May 14, 2024

Marketing Mentorship: Direct feedback is a gift (podcast episode #98)


I had a conversation with Erika White, Vice President of Marketing & Communications at Affirm, on episode #98 of the "How I Made It In Marketing" podcast. She shared insights from her career on using humor to reduce stress and tension, tackling 'impossible' challenges, and fostering a culture of ownership within teams.

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

Marketing Mentorship: Direct feedback is a gift (podcast episode #98)

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“The difficult we do immediately. The impossible takes a little longer.” That quote is from David Ben-Gurion.

And it reminds me of marketing. We’re in the digital age, or maybe we’ve crossed over into the AI age. Either way, we don’t have the long deadlines we had when I started my career writing print ads.

And that’s just the difficult. What about the impossible? Well, that is part of our stock and trade as marketers, right? We push, try new things, experiment, innovate – that which was impossible yesterday is our new campaign or new tool we built for the customer.

So let me drop another quote in here, this one from my next guest – “Embrace ‘riding the worm.’” That’s her way of saying, don’t be afraid to try something that seems virtually impossible. It takes resourcefulness and the ability to tame something seemingly uncontrollable.

To hear the story behind that lesson, along with many more lesson-filled stories, I talked to Erika White, Vice President of Marketing & Communications, Affirm.

Affirm is a public company that trades on NASDAQ. It reported $1.588 billion in revenue in 2023. White oversees a team of 35 professionals driving all aspects of marketing and communications for the company including growth marketing, martech/ops, partner marketing, brand marketing, research, and public relations. She was a core member of the team leading the $12 billion IPO in early 2021.

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

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Stories (with lessons) about what she made in marketing

Here are some lessons from White that emerged in our discussion.

Embrace ‘riding the worm’

Since seeing Dune 2, White finds herself saying ‘ride the worm’ probably too often. The message she is really meaning to send here is – don’t be afraid to try something that seems virtually impossible. When you conquer these types of challenges it can enhance the faith you have in yourself and in your team.

She remembers deciding in fall 2021 that they were going to launch a holiday campaign for that same year. It was a crazy sprint putting together a brief, live shoot, editing and everything else that went into the campaign in a matter of weeks, especially when much of the team was used to having months to prepare for similar campaigns.

The stress in those types of situations can really sink a team but, with the right mindset, it can also be when teams thrive because they have to place a lot of trust and confidence in one another. If you can collectively lean into what seems hard or even impossible, you’ll celebrate that much more – individually and collectively, when you come out the other side.

Don’t forget to laugh and help others do the same

In 2020, they did a brand activation around the holidays where they were encouraging consumers to call out all of the fine print in their lives. Affirm is fundamentally anti-fine-print that hides tricks and gimmicks. They shot a spot where Keke Palmer had to get a giraffe in a gift box. White had to miss the shoot because she was very far along in her pregnancy and they were a very short distance from their IPO.

An agency they worked with on the project sent White the giraffe from the shoot after it was done — she never asked for it and never expected it. It was kind, thoughtful and also completely random. That giraffe is still in her 3-year-old daughter’s room today.  

Within teams, make ownership a feature not a bug

Despite the campaign and creative work that she is really proud of at Affirm, the thing White is most proud of ‘making’ is the current team they have in place. Ownership is an important feature of that group – both owning wins but, more importantly, owning shortcomings, misses and learnings.

If everything is going perfectly, they’re probably not pushing, learning or growing. When something goes wrong or not as planned, Whtie thinks you often learn the most about a person — in moments of vulnerability or pressure, do they own it or try to outsource it?

Lessons (with stories) from people she collaborated with

White also shared lessons she learned from the people she collaborated with.

Energy and positivity are contagious

via Heidi Browning, CMO of the NHL

Browning taught White a lot of lessons but one she carries with her virtually every day is the importance of the energy and enthusiasm that leaders bring to work daily. She worked with Browning at Pandora and Browning brought unmatched energy to her days and to the people around her. It was inevitable that that energy was contagious. Even on the toughest of days, Browning could help anyone dust off and get back to it.

Always take the call      

via Jamie Gutfreund, Founder of Creative Vision, former CMO of Hasbro

White met Gutfreund over a decade ago when they were two strangers stranded at an international conference. Gutfreund had no way of getting to the airport in the midst of an Uber strike but White found a way to make sure they both got to the airport together and on time.

The connection was instant but what’s made knowing her more special over the years is the fact that, since meeting her, Gutfreund has always taken White’s call and White will always take hers. This sounds like a simple courtesy, but Gutfreund makes it more than that. She will facilitate any connection, give actionable advice and follow-up to make sure you’re on track. This level of commitment to relationships is really special but Gutfreund showcases that it pays off tremendously.

We all get busy and it takes time out of our day to help someone out – especially when it’s someone not in our day-to-day flow. But, our willingness to do so often defines the quality of our decisions as well as the speed of them.

Direct feedback is a gift

via Sara Clemens, COO of WhatNot former COO of Pandora

White met Clemens at Pandora and was immediately struck by her intelligence and directness. It’s often hard to get unfiltered feedback that is timely and actionable, but Clemens offered this to her unprompted and at a critical point in her career.

Especially in the current Zoom culture, finding coaching moments or moments to be ready to receive feedback can be challenging, Clemens continues to give me feedback – as a friend and trusted mentor. Their relationship reminds White that we don't improve or help others around us by holding back.

Discussed in this episode

Customer-First Marketing Guide: 4 steps (with case studies) to build a customer-first marketing strategy

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

Erika White: So I think sometimes breaking the ice helps a little bit. But it is it is difficult, but you just have to keep trying and seeing what works. I also think that finding connection points in person is critical. I think that doing this solely on zoom, in a world where people are getting used to reconnecting in person, I think that's been the hardest tension, because when everyone was in a zone of their social life was also on zoom.

Then people were have drinks on zoom and that wasn't weird, and you might do activities and everyone just went with it. But now our culture is back in person in terms of society as a whole. So people don't want to do those funny moments, those teambuilding magic tricks, what have you on on zoom calls. And so you have to find the right way to integrate in-person moments, because that's when people really get a feel for the energy.

Intro: Welcome to how I made it in marketing. From marketing Sherpa, we scour pitches from hundreds of creative leaders and uncover specific examples, not just trending ideas or buzzword laden schmaltz real world examples to help you transform yourself as a marketer. Now here's your host, the senior director of Content and Marketing at Marketing Sherpa, Daniel Burstein, to tell you about today's guest.

