December 07, 2022
Article

Corporate Communication and Marketing Innovation: The dangerous delusion of safety – playing it safe can hurt you more than you know (podcast episode #41)

SUMMARY:

Get ideas for leadership, customer research, and creativity by listening to episode #41 of the How I Made It In Marketing podcast. I had a great discussion with Jasmin Guthmann, Head of Corporate Communication, Contentstack.

Listen now to hear Guthmann discuss simplifying the complex so your creative team can do phenomenal things, the impossibility of trying to guess what your customers need, and why large meetings are not for decisions.

by Daniel Burstein, Senior Director, Content & Marketing, MarketingSherpa and MECLABS Institute

Corporate Communication and Marketing Innovation: The dangerous delusion of safety – playing it safe can hurt you more than you know (podcast episode #41)

This article was published in the MarketingSherpa email newsletter.

“Don’t be afraid of long copy; be afraid of insufficient clarity,” Flint McGlaughlin taught in Website Wireframes: 8 psychological elements that impact marketing conversion rates.

I thought of that quote when my latest guest talked about how often being afraid drives marketing and business leaders, and so they resort to focus groups and consultants to cover for themselves in case something goes wrong. But she called this the dangerous delusion of safety, that playing it safe can hurt you more than you know. And she shared a story from her career illustrating that lesson.

You can hear that lesson, and many more lesson-filled stories, from Jasmin Guthmann, Head of Corporate Communication, Contentstack, on this episode of the How I Made It In Marketing podcast.

Guthmann manages a global team of eight people that she has built from scratch over the past six months, along with a $1 million budget (her part of the organization’s overall marketing budget). Contentstack has raised $89 million in funding over three rounds.

Guthmann is also Vice President of MACH Alliance. MACH stands for Microservices based, API-first, Cloud-native SaaS and Headless. The not-for-profit industry body has 70 member companies, ranging in size from startups to Google.

Listen to my conversation with Guthmann using this embedded player or click through to your preferred audio streaming service using the links below it.

Listen on Apple Podcasts | Listen on Spotify | Listen on Google Podcasts

Stories (with lessons) about what she made in marketing

Some lessons from Guthmann that emerged in our discussion:

Be the person who doesn’t give up when things get complicated. Be the one to simplify them. Then, your creative teams can do phenomenal things.

Guthmann learned the tools of the trade as an advertising account director in an owner-led agency that was part of the WPP network. She quickly became the "financial services" client specialist simply because she loved what most other ADs hated: diving into the world of funds, derivatives, and long/short options.

In a world where everyone wanted the next brilliant, fun beer commercial, most others never made it beyond the first few introductory lines of a financial services client brief – let alone trying to translate the promotional needs of something intangible like a fund into something that would get the creative teams excited. But it turned out she was pretty good at it. So, when one of their long-standing clients, Fidelity, sent through the ask for a campaign for an Emerging Markets Fund, Guthmann was all over it.

It was a tough one: she went back and forth with the creative team. What was the exciting part of an Emerging Markets Fund? Sure, diversification and potential for high growth. It was intangible. But she kept coming back to the idea of the sheer potential she saw in this offering. It wasn't just about dry "possibility to get high profits because it's a high-risk investment." It was about engaging with the world's untapped resources, with something yet undiscovered. There was a sense of adventure.

That's when a junior designer came up with an idea: to use the visual of an iceberg, tip to bottom, with the headline “So much more than the eye can see.” The campaign took on the theme of “Change of perspective” – the highlight being a video that, played forward, conveyed a message as negative, but played with the words in reverse order, formed the same text as a positive.

The campaign became the only one ever in the history of Fidelity to go through customer research with no changes recommended. The person in charge at the time at Fidelity had the research results taped to the wall in his office for reference for years. The junior designer went on to win several prizes for his campaign ideas and is a super successful creative director today.

Here’s the thing, Guthmann said. There’s nothing superhuman about her ability to understand the financial services market. She was simply willing to put in the effort to dig into a complex topic where others weren’t. That allowed her to see what was interesting about it, and the team produced phenomenal work. Diving into complexity is a skill that can be learned. It’s called being willing to go all-in on something – not give up when it gets hard. And it can help you win in any industry.

The Dangerous Delusion Of Safety: Playing it safe can hurt you more than you know.

Many companies and stakeholders rely an awful lot on external advice. Be it from the big four or research agencies or other consulting services. In some cases, it is really a “cover your butt” strategy for the person in charge – “I tested the campaign idea in research group, the research firm recommended going for it, so it’s not my fault!” But that is no guarantee for good results.

Guthmann’s team had developed a campaign that featured a bat (the nocturnal animal) as the key visual. The research came back unfavorable. The focus group hated the bat. They launched the campaign with the recommended visual, and the performance was horrible.

In a heroic moment, the client decided to be courageous and launch the original visual for an A/B test. Guess what – the original visual outperformed the “recommended” version by a significant margin. The story quickly went viral and serves as a reminder that there is no such thing as guaranteed safety. Not everything can be verified by data in advance – sometimes, you just have to ride the wave and trust your gut (but of course, all the while collecting data to see who wins – you or the statistics).

There’s no way you can think your way into predicting what your customers need. Seriously. Stop trying.

Guthmann’s team was developing a campaign for Route 66, the low-budget cigarette brand of the Reemtsma empire. The task was to find out what the target audience – people on a budget and often from challenging backgrounds – were dreaming about, so they could offer that as “the grand prize” for a product promotion they were heading into. They had brainstormed a set of possible prizes and needed to validate which one was best.

So, the whole executive team was flown into Leipzig, a city in the east of Germany, and every exec got dropped off in front of a customer’s home, equipped with a clipboard and a set of interview questions.

The result was mind-boggling. The people they interviewed could not even imagine the things they had brainstormed as prizes, not even when prompted. When Guthmann probed her customer about whether he wouldn’t love to go on a road trip on Route 66 (go figure), he looked at her like she was crazy.

Instead, he insisted that the best prize he could ever possibly dream of would be a trip to the Golden Coast in Croatia for five days (Guthmann notes this is a super cheap European destination for people who like to party but have no money).

When the executive team met after the interviews, the tension was palpable. While before, they were all 100% convinced that they knew what the target audience wanted, they had now all hit rock bottom and realized that their reality was really, really, REALLY far away from that of their customers. Goes to show: know thy customer or thou shalt fail.

Stories (with lessons) about the people she made it with

Guthmann also shared lessons she learned from the people she collaborated with:

“If you want it, don’t be afraid to ask for it.”

via Leoni Janssen, Founder and CEO of The BaaS company

Janssen is a brand strategist and an incredible driving force. She created the MACH Alliance brand (a non-profit that advocates for best-of-breed composable architectures) from scratch, so when Guthmann was asked to chair the MACH Alliance Marketing council, Janssen and Guthmann worked side by side. They became close very quickly as they are fueled by the same passion: to challenge the status quo and bring change into this world, one action item at a time. She cherishes Janssen’s advice.

