynical people will typically be holding the reins, foot on the brakes. They’re going to want to go at their own pace. They’re going to want to control everything. They’re not going to appreciate someone that says, “Actually you don’t need to go via third gear, you could just wiggle straight into fourth. “

Susie: 00:15:53  They’re going to be rule followers. They’re going to be quite fixed about their outlook. And I say this knowingly because I was one of them. It’s a typical response of mine when I don’t want to do something. The courageous thing to ask is why don’t I want to. Is it because I’m afraid I’ll be successful as much as is it afraid I’ll be a failure? There can be both. So I would have a very intriguing conversation with a person like that if I thought they were genuinely interested. And my intuition is such that I can see when that’s a cover up and I can see when it’s real. And when it’s real I just, I wouldn’t even spend my time talking to that person to be quite honest.

Interview advice for B2B marketers

Fiona: 00:16:35  Yeah. Wow! There you go. So, [crosstalk 00:16:39]. Well, no. I loved it. I loved it. It’s just that there’s so many different things that we could talk about after that, but we’ve got a structure and some juicy stuff to get through. So I’m going to bring us back on point to interview advice. So as you know, a lot of people who come across the podcast for the first time are probably job seekers in a marketing career right now. So, what sort of two or three bits of advice have you got for people who are in interview processes at the moment, whether it’s how they approach it, mindset, what have you learned in your marketing career?

Susie: 00:17:14  So what I’ve learned personally is that when I don’t get the job, it’s because I’ve sabotaged the interview.

Fiona: 00:17:22  Self sabotage.

Susie: 00:17:23  Absolutely self sabotage. And so using what I just said. I would say that you need to first ask, do you really want that job? Because quite a lot of the time we’re driven to just get a job because the thought of not having a job really puts a question mark over our self worth. So, I’ve been out of job, out of work for months at a time. And I remember when I could have at any point in that time just started my own business, but what I was focused on was getting a … Really, it’s identity. It’s my whole status was core to my identity. So having unemployed in the sphere of my identity was very uncomfortable for me. Actually, I could have just changed that perspective to self employed at any moment, but I didn’t. For me, my values at the time were, actually I wouldn’t even call them my values, I would say my habits at the time were belonging.

Susie: 00:18:24  And so I just needed to belong as quickly as possible. And what that meant was I was looking for jobs, applying for jobs quite often that weren’t ideal. Now, luckily for me, I sabotaged all those interviews and was never offered those jobs. But I can think of a job that I was offered and I nailed the interview because I actually wanted it. So I think that if you’re struggling with interviews, it’s largely not your interview technique. I think when you’re passionate about something, when you are truthful about what you want to do, what you’re good at, that it just pours out of you. It literally will come out of your pores. And when you are trying to convince yourself and other people that you’re good enough, it’s a really bad energy to be in. So for me, the interview answer starts way before, which is where are you putting your energy into applying? I’ve got a client at the moment that’s highly capable, like all of my clients, but she’s in a habit oof applying for the same job.

Susie: 00:19:27  She’s freelance, but she applies for the same job every time because she’s good at it. But it’s not what she really wants to do. So now I’m coaching her to create the job that she really wants. And when you just get in into the space of defining what you actually want, not picking from what’s available, just new stuff starts to appear. Your lenses open up and you start to see better opportunities. You start looking for making a decision, not around title, salary but around workplace flexibility, strategy, people involved, how you’re going to spend your days. So, I would prefer to advise someone to think creatively about how they want to spend their days and not what compromises potentially they need to make in order to fit into a job, which I think is where most job seekers go. So if you’re doing that stuff, you don’t need to worry about the interview. The interview will take care of itself.

Fiona: 00:20:26  So make sure that what you are applying for and the jobs you are going for are the ones that you really excited about.

Susie: 00:20:32  Yeah. And when you’re in an interview, your checking that they match your values and [inaudible 00:20:37].

Fiona: 00:20:37  It’s a two way process.

Susie: 00:20:38  Absolutely. We can get into proving mode when we’re in interviews and if we’re in a job we don’t like or we’re not in a job, it’s really easy to get into proving energy from the place of I’m not enough and I needed to prove that somehow I am. So I would say if you’re in a more creative space, when you’re defining what is you would love to do, you can’t coexist with I’m not enough as well. It’s just impossible to be in the two energies at the same time. So focus on what you want and focus what would light you up day to day. For me, for example, I would not want to work in the same place every day.

Susie: 00:21:17  So any job that I would apply for and historically did apply for, was always in a multisite environment. Because I don’t want to go to the same office everyday. I don’t want to take the same train every day. I don’t want to go to the same sandwich shop for lunch every day. And my whole career actually if I tracked it all was always like that. At the height of my marketing career, I was flying somewhere at least once a week. Because I love variation. So knowing things like that about yourself is really key because otherwise you’ll end up in a job and you’ll think this isn’t the right job for me for a whole host of other reasons when actually it’s a perfect job. I just need the variation of environment.

Fiona: 00:21:57  So being honest with yourself as to what you need to succeed as well.

Susie: 00:22:00  Yeah. Being really honest.

How to jump to a Marketing Director role

Fiona: 00:22:02  What technical skills are needed to jump to a director position?

Susie: 00:22:07  So I don’t think there are any technical skills as such. I think the mistake that a lot of people and hirers make is that they think that they need someone with knowledge and expertise in the area. And so what you find is, if you take me for example, I was a voice product manager and then I had all of the telephony product. So I wasn’t a data person. And because I was a voice person, if you look back 20 years, voice and data was separate now in the world of the Internet and IP voice is an application on a data network. And now I saw that coming and thought, actually I need to be on the value side of that, not on the commodity side of that. And so, when you look at what it is you love to do and where your specialisms are, you’ve just got to be really clear about where you want to be, which side of the fence you want to be on.

Susie: 00:23:02  And you need to be able to almost levitate out of that knowledge into an upper echelon. So being a voice specialist doesn’t help me be a manager of voice specialists. Being a voice specialist doesn’t help me be a leader or an associate director of the entire product management team. What helps me get up there is being able to take enough information that I can tie it to the strategy so I can see the vision and bring people with me on the way there. And so, my coaching definitely helped me with that. Being the best product manager would have hindered me as a leader because I would constantly be saying, in my head, obviously not out loud, “I’m a better product manager than you. How do I make you even close to my level of product management?”