Daniel Burstein: The difficult we do immediately the impossible takes a little longer. That quote is from David Ben-Gurion and reminds me of marketing, right? We're in the digital age where maybe we've crossed over into the AI age. We don't have the long deadlines we had when I started my career writing print ads. And that's just a difficult what about the impossible?

Well, that is part of our stock and trades marketers, right? We push, try new things, experiment, innovate. That which was impossible. Yesterday is our new campaign or new tool we built for the customer. So let me drop another quote in here, this one from my next guest. Embrace riding the worm. That's her way of saying, don't be afraid to try something that seems virtually impossible.

It takes resourcefulness and the ability to tame the seemingly uncontrollable. Here to share the story behind that lesson, along with many more lesson filled stories, is Erica White, the vice president of marketing and communications for a firm. Thanks for joining me, Erica.

Erika White: Thanks, Daniel. Great to be here.

Daniel Burstein: All right. So let's take a quick look at your background. Just cherry picking from your illustrious career. We have assistant manager of brand communications at Hilton Hotel, director of global corporate relations and corporate marketing at visa. Director of corporate communications at Pandora. Many more roles. But for the past four years, you've been VP of marketing and Communications at affirm.

Affirm is a public company that trades on Nasdaq. It reported $1.588 billion in revenue in 2023, and white oversees a team of 35 professionals driving all aspects of marketing and communications for the company, including growth marketing, partner marketing, brand marketing, research and public relations. She was a core member of the team leading the $12 billion IPO in early 2021.

So, Erica, that sounds like you could be a pretty busy person. What is your day like as VP of Marketing and Communications?

Erika White: I think I am a pretty busy person, but, I think most working parents would say that about themselves. One of my favorite things about my job is truly every day is different. So I can't say that there's a template for any day or certainly any week. But I'll tell you a few things that I focus on and that I try and integrate regularly.

Because we have a distributed team, we're a remote first, but not remote only company. There's a good amount of folks on the team that are on the East Coast, so I start my day pretty early, check in with them, check in on my inboxes what's going on and do my daily news read. And that's sort of the way I ramp up my brain in the morning and make sure that nothing stuck with me, as those, particularly on the East Coast, are off and running.

Before much of the West Coast team, I would say that part of that early start to the day also helps me think about what I need to tackle that is urgent for that day or that week versus what is important, meaning high priority, something that requires a bit more thinking, something that long term is going to have a big impact but doesn't necessarily need to be done immediately.

And then what are the things that are both urgent and important? So one of the things that I need to tackle immediately that are going to have a big impact and I talk a lot about that, about things that are is this urgent or important or is it both. And so I try and triage using that framework. And then going about the day, like I said, it's never quite the same.

But I do try and push myself at some point in the day, at the end of each day, or certainly once a week to ask myself a couple of questions. One, what have I done to help my family? What have I done to help my team? Number two what have I done to help affirm users? What have I done to help affirm clients?

Those four questions and then cumulatively for for work, if I've done a lot of those things, family aside for a moment there, then I help the company, help move the business forward, made an impact for our shareholders. So if I try and pull myself accountable to that framework, then I think I'm doing pretty okay. But some days I'm helping one group a lot more than I'm helping another.

Daniel Burstein: So you talk about urgent and important, I love that. Are you a Cubs fan or is that just a total coincidence?

Erika White: A Cubs fan, a Cubs fan.

Daniel Burstein: Stephen Covey? Is that. Did you get that from Stephen Covey, or is it just a total coincidence?

Erika White: It's, it's a coincidence, actually. I didn't know about that, but it's funny. I thought you said Cubs fan because I'm from Chicago and I am an avid Cubs fan. And so I'm like, oh, is that a Cubs thing that I didn't know about? But actually, I didn't. I didn't know about that. I've been saying it for a long time, but maybe I picked it up from someone who picked it up from him along the way, but I didn't.

I wasn't aware of the reference until you just mentioned it.

Daniel Burstein: Well, first of all, I'm a Mets fan, so let's not even get into the Cubs. But no, I love you mentioned it because Stephen Covey teaches about the four quadrants and I won't get too deep. But one thing is the, you know, the urgent and important. The other thing is the important, but the not urgent, which we tend to overlook.

And I just love you saying that because that was one of the founding principles of the how I made it marketing podcast. Right? So as I mentioned, marking Sherpa, we write case studies. That's urgent and important. You got a pain point. Boom. You see someone else do it in a case study. You find a problem. But these conversations we tend to have about leadership and our careers and like you said, your family and our lives these long things, these are important things that if we don't specifically take the time, like you mentioned, we won't do the important and not urgent thing.

So that's why I just bring it up. I love that the important, not urgent often gets overlooked. And that's what we try to cover here and how I made it. Marketing. so let's take a look at some lessons people can get from your career for their own, important but not urgent planning for their own careers or own campaigns or own leadership.

So that first lesson embrace riding the worm. So I haven't seen Dune or Dune two, so I don't do that. Honestly, I searched that after you said that and it looks so creepy to me. But I'm a comedy fan. Why would you explain that to us? What is riding the worm and how the heck does that relate to marketing?

Erika White: It's tough to explain this info to someone who hasn't seen the movie, because I really don't want to ruin anything for you and I can to see the movie. So full admission I. I love great stories and I guess that's why I'm in this line of work, at least in part, and fantasy sci fi, but more pure fantasy, whether I'm reading it or watching it.

I'm definitely a fan, so Dune certainly falls in that category. And I will say without again giving too much away it to me, riding the worm is having a lot of courage to try something that you don't think you can do, that you've never done doing it confidently. And others celebrating and the results with you when you've achieved that, that thing that you didn't think you can do and that quite frankly, seems seems impossible.

And I think that this has come up a lot. In fact, I'd say this comes up regularly when there's a challenge ahead of myself or my colleagues that we're discussing and we don't have enough time or we don't have enough resources, we don't have enough budget, we don't have infrastructure in place. I think the difference is, do you believe that it can be done?

Do you have conviction in yourself and in the people around you that you can conquer something excellently, even if you're doing it for the first time? And if it seems really hard and time and time again, I've seen this happen when the right attitude is in place and when someone has a lot of confidence in themselves and in the people around them.

So an example I think about specifically is going back to 2021, we decided that we were going to launch a holiday campaign, and we were going to figure out how to do live production, produce all the assets, do the media buy in a matter of weeks. And I think most teams and certainly most people on our team, had had at least months to think about achieving a similar task in the past.