As females in a male-dominated industry, they look out for each other. So, when Guthmann felt she was being overlooked as the lead for a very important project, at first, she shrugged her shoulders and thought to herself: “Well, if they don’t think I should be leading it, then that’s just the way it is.” When she spoke to Janssen though, Janssen fiercely insisted that indeed, Guthmann WAS the right person to lead the project, the company just didn’t see it yet.

Janssen told her: “Jasmin, just ask to be considered. Yes, it would be more elegant if the company figured it out by itself but think about it – a man in your position would never hesitate to raise his hand. Even if the outcome isn’t you getting what you ask for, you will learn a lot, and then you can act on that.” So, Guthmann spoke up and raised her hand, and sure enough, was eventually appointed to lead the project.

We seldom regret the risk we took and failed. We usually regret the risk we failed to take. And we all need people in our lives like Janssen who challenge us to stand up for ourselves, Guthmann says.

“Large meetings are not for decisions” and “Be the calm in the storm.”

via Ian Forrest, Global Marketing Officer at New York Life Investments

Forrest is an incredible leader, very pragmatic with a great sense of humor, according to Guthmann. He was her manager’s manager at the time, and they were creating a brand-new product campaign. The global alignment process was incredibly slow and painful, but they were finally making good progress. So everyone, from the campaign team to the creative agency to the production company for the TV ads, flew into Frankfurt to finalize the creative and kickoff the campaign.

For a while, everything seemed to be running smoothly, but then her boss at the time – who was a very emotional person – got upset about a certain feature that the central creative team wanted changed, and it all escalated very quickly. He wasn’t willing to compromise, the central team felt put on the spot in front of everyone, so everything came to a grinding halt.

Which is when Forrest stepped in and, calmly but firmly, reminded everyone of their roles and responsibilities, and the reason they had gotten together in the first place. He called everyone to order and to the higher cause, and made a decision right there for them, weighing the input everyone had been giving.

Guthmann learned two valuable lessons:

1. Large meetings are for sign off, not for decision making. The actual socialization of your ideas and the decision-making process needs to have happened in advance.

2. Be the calm in the storm. Knowing how to de-escalate a highly emotional situation is one of the most valuable skills you can bring to the table. (And by the way: just because someone is your line manager doesn’t make them right, or a role model. Be picky about whose advice you take, and who you look up to as a role model.)

“Don’t be afraid to ask for better from your people. But make sure you walk the talk!”

via Rebekka Bisten, Founder and CEO of Punch Fitness

Bisten is a remarkable leader, and the first boss Guthmann ever had. Bisten was running a gym at the time, and Guthmann had just started a dual-study program to earn her degree in Marketing. That included working as a full-time employee at the gym, rotating through all different departments: from admin to sales to marketing; from front desk to weight training to aerobics classes. A real general manager array of tasks and responsibilities.

Customers loved Bisten because she always put their best interest at the heart of everything she did. She insisted on small details, like making sure the promotional posters were taped to the wall invisibly rather than with the strips across the corners.

The first thing she did when she came in, every time, was to do her round through the club – entrance, changing facilities, weights area, classrooms, her office – and if she found anything that didn’t meet her standards, she’d fix it immediately, which included cleaning the showers, if necessary. She walked the talk, no matter her paygrade, and she held everyone on the team accountable to the same standard. That quickly instilled the same sense in everyone who was to become a permanent member of the team.

She also taught Guthmann how to turn something that is about to be written off as a loss into a tool to increase revenue. The gym was selling shakes and bars at the front desk. That part of the business was one with the highest margins, but also one that absolutely depended on the clerk’s ability to up- and cross-sell. Bars and shakes have an expiration date, and they had to do inventory every morning and every evening to account for the number of items sold.

So, one morning Guthmann is on front desk duty, Bisten comes in, checks the inventory and finds a box of expired bars. She gets pretty mad and gives Guthmann a lecture about how she could have used them as free samples to sell them off before they expired rather than just having them sit there. Pretty intense lesson right there.

But Guthmann learned fast, so the next time she had a box of bars about to expire sitting in the inventory, she did what Bisten suggested – used a few of them as free samples and sold off as many as she could. When Bisten came in and found out, here’s what made all the difference – she told Guthmann that she was proud of her for doing that. Imagine how great that made Guthmann feel. I’ve never forgotten that, Guthmann says.

More recently in her career, Danielle Diliberti, talked to her about a similar lesson – only demand of your team what you're willing to do yourself. So, if she is going to ask someone on her team to be on a late call, she can only do that if she is willing to do the same. If she is not willing to do it, her credibility is lower with her team. And, she says, it's all about credibility, especially in a remote working environment.

After recounting this story, it is clear that Guthmann still remembers Bisten’s habits and the leadership lessons they communicated. So I asked Guthmann if there are any habits she has developed. One habit Guthmann brought to her remote team to help bring them together is to start each meeting by sharing what they are grateful for. It’s an idea she learned in the book “Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones” by James Clear, and it has served to be a good team-building exercise for her team.

Related content mentioned in this episode

Customer-First Marketing: A conversation with Wharton, MarketingSherpa, and MECLABS Institute

Using the Science of Habit Formation in Customer-First Marketing (interview with Charles Duhigg)

About this podcast

This podcast is not about marketing – it is about the marketer. It draws its inspiration from the Flint McGlaughlin quote, “The key to transformative marketing is a transformed marketer” from the Become a Marketer-Philosopher: Create and optimize high-converting webpages free digital marketing course.

Transcript

Not ready for a listen yet? Interested in searching the conversation? No problem. Below is a tough transcript of our discussion.

Daniel Burstein: I love the creative process. It's one of the reasons why I've enjoyed my marketing career so much. But have you ever stopped and really thought about it? It's an odd thing we do. Creating something that hasn't existed before. You know, marketing sits in the business college next to disciplines like management and finance and information systems. But it also needs a healthy dose of those liberal arts and sciences, too, because as marketers, we are descended from Franz Kafka and Maya Angelou and George Orwell and Sylvia Plath and Charles Dickens and Shel Silverstein and on and on and on.

We create just like them as a host of the How I Made It Marketing podcast I've gotten to explore many angles of what it means to create. But we're reviewing a recent podcast guest application. I discovered. yet, another one, an itch we have not yet scratched on this podcast. Here's the lesson. Be the person who doesn't give up when things get complicated. Be the one to simplify them. Then your creative teams can do phenomenal things. Something we all want. Describing that lesson, along with many more lesson filled stories today, we have Jasmine Guttman, Head of Corporate communication at ContentStack. Thanks for joining us, Jasmin.

Jasmin Guthmann: Thanks for the invite, super glad to be here.