Susie: 00:23:53  And instead my coaching, which I give all of my clients these tools, it’s how to have a conversation that helps people extract their answer rather than tell them the answer and make them feel bad for not knowing it. That is quite often the style of a technical manager. So, I think almost that the higher you go in an organisation, then less knowledge you ought to have. You need to be able to paint a picture, ask the right questions, empower people to come with you. Not fix every problem that you can see, but help people learn how you might do it. So for example, I used to regularly have to go to a product board. I’m sure many of your candidates and clients will have the same thing where monthly there is a big meeting, we have to go and present and you need approval for stuff. And regularly I would have submitted by my team a presentation that I did not believe was presentable.

Susie: 00:24:55  And until midnight every month, the night before, I would be there changing it and making it good enough in inverted commas. And it was never the way I would have done it. So I decided that the way to get them to do something, to get the decision. So, let me qualify, the way I would have done it was not the perfect way to do it, but the way I would have done it would have got the decision I wanted. And that was the purpose of going to the product board. Versus a bit like the interview question. People preparing their work, hoping it’s good enough, praying they don’t get crucified in the meeting. Where I was presenting a set of work I said, “Look, here’s the problem. We’ve got three options. My recommendation is that you do this and therefore the decision I want from you is this.” So it wasn’t am I good enough? It’s are you going to make the decision that I’ve just recommended that you make based on the fact that I am the most knowledgeable person about this? So it was a completely different view of the power if might.

Fiona: 00:25:49  Very different dynamic.

Susie: 00:25:50  And so, whereas people that were more junior and more technical who had more knowledge, we’re sort of getting caught in the detail. And so, it becomes a marketing question and a coaching question, which is what is the point of us going into this meeting? What is the decision we want from this meeting? And working back from there. When you’re coming from a technical point of view, it’s very hard to get rid of the technical knowledge and have a greater perspective.

Fiona: 00:26:16  They get stuck in the weeds. Don’t you? Because you’re so busy trying to do the weeding that you forget why you doing it.

Susie: 00:26:21  Completely get stuck in the weed. Yeah, completely. And I think this is a parallel to all the questions you’ve asked me so far actually, which is where having that perspective, which is what is the point of this? Why are we doing this? And keeping your eye on that for me is the key to being a great leader. And when you do that, you’ll never be in the habit of asking your team to present multiple slides of PowerPoint decks and papers for approval. You’ll just be say, “Right, what do we want here? Why do we do that?” I had a boss that used to ask me for papers on stuff, an NHS boss, all the time. And one day I said, “Okay, I’ve got eight papers to write this week. What do you actually want from this week?”

Susie: 00:27:03  And she saw that as sort of combative initially. But I said, “But you’re here because you want to move this stuff forward, right? Yeah. Okay. What do you want to move forward this week? Okay. I propose that the way to move that forward is this and this and this.” That’s me taking on leadership that perhaps she could have taken on. But, seeing the way that I presented that she was actually, she’s going to get me what I want. That is perfect. She didn’t care at that point whether I wrote eight papers or not, she just wanted me to help her make a decision. And just taking your head up for a minute and going, “Hold on a minute. Is this relevant?” Same question in life. Do I really want to be on this path anymore? Having that skill makes you a great leader in life or in business.

How to manage your marketing career in a short term focussed company

Fiona: 00:27:47  Brilliant. Good answer. How do you manage your marketing career in a company that’s very short term focused? You can be the most amazing marketer but, if no one else will listen well, what do you do then?

Susie: 00:28:00  I feel like I’m going to repeat myself now. It’s the same thing. I’m thinking about this time when I was asked to launch a product in six weeks and my boss had no interest in answering my why question. I felt like that annoying child at school and went why? So I said, “Listen, I will launch in six weeks. I think the power of that launch is going to be low. But if we don’t paint a picture of what that is a component part of, people are just going to see it as one of your sort of throwaway ridiculous ideas and everyone by week eight will have forgotten about it.” So I think that it is about that perspective. It’s knowing that whatever the short term thing is, that it is a contribution to a bigger direction. Again, this maps completely to life. If you’re working really hard on, the classic example would be a wedding.

Susie: 00:28:58  There’s a wedding in eight weeks and you need to lose weight now. People know what the short term pain is for. However, when the wedding is gone, they’ll just completely let go of those habits. So I think that and answer the question, you need to extract something valuable from it. You either need to tie it to a bigger vision or you need to accept that actually it doesn’t contribute to a bigger vision, but you’re going to test out some skills. So for example, that product, yes, we did launch it in six weeks. No, it didn’t sell. Just like I said it wouldn’t. But the way I pitched it to the team working their backsides off for that launch was let’s just see if we can test out a fast route to market process. Let’s take our normal process. Let’s make it as bare as we can. Let’s take a note of where the risks are and let’s learn that if we have to be nimble, if a market window open for something that we know we could do it.

Susie: 00:29:58  And then afterwards we’re going to look at what we did and then we’re going to effectively productise that process so that if we were ever in that position, we could take that off the shelf and follow it. So we made it count. And I think, regardless of whether you’re comfortable in a very, very short term company or not having the ability to get your head out of the panic of it being so last minute all the time and making it count either to your own skillset and your own career, if it can’t count to that business is really, really important. The NHS works like that all the time. Most people are in chaos mode. They don’t know how to plan long term. But when you can say, “Okay, what you did there can count towards next time.” It’s pulling them one step closer towards being strategic without them sort of losing the love of the chaos if you like.

Fiona: 00:30:50  Yeah. Yeah. So looking at what you can learn from it rather than the situation owning you. Try to find a way of making the most out of it.

Susie: 00:31:02  Definitely. And quite often that will involve reflection afterwards rather than moving straight onto the next. And you might do that if you’re in a business where you’re, it’s constant. You might do that with the people that worked on it over a bottle of wine one night in a bar rather than moaning about how awful that was. Embracing yourself for the next time, sit there and go, “Right together, what can we do next time? Because we know this is going to happen again. Now let’s do our way.” And having some sort of, I guess it’s repeatability about it.