And when I landed this, that type of stress can really sink you in that moment of we're not set up to succeed, and this work isn't going to be what we think we should be or can be a real unifying factor. Again, if you believe in yourself, if you believe in the people around you, and I think if you collectively have a culture of leaning into what seems hard and celebrating when it's conquered, then there's not a lot you can't do.

Daniel Burstein: You remember the first time in your career when maybe one of the early times in your career when you did that? Because, I mean, I love I love this example and the leadership that you had to bring to it for this example. But I found in my career, like as I've gone on, this has become easier, you know, right, as you get a track record.

But earlier it's it's hard and it's scary. I think two things that I found are hard and scary. One is putting out the creative idea because, you know, I never know if an idea is going to work or not. I can't say for sure, I think so, I think this is unique. I mean, just starting from working with, you know, the leadership or the client, like, are they going to buy into it as a customer, going to buy into it?

And then the other thing is taking on a new role or a big new responsible bility of I think I haven't done as I've gone on in my career, I've, I've, I guess I've built that kind of muscle memory to be like, okay, this idea I mean, I don't know for sure it's going to work. I'm going to put it out there.

I've got a high batting average. And, you know, I think we're going to do okay. Even even if I fail, I'm going to learn from it because it'll be, you know, a way to experiment or, hey, this new thing I got to do, but I've done these other new things that will work. But early in my career it was hard.

So can you think of, you know, an example, like earlier in your career when you kind of had to had to do one of these things? And what you learned from it? And would you tell someone else early in their career?

Erika White: Yeah, I think this is such a good point, because the confidence to jump on the next forum, so to speak, and keep riding the worm, has a lot to do with that celebration factor at the end, and people celebrating you and giving you the confidence of the next time something like that comes along, it's easier. So I think that speaks to you starting to see this as a pattern of something you can do if enough people have lifted you up along the way.

Thinking about my career, I actually have the same sentiment that earlier on it was pretty terrifying to feel like you weren't set up for success because it was a first at bat at everything. Once you have more at bats, you're like, oh, well, if I with this one, I've hit it out of the park a couple times, so I'm not that concerned.

But when those at bats are fewer and newer, it's a lot more intimidating. So I think back to Hilton, because in many ways that job was and I was an associate manager, assistant manager when they hired me. And many ways I still see that job as a really big break for me in my career for a couple of reasons.

One, I was drastically underqualified for it, and I don't say that just to be humble. I say that because objectively, I think I was very underqualified, very green for what they were looking for someone to do, which was really spin up a lot more brand awareness and publicity and infrastructure around their Hilton Honors program that stretched across about nine different brands of hotels at the time, and really kick off their CSR efforts for the DoubleTree brand of hotels, as well as their social media program and social media and blogs and all those things were really nascent at this point.

And I remember sitting in a meeting and us discussing, this is going to age me. So it's a little embarrassing, but the anecdote is to write on that. I can't prevent myself from sharing it. But we're sitting in this meeting and barely out of college and we're talking about this Twitter thing. Was this Twitter thing that people are experimenting with.

And none of the other Hilton brands really were touching social media yet, because it was. Even Facebook was sort of in this place of brands were figuring out what to do with it. What do we do with the wall? All these things. And I remember being like, we should try this, why don't we just try this? And I'm totally prepared for everyone to think I'm crazy.

And I also had no idea how we would actually operationalize it. But I put it out there, and I remember my manager at the time just immediately backed me up and was like, yes, we should be out there first doing this. We we love our customers. Why not let them get in touch with us directly? Why not use this as a news feed?

And we just put ourselves out there first? Had really zero idea what we were doing. So that was that was a really exciting at that because I had this idea of it's not scary to be first if you have the right support and conviction around you to succeed. And I got great backing at the time and we gave it a try.

And then in no time, the other brands and the more legacy brands were coming, us being like, oh, you guys have figured out social, can you teach us something about social? And I'm sitting here like, I haven't figured out social. I just wanted to try this Twitter thing and my manager supported me. So we've just started doing it.

And, that's a memory that's really stuck with me over time.

Daniel Burstein: Well, I just want to mention how impressive that is, because you're kind of playing it off as just being someone young and wanting to play with stuff, and and maybe that was the case, but you were visionary with that. Like there have been no industry, seriously, where social media has been more impactful than travel and the fact that a major brand within a major company like Hilton was not doing social, and you were key in them doing social, that is transformative.

Again, whether you got lucky or whether you were visionary and smart. Like, my hat's off to Erica. That's impressive. Thank you. you mentioned celebrating. And, when you celebrate those wins and you remember them, that kind of ties into your next lesson, I think, you said, don't forget to laugh and help others do the same. So you want to tell me how you learned this?

Erika White: Yeah, I, I, I definitely believe in integrating humor into the workplace for. Oh, there's a lot of benefits there. I think this is also an important lesson to me, because at the same token, I think that combustion makes the engine go in sometimes there needs to be a little bit of friction, a little bit of discomfort to get to the best outcomes.

But if you're going to have that assumption, you also need to know how to diffuse that within a group. whether it's a cross-functional group, whether it's a team, whether it's an outside partner or you're working with an agency, need to know how to push each other to the point where it gets a little uncomfortable, but also be able to bring everybody back together.

And sometimes the work does, but sometimes you just need that little turn of the wheel that makes everybody laugh, or that moment of connection that takes everyone out of their own head to find your way back to one another. And in 2020, we were doing a brand activation at a firm with Keke Palmer and at a firm. We have a really deep connection to our values, one of which is no fine print.

And basically what that means is we're going to be transparent about who we are, what we do, and our offering to all our stakeholders. And in practice, that means that we don't charge our users any tricky fees. We don't try and beat them with any gimmicks. Unlike legacy credit cards that have things like late fees, compound interest, deferred interest, we don't have any of that at a firm.

And this activation was actually designed to pull out of consumers the desire to read some of the fine print in the products that they use, so they could actually see some of the ridiculous things that is hidden in there. And we wanted to bring a level of awareness to the fact that all this fine print exists, and some of it is really full of gotchas.

And at a firm that's just the opposite of who we are. So we worked with Kiki Palmer at the time to do a brand activation. We ran a contest where consumers sent in comedic fine print readings. Suffice to say, there were a lot of moving pieces on this. There was a contest for all these submissions. There was UGC elements of pulling people's content in and looking at these various submissions.

There was coordinating with talent. There was obviously all the things that go with live production. And this was also a really, really fast sprint. So a lot of pressure on the team. This was a situation where we had a lot of people who were pretty new to the company. This was the first time we worked with major talent, so a lot of pressure and I was candidly very pregnant at the time with my, and we were really short distance from our IPO.