Daniel Burstein: This is gonna be a lot of fun. Let's first look at your background. Very impressive background. I want people to understand I'm talking to just cherry picked from your LinkedIn. Starting as Account Director at Ogilvy and Mather, you moved on to be Marketing Manager for retail marketing at BlackRock. Now you are Vice President at Mach Alliance and Head of Corporate Communication at Contentstack.

Like I mentioned at Contentstack, you lead a global team of eight ysYou built from scratch over the past six months. And you're part of the marketing budget is $1 million that you manage Contentstack itself has raised $89 million in funding over three rounds, and Mach Alliance is a nonprofit alliance of companies, 70 companies ranging in size from startups to Google. So give us an understanding here of what is your day like as Head of Corporate Communication at Contentstack, but also as VP Mach Alliance?

Jasmin Guthmann: Yeah, thanks for asking because those are two very, very different types of things. Now, of course, my day job and my main responsibility is with a ContentStack and being a Head of Corporate Communications over there, I lead a team of eight, as you mentioned, global, and that is super exciting. But also, you know, sometimes a little challenging because we're all remote were distributed across the globe.

And when my American friends, you know, get up in the morning, it's already almost time to go to bed for some of the other parts of the team who are based in Europe or India or in some cases even in Australia and Sydney. So, you know, getting all of these people together and aligned and rally them behind a cause to make things better and to simplify them so we can do phenomenal things instead of just cool things is what really excites me about my day job.

Now add to that that I have the absolute pleasure to have a side hustle because as you said, the Mach Alliance is a nonprofit. So, everything everyone does except for a very, very small core team is permanently employed. Everyone donates a part of their time to advancing a cause that is important to us – and that is to advocate for best-of-breed- composable architecture in the tech industry.

And we all come together because we're driven and we're passionate. And yes, we're all starved for time. But when we get together, we actually try to squeeze the most out of every second that we have. It's companies and size as small as the smallest startup that you can think of to the Giants, Google and AWS who just joined.

So really interesting you get to tap into a vast pool of resources and you get to work with brilliant, brilliant people. So very, very different, sometimes similar, sometimes very different, but both are a lot of fun.

Daniel Burstein: So I want to jump into your stories, but you said something that piqued my interest about, you know, managing that global distributed team. You know, have you learned anything over the past six months best practices that you really need to do or some things you would avoid doing now that you've done it? Because I think one thing you know, personally, I started working from home during the pandemic and I had back in the mid 2000s and things changed because like right now we can see each other, for example and back in the mid 2000s it was just you would hear the voice over the phone and then when you finally met them in person, you're like, I didn't think they look like that, you know, but do you do you offsites? I mean, is there anything you do to like make sure, like you said, the two things we have is the tasks we need to do. But one thing I've learned is harder is those connections that used to happen more naturally. And with a global team, it's even harder. So anything you've learned from that?

Jasmin Guthmann: Absolutely. Yeah. And I think one of the biggest differences is while I was working at BlackRock back in the day, pre-COVID, pre remote work, I was the biggest fighter for remote work because that wasn't a thing. It really wasn't. You were lucky if you could work a day from home and then that was kind of almost seen as a favor that the company did you, can you imagine? Fast forward to today where we were 100% Contentstack is 100% remote company. So now I'm a huge fighter for in-person meetings every once in a while. Of course, it's so much harder if you have a global team because getting everyone together is hard from a calendar perspective, expensive from a cost perspective. So it is a real investment, but it is the one that I'm most happy to make.

There is something about meeting in person that you cannot replicate. It doesn't matter which tool you use, there's just this special feeling that you get for what a person's like and how you can actually get them to share a point of view or to not share a point of view, but you create the kind of connection that’s impossible to create in a virtual setting.

So that is the one thing I do fight hard for everyone to get together in person, even if it is a lot of work. And you really, really need to encourage people to be authentic and be able to work on their own. Because sometimes time zone alone prohibits you from having a lot of time to do things together, or even for you as the manager or to micromanage, which is the worst thing you can do in any setting.

But it's even worse if you try to do it in a global setting, because it will not only really put your team members in a bad place, but it will also wear you out. If you're 24 hours working, you can only do that for so long. And you shouldn't. You really need to trust your team, build a team that is competent, that is better than you, best case. So you know you're comfortable letting them run off and do what they're passionate about and only every once in a while really have a need to check in and see what they the great things that they've been up to.

Daniel Burstein: Yeah, great point. Which frankly, even when we were in an office together is something, we should have been doing as well, right. We shouldn’t have been micro-managing back then either. But yeah, one thing I noticed  you know, going on PTO is sometimes the best thing because then for me, because then they would have to figure it out, you know what I mean? Versus coming with the latest crisis and like, let's sit down, which is fine, but there's a benefit to that.

So let's start by looking back at your career and talk about some of the lessons from the things you made in marketing. This is a really great thing about being a marketer. I've never really been anything else but think of you're a podiatrist or an actuary you don't actually make things, but we make things. And so let's talk about when the first lessons from the things you made, be the person who doesn't give up when things get complicated, be the one to simplify them, then your creative teams can do phenomenal things. I mentioned this in the opening because this is a lesson from one of the coolest things I think we get to make, which is those creative campaigns. So this is back when you were at an agency. So tell us how you learned this lesson, Jasmine.

Jasmin Guthmann: Oh with pleasure. And it's a really, really good one too. I learned the tools of the trade as an Account Director in Advertising in an owner led agency that was part of the WPP Network. So small agency, but big goals and I quickly happened to become the Financial Services Client Specialist simply because I loved what most other AD’s hated. You know, diving into the world of funds, derivatives, long-short options, all that. What I find fun, what other people hate because it's just too complicated, right? So in a world where everyone wanted the next fun beer commercial to produce, I was really a unicorn in a sense, and most others never made it beyond the first few introductory lines of a financial services client brief, let alone trying to translate that into something exciting and fun and something that would actually spark the creative juices. Get the creative team excited because you and I know that if you come with a boring brief, your creative team is just going to look at you like, Yeah, and know what, so it's really the most important thing to understand something.

You have to understand it first. And that's for many of my colleagues just struggled. So you need to understand what you're talking about and then make it so simple. Really peel away all the layers until you get to the simplicity, simplicity of it. And that's what you can beautifully hand over to the creative team and say, Hey, what about this? This is exciting. This is what it will do. This is the impact it can have. Can we come up with something really, really extraordinary for this?

So, you know, we had a longstanding client, Fidelity, a huge company, a global company, very well known. And they sent through and ask for a campaign for an emerging markets fund. Half the Account Directors fled the hole, and I was like, awesome. Yes, exciting. That's a brilliant one because it's tough. Let's see if we can solve for it. And so the creative team and I went back and forth to figure out, you know, what the heck is the exciting part of an emerging markets fund? Who are we talking to? How can we get not just a creative team excited, but also the people on the receiving end of the communication?

