maya grossman talking about marketing careers on the market mentors podcast
Oct 4, 2022

The Secret to Building a Successful Marketing Career

By Matt Dodgson

Co-Founder - Recruiter & Marketer


Going to work every day, and working on your marketing career, are two very separate things. But it’s easy to become so consumed by your day job that you neglect your long-term ambitions and lose sight of what you want to achieve in the future. Thankfully, this week’s guest has a wealth of in-depth guidance to help you solve those challenges.  

In this episode, Maya Grossman provides a proven formula for taking control of your career and accelerating yourself on the journey towards success. 

About Our Guest

Who they are: Maya Grossman – Peak Performance Career Coach

A bit of background: Maya spent 15 years as a marketer across a variety of B2B and B2C roles and a 2x VP of Marketing, working for global brands like Microsoft and Google, as well as some high-growth start-ups. She now works as a career coach, helping marketers find their ideal paths towards success.

Where you can find her: 

Prefer Video? Watch a full video of the podcast here…

Episode Takeaways

Here you’ll find some of the best advice from the podcast that you can easily digest and learn from.

1. What guidance would you give to help people set themselves up for a happy, successful marketing career?

Maya left her last full-time role, as a VP of marketing, around one year ago to become a career coach. After a great marketing career lasting 15 years, she realised that helping other people build their own successful careers would be more fun and fulfilling moving forward. 

As a career coach, her role is to work closely with people to understand where they want their career to go in future. She then helps develop the tools to get them there, whether that’s a change of approach, a mind-set, certain practical skills, or all of the above. 

She said, “The first thing you need to be successful is not what most people assume. People usually think you probably need to be really talented, you need this certificate or an MBA, you need to have this massive network. Don’t get me wrong, all of these help, but what you really need to be successful is to take control of your career, to stop letting other people make decisions for you.” 

What you really need to be successful is to take control of your career.

“We’re taught that if we work hard, and we keep our head down, and we wait for our turn, something good is going to happen. But, unfortunately, that’s not how it works, because that actually means you’re outsourcing your success. You’re letting someone else, an employer or a manager, make decisions about your own future, which is kind of ridiculous. You’re the CEO of your career, so you need to manage it yourself and create the life that you want to see.”

As Maya quite rightly pointed out, you wouldn’t let someone else order your food for you in a restaurant, so why let someone else set your marketing career path for you? 

So, if you want to regain control and dictate your own career progression, Maya provided the following formula: 

1 – Strategy 

“You need to have a clear strategy, because if you don’t know where you’re going, how are you actually going to get there? So, you need to have a very clear destination, and you need a step-by-step plan that you can follow.”

2 – An empowered mind-set  

“Strategy alone is not enough. I can give you the best strategy in the world, but if you don’t have an empowered mind-set, you’ll probably let your fears stop you. You’ll never take action and you won’t have the confidence to go outside of your comfort zone.”

3 – An operating system 

“An operating system is important because we have the tendency to quit very quickly. We get bored, we procrastinate, and things get a little bit difficult. But your career is not a one-off. You have to invest in it all the time to progress. So, with an operating system, you have the tools and processes to almost automate working on your career, so you don’t have to think about it, it becomes a habit, and then it’s really easy to do.” 

What are the challenges of being a B2B marketing leader today?

Edward Ford, Demand Gen Director at Supermetrics, gives us his thoughts in this video.

2. For someone actively looking to start progressing in their marketing career, what’s the first step they should take? 

With so many day-to-day challenges and responsibilities always on our minds, it can be difficult to take a step back and spend time to progress your career. In fact, for many of us, it’s difficult to even know where to begin. 

To help get you started, Maya suggested that any career progression, like any journey, begins by choosing your destination. If you don’t know where you’re going, you can’t plan your route to reach it. 

Maya explained, “You need to have a clear career destination. It can’t be random, and it can’t be too broad or vague. The more specific you are, the easier it will be to figure out how to actually get there.”

When thinking about a career destination, you need to know:

  • The discipline you want to work in (for example, product marketing, digital marketing, marketing operations, and so on)
  • The specific role you want to end up in
  • The level of seniority you want to reach 
  • The type of company you want to work for 
  • The size of company (such as a small start-up, a global enterprise, and so on)
  • Whether you want to work in B2B or B2C 
  • The industry you want to work in.