So, so there was the pressure that was in the overall situation. And then there was the pressure I was feeling is an individual during that that time. And it it all ended up going great. Sort of that ride the moment that we were, we were talking about. But there were some tough meetings and there were some tough stuff downs.

And also it was one of the first major projects I can remember, in addition to the IPO, where you had people all in different places working remotely, trying to come together and achieve something. And at that point we were still under a lot of restrictions. So even if we all knew what we were doing in our own discipline, knowing how to work together in a remote world just introduced a level of tension into things, because you couldn't the in the room together.

You couldn't read that context, read a lot of those signals that you really need to read in person. So I remember our agency partner at the end of this strenuous process where we had to have many tough conversations along the way, sent me this large stuffed giraffe that we actually used in the shoot. And basically, reason we had a stuffed giraffe, as we wanted to think about what is one of the toughest presents to wrap over the holidays, I was like, what doesn't come in a box?

What's just a really weird shape? And we came up with this tall giraffe in the shoot. The thing look right up close. This is the funniest looking giraffe and it looks totally angry in the face. I open this thing. I cracked up, and I still have this in my house as just a reminder that sometimes you need to defuze the situation with humor and find those connection points with one another, especially during the hard moments.

Daniel Burstein: No, I love that. That's nice. but actually something you said I want to kind of dive into is more about the specific messaging you're talking about now in that ad, and I know the messaging that that kind of your car brand using, and you don't have to answer about your current brand. We could talk about anything, but, you know, you mentioned a certain level of transparency you're trying to bring to your industry and how you talk about it.

So when you're bringing that transparency in the industry, though, how do you help the customer make the best choice? By also talking about the downside of the brand, right. Because when a lot of times we talk about transparent marketing and transparency, yes, it's easy for brands to say, here's how we're disrupting an industry and here's how we're different.

But sometimes it can be difficult to stay. But we still need to make money. We still need to do certain things that aren't positive. And so that transparency can be, you know, harder. We've seen this with many brands over the years in different ways. You know, Domino's tried to bring in some level of transparency and said, hey, we made bad pizza and make good pizza.

We see Mark Cuban with cost. Plus he's trying to disrupt that industry by saying, okay, like, yes, we do need to make money, but here's what we do. We have a specific upcharge or whatever. So I wonder if you found for this brand or any brand how you can help the customer make that. That's the best decision by bringing the transparency.

And yes, here's how we're disruptive and different in a positive way. But we also got to say, hey, there's going to be some other elements that I wouldn't say aren't positive to the customer, but there's going to be some cost for the customer, right? Because we are still a for profit business.

Erika White: Yeah, this is a great prompt. So I will talk about affirm for a bit because this is a business. Having worked on our IPO, especially thinking about becoming a public company, you really have to ask yourself, are we willing to leave money on the table in service of treating our customers better and more fairly? Because a lot of these fees that we're talking about, late fees, deferred interest, compound interest, they've existed in the industry for years in the credit industry for years.

So I don't want to say consumers are desensitized to them because most of them find all these gimmicks so confusing, particularly when you get into compounded deferred interest that they're sort of not indifferent to them, but it's created almost a fear of credit. I know, looking at myself, one of the reasons I decided to take this job is I was thinking about my younger self, and I was very afraid of credit cards.

I just had that family that was money conscious, and it was like, you don't use one of these things unless you pay it off in full every month. Like it is a dangerous tool. Like with great power comes great responsibility. And like this is a this can be a really dangerous tool because a lot of those tricks, those gimmicks that are really, frankly, anti-consumer are layered in there in a way that even very intelligent people have trouble unraveling.

So a firm could this long lined up to say, a firm could just borrow some of those same practices and make money off of them the way a lot of legacy players have, but we've purposely chosen not to. So we believe that better product, more transparency in the long term will actually be better business. And we live that.

I think to your second question about how do you make sure that you're transparent and you're educating while you have to tackle some of these tougher subjects and some of the negative practices that may exist in the industry, you're disrupting, I think that's an interesting challenge for any marketer who's really in a position where they're representing a company that is trying to.

Transform a legacy system, because you have to talk about the thing that's known before you talk about yourself, like you have to fish where the fish are. So saying we're the new kid on the block, pay over time. Look at me. When I started five years ago like that, that didn't make any sense to people. When I started talking about the context of alternative to credit cards.

And here's a comparison you can make. So if you think about the Kiki campaign, lots of fine print, no fine print, like making that contrast of the movement from A to B, how you build that bridge between what's known and what's unknown, but make the unknown feel warmer, more trustworthy, more intuitive. I think that's been a really interesting challenge over the years, and we still have a lot of work to do.

Daniel Burstein: Yeah, and that's fair. And let me ask, and maybe this is a question you can't answer, but I agree with everything you said. But also at some point, like there is going to be some sort of cost for the customer, we are going to make money in some way. So how do you keep that ethos? And I agree, you want to position a good light.

And how will the customer make the best choice and communicate that fact of we still need to make money. Like I was reading an interesting article, I mean, and I applaud everything you said about what the company is trying to do and how they're trying to change the industry, because I think you create an actual value proposition that others didn't want to take because they would give up revenue.

And I was reading it remind me of Southwest Airlines. I wrote an article, I don't remember exactly why they I think they're having some, you know, difficulty, you know, getting enough revenues, streets, mad at them. I think it's honestly Boeing's fault because they haven't delivered the planes. And so they have to kind of cut back on flights.

But the thing at the end of the article, it really stuck with me or whatever spokesperson said, like, we are not adding baggage fees, you know, because they're, you know, the article Wall Street Journal is kind of pushing like, hey, you can I mean, look at this revenue these other airlines are having. And they're like, we're going to figure it out.

We're not adding baggage fees. And I really, you know, anyone who in such a commodity industry like that, where there's all these similar products, that is a unique value proposition. And to see how they've stuck with that is really impressive. so I, I totally agree with that. I think that's impressive. I think that's a great story you can tell, but there's always going to be some sort of cost to the customer if you you're a nonprofit.

I think so. So how do you communicate that piece to them when you're saying all this good stuff too?

Erika White: Yeah, that's a great problem. So I think a good example of this is interest because we charge interest on not all of our products, but on some of the products. And everyone would love no interest on anything that you're paying for over time. But, you know, it's a it's a business. And we charge interest within a range that is regulatory acceptable and is within range of the industry.