Sure, you could talk about diversification and potential for high growth, but that's not really tangible. It's hard to put into words, let alone images. But I kept coming back to the idea of the sheer potential that I saw on that offering. It wasn't just about dry possibility to get higher profits because it's a high risk investment, right. You don't want to hear it. It's like, okay, what else? It was really about engaging with the world's untapped resources with something yet undiscovered. So to me there was a sense of adventure. And that's exactly when one of her junior designers make no mistake, it wasn't the brilliant Creative Director. It's a junior designer who came up with the idea, Why don't we use the visual of an iceberg tip to bottom? And the headline saying so much more than the eye can see. And the campaign really then, and that's what made it extra special. The campaign took on the theme of change of perspective. So we really try to look at things, very common things in very never before seen ways. The highlight being a video that and I remember to this day I have it in front of my eyes. When played forward it conveys the message as negative equity investment is risky, blah blah blah. But played with the words in reverse order using the exact same words. The text came across as a positive. I didn't think it was possible. We had a fantastic copywriter duo who did that. And to this day I'm in awe on how they did it. But they did.

So the campaign became the only one ever in the history of fidelity to go through customer research with no changes recommended. I've never seen that after or before. Usually research tells you, Oh, you know, tweak this maybe a little more of this, not in this case. We're like, nope, spot on, don't change anything. And the person in charge at the time at Fideltyy actually taped the research results to the wall in his office and kept it there for years. It was his personal best milestone ever as just as much as it was for us to be really honest. And the junior designer actually went on to win several prizes for his campaign ideas and is a super successful Creative Director today, which makes me incredibly happy seeing someone go through that development and career growth and having been part of that is really exciting as well?

Daniel Burstein: That's awesome. There's two big lessons there that really strike me from what you said. One, for anyone looking to break into marketing or advertising, especially the creative side is hard. It's very difficult. And so I'm on the professional advisory board for the University of North Florida School of Communications, and I was speaking there recently. They have a media week and they were asking me about, you know, making their book, their portfolio, right. Because you need a portfolio usually to get a creative job. And one thing I advise and it's advice I got from I remember, Professor Elaine Wagner, back two three decades ago, she said, look, in your book, if you're doing some spec work, don't have Porsche and Harley, you know what I mean? Anyone can do awesome creative for Porsche and Harley-Davidson, whoever, you find the most complex, most boring, you know, possible potential clients. And if you create good work for that, that is gold, right. And you show up to interviews and spec work for that because there are so many clients like Fidelity or like these complex B2B offerings, you know, that still need that creative work. And there's so few people focused on it. They're focused on, you know, the exciting, fun things, Coca Cola and whatever.

But the other lesson, too, for someone more advanced in their career, I love it it's very meta because you talk about change of perspective and I know that was your campaign for Fidelity, but that's actually also what you did for Fidelity. And me, now, in my career when I've met with the great thing about being in marketing, like you meet with these great entrepreneurs or big businesses or inventors or product creators and they're creating value in the world. They're creating this amazing value, but their limited is they don't know how to communicate it well, so the customer perceives that value. And what you are able to do their, find that gold and dive into it and communicate it. Like you're doing a service for them and really for the whole economy. You're taking this value they created, but they can't communicate it and you're communicating in a way that the customer can communicate it.

So those are two big lessons. I love that story. Jasmin, very helpful. I do want to ask one follow up, though, because you talked about complexity and this is something that I felt through my career and I wonder your thoughts about it. One of the things I've really felt in my career was channel complexity, right? So when I started out, I started, you know, we did print ads in the Wall Street Journal or newspapers. There was direct mail, you know, there was radio, TV. So, you know, there were a few things. Websites were starting to have, like a brochure website. But, you know, there was only so much. And then, I mean, now there's so many channels in addition to the traditional ones. Oh, my gosh. So many channels, new social networks coming every day. And in addition to that, I was interviewed on Sirius XM by a Wharton professor named Catherine Hayes, and she wrote a book Beyond Advertising Creating Value Through All Customer Touchpoints. And then she brought up another great idea. Not only are there all those advertising channels, there are all these other customer touchpoints, too. How do we create value?

You know, one of the coolest, ads I saw was in Newark Liberty Airport getting off the plane. And there was a coffee brand, I think was called Illy, and they just had free coffee. Try it out. Don't go to that. Starbucks. Here's some of that coffee for free and oh yeah, like to get the free coffee, you need to take a picture in front of our, like, illy branded backdrop and shared on a social network with this hashtag or whatever, right? So there was multiple channels there. There was that in-person experience there that was a touch point with a human being. There was sharing through social. So anyway, I want to get your thoughts on that on channel complexity. Like what have you learned through your career that you've clearly dealt with the complexity of, you know, communicating, you know, complex value offered by a company like Fidelity. How have you tackled channel complexity?

Jasmin Guthmann: Let's start with saying channel complexity is the biggest challenge that all companies, but especially retailers, see over the course of the next 12 months. We all feel it. Now what will differentiate the great companies from the not so successful ones is how you deal with that increased complexity and how your toolkit sets you up to be able to be really on your feet and see new things as they come and really tap into potential of those things.

So channel complexity is increasing at a speed and a velocity that we've never seen before. Just think about the pink slip dress frenzy on Tik Tok it was actually a short while ago. All of a sudden your product is getting this crazy hype around it. So how do you respond? I think it's critical for every brand out there to have a very close look at their tech stack, how they are actually set up, and whether that's flexible enough, because we know that with personalization, the demand is going to be increasing and increasing and increasing. You need to think about the customer first because the customer, you and I, we don't care whether your tech stack is a problem. What we want to be able to do is sell effortless, not  sell, by effortlessly and across all of the platforms. If I see it on Instagram, I want to buy it on Instagram. I don't care what are your process likes me for that or not. I want to be able to do it.

Fast forward to potentially 2045 and maybe my 3D printer at home is going to print the product upon my purchase from anywhere in the world. We don't know yet whether that's going to be the case, but we all need to be very honest and do a very honest inventory with our tools and processes and the ways we work to enable us to be quick agile, even though I hate the word, but because it's been so misused and overused. But you know, really be flexible, have a flexible mindset, try new things, fail fast, learn quick, do it again. I think that's your only chance, really. But if you are open to that and if you utilize that, you have a phenomenal chance for success.