Fiona: 00:31:36  And then the other thing I guess out of that, you can then build a portfolio to build your argument to better have that conversation again in the future. As providing examples of, we delivered what you asked us to deliver when you asked us to deliver it, but, we feel this could have been improved, this could have been delivered more.

Susie: 00:31:57  I mean, I did exactly that with that product board example. Where at one point we had 33 projects on the go. And I said, after about probably three or four months, I said, “Okay, has anyone noticed that none of these have been launched?” And they said, “What do you mean?” I said, “They’re all in implementation, but none of them are exiting implementation.” I.e none of them would actually go live. Therefore none of them would generate any income that was hanging on them. And I would have thought the senior management team would have bitten my hand off at that point. But they didn’t, they basically tried to quiet me down. I raised it again the next month and they quiet me down again. So we’re now at month five.

Susie: 00:32:40  I said, “Okay, we’re at months five. Here’s my recommendation that we stop 28, we fast track five using the thing I just learned from the panic mode process. We actually get income this year from those five and those five are all strategically going to contribute to the other 28. So we can pick whichever ones we want in that point. But they’re all enablers for those 28.” Still tried to quiet me down. Months six I said, “In six months I’m going to come back. If you don’t follow this, I’m going to come back and tell you the income impact of not having done what I’ve said and I’m going to project out with the finance team what it would have looked like if you had done what I said.” And then in six months I came back and I said, I presented the argument.

Susie: 00:33:29  Obviously it was a logical argument. So I stopped the 28 projects and in the meantime they hired Ernst & Young to come in and do exactly the same and got exactly the same. However, they then spent, I mean, goodness knows how much they spend, but they spend a lot of money on it. And in the meantime I thought, well, while they’re distracted with Ernst & Young, I’m going to go and deliver these five projects. Which is what we did and we got income that year. Again, what is it for? The whole point of product development is to generate more income but, also generate more stickiness with the customers.

Susie: 00:34:04  If we haven’t delivered anything, we’re not doing either of those things. So, interestingly enough, and probably not surprising, I left that organisation surely afterwards. Well, I had been there four years, but, it’s times like that when you think, actually I have learned through all of those panic moments, I have learned through all of these rejections and be quiet Susie’s and it’s contributed to my career now and they’re going to just be stuck with their 33 projects. Well 28 because I delivered five. But the point is that again is my perspective was right, I got something from this. This has value, I’m now going to go and take that to another organisation and market it to someone of equal size who I would know would have the same problem. But no one’s going to advertise a job like that. So when you can-

Fiona: 00:34:53  You don’t shout about that sort of stuff.

Susie: 00:34:54  No. They’d be ashamed of that sort of thing. But if you can say, “Okay, within this timeframe, I shortened development time from this to.” Because our development time was two years because everything was always in implementation. So effectively my CV basically had a value proposition of I rescue failing projects and I would deliver your income this year from projects that will contribute strategically to the bigger portfolio. That’s all anyone wants. So when you have that on your CV, you will immediately stand out from the crowd.

Fiona: 00:35:25  Yeah, definitely. And if you have that on your CV, please send it to me at [email protected] So even with heaps of preparation, coaching and development a move to a more senior role, I’m about to move from senior manager to head off. It can still feel daunting and peers in a similar position have likened the first few weeks is winging it. What advice could you offer someone moving into a senior role where there isn’t a huge peer population to support and the pressure is on to make a good impression?

Susie: 00:35:56  So I think that, that whole winging it thing, that just has you choosing to be on the back foot. I just think no one is expecting anyone to get into a job and hit the ground running. Realistically no one. If you can see that job or that first three months so. I don’t know what you would say to candidates, but three, maybe six months, maybe longer, who knows whatever the role is and where you’re at. I think the main intention you should say is how am I going to work out where I can best contribute? I think it’s a continuation of the matching process. I don’t think you complete matching on the day that you signed your contract. I think you need to look at who is in the organisation, what skills are there around me? Where are the gaps? Can I close any of them? Do I need to ensure that they are closed? Is there a clear vision? Are people following it? Dah, dah, dah, dah.

Susie: 00:36:52  Doing all of that assessment with fresh eyes is so powerful to an organisation. But if you’re sitting there thinking, “well, I’m not good enough and I’m just going to concentrate on getting myself through the day.” You’re not adding any value. So people that are there winging it desperately want to add value, but they fall into this pattern where they don’t add any and that would just exacerbate the impostor syndrome feeling. You’ve got to enter an organisation on a high believing that they just picked you. They just picked you. So there is nothing negative that they can think at this point. I think the other thing that, one of the best bits of advice that I received that I didn’t know how to follow was don’t give it all away in the first however long. What you tend to do is you want to make a good impression and you come out all guns blazing and actually you just set yourself up.

Susie: 00:37:46  I think what’s really important is that you have a view in the gap between getting the job and starting the job that you create this vision of yourself of how life’s going to look and you embed that vision as soon as possible. So what people tend to do is they go, “Well, I can’t leave yet because people are still in the office.” That’s their problem, not your problem. I think you’ve got to enter as a leader and believe that actually if you’re there from nine to five or whenever your hours are book things so that you have to leave. I used to book theatre performances, dance classes, dates. I would just book anything to make sure that I didn’t have to go. Maybe I ought to stay. Why to prove that I’m not going to be the first one to leave. Why you’re not adding any value other than at the clock. And there will be times when you need to do that, but I would really just start as you would love to have your time in that role continue. Which is not by being someone you’re not, basically.

Fiona: 00:38:49  Yeah, or pulling all nighters at the start because then that’s what they expect more, isn’t it?

Susie: 00:38:55  You set the bar at a level that you are not willing to sustain and then you’d just get resentful. And that’s when you get to where we started our conversation where you’re thinking, “The problem is this job.” No, the problem was you and you’re going to have the same problem in another job because unless you learn to lay out your land confidently and your confidence is at its height when you start, then you’re probably going to set yourself up for a miserable time.