So I think that that's that's a cost that of course, if it was totally up to a consumer, they want our 0% offering all the time. And we actually love our 0% offering. It's great for consumers. And our merchants see an excellent sales with with Lyft with 0%. So we want to keep rolling out of it as much as possible.

But sometimes you're going to get offered an interest bearing loan. And because we underwrite each individual on a transaction basis, like you, Daniel might come to us one day and we say all the options we're giving you are interest bearing. And you might be a little grumbly about it because you might prefer 0%. But I say interest is an example because I think there's two, two elements there.

I think from a how you communicate to the customer about it, one let's dispel the idea that all interest is equally bad, because actually the interest that really gets people is the type that compounds. So you make an agreement using a credit card product. Okay, I'm going to take this out. You can't pay your bill in full. And then you spin off more or less out of control because that interest is compounding over time.

So that interest number can end up being far greater than the cost of the item that you purchased originally. The way we communicate about it is simple. We have simple interest. So the interest that you're extended at the point of sale, if we're underwriting you for a given purchase, that amount you agree to, it's never going to change.

So we can't make interest go away in its entirety. But we can make the way that interest is deployed more transparent and just easier to understand. So if you know, hey, I'm going to pay 200 bucks an interest, that's what I'm going to pay with a firm that's 100 bucks. That's never going to change. That's going to be the interest you're going to pay.

So would you rather not pay that sometime? Sure, maybe. But at least you have the comfort to know that that number is not going to change. So I think it's de bundling some of the practices that maybe are not people's favorite to understand that it's not as binary. Every single time.

Daniel Burstein: I think that's a great example of educating the customer, too. I mean, and this is a thing where the customers, I mean, they know you have to be a for profit business or you wouldn't exist. Right? And so saying, hey, this is a fair way we think we can make profits. And here's how it's compared to our competitors versus, you know, what that industry has unfortunately been known for is there's a lot of gotchas of the feeling of like, wait a minute, I thought it was this or that.

So I think that's a great example of transparency. It reminds me of I don't remember who the guest was. We were talking about this and he is an example from his his personal life. He was taking a shuttle bus, I think it was in San Francisco was a bus. I think it was maybe from like San Francisco to San Jose or something.

And the bus like put out this email and they and they just like, transparently show their financials. And they said, if we can't get however many more customers, we would have to stop operating because we just don't have the money. So there's one of two things you could tell more people about this. And hopefully we can get more customers or, you know, we're going to have to shut down.

And it's easy for like sometimes a smaller company to do that, right, because you have more of a connection to them. You feel like, oh, it's the individual owner, but that's a great example of a big major brand saying, obviously we're a company business. We got to make money. Here's how we do it and here's how it's different from others.

to do that, you have to have the right team in place to have that type of communication. And one thing you mentioned is within teams make ownership a feature and not a bug. It's a great software analogy. I love using that term. But what do you mean when it comes to teams with that?

Erika White: Yeah, you work in tech long enough. Things like feature versus a bug become very commonplace out it in your vernacular. You just don't even recognize it anymore. But, I think this is really important, this idea that ownership should be a feature and not a bug. I think if there's a thing that will rub me the wrong way, it's a lot of great ideas and a lot of people participating in a given project or piece of work, but a total lack of clarity on who's accountable for either a work stream or the project as a whole, and who is raising their hand to say, I'm going to achieve this end result and I'm going to

be held accountable for it. That, to your earlier question, can be intimidating for people early in their career. And I think depending on what your work experience is, that can be really intimidating overall. But it can also be really empowering, not just for individuals but for teams, because you can say, okay, Daniel's got this, he's owning it. I'm going to be here to help, but I'm going to stop worrying about it and focus on climbing the next hill and deploying my unique set of expertise or whatever capacity I have towards another thing that needs doing.

And when Daniel needs help with something, I know he's the owner of it and I'm going to help him meet his goals, but I know that he's on it. So I think that that's something I really try and encourage a lot. I would say I push this question a lot. Who's the owner? You know, who's the owner of this piece, who's the driver?

And listen, every leader, every company I think would love to do this perfectly. And I think disseminated ownership and people bumping into each other is sort of inevitable when you have a lot of ambitious people chasing a lot of big, hairy problems. But I ran into someone who I consider a long time mentor friend at an events not too long ago, and he had this great analogy.

He said, ambitious people are like alligators and problems are these big pieces of meat. So if I want to get alligators going, I just dangle a piece of meat and all the alligators will come running. The balance is not getting every alligator chasing the same piece of meat and making sure, as a leader, a driver, you're coming up with enough interesting pieces of meat, but not so many that the alligators like aren't like.

It's not like they can never share a meal. So I thought that was really interesting. Colorful way to put some of this.

Daniel Burstein: I like that. So let me ask, because I think there is one case where we want all the alligators going over the same piece of meat. So easy analogy, maybe in the wrong way, but and that is, in making sure we're serving the customer and putting the customer first. And so I wonder if you have an example of how you build that.

You have that ownership mentality where, looking after the customer is a feature and not a bug. And, you know, for example, I wrote a case study about National Foods Limited, their catch a catch up company, and they're researching their target audience, and they found this target audience is time poor. You know, their parents and mothers, they don't even have time to supervise their kids.

So their kids were watching a lot of video content. And in their home market of Pakistan, there was very little local educational programing. So what they did was this was this catch up. They made educational programing for like math and, you know, different things. And they sponsored it and they made those shows like on YouTube again, they're a catch up company.

They were just seeing what their customer needs and putting them first, not making better catch up. And I loved something that you said when I asked you about your day. The questions you ask yourself and two of them I wrote down is, what have I done to help users? And what have I done to help customers? And that is such a customer first mentality.

So to back to my original question, how do you disseminate that in your team to make sure that no matter what piece of meat they're going after, you know, everyone's got that same focus to serve the customer?

Erika White: Yeah. So I think we're lucky at a firm because we are so customer centric that we actually have a lot of tools and opportunities for marketing or quite frankly, anyone at the company, no matter what you do, to find a way to stay connected to customers. And I think we're a network business. Right? So consumers are our customers in a way, but we refer to them as consumers or users.

And then we have merchants who are our clients. We're also customers. So I'll use that, that phrasing to talk about them. But starting with merchants. So the people who are actually really buying the product, they're our partners at different retailers and other other commerce platforms. We get sales comments really regularly from the sales team or from anybody, even if you're not in sales, if you go and talk to a client, whether they're a prospective client or a current client, and I am pretty diligent about making sure that I read all of those emails, even if it's not a client.