Daniel Burstein: And to build on what you said, too. I think it's not to look at these different channels as separate silos, right. So the biggest successful retailers I've seen, the differentiation from the least successful retailers going on now, when hey have a brick and mortar location is that combination of the brick and mortar and the online? Right. There are some companies so seamlessly, you know, there's a product online. You could see if it's in the store, you can go get it. You can go use it, you can buy it online, you can return to the store, whatever. And there are some companies and even if you reach out, I've had this experience of the customer reach out and it's just it's like there are two totally separate divisions and don't talk to each other. Yeah. I mean so I totally agree it's being able to have a seamless experience for the customer and you know, what it’s your job to figure out the back end to make that work? Right. That's our job. All right. Let's take a look at your next lesson. You say the dangerous delusion of safety. Playing it safe can hurt you more than you know. So how did you learn that, Jasmin?

Jasmin Guthmann: Oh, that was a hard lesson, but. But as usual, the hard ones are the ones that you really need, right? So many companies and stakeholders personally. The bigger the company, the more likely you are to see this, rely on an awful lot of external advice, right? Be it from the big four or research agencies or really any other external consulting service because it creates safety for you. Perceived safety, right? Oh, KPMG told me to do this or the advice from over a year was that. So it's not on me. I just follow the advice that I received. And while many times I could tell why that was the case, because the environment was really almost hostile. But if you find yourself in an environment like that, my advice would always be to leave. Really honest. But that's wisdom only learned over the years.

So you know, right here it's really important that even if you depend on that external advice, that is no guarantee for good results. Absolutely not. And here's the case to it. We have developed the campaign ad featured a bat, the nocturnal animal like Batman that, you know, as a key visual. And the research that we had to do because a client insisted came back unfavorable. So the research came back unfavorable. The focus group hated the bat. We launched the campaign with the recommended visual recommended by the externals and the performance was horrible. So we had done everything right in theory. We listened to the advice, we changed it and it was horrible.

So in a really heroic moment, the client decided to be courageous and launched the original visual for an A/B test. And guess what? The original visual outperformed the recommended version, and not just a little by a significant margin. And the story quickly went viral and serves as a reminder that there is no such thing as guaranteed safety. Not everything can be verified by data in advance. Sometimes you just have to ride the wave and trust your gut. But of course, all the while collecting data to see what works and who wins. You are the statistics?

Daniel Burstein: Yeah, I mean, I love that story too, because but I think it's also worth mentioning and separating out the type of data. Right. Because you said something very key I wrote this down, action produces information. So the first data you're getting is focus group data, which can be helpful and you can learn things from it, but it's asking potential customers how they might act in a situation where they were using money. But then used A/ B testing or it was real customers in a real situation.

And so I think it's also understanding that, that sometimes we use words like testing or customer research or data, and we use them very broadly to broadly explain something. When we really have to kind of dig in a little and understand what that data represents. And so I think that's a great example of that data that represented an opinion versus that data that was actually out in the real world representing, as you said, action produces information. I love that.

But it all comes down to this. And really your next lesson is what we're trying to do is understand the customer. You said there's no way you can think your way into predicting what your customers need. Seriously, stop trying. Which I love. I also love the story behind this how you pounded the pavement to learn what your customers wanted. We're not talking now about highfalutin focus groups or A/B testing. We're talking about getting out there. So how did you do this Jasmin?

Jasmin Guthmann: Well, we actually got out in the street, so here's the whole story. We were developing a campaign for Route 66. If you're not familiar with the brand, it's a low budget cigarette brand in the Reemtsma empire. But really their lowest level brand option for people who are on a budget. And the task was to find out what that target audience people on a budget and many times were challenging backgrounds were dreaming about so we could offer that as the grand prize for a product promotion that we were heading into.

And of course, I mean, we had brainstormed with the creative team, with the client, amongst ourselves. We had a set of possible prizes and we wanted to validate which one was best. That's what we thought. So the whole executive team was flown into Leipzig sitting in the East of Germany, and every Exec got dropped off in front of a customer's house. Real customer, real house. And we were all handed a clipboard and a pencil and a set of interview questions. Scary as hell, I can tell you that.

Daniel Burstein: I'm introverted, very introverted. That does sound terrifying.

Jasmin Guthmann: And then you walk into, you know, a stranger's apartment and you're like, oh, wow. And it's not your reality. It's their reality. And it's one that you usually don't have access to. I will say that very, very upfront. So the result of that, both the survey and the exercise was mind boggling because the people we interviewed couldn't even imagine the things that we had brainstormed as prices, not even when prompted. I remember sitting in the guy's “living room”, a table in part of his flat. And I said, Well, what is the most fantastic thing that you can think of? And he looks at me somewhat puzzled and he's like, Whoa, well, I think maybe if I could go to Croatia, which is basically next door for a few days and bring a friend, that would be fantastic. And now I was puzzled and I looked at him and went, well let's dream really big, you and I, wouldn't you like to go on this fantastic trip on the Route 66 across the U.S.? You get where going. And he looks at me and he’s like….

Daniel Burstein: Branding would be so good. You understand that, right?

Jasmin Guthmann: Right.

Daniel Burstein: Don't you understand?

Jasmin Guthmann: And he looks at me honestly. He looks at me and he's like, No, too far, too complicated. And you know, when we got back together, everyone had basically had a similar experience. So the tension when we got back together as an executive team was really palpable. While before we were all 100% convinced that we knew what the target audience wanted. We had now all had hit rock bottom and realized that our reality was really, really, really far away fromt heirs, from the customers. And it goes to say, know that customer or though shalt fail or, you know, stop trying. Don't try to make assumptions, even if you think you know what the target group wants. Let the target group speak for themselves, period.

Daniel Burstein: I think that's, well so one thing that has been so much fun about doing the How I Made It In Marketing podcast. Like at Marketing Sherpa before we've released nationally representative survey data where we surveyed customers about certain questions. Then we surveyed marketers and we called it the Marketer Consumer Disconnect Survey because it was funny how misaligned marketers and consumers were, but that's at a holistic level has been really interesting. There's been so many fun stories on the How I Made It Marketing podcast of marketers talking about like, here was my assumption about a customer. And then, Oh my gosh, I got to know the customers and realized I am not the customer. But you know, the great thing, I also want to differentiate between your previous story and this story, right? So in your previous story, you had a specific it sounds like a specific ad treatment, specific ad campaign that you were showing to a focus group and they were giving feedback on it. And it's very funny when we do those things, not just because, as I mentioned before, there is a difference between behavioral data and opinion data. You know, we're asking people who are not expert at this to give us feedback.

But the other thing is we're also removing them from like their natural habitat, right? Like they're not going to experience that ad in a conference room with, I don't know, free lunch and a $50 spiff to do it. You know what I mean? They're going to experience it in their busy living room where their baby's crying. And this is going on and they're thinking of this or that. And, you know, they're not going to focus so much on the creative execution. They're going to feel something very viscerally, quickly or not. But the difference what you did with this research, which I really love, is you just went and tried to learn from you, went into their natural habitat to try to see what it's like, which was very different from yours. And you tried to get a sense of what they really wanted. You weren't, you know, and they're expert in that. There's something they're very expert in. You know, if you're talking about what potential grand prize would you want to win, they're very expert in that.