A CMO’s first 90 days in their new job

Fiona: 00:39:26  But also, like you said, those first sort of three months is the best time for you to really diagnose any issues or problems with the company and the role that you’ve taken on. Because you’ll never know exactly what your walking into from any marketer’s perspective no matter what level of job you’re accepting. They’ll give you a good story, but when you arrive, that’s when you really figure out what’s making the blood pump around this organisation? Who’s in charge, where are the barriers, all that sort of stuff. So I think anyone at any level within marketing should almost imagine like they are a mini CMA. CMO’s within the first 90 days are all about what’s the vision? What are we trying to achieve? How are we getting there? Where are we on that route map and what can I do to improve that one, change that one?

Susie: 00:40:17  Absolutely. I couldn’t say that better. And I think that the key is to check yourself because what people do, either people start in a job when they don’t ask those questions. When people do start in a job and do ask those questions, but then they decide that they have to fit into whatever the answers are. They have to almost settle. And actually again, you are at the high of being able to make a difference. Obviously you’re not going to go into a job and go, “This is all wrong. And I’m going to fix it all.” I wouldn’t recommend you do that. But I do recommend you ask all of those CMO’s style questions.

Susie: 00:40:52  And I do recommend you do some gap analysis and I do recommend that you find the areas where you can make the biggest difference and offer that up helpfully so that it moves the organisation forward. Because that is ultimately where everyone wants. Now of course, along the way you are going to meet people who have got their own insecurities and their own agendas, but none of that is about you. I think if you focus on making sure yours is clear, then you will be a beacon for everyone else. The more, let’s call it vulnerable, but really it’s truthful you are about those things. The more truth will come towards you. It’s the fact that most people would just fit in and go, “This is the way things are here. I’d better adapt.” And actually that’s the worst thing you can do.

Can entrepreneurs become great CMO’s?

Fiona: 00:41:40  Yeah, yeah. Really brave talking. But yeah, really good point. Do you think it’s possible for a great entrepreneur to become a great CMO?

Susie: 00:41:50  My Gut would say no. Mainly because a great entrepreneur, so I’m seeing entrepreneur, I’m answering that as a sort of solo flyer. So as a solo person, I think they become unemployable quite quickly. I think they care a lot less about other people quite quickly. They get into a sort of, not a negative survival mode, but self sufficiency mode whereby they’re not necessarily bring in people with them. They’re thinking, “Well, if you can’t keep up, then this isn’t designed for you.” Which doesn’t really foster a great culture. Whereas if you look at an entrepreneur like Richard Branson. If you look at an entrepreneur that’s going to build an organisation, then yeah, they probably could. Because, they’re going to have the vision, but they would need to have other people around them that can steer the ship. That can make sure the staff are there. That can do the admin and the back office stuff well. Provided they’ve got the right people on their team, then yes, they could.

Fiona: 00:42:57  So it depends on the type of entrepreneur?

Susie: 00:43:00  Yeah. It’s a solo person being plunked now. If it’s someone that recognises their skills and abilities and their gaps and have those people on their team, then yeah, absolutely. Because ultimately the role of a CMO is to have a vision everyone is clear about and contributes to everyday. I’ve never met one like that, but that is a role.

Susie: 00:44:03  Yeah, well, I mean, in the early days I remember people saying, talking about experience when all I wanted was money and I used to sort of hough at the experience thing. I think my definition of experience now is different to that definition of experience. So, I don’t think experience is about time in a role or years in a career. I think experience is about what you take from it and what you choose to learn and that means you have to be on a constant voyage of discovery, which I don’t think people consciously are.

Susie: 00:44:39  I think generally people get to a point in their life where they’ve hit a wall, they’ve crashed. They’re in some sort of pain emotionally and only when they’ve healed that pain can they then reflects. Would I have this level of reflection without experiencing pain in my life? Probably not. So, would I want my experience for everyone? No, I would rather they had a much faster, more straightforward route to the knowledge that I now have. But the only way to get there is with making a conscious decision that I think everyone should have a coach. But I think you won’t get a coach unless you’ve hit some pain point. Realistically, no one hires me unless they’ve reached some sort of pain point.

Fiona: 00:45:31  That’s a rite of passage.

Susie: 00:45:32  Yeah. I mean, otherwise they’re just dabbling. I make life changing differences for people and if they think their life is okay, then they’re not really going to want life changing. So I think low points are really valuable. I think however, that money is a key motivator for people. I think if you’re not motivated and there isn’t some sort of balance of pay for effort or commitment, then people will get resentful really quickly. So, if I think back to my career, when I was that team administrator for a marketing team, I was having a great time.

Susie: 00:46:11  I wasn’t making loads of money. I remember in fact a sales person who I was out for drinks with saw my pay slip fall out of my bag. And he was horrified and I [inaudible 00:46:20]. But I was okay. I was having a great time. I was learning tons. And I moved on to another role quite quickly. I remember mid career when I was a manager in marketing, knowing that other people were getting paid more than me knowing that I was much better than them. At that point, I just wanted recognition for the impact that I was making. So it does have to be balanced.

Susie: 00:46:46  I haven’t always had that balance quite right. Starting your own business and becoming your own marketing person effectively, you start with no money. And there will be times when there is nothing, even when you’ve had a great month, unless you continue to contribute to making the next month great. It won’t be. So I think that’s just got to be down to the individual. But experience has to be something that you define as valuable and that might be, I took a path that I am never going to take again. That to is valuable experience. It’s a bit like going out with a guy and realising that, God, I’m never going to go out with someone like that again. It’s valuable experience and until you get that experience, you won’t know where to course correct.

Fiona: 00:47:31  Yeah. You don’t know unless you try.

Susie: 00:47:33  But the key is you’ve got to move.

Fiona: 00:47:35  Got to try.

Susie: 00:47:36  You’ve got to move somewhere. And even when you’re stuck, going back to another previous question, you’ve got to do something. Even if you learned that it wasn’t the right thing.

Worst career experience

Fiona: 00:47:45  What’s the worst experience you’ve had working for someone?