I'm working with. And I also really encourage my team. At minimum. I just sent a note about this this week at minimum on a monthly basis, to follow a summary of all the major conversations we're having with different retailers, whether it's our current customers or prospective customers. To stay on top of, what are the questions that you're asking about our business?

What are they asking about our product? And importantly, what are they asking about our values and our audience? Because that's a big part of where marketing comes in. When I'm in client conversations is they want to know, is there a value alignment here? Is there audience alignment here? Can I work with you to partner to talk to our customers?

In a way, if you know me, merchant, talk to our customers in a way that resonates with them, or are you going to sort of come in with a lot of specific ideas about how to talk about your product, how to talk about my customers? Are you really going to be collaborative and try and find a shared language, a shared strategy mirroring your audience with our audience in order to drive more conversions on our platform?

And I think that that mentality can really only be reached when you go pretty deep on what do they value about their brand? What do they think about when it comes to how they treat their customers, how they communicate with them? What are the segments that they're focused on? So that's that's on the merchant side. I would say on the consumer side, there's also a lot of great tools, but I think the most obvious one is anyone in a firm can sign up to listen to customer to consumer ops customer service calls.

So if a consumer comes in and makes a phone call to us or sends an email and needs help with an issue, anyone in the company can sign up to listen in and participate in that, which is a great feature. I think every company should should do that if they don't already, but that's a way to stay really close to not only the challenges people are having, but the joy that the product is bringing.

I mean, sometime, I mean, it's wonderful when, sometimes you run into somebody at an airport or you're sitting on a train for a long period of time and they're just like, I love a firm, but when you're just in there in the day to day and people are like, I love you guys, but, you know, I have this issue, or I'm confused about something in the app and you can help them like that.

That's amazing. So I would say those are those are two ways that I try and stay really proximate to what's going on on both sides of the network, and I encourage others to do the same.

Daniel Burstein: I love that customer service example. There was a time where we had a customer service person left until we hired a new one. We agreed to just kind of rotate it and not take the and and actually having that, even though I've been copied on some of those emails or things before, you've seen it actually having to have the interaction, it made such a huge difference.

And you're like, yeah, I could see how that's an annoying pain point that should be changed. I agree. but you also mentioned collaboration, which I love, because in the first half of how I made it in marketing, we talk about lessons you learn from the things you made. In the second half, we talk about lessons you learned from the people you collaborated with.

It's a great thing we get to do as marketers, make things and collaborate with people. But first I should mention that the How I Made It in Marketing podcast is underwritten by MC Labs Institute, the parent organization of marketing Sherpa MC labs. I now has 14 expert assistants to help you with your marketing, along with a guided headline writing path to write a powerful headline, all trained on a methodology built on the results from 10,000 marketing experiments.

It's totally free for now. You don't even have to register to get started. Just go to MC labs and start using it. That's NEC labs and start getting artificial intelligence working for you. All right Eric let's take a look at this first lesson here. You said energy and positivity are contagious. And you learned this from Heidi Browning, the CMO of the NHL.

How did you catch energy and positivity from Heidi?

Erika White: So, Heidi, I had the opportunity to work with at Pandora. She was an SVP there when I got hired and was leading a team. Really responsible for communicating Pandora's value proposition to other marketers and marketers. Selling to other marketers is really hard. Marketers are a really hard audience to sell to. And Heidi had, from the moment I met her, the most authentic and intense enthusiasm of, I think, any executive I'd come across up to that point in my career and you couldn't help but be in a room with her and sit up straighter, smile bigger, talk a little louder, a little faster.

Maybe not immediately, but ten, 15 minutes in, you'd be like, I feel kind of sluggish and then I'm not matching this energy. So she uplevel the energy, and in doing so, the intensity in a room just by bringing a lot of enthusiasm. And listen, this is hard. Like leaders are tired, work is hard. So mustering every day to come in and put your hands in the air and say, let's go and really rally folks around that is admirable.

And I still see Heidi regularly. We talk regularly and pretty much without fail. She brings a ton of positive to even sticky situations. And if I've been down before and talking to her about something, she unfailingly points out what is good, what is positive. And it's just it's contagious. You sort of can't escape escape from it. And I think that's to a degree, just the person she is.

But it's really a lesson that I've taken because sometimes on the hardest days when you're the most down, it's the most important to really dig for that and find the energy just to uplevel the energy of everybody in the room. Because it's it's an unspoken, an explicit challenge to say, if I can show up today and get excited, then everybody else can.

So I'm really thankful to have have worked with her and to see that in action. I think it's made me better.

Daniel Burstein: So you mentioned you have a team on the East Coast with the previous roles you've had. I imagine there's many times you've had geographically distributed teams. I also assume you're not even always in the office in San Francisco. How do you do this remotely? Because this is something where I'm pretty introverted. I've never been good at it. I love focusing on the work, but I love if people can do it, but I cannot do it.

And I've found it's even harder to do it remotely where you don't have, first of all, just that same interaction where, you know, people just can just be on zoom calls or something. But also you don't have those those subtle, quiet moments, like just seeing someone in the lunchroom or while you're walking out of the meeting room. Are these things so have you figured out how to do this?

When you have a geographically distributed team or just working in a hybrid environment.

Erika White: It's not as easy, that's for sure. And it's harder to tell how contagious the enthusiasm is, because sometimes I might just show up and be on a level of energy and excitement that feels really different from everybody on the screen, but I just own it and I try. It goes back to what we were saying previously with the amount of at that, and sometimes I'll bring a lot of enthusiasm to a call or a conversation, and it feels drastically unmatched.

And I just have to be like, I try, you know, I try it and other times it really works, but you sort of don't know until you experiment with a couple crazy things, whether that's just starting the conversation, having a human to human connection. Right. How is how's you know, your daughter was sick. Is she feeling better? do you have that really fun vacation coming up in two weeks?

How excited are you? I'm really jealous. Wow. Didn't you go to a concert this past weekend? You saw Taylor Swift. Tell me everything. Send pictures around to to everybody on the call. So I think sometimes breaking the ice helps a little bit. But it is. It is difficult. But you just have to keep trying and seeing what works.

I also think that finding connection points in person is critical. I think that doing this solely on zoom, in a world where people are getting used to reconnecting in person, I think that's been the hardest tension, because when everyone was in a zone of their social life was also on zoom. Then people were have drinks on zoom and that wasn't weird, and you might do activities and everyone just went with it.