Versus focus groups can have value, but versus saying, hey, we made this creative execution. How does the bat make you feel? Right. So that's beautiful. And I think anyway, you know, we've all got different customers anyway you can actually get in there, communicate with them. For the B2B side, it might be, you know, going those industry events, networking, all many things, something I do, which I love doing, you know, when you can't actually get and talk to the customer. Today, there's so many review sites and so much social media where the customers are naturally having conversations that we didn't used to get to eavesdropped on, right? It's like the conversation they would have with their neighbor. And that's been so helpful to me too even as a writer, just getting that right word or two because the way they talk about it is sometimes so different from the way we talk about it.

But let's talk about now. So in the first half of the podcast, we talk about lessons from the things you made. The second half of the podcast, we talk about lessons from the people you made it with. Because that's what we do as marketer. We make things and we make them with people. And sometimes, in your case, people all over the world, right, with your global team. But the first lesson here comes from Leoni Janssen, the Founder and CEO of The BaaS, and she said, if you want it, don't be afraid to ask for it. Very nice. So what was going on in your career at the time where Leoni gave you that advice.

Jasmin Guthmann: Oh, what I have to say upfront that Leoni is one of the smartest, most incredibly passionate people that I've ever had, the pleasure to meet. She and I really got together through the Mach Alliance where she created the brand, BaaS stands for branding as a service. So that's what she does. She advises a lot of especially these days tech companies on how to be better, how to do better, how to really brand in a way that is memorable.

And the situation that arose was we you know had become close very quickly, which happens when you meet like minded people. And that made me comfortable enough to share with her what was going on, really seeking her advice. So we're both females in a male dominated industry. I hate that, I even have to say that, but it's a fact, right? So when I thought I was being overlooked as the lead for a very important project, you know, at first I just shrug my shoulders and I thought to myself, well, you know, if the company doesn't think that I'm qualified enough or that I should be leading it, then, you know, maybe they're right. Maybe that's just the way it is. They'll find someone, and then I'll wait for the next turn. Saying it out loud now makes me realize how weird that is. But, you know, those are the things that are going on in our heads.

Daniel Burstein: Absolutely.

Jasmin Guthmann: So Leoni and I have a regular catch up and I told her that and she looked at me and she fiercely insisted that I was the right person to lead the project by any measure or criteria that you put on. And she started listing out why I was a great fit, and I just looked at her and when you know what it was almost disbelief. But I looked at her and said, you know, you are right. But I still wasn't convinced that I should be doing anything about it. So she said, well, Jasmin, why don't you just ask to be considered? Yes, it would be more elegant if the company figured it out by itself. But think about it. A man in your position would never hesitate to raise his hand. And even if the outcome isn't you getting what you want again, action produces information. You will learn a lot and then you can act on that. At the very least, you asking directly will tell you where we were at. And then you can make decisions based on however the conversation goes. It's not so much about you getting yes or you getting a no. It's about putting yourself out there, overcoming that fear of rejection that we all have, whether we like it or not, whether we admitted or not. And I was still hesitant, so we ended the call.  I kept debating in my head whether I should do it or not do it or maybe this, maybe that.

Daniel Burstein:  And it's easy for someone else to say that, right, that’s easy for you to say, let's see if I can do it. Yeah. So what did you do?

Jasmin Guthmann: Well, I had this internal debate going on in my head. Should I do it, should I not do it? Iff I do it, how do I do it? Oh, yeah. No, I don't think I should. Yes, I think I should. No, I shouldn't. And all while that's happening an hour later is get a WhatsApp message and she's like, Jasmin, have you asked yet? Yeah, no, I'm still thinking about it. And she's like, well, you know, I really think you should. I don't want to push you, but there is nothing to lose. And I kept going back and forth in my head and I kept going. And then I finally texted her back and was like, You know what? You're right. I've made up my mind. I will ask. And she's a great if you need any help or, you know, whenever you get you get an answer, you let me know. And so I asked and it really, really became clear to me that I wouldn't have done it if she hadn't asked, if she hadn't pushed me so” hard”, harder than most people would have to do what's right.

And sure enough, I spoke up, raised my hand and was eventually appointed to lead the project, and it really goes to say we saw them regret the risk we took and failed. We usually regret the risk we fail to take. And we all need people in our lives like Leoni, who challenges us to stand up for ourselves. Because to your point, it's so easy to say or to advise, but to actually go do it and put yourself out there and be vulnerable is much harder than it sounds.

Daniel Burstein: Well, thank you for sharing that story, because I think so many times we stop ourselves. And really that gets to be there's a bit of the nexus of what we are trying to do with the How I Made It In Marketing podcast. Like I was telling you before, it would be easy to say these broad lessons and then blah, blah, blah we can go on about these broad lessons. But to say how we've actually lived them like you just did right there, that is beautiful. And I think hopefully that also opens up for a lot of people listening that might be in a similar position that might have gotten that advice too of like, not only do I want to give that advice, but to say that you've actually done it, that's the difference and it was successful for you. It worked.

Jasmin Guthmann: We can only encourage people, you know, build a support network, be keep in touch with people, even if you don't have something to work on directly. Even if it's someone from a different company. But stay in touch, be a listener when they need help or just someone to tell, sometimes even saying it out loud makes you realize how crazy that is. What's going on in your head. Right? And really, if you see someone who should be raising your hand or who you know, should be doing something but can't quite muster up the courage to do it, be the one who lends them a hand, be the one who to say, hey, I think you should be doing this of course, it's up to them to make a decision. But so many times, if I think back on my career, so many times I owe so many thank you’ s to people who saw something in me that I didn't see at the time, right. So for one, do thank the people that help you out and be the person who helps others? I think that is just a very beautiful self-fulfilling prophecy then.

Daniel Burstein: Absolutely. And thank you, Leoni, for that. And I want to tap in, so that's a great career lesson. But I want to tap into, because I think what we're talking about here really applies to our marketing as well, because I hear some common themes here. You talked about fear and you talked about rejection. And so, you know, as marketers, I mean, boy, one thing I've learned is it's a beautiful thing, like I said, the beginning, we get to create. But as part of getting to create, you know, we're not usually creating on our own. And there are the gatekeepers and the gatekeepers are often the client. And depending where we are in the organization, you know, we might be the client, but there is a CMO, there's a boss, there’s someone involved. Even if you're in a very high position, there's the  CEO, there's the Board of Directors, there's the analyst, there is the press. There's always the gatekeepers.