Susie: 00:47:52  The absolute, I’ve worked for quite a few female bullies, not bullies, but they were so insecure that they treated me badly. And I think possibly because people, on the surface believe I’m very confident. I wouldn’t have said I ever was. I knew I was good at my job, but I wouldn’t have said I was confident. But, I really did get bullied. In my last role in the NHS where I was contracting and I was in a very senior role and I believed I was right for the organisation. All the staff there said, “Oh my God, you’re a breath of fresh air.” However, I wasn’t to the person above me. I’ll keep it that vague, it’ll be identifiable. And this woman treated me so badly. And she treated everybody badly to be honest.

Susie: 00:48:53   But I was really sensitive to it because my ego had made the decision to take that role. When I told my coach I was taking that role, she said, “Why on earth would you take that role?” And the straight answer was great on my CV and lots of money. They were the only two reasons. There was nothing about that job really, that was attractive to me. And if I was honest about that, I probably wouldn’t have taken that. But the key thing for me was my vision for that year was to take the summer off with my daughter who was three at the time. And every time I got in the car to go to that office, I was like, “What am I doing? Why am I doing this? Here’s another day when I’m not at Peppa Pig World.” I mean, if someone wants to go into Peppa Pig world more than they want to go to their job, you know there’s trouble.

Susie: 00:49:41  So anyway, I was there probably only five weeks. I was crying every day. I felt sick every day. I was losing weight. I was arguing with my husband. In my harmonious life, nothing was sitting right. And one day she humiliated me in the middle of the office and I just remember slowly nodding my head as she was doing it because I was going, “Yeah, that’s what I needed. That’s what I needed to make me quit.” And then I went home that night feeling somewhat relieved knowing that the letter I would write would be on her desk first thing in the morning. And her response was, “I’m not surprised.” And I took an opportunity to coach her. I said, “Interesting. Why are you not surprised?” And she didn’t own any of the reasons why she wasn’t surprised. It was all about me and my lack of commitment and you know, et Cetera. Et Cetera.”

Susie: 00:50:37  And I said, “I do own a bit of that. But may I coach you for a minute?” And she said, “Yeah.” Surprisingly, she said, yeah. I said, “Okay, what you’ve got here is a bunch of people that are committed and trying their best. However, when you take a group of people like that and you’d talk to them this way and you ignore their work and you don’t read what is submitted and you don’t come back.” And I played out all of the things that have been happening every day your knocking a little bit of their commitment away, which means when you really need them, they’re not going to be there. And I’m pretty sure your hair to make an impact. So my question, my parting question would be, what impact are you really trying to make? And apparently six months later she, I will answer the question in a minute. Six months later she quit that job and did what her vision was, which was not that job.

Susie: 00:51:31  She was in that job, just like I’ve described miserable doing it for the status and the money, giving all of her time to it, not being happy with any of it. And that was pouring out on the staff, including me. And she found a better place and I’m sure all the people in that office were much happier as a result. But for me, I’m so grateful because if she had not done that to me, I would just have kept going. I would never have started my own business. And honestly, I was there five weeks. I needed nine months to recover from that treatment because my confidence was shattered. So for people that look at me and go, “Well, it’s all right for you. You’re so confident.”

Susie: 00:52:12  I just think, “Hold on a minute. Don’t be duped by what you see, what you’re inspired by, what you’re impressed by. Because everyone is a human. Everyone’s got feelings and mind were absolutely trumpled.” Mainly because I allowed that to happen, but I just wanted to do a good job. I wasn’t being completely truthful with myself. And when you’re not, you open yourself up to armed combat when you got your hands tied behind your back. But I’m so grateful because if, like I said, if I hadn’t had that experience, there’s no way I would be doing what I’m doing now or it would have taken me much longer if at all, to sort of nudge me or punch me into thinking.

Fiona: 00:52:55  But then isn’t that all part of the course. Because again, that rite of passage, that whole experience has led you to now being able to have that conversation with people who aren’t able to have it with themselves, but it’s very difficult to talk to people about experiences that you haven’t had or that you can’t emphasise with.

Susie: 00:53:15  Yeah. And I think people are so focused on just looking strong and having it all together and having all the answers that they don’t dare say, “I actually don’t know what you’re talking about. Or God, I have no experience of that. Do you? Could you help me?” Whatever it is, they’re so conscious of trying to be not even perfect but just good enough. It’s just good enough. But sometimes that good enough place feel so far from where you feel, that it just feels like a, I mean, like I said, it took me nine months to believe that I could have a positive impact even though I’d had a whole career of doing it five weeks, it was just gone.

Why having a mentor is important to your marketing career

Fiona: 00:54:07  Yeah. It’s amazing though, isn’t it? What one bad apple can do so to speak. How important is it to have a marketing mentor and why?

Susie: 00:54:17  I just think everyone should have a mentor or a coach. I mean, a mentor for me is someone that is where you want to be. And so a marketing mentor might comprise a number of people. So for example, I had a girl in my team when I was the manager of the team, when I was the associate director of product development. She was one of my product development managers and people used to tease me about how desperately like me she wanted to be. I remember having a conversation with her one day and I said, “It’s really flattering that you value me and my experience and my input so much, however you can be better than me.” And her mind was just blown.

Susie: 00:54:57  And I just said, “I am not perfect. What you should be looking for is a perfect compilation of people on your team who can guide you. And yes, clearly I’m on that team, but I’m not the only one on that team.” So I went through all the things where I don’t believe I am the best and we looked at the organisation and said, “Yeah, but they’re really good at that, that person over there.” And I said, “Right, okay. So for this bit, don’t look at me, look at them.” And I think it’s really important to do that. So, if I look at my mentors, I’ve got mentors that don’t even know they’re my mentors. Mentors don’t necessarily mean that you have to go and meet with them once a month to have [inaudible 00:55:40].

Fiona: 00:55:40  To formalise it.

Susie: 00:55:40  No, I don’t think it has to be formalised. I do think you should reach out to them because great mentors, as far as I’m concerned, are people that care, that are willing and that are warm. And so, when I have reached out to mentors, they have met me for coffee willingly. And I think what mentors really want is for you to do something with the advice that they give them. I think the number one frustration is you take their time and then you don’t leverage it. So they don’t necessarily want anything in return other than you to report back saying what you said really helped me because I think that’s the number one thing people. I’ve heard that lots of times from famous people and not so famous people.