But now our culture is back in person in terms of society as a whole. So people don't want to do those funny moments, those team building magic tricks, what have you on on zoom calls. And so you have to find the right way to integrate in person moments, because that's when people really get a feel for the energy.

We got the whole marketing communications team together earlier this year, and I think everybody just from a couple days of being together left so energized and they doesn't mean they don't like working remotely. But it reinforced to me the importance of making sure those moments exist. When you work in a distributed environment.

Daniel Burstein: Yeah, it's just making sure and balancing it remotely. You can get a lot more work done. I mean, my gosh, I got so much more work done. But yeah, also having that kind of human element and also brings up the importance of making sure you're available and able to, you know, communicate through all these different electronic means we have.

Which brings us to your next lesson. I love this lesson because I've been on this earth for many years at this point, and I think I know myself, but I never realize I both do and don't do this. I didn't even I never even really thought about it until I read your lesson. You said, always take the call.

Oh, you learned this from Jamie. Good friend, the founder of Creative Vision and former CMO of Hasbro. How did you learn this from Jamie? This is a great lesson.

Erika White: So Jamie and I had some mutual friends in the marketing arena, but we were at a conference internationally. We were in France. we're actually at the Cannes Lions and there was a big Uber strike at the airport. This was many years ago, so you actually couldn't take an Uber into the airport. And the taxis were striking, so there was really no way to get there.

except for a very small amount of people who had access to to helicopters. And Jamie was, we just met we spent a few days together, and I remember she called me really late at night, because we were on the same flight. We're both actually going to to Italy from there, and we didn't really know anyone else.

She was. And she was pretty terrified that there was no chance she was going to get to the airport and make this flight, because there was room. She can't walk there. And like Jamie, we're going to figure this out and I'm not going to leave here without you. And she was like, are you sure? And like, Jamie, we're going to figure this out.

Like no woman left behind at this conference this year. And and well, and I was just comfortable letting it ride for a few hours and seeing what the solutions were. So I found a bus to take us to the airport. I told Jamie where to meet me to get on this bus to the airport, and we traveled all the way through together and and it was great.

And we we had this bonding moment because of that. But what I've since learned about Jamie is that for people in her circle, there is really no time, no topic, that she won't take your call on. She I, I've called her and say hi, you know, I'm the plane's going to take off in two minutes, but what do you want to talk about?

What's on your mind? Or can I call you back? Like. And she. I realized over getting to know her. She doesn't just do that for me. Although I consider her a dear friend, she does that for circle of people in her network, which also has treated this really great. Culture of when Jamie introduces you to somebody who's in her network, you always take that call to.

So it's a lot of pay it forward. So I've asked her for recommendations. Agencies, individuals, consultants, people for job openings that I've had available over the years. And whoever Jamie has introduced me to, I always take that call. And I found that, you know, the person on the other end is always right, willing to jump on that call.

And she breeds that because she's always, always got something cook in. She's always been busy, but she she makes time and puts energy towards the people in her life. And it creates this tremendous amount of reciprocity that I really value. So for, for people in my circle, I really try and be that person who always takes the call.

You need help with something, you need a sounding board. Might not be able to take it right now, but I'll always take the call. And it's it's it's been great. And I think the other both her and Heidi people and whoever else we'll talk about today are all people who I feel that way about and as a result, cumulatively have had a tremendous impact on my career.

Daniel Burstein: You know, you mentioned the movie do and that is the plot for planes, Trains and Automobiles. Uninteresting number. It's great.

Erika White: I have, but it's been a really long time. Yeah.

Daniel Burstein: Sure. You and Jamie should watch that together, that, you know, remote watching thing you could do now with Netflix or whatever. Yeah. And think about your origin story. So that's a great example of like I love that because it's such an organic way that you've built a relationship. But a lot of times I get I'm introverted. Maybe this is just me, but we try to build our network, especially early in our career, and it's it's hard to know how to do it.

You go to an event, there's like the awkward cocktail hour, I don't know. So is there anything that you learned to do to kind of proactively build that network? I know one thing we talked about is you were previously another role we didn't even mention. You have so many roles. Want to get the podcast rolling and not just read your entire CV, but you mentioned you work at TPG, which is, I think a big venture capital or private equity, and it seems like that is such an industry marketing to.

But where relationships are so important. Right. And the relationships to what not only get the funding and, you know, be able to tell your value proposition around, but the relationship once the funding happens and once that really, you know, happens between the company and, you know, the VC or the or the private equity group. So I wonder if there's anything specific you learned either from that role or just from earlier in your career.

it's great when such a beautiful story happens organically, but, you know, if you're going to an event or you're just trying to, you know, our networks are so important, our careers or anything, you you proactively have done to try to build that network, you know, early in your career.

Erika White: it's a great question. And you're correct. I did work at, Texas Pacific or TPG, which is a large private equity firm. And relationships, of course, are integral there as they are in marketing.

Daniel Burstein: And if you don't know, we can move on because I honestly don't know. That's why I asked this question. Like I said, well, it's.

Erika White: A, it's a it's a two part answer for me really. the going into a new place sort of building relationships from scratch. I'll just say knowledge first. It's it's hard and you have, but you have to start somewhere. And so what I would say is, if we're looking towards advice for people, especially early in their career, is just go to the event like give it a try, especially if it's free, you go and you're not connecting with anyone or it doesn't feel right, give it 45 minutes, ideally an hour if you're brave and then you walk away.

And if you actually go to five of them and only one is worthwhile, or even you go to ten and one is worthwhile, if you've met one person who you've made a deep connection with, that might be the person many years from now who finds you your next job, or who really gets you out of a tough, sticky situation or self-reflection debate that you're having so you got to do the reps to really find your people over time, and you're not going to have a tremendously high hit rate.

But if you don't do it early in your career, where you likely have more time because maybe you have less obligations at home and maybe you're traveling a little less for work, then it's really hard to make up that ground later because to your point, situations like me and Jamie where you randomly meet someone on a conference and then you end up in a plane, trains and automobiles situation, those are really few and far between.

So putting the effort in early and accepting I'm not going to have an incredibly high hit rate on this, but I'm going to try, because making a connection with one person could really end up changing things meaningfully. In my career. I think that's the best mindset you can have. I will also say that, I think sometimes, and this is going back to some of your thoughts on distributed work.

It's really easy to forget about the people element of what we all do, and to dive in straight to the work. So I think the most authentic connections you make in business, you also know about those people's lives. There's something connecting you personally and bigger beyond the substance of what you do. There could be a shared interest in fantasy novels.