And so I wanted to ask, you mentioned before a great example of fear, where the organization didn't want to launch something because they saw focus groups specifically about your campaign. But a lot of fear, I see, too, is we have all these kind of best practices and conventional wisdom. And I wonder if there's any time, you know, you've had to come over, overcome some of those best practices and conventional wisdom. So for example, we have a free digital marketing course and in the session on website wireframes Flint McGlaughlin teaches, don't be afraid of long copy be afraid of insufficient clarity, right. And that's a great one because I always heard, oh, long copy doesn't work. Or, you know, I get this from designers like, oh, I would never read all that. And you know, I always have to say, well, well, you know, who would read all that? Is someone interested in buying that product? I mean, like,  like I always use the example if your refrigerator broke that morning, like, no one cares about reading long copy about a refrigerator, but if your refrigerator broke that morning, then you kind of more interested in it. So that's just one example. It's always that you know, the long copy one.

But I wonder, have there been any times in your career where you've had to push your team, maybe where it was like a best practice or conventional wisdom, where clearly you or your team or a client or your brand was holding itself back because of that conventional wisdom and you had to kind of push to overcome that fear. That's a common fear. I see. It's a common fear of rejection, too.

Jasmin Guthmann: And I think we all see that every day. And I think all the common places and phrases can be like that, right. Videos shouldn't be longer than 2 minutes because nobody's watching. That's a pretty popular one. And I had to overcome that on a few instances, really, because it's  something that is so popular as an opinion and gets repeated by everyone that no one ever questions it. To your point, while I agree for most promotional videos that yeah, they should be short and to the point there is other use cases where they cannot be and they should not be. If you're trying to build momentum and if you're trying to really create something exceptional that needs a lot of explaining, then it's just not possible to do it in that short a time frame.

So I would always say, don't settle, do not settle. We do a podcast that's called People Changing Enterprises where we talk about just that. We talk to people who are change agents inside their companies, and those are the people that you want to work with. They are there, they are not necessarily always the top people, but there are people inside any enterprise that challenge the status quo. That say and they are uncomfortable, right. If you are that person, you are uncomfortable to some other people, because you're constantly pushing for other ways to do something. Do we have to send out a newsletter ? Really is that good enough of a reason whatever you just gave me. Why is that? Can we split it up? Can we use other channels to get the message across? What is the message that we're trying to get across? Just because you've been sending newsletters doesn't mean it's the right thing to do.

Daniel Burstein: Yeah, that's a great point. And change is one of the hardest things we can do, right? The status quo. The status quo is tenacious. Things do not naturally want to change, right? You have to force a change onto them. That's just the nature of the universe. So, yeah, I think that's  a great point.

Let's talk about this. This is the first ever on The How I Made It In Marketing podcast, two lessons from one individual. So I love how there is there's two lessons here. This is  Ian Forest, Global Marketing Officer at New York Life Investments. And you learned large meetings are not for decisions, and be the calm in the storm. So this sounds like a very interesting meeting that you got two lessons out of it that you still remember to this day. So why don't you take us into this room?

Jasmin Guthmann: Yeah, and that has made a lasting impression on me. And that was back at the time when we were both working for BlackRock. So Ian is an incredible leader, very pragmatic, also with a great sense of humor. And I think you'll see in a second why that was important. So he was my manager's manager at the time, and we were creating a brand new product campaign financial services, complicated product, complicated process, large company. So a lot of moving pieces.

And because of that, the global alignment process was incredibly slow and painful, but we were finally making good progress. So almost to celebrate everyone from the campaign team to the creative agency to the production company for the TV ads, everyone flew into Frankfurt to finalize the creative and kickoff the campaign. That was the plan, and for a while everything seemed to be running smoothly until my boss at the time, who was a very emotional person, and is to this day, and sometimes it's very beneficial for the group. But in this case it wasn't. He got upset about a certain feature that the central creative team wanted changed. He got attached to it for some reason, and from there it all went to hell within seconds. I've never seen that before, but you probably all have. We have all been in these meetings where everything seems fine and then boom, all of a sudden the room is on fire.

Daniel Burstein: Yeah.

Jasmin Guthmann:  And he wasn't willing to compromise. To this day I wonder why that was. But he probably does too. And the central team felt put on a spot in front of everyone. So here's the large meeting component. Everything came to a grinding halt, which is when Ian stepped in and calmly but very firmly reminded everyone of their roles and responsibilities and the reason we had gotten together in the first place.  So he called everyone to order and to the higher cause made a decision right there for them, weighing the input everyone had been giving. And that really saved not just the day, but I think the whole project.

And I learned two very valuable lessons right there. And then number one, large meetings are for sign off, not for decision making. The actual socialization of your ideas and the decision making process both need to have happened in advance. And number two, be the calm in the storm. Knowing how to de-escalate a highly emotional situation is one of the most valuable skills you can bring to the table. And by the way, also, just because someone is your Line Manager doesn't make them right or role model. So be picky about whose advice you take and who you look up to. Because it may not be your direct reporting line. Sometimes the best role models are to decide or, you know, a little further away.

Daniel Burstein: Yeah, those are two great lessons. I mean, one about deescalating, at the end of the day, we call this an organization or a company, but these are relationships. So we've got these complex relationships within organizations. And then when you bring in outside groups like vendors, especially multiple, sometimes competing vendors and some vendor ecosystems, they can escalate. So very smart leader to be able to de-escalate as opposed to pit vendors against each other or people against each other.

But the other lesson which I really love is large meetings are not for decisions. Some lesson I learned in my career is the most important meeting is the meeting before the meeting. You know what I mean? Like in some places I see this, and  I don't know how this is in Germany,  I guess the parliament, but like in the American Congress, a lot of times they actually have a vote on a law, but usually 99% of the time everyone knows how that vote's going to go before the vote actually happens, right. You read it in the newspaper. You know how that vote's going to go because there were probably multiple meetings before the meeting and people had everything lined up and it was kind of orchestrated. And so they knew it was going to go at that point. So as as you said, it wasn’t actually in there that the decision happened, though, it looks like that's just the theater. It was the meeting before the meeting and all the hard work that happens beforehand to, as I mentioned, we are idea people, we are creators, we are creative people. We've got to get people along on that voyage, the right people in the right way, bring them along. So by the time we get to that point, like you said, it goes it goes smoothly.

Well, here's here's a final lesson, and this is from earlier in your career. Don't be afraid to ask for better from your people, but make sure you walk the talk. And this was from Rebekka Bisten, Founder and CEO of Punch Fitness. So how did you learn this from Rebekka?

Jasmin Guthmann: And this is really a time travel because this is my actually my very first job. And Rebekka is the first boss I ever had , but she's taught me a really basic lesson. And to your point, you know, we yes, we talk about everything in a marketing context here. But so many of these can be applied to life in general, which is incredibly beautiful.

Rebekka was running a gym at the time, and I had just started a dual study program to earn my degree in marketing. That included working as a full time employee at the gym, rotating through all different departments from admin, front desk, sales, marketing, weight training, aerobics classes. So I did it all. And you know, it's a real general manager array of tasks, of responsibilities. And to this day I believe you need to do something like this. It's almost similar to visiting your customers to understand what's important for the business, right? You need to know all the nuts and bolts before you can make decisions about how to put them together.