Susie: 00:56:23  But I think coaching is a different kettle of fish where coaching doesn’t have to be someone that’s been in say the role that you want. But having, I mean, people who will be listening today experiencing what I’ve just said that I’ve experienced and will want to employee me because they’ll know that I have come out of the other side and I’ll probably save them some time and some pain in the process. Ideally. When I’ve hired coaches, I want them to have some sort of track record in the area that I’ve hired them. But, I won’t necessarily hire one coach, I’ll hire someone to coach my business. I’ll hire someone to coach me personally. I’ll hire someone to coach my tennis game. I’ll hire. I’m going to hire someone that specialises in the area that I specialise in.

Susie: 00:57:12  That means at some point you might have one coach and at some point you might have four. It really doesn’t matter, but it’s about being aware of where you feel there’s room for improvement and you are willing to get worse before you get better. Because going back to the cynical person early on, what can you teach me? Your journey on mentoring and coaching might not be linear. You might go down a few troughs before you come up for air and fill yourself sore and, but you’ve got to be willing to experience those. Sometimes that’s deliberate. On my part, I sometimes take people down there deliberately so they never want to go there again because otherwise there’ll be always fearing they might fall off their pedestal.

Susie: 00:57:53  They’re on this staircase, coaching is going really well. But they were always terrified, what if I fall off? Well, you will. So sailing coach once said to me, he said, “Why are you so tentative? What are you afraid of?” And I said, “I’m afraid I’m going to capsize.” And he said, “Well, just capsize them.” And as soon as I capsized, I wasn’t fearful of what it would be like to capsize. And then I didn’t capsize because I wasn’t worried about it all the time. My focus wasn’t on that all the time. So if you’ve got someone, again, a decent coach or mentor who can guide you through things that are going to happen and sometimes they’re necessary, provided they can help you with the perspective of how it contributes to where you actually want to go. As long as it counts, it’s got value as far as I’m concerned.

How do you find a marketing mentor?

Fiona: 00:58:36  Very good. How to find a marketing mentor when you are already the most senior marketing person in a business?

Susie: 00:58:46  So again, the difference between marketing and coaching. I think if you’re a top of your business, there’s always going to be a bigger business than yours. There’s always going to be an industry leader. Maybe it’s at a conference and it’s a speaker on the stage or I mean I regularly go and talk to speakers on the stage. People regularly come and speak to me when I’ve been on the stage and-

Fiona: 00:59:09  I did.

Susie: 00:59:09  Yeah. You did. I would absolutely hope that. I mean, to be honest, I’ve spoken once at something and there wasn’t a queue to speak to me. And I was amazed, frankly, I like to think that what I say has got some power and meanings such that someone would come up and either ask me a question, share something that they’re struggling with or say that I’ve really said something that was helpful. And on this one occasion, this lady I was walking, it was a big hill, so I’d taken my heels off and I was walking up the hill in my dress barefoot and a lady was driving out of the car park and she ran the window down and she went, “I’m so sorry I didn’t come and speak to you, but just, you blew my mind.” And I just needed a minute to come back down.

Susie: 00:59:53  But that was so powerful and she subsequently worked with me. But, that was my insecurity. That actually at the time where I saw actually I needed that immediate feedback to say it made a difference. And this is a sort of metaphor for life really, that you don’t know who’s watching you. You don’t know what difference you’re making. So just assume that you’re making one and make it a positive one. So that senior person at the top of their business be a leader and you will attract the right people around you going back to the five people. But if you’re the leader of, I don’t know, a marketing agency in your local town. Which are the five best agencies in the country? Who’s the best agency globally? Start connecting with them. Join their email list.

Susie: 01:00:43  Follow whoever it is that leads that on Twitter. Even from that, you’ll probably glean some information, but reach out and make contact. Nine times out of 10, people are either genuinely too busy and they forgot to respond. It’s not that they didn’t want to respond. So if you follow them up, they probably will. So ask would be my advice. But also, some people at the top of that business might not be going, “I’m clear that I want to be at the top of the bigger business.” Actually if they’re at the top of that business and they’re feeling lonely and they’re feeling like, “Actually, I don’t know who to go and bounce ideas of. I don’t have anyone that I can just run this by that.” That for me is a coach.

Susie: 01:01:26  I have people at the top of their business, vice presidents who are just fed up of everyone around them, pandering to them, and what they need is someone to go, “What were you doing that for? How you feel about that?” And just building their self trust actually. Because even if you’re at the top of your business, it doesn’t mean you’re finding it easy. It doesn’t mean that you’re there completely secure about the job that you’re doing. So in that scenario, you don’t necessarily want someone more senior than you. You just want a trusted confidant who can hear what you have to say, facilitate a safe environment for you to be the best version of you that you can be, but ultimately can move you as a person forward. And for me, that’s personal. I call that personal leadership and that’s what coach is great for. A good one.

Fiona: 01:02:16  Again, good underline.

Susie: 01:02:17  A decent coach.

Most impactful mentor advice

Fiona: 01:02:17  What advice have you received from your mentor that made the most impact?

Susie: 01:02:25  Well, last week. No, probably about three weeks ago. My coach, who has very low tolerance, it has to be said, told me to take my head out of my rear quite vociferously. But it was what I needed at the time. So I was delighted. Interestingly, you heard me speaking about impostor syndrome. I was claiming that I wasn’t clear on an area of specialism and she just stopped me in my tracks. Said, “Would you stop avoiding the fact that you are an expert in this area and that you need to share your expertise in this area?” And I was like, “Yeah, she’s right.” And actually, there’s a reason that I’ve written articles, been interviewed about it and been put on stages to talk about it is because I have some slightly unique views on imposter syndrome.