Maya continued, “A lot of the time, if you’re looking for a specific role, there’ll be nuances based on the industry. If you have an idea of where you want to go, you can create an advantage by learning about that industry.”

“For example, for many, many years, my goal was to be CMO of a Silicon Valley start-up, preferably in the B2B product area, and that was very specific. So, when I had to figure out how to get there, and we’re going to talk about how to do that later, I had better tools and I could ask better questions.”

Of course, some of you may not be able to look that far into the future at this stage of your career, and that’s fine too. This exercise will be unique for everyone, so be sure to keep things at the right level for your own individual situation. The key thing is to ensure you are being specific and setting these goals for yourself to work towards, otherwise you’re more likely to stay sitting still. 

Maya added, “You don’t have to look 10 years into the future. You can just think about the next step you want to take. Maybe you’re just getting started and you want to become a manager one day, for instance.”

“But I do think a lot of people just don’t want to make a decision. You may be multi-passionate, which is great, and you may have different options, which is also great, but at some point you’ll have to make a decision because you can’t be everything to everyone.”

“If you really want to get to the next level, you need to position yourself as the best candidate. The only way to do that is to be specific.”

3. What advice do you have for people who are struggling with imposter syndrome in the workplace? 

According to Maya, around 70% of people face imposter syndrome at some point in their careers. We often work so hard to put ourselves in great positions but somehow still feel out of our depth when we get there, and usually wrongly so.

But it’s important to remember that imposter syndrome comes from achieving great things and remaining humble in the success that follows. For those of you familiar with the challenge of imposter syndrome, Maya provided some helpful advice for gaining more confidence and recognising that you deserve your success.

“I’ve felt imposter syndrome throughout my career, at the beginning and even on my first day as a VP. I don’t think seniority has any impact on it. If you feel like an imposter, you’re in good company because it’s more common to feel this way when you’re an over-achiever, when you’re someone who really cares about the work they do.”

“Because, essentially, imposter syndrome is an indication of growth. It’s what happens before you move from who you are right now to the person that you need to become to do a great job at that next level. So, it’s actually a good thing.”

“However, no matter how much I tell you it’s a good thing, when you feel the fear, you’re not going to believe it. So, try to go through this process that I call rewriting your story, which requires you to remember that your thoughts are not facts. What you’re going to do is prove to yourself that there’s absolutely no merit in your imposter syndrome and that it makes absolutely no sense.”

Step number one write down what you’re feeling. 

“If you’re thinking that you’re not good enough, or not ready, just write it down. Sometimes just the act of writing it down, taking it from your head and putting it externally, really reduces the amount of fear, because it feels less intimidating.”

Step number two question your thoughts. 

“Look at what you wrote down and find proof that it’s either real or not real. For example, if you’re thinking you’re not good enough, ask yourself how you got that idea. Did someone actually tell you that you’re not good enough? Did you already try to apply for the role and get rejected? Very often, the answer is no.”

“Even when the answer is yes, if someone told you you’re not good enough or you’re not ready, question whether that person’s opinion is valid. Are they actually capable of judging whether you’re ready? If you’re not ready now, can you be ready later?”

“When you start questioning your negative thoughts, very quickly you’ll realise most of it’s BS. It’s just a story you’re telling yourself, and you can then tell yourself a much better story. The way to do that is a really simple trick, but it makes a huge difference. You just add the word ‘yet’ to everything you’re thinking – You’re not good enough yet. You’re not ready yet.”

“Saying that you’re not ready determines that there’s absolutely no chance, no reason to take action, it’s impossible. But saying you’re not ready yet means there’s hope, and it means that you just need to take action to get there. So just by changing the language in your head, you can go from inaction, impossible, to being hopeful and taking action.” 

A few other highlights to look out for in this episode:

  1. Why Maya doesn’t subscribe to the myth that you need a degree and lots of experience to get a good marketing job. 
  2. Excellent advice for setting strong goals that are realistic and achievable to help you gain confidence.
  3. Helpful tips for using networking and building relationships to advance in your marketing career. 
  4. Plenty more great guidance for taking control of your career and dictating your own path towards success.