And the customer's loved Rebekka because she always put their best interests at the heart of everything she did and she insisted on small details. I vividly remember that the promotional posters had to be taped to the wall invisibly with those strips folded behind the poster. Instead of taping it across the corners, she would rip the poster off if she saw something like this and she would find the person who'd done it. And then you were in trouble and it seemed small. But it to her, that was one of the ways she expressed caring and her philosophy about things. We do pay attention to the small details so you have a great experience.

And the first thing she did when she came in every time, no matter the time of day or day of the week, was to do her round through the club, entrance, changing facilities, weights, area classrooms, her office. And if she found anything that didn't meet her standards, she'd fix it immediately, which included cleaning the showers if necessary. And, you know, she really walked the talk, no matter her pay grade or her perceived being the boss and she was the boss, and she held everyone on the team accountable to the same standards. So very quickly she installed that same sense for what's important. And everyone who became a permanent member of the team, not a single member of the team, would not do what she did.

So we all took extra care that everything held up to the high standards that she implemented. And she also taught me how to turn something that's about to be written off a loss into a tool to increase revenue. So here's fantastic lesson. The gym was selling shakes and bars at the front desk. So basically food and beverages and that part of the business was as many times the one with the highest margins, but also one that absolutely depended on whoever stood behind the bar to up and cross-sell. So we all know bars and shakes have an expiration date and we had to do inventory every morning and every evening to account for a number of items sold and what was going to be expiring. And one morning I was on front desk duty. Rebekka comes in, you know, you get that urge thinking, oh, God, I hope everything is as clean as she wants it to be because I did my rounds  but it's not a half hour in between, I hope. Fingers crossed, but that went fine.

But she now decides she wants to check the inventory. She does, and she finds a box of expired bars and she gets pretty mad and gives me a lecture about how I could have used that box of bars a few days before as free samples to sell them off before they expire, rather than just having them sit there waiting to expire and not doing any good. Pretty intense lesson right there, but it stuck so and I learned fast. So the next time I came across a box of bars about to expire, sitting in inventory, guess what I did? I unwrapped them, I cut them up. I used them as trials, as free samples, sold off as many as I could. And the great thing is, when she came in that day and walked up to the reception and saw that I had done that, here's what made all the difference. She told me how proud she was with me for doing that. And that feeling cannot be bought with money. And I've never forgotten that.

 

Daniel Burstein:  You know, one thing that really strikes me about this all these many years later when I ask how many but is you still remember her habits like that habit of going in and like the rounds she would make and how that instilled something in you. And so I wonder, as you've gone on to become a leader, are there any habits that you've picked up or you've used or tried to get your team to use?

Because one thing that really struck me about habits, which I never really thought about before, is I had interviewed Charles Duhigg, he was a New York Times reporter, and he wrote a book about the science of habit formation. And he really went into how much of our day is made up of habits and how we can optimize those habits. And he has a great story there about what kicked off the book for him is he would eat a cookie every day. He would go in the break room at 3 p.m. every day and eat a chocolate chip cookie. And one day he realizes he didn't even he was getting gaining some weight, didn't even want to eat a chocolate chip cookie. Why was he even doing this? Or he talks about way back out of our garage with our car in the morning. There's a series of habits that go on that you don't even think about, you know, put your car in reverse look behind you,  you open the garage, all these things. And these are part of our life that, you know, we don't think about. But to your point  had never thought before of how others see those habits. You know, I just kind of thought of it as internally.

So that was a great example with Rebekka. I wonder for you like now in your career as a marketing leader, said business leader, are there any habits that you try to visibly show your team or that you try to instill in your team? Or how have you used habits to? I think you said that to walk the talk.

Jasmin Guthmann: Yeah, absolutely. I think it really boils down to walking the talk, which means and interestingly, just spoke to Danielle Diliberti, fantastic female leader in the industry who said a similar thing. Only demand of your team, what you're willing to do yourself. So if I ask you to show up late or a late time to a call, I can only do that if I am willing to do the same. If I'm not willing to do what I'm about to ask you, my credibility to our earlier point, becomes lower, and it's all about credibility, especially in a remote working environment. You need to trust me. I will hold my promises if I say I fight for you, I need to fight for you. And if I ask you to do something, I need to be willing to do this thing myself. I think that's my number one rule and that's what I try to do every day. And I see it working beautifully with the team. And a habit that I formed with the team, which is super exciting to me because here's, you know, applying things that you read in books can be hard. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. But an idea that I read and that I then tried out with the team is we start our weekly team meeting with gratefulness exercise.

So we don't start diving right into, Oh, here's our task list and who's doing this? And when is this deal we start with Hello fellow human being, right?  Tell me, tell us one thing that you're grateful for today. And we go around the table. You would not believe the depths of answers that have started to come up over time at the beginning. And sometimes even today, someone doesn't quite feel it. And it's like, Yeah, I'm happy I have a cup of coffee and that's fine, that's totally fine. But for some people, this has been such a fantastic opportunity to share more about them and really connect with the rest of the group. And it's really been one of the most powerful team building tools, if you want to think about it that way that I've come across.

And funny enough, I, you know, couldn't make a few of the team meetings because other clashes and I was kind of wondering if they would stick to it, right? Because if I'm not there, they don't have any obligation to do it. I was the one who wanted it. You know, it could have gone both ways, but it actually turns out they love it so much they would rather skip the rest of the meeting and spend more time upfront.

Daniel Burstein: Do you remember what book that was? Because that is a great point. One thing we talk about is getting the marketer in the right mindset, you know, because we said that so much to creativity and to serving customers and all of these things. It's not just about doing a bunch of tasks like we work in a factory, it's getting in that right mindset to really produce. I wonder if you remember what book that was.

Jamin Guthmann: Yeah, I think it's Atomic Habits by James Clear, which is a fantastic book to read in any case, but that especially resonated.

Daniel Burstein: Great lesson if anybody wants to pick up that book. But so we talked about so much, Jasmin, all of these different things about what it means to be a marketer, to be so customer focused, to have these great habits. If you had to break it down, what are the key qualities of an effective marketer?

Jasmin Guthmann: Curiosity, open mindedness, and a passion to drive and also take time to look in the rearview mirror every once in a while. I think that's how I would sum it up.

Daniel Burstein: Well, thanks for taking the time to look in the rearview mirror of your career with us today. You mentioned things we're grateful for. I'm grateful for this conversation. That's the thing I'm grateful for today. So thank you, Jasmin.

Jasmin Guthmann: Thank you, Daniel. Pleasure for me as well.

Daniel Burstein: And thank you to everyone for listening and lending us your ear today.


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