Susie: 01:03:19  But yet some part of me, because I don’t really like the title, it’s put me off owning it. But one could argue that was my own imposter syndrome going, “Yeah. But who am I to say I’m the number one expert in the UK on imposter syndrome.” Which is what she’s saying, but you are so why don’t you just own it? So having someone that will just shake you and go, “Stop it. Like don’t be so ridiculous.” Is amazing. So having her in my life is a massive asset because she’s very like me in that sense. She’ll tell me as it is. But also one of her, my previous coach was one of her clients and she’s just got really simple coaching.

Susie: 01:04:01  Like finish what you start, stay in the step you’re in. Really simple things like that, that you can call on. I haven’t coached with her for three years now, but I’m still calling on those things because when I get in my own way, when I’m procrastinating, when I’m not getting the value out of something that I want, what are the problems? Well I’m not focusing on the step I’m in. I’m getting distracted and I am not finishing what I start. I’m losing interest and going off onto something else and then wondering why I never finished anything. So I think the biggest value is often in the simplest stuff, but it’s about having someone that will remind you of this all at the time. So, stay in the step you’re in is probably the best advice for you.

Fiona: 01:04:49  Very good. I like that one. With pressures of general life, how do you manage the work life balance and how important is that in today’s society?

Susie: 01:05:00  Well, it’s talked about a lot, isn’t it? But I think it’s becoming more real in the sense that people are getting more supportive about flexible working. People are starting to, companies are starting to say, “We’re going to go to a four day week.” Which is all great but, if you’ve got someone who is in the habit of taking their laptop out every time they get home. As soon as the kids are in bed, the laptop’s out, they get up in the morning and they’re checking their phone. It doesn’t matter what the policies are, that individual is still going to go on doing that. Now when you look at why do people do that? It’s partly habit. It’s mainly habit. But what was the original cause of it? It was inadequacy or a need to keep up, but it comes from that place. I’ve said it a number of times.

Susie: 01:05:48  It’s about not feeling good enough that you have to somehow prove that you are capable or worthy of being in the position you’re already in. And this is the thing that kills me about imposter syndrome is people are in the jobs. They got the job, they’re getting the salary, but they’re constantly operating that they’re going to lose it at any moment. And the problem with that is that you probably are going to, because that’s where you’re focused. So it’s ironic that actually we worry, we worry, we worry and then it comes true and then we go, See, see what happened.” So I think we’ve got a duty to ourselves primarily, but also to our families to just outline what should life look like in an ideal world and then stick to it. Actually there’s no one external saying, “But you have to be here at seven o’clock at night.

Susie: 01:06:39  I expect you to open your laptop at eight in the evening until 10.” They only expect it if that’s what we continually do. So I think work life balance is, it’s sort of been pitched as this external thing that’s up to companies, but I really think people need to take more responsibility and own it. And there are times when I let it slide myself, but in an ideal world I have a schedule that I stick to. And my schedule for anyone who’s interested. When I designed, it was date day on Monday cause I like to do things without crowds and my husband works weekends. So date day is Monday. Every morning I get up at half past five and I trade the foreign currency market. I do that because it is very challenging for my mindset. So it’s a deliberate act on my part to do that every day, to create a habit, to start the day focused on revenue and value generation, which I think is really important.

Susie: 01:07:34  Whether you’re in marketing or you work for yourself to just have the perspective of is this creating value. And then I do a little bit of work. I take my daughter to school and then I tend to do most of my creative work in the morning and I tend to do most of my sort of delivery in the afternoon. I have clients either at 6:30 in the morning or the evening. So my days are generally up to me. Sometimes I go out and coach business clients, sometimes I stay here and I do business development and content creation for my parenting column, for example. So I think it’s really important to just lay out this is how my week is going to be or this is how my month is going to be. So I did it with a client this morning where instead of saying, “These are the hours I work, what’s left.” look at the diary and go, “How many holidays do you want to have? How much social time do you want to have?How much time with your family and your kids? How much time for you?”

Susie: 01:08:31  So what I learned doing what I now do is I need time for me that doesn’t involve anyone else. That doesn’t necessarily involve an activity. It just means it’s not for anyone else. And keeping that time protected when you’re looking at it from the opposite view of I’ll live on the leftovers is very challenging. Whereas when you lay it out and go, “I have a day, a month to myself.” Or for me it was, I have every Wednesday morning to myself. However you want to play it. But just ironing out what is important to you and why and protecting it. So the critical thing is not the definition, it’s the consistency of sticking to it. So, if I say the two things that prevent people from getting what they want in life, is the belief that they’re not enough and it’s the fact that they don’t keep going. When you’ve got a goal, you’ve just got to start, keep going until you finish. That’s it. But if I look at all the times when people say, “Yeah, but it didn’t work.” One of those was missing if not all three.

Fiona: 01:09:39  Very good. A lot of making, yeah, that sort of deep thinking time as well. I think it’s amazing.

Susie: 01:09:45  Well, no thinking time even better. For me it’s about being by water. Water has the ability to neutralise my thoughts. And if you want to get the powerful stuff from yourself is not in your brain, it’s in your heart is what you truly are passionate about. And it’s in your gut, which is where your identity stuff is. It’s what you really know. Like if you were gun to your head and you had to make a decision, you would go to your gut for it. And when you get that sticky feeling in your stomach, like I used to get on my way to that five week horrendous job. It’s because this is not who I am. I’m not being the true version of me. And it is physically uncomfortable.

Most valuable marketing skill to have today

Fiona: 01:10:27  Very good. What’s the most valuable marketing skill you can have?

Susie: 01:10:33  Asking what’s it for it, really. And marketing, in business marketing in life. What is it for? It’s another version of why. But, if you’re in a service based business, I said to you earlier, I’ve just started Seth Godins book. And I think on page one he mentions the word service. Actually most people in my industry now that are coaching other businesses are talking about service. Service is always been mentioned and people would say, “Yeah, you’re a customer centered business.” And you asked me about my marketing books earlier.

Susie: 01:11:12  I’ve got things like All About The Customers. And we’ve always known it, but really what I see from the, it’s all about services. What value is it bringing? What is it for? If it doesn’t have a value or a purpose, then it’s not necessary. We could just stop all the noise and get rid of everything else and just focus on what’s it for. Have you got a task at work? Have you got objectives now in your personal development plan. And you’re thinking, “I don’t even know what that’s for.” If what it’s for is to make you adequate, get rid of it.

Susie: 01:11:48  Because frankly, we’ve got enough strengths, all of us between us to focus on those without having to focus on inadequacies. It’s pointless in my opinion because you’re constantly going to be working from that energy of I’m not good enough. It’s just the worst energy to be in. If everyone could work in the sweet spot of this is what I’m great at and I can add great value, people will be so motivated. People would work so much more quickly and they’d be so much more productive. And I truly believe in any one business, there’s a complete surplus of value. The problem is we focus on when people aren’t good enough and it’s a waste of time.

Fiona: 01:12:25  Yeah, really, really good point. What is the book you recommend the most for B2B marketers today?

Susie: 01:12:33  So I mean arguably if I’ll wrap up what I’ve said, I think you could pick any book and make it a marketing book. Because it could be a book about purpose. I mean, Jessica Huie wrote a great book called Purpose. But that is really about life. But you could apply it to anything. But the one I’m going to choose, which is my very worn in version, is The Power Of Focus and the tagline is how to hit your business, personal and financial targets with absolute certainty. And it basically summarises my short model, which I call the ABC’s, which is about awareness, bravery and consistency.

Susie: 01:13:14  It’s less about bravery, but really if you’re not aware of who you really are, when you’re being really honest, who are you really, you’re not pleasing anyone else. What do you really want? And what are you really afraid of? Plus being brave enough to accept that you are feeling a little bit nervous or scared or however you want to phrase it. Nervous excitement for me is the optimal feeling to make progress. You have to have a little bit of bravery, but you’ve got to be consistent. You’ve got to consistently be persistent is what this book says. Without those three things, you’ll never going to get what you really want. You’ll take a really slow route to a place that is sort of where you want to go, but you’ve taken so long actually who you are and what you want us to change.

Susie: 01:14:04  If you think about marketing process and you defined a need in the market for a device that you could play music on and walk around with. Well, if you took 20 years to come up with a Walkman, you’d be superseded, won’t you? So you can’t stick around and stand still. You have to look at what is changing around you and how you personally relate to that. And this books just got loads of practical exercises on achievement and confidence and building relationships and creating optimal balance. I mean these are all things we’ve talked about. So it’s by Jack Canfield, Mark Victor Hansen and Les Hewitt. Three massive coaches in the states and it’s called The Power Of Focus. It’s an old book. So you’d have to probably get secondhand copy.

Fiona: 01:14:52  And it looks well thumped.

Susie: 01:14:53  It is well thumped. Yeah.

Fiona: 01:14:56  Always a good sign. So what parting words of wisdom or advice would you share?

Susie: 01:15:02  I would say it might feel a bit scary, but being you is the key to being successful in a way that you find fulfilling. You can be successful on the surface but secretly be going home feeling a bit empty or a bit lonely at the top. You might get all the way to the top, you might get your dream job and then you might get there and go, “What’s this for?” You might get all that way and then ask that question. Much better to ask it now. Be Honest. Have people around you who you feel safe being brave with and just consistently show up as you are. And get a decent coach.

Fiona: 01:15:43  Also, how’d they get in touch with you Susie, if they want to explore that option?

Susie: 01:15:46  Well, I have a website, If you put forward slash booking, you can book a call with me. I would love to talk to anyone who either got questions about today or is serious about moving their life forward. I work with people privately, but I also work with people in a retreat setting, which is really, really, really powerful. So I take people away to a log cabin in the forest and we, it’s normally four or five people. Always women and we get to know each other. It’s really relaxed. People arrived thinking, “Am I going to get, and how’s this going to go?”

Susie: 01:16:22  And within an hour they’re completely relaxed. They realised that everyone in some form is experiencing exactly what they’re experiencing. I coach those people in the mornings, spend the afternoon where we do fun stuff and then we do the same thing against tomorrow. The next day we have a plan. It’s a structured plan, the ones who want coaching. So that when you leave you’re not just rejoining your life where you left it three days before. You’re actually feeling empowered and clear about what you can do about it. The next one’s on the 3rd of September.

Fiona: 01:16:52  Fantastic. Sounds amazing. Well thank you so much for your time, advice, experience, honesty, super exciting. And obviously I know that you do events and I’d strongly recommend people come meet you and listen.

Susie: 01:17:05  Yeah. Come and look me up on LinkedIn and you’ll see where I’m speaking. I speak very regularly.

Fiona: 01:17:09  Fantastic. And also on the family stuff because this is again, it sort of passed me by from the event. But you also apply your knowledge and experience to family and children.

Susie: 01:17:22  Yeah. So I have been coaching my daughter since she was in my belly. And my husband always said, “Why are you talking to her like that? She’s only zero or one or two or three.” And actually I believe that she’s listening the entire time. I have full confirmation that she has benefited from the coaching. She plays it back to me. She does it to her friends. She’s kind, she’s generous, she is her own person, but she’s got this warmth and confidence about her that I genuinely believe is there because of coaching. And I think I’ve taken a lot of responsibility where other parents would have said the problem lies with the child. And so my parenting column for Families Magazine is typically around what we as parents can do in order that the child benefits. And I’ve written some interesting things around behaviour. Why they don’t listen.

Fiona: 01:18:19  I had to read that several times.

Susie: 01:18:20  I’ll send you the link to that one. But also about making time for ourselves. We feel like we are overrun and that we’re giving it all away to the kids all the time. Then we’re going to be resentful and that will play out in the way that we communicate with them. So I think it’s really important that we look to ourselves before we complain that we’ve got a child that’s got a problem.

Fiona: 01:18:39  Yeah, yeah. No, I think that’s fantastic. Thank you. So I should be looking that up and yeah, we’ll put all the links and everything around the podcast transcripts so people can find that too.

Susie: 01:18:51  Awesome. Thank you.

Fiona: 01:18:53  Pleasure. Pleasure. So there you have it, career advice from a real marketing expert and leader in the field. Thanks for listening. If you enjoy this podcast, then please leave us a review in iTunes. We’d love to hear your feedback.