It could be your favorite store that you like to shop at. It doesn't necessarily need to be anything big, but I think if you're interested in your shared experiences solely around or in the same discipline, then it's hard to build a longer lasting connection.

Daniel Burstein: That's true. Probably that deep connection is one in relationship with the role you have, but also because there's something else that you have a relationship to. Or it's like, oh, we're both. So we're both into this, and you have a.

Erika White: Part that just doesn't.

Daniel Burstein: Sorry. What did you say?

Erika White: I said, and you can't force that part. It just clicks or it doesn't.

Daniel Burstein: Right? I know that's the thing I don't like about LinkedIn, because I feel like that feels forced where it's like, oh, this person has like this role in these keywords. I've got to get them in my network. And that's not even when people are just trying to get on a, you know, sales call. If you're like an SD reader or something, that's when it's genuine.

It's like, kind of feel. I guess it's like online dating, I don't know. so this last one, it would help to have a good relationship for this is to me, I would think, the benefit of a good relationship. You say direct feedback is a gift, and you learn this from Sara Clemens, the CEO of whatnot. And the former CEO of Pandora.

How did you learn this from Sara?

Erika White: Sara was also at Pandora around the time Heidi and I were, though joined a little later. She's a phenomenal operator, been a great friend over the years, but she will never, never hold back for you. And I think appreciating that as a sign of her caring, wanting to make you better, wanting to make the work better is like once that clicks for you about her, then you're like, I'm so grateful that this person is in in my orbit because Sara, if I'm thinking about something and I'm like, oh, let me run this, run this by you, or here's a recommendation, children's, I can be like, she will have no problem.

I think you're wrong or you're not thinking about this the right way, but you're welcome. The sparring back and forth. But that was one of the first executives I met in my career, especially a woman. Who was that succinct and direct with challenging me or providing feedback. Hey, you really shouldn't do that because it it makes you look less smart than you are just being that that direct about it.

And I think that a lot of people are, quite frankly, afraid to be that direct or concerned about hurting someone's feelings. We're concerned about what they'll think about us. If you know that that seems too terse, we're concerned that that's not part of the culture that we're breeding and that other managers are really nice. And what is this person going to say after?

But that's unfortunate. It's unfortunate because how do people get better? And yes, everyone receives feedback differently, but the people who get it realize that I if I don't take feedback and internalize it and ultimately celebrate it as a way, as a way that moves me forward in my personal growth and my professional growth, and that's then that's a shame.

And so I'm I'm grateful for her to sort of taking that risk, taking that chance, especially when I was earlier in my career and her not knowing me that well and being that direct because that's really what could make me better at that point. And I think for a lot of people, in a lot of situations, it's easier to just be like, okay, I'm just going to kind of gloss over this or I'll leave this to, you know, their manager.

I'll leave this for another time. But that's that's really a disservice. And I think that's especially a dynamic that I'm concerned can grow if we're only on zoom in terms of interacting with people. But, I, I think that we can't really improve if others are holding back on feedback to us.

Daniel Burstein: So that's a great lesson for receiving feedback. But I wonder in terms of giving feedback, you know, like you said, I will leave that to the manager. What about when they are your direct report or they are on your team? and maybe you don't have that like friendly relationship that we talked about. Is there anything you've learned for giving feedback?

Because something I do, which I didn't even know I did till I, someone called me out on it, is I use kind of that sandwich approach where you say something good, then you say the thing they need direct feedback on, then you say something else. And I had a guy reported, to me, Paul, if you're listening, I love Paul.

It was he was able to be so direct with me. He's a great guy. And he would call it, you know, when I would start, he could see that, you know, where this this conversation was heading. Maybe before I could, I when I started down the road, he would tell me, Dan, you don't have to give me the sandwich.

You can just tell me the thing I need to fix. And I won't say what he called the sandwich, or I'd have to put explicit on this podcast. but that's the best thing I've ever figured out to do is to sandwich something good. Okay, here. Here's the thing. We really need to talk about something else. Good. So, have you figured out something smarter than I have?


Erika White: I think if I had a fantastic answer to this question, I'd probably write a book. if I had the fantastic engineering a little more time. I think that two things I keep in mind are one, I have to change a feedback approach a lot of times based on the individual, because some people may be similar to me, like it's straight over the head, not diluted.

The faster the better, the more actionable, the better. And some people really need a lot of context and a lot of time and a softer landing. And so long as they're receptive on the other end, that's the outcome you want. So if the goal is getting to an outcome where someone accepts, internalizes and actions feedback, then appreciating that the wind up in the journey to that might be a little different on a case by case basis.

I think that level of awareness happens, like the way I deliver feedback to some people is just different than others, and it certain you can say, oh, that's frustrating, because why can't everyone just sort of take it the way that I like to receive it? But if you frame it as my end objective here is really absorption and action, then taking the extra time to package it differently on an individual basis can make a big difference.

I think the other most tactical thing is just asking people if they're ready for a feedback moment. Is it is it good if we take a moment just to for me to give you some feedback about some stuff that I've noticed, and in that way you're inviting someone into the conversation with you as opposed to the mental model of like, this is a good time for me, so I'm just going to let it rip.

I've never had someone say no, but I would respect it. No, it's not a good time. You know, I just had I have something going on in my life right now. My head's not in the right place. I want the feedback. I do it another time. I would completely respect that. And I think giving someone permission into the conversation in the space to say that can be helpful.

Daniel Burstein: I like get into what you were first talking about personalization. It's what we as good marketers should do. And if every one took everything the same way, we probably wouldn't even need marketing departments. People would just be logic machines that would clearly see it, you know, like the value and cost of our product. So thank you. Those are good, good examples.

Erica, what are the key qualities of an effective marketer? We've talked about so many different things from all your different stories in your career, about what it means to be a marketer and these things we do. If you had to break it down, what are the key qualities of an effective marketer?

Erika White: So I think first and foremost, you have to love your product and love selling your product. I don't I I've, I've gravitated towards companies where I was really interested and into the product and have always used the product. I can't imagine doing the job without that. And reflecting back to coming to a firm again. It was this personal feeling for me of I'm a grown woman and I have this deep seated fear of credit cards.

I feel like it's out to get me, like it's jaws in my wallet. It's gonna come out. It's out to get me. And like, oh, here's a product that doesn't make me feel that way. I love talking about that. And I love when I go in to talk to a merchant about it. Or if I meet a man on the street to talk about a firm like I.

I believe that in my core. So I think that I can't imagine doing the job without it. I also think that an appetite for smart risk taking, I think marketers can often have a reputation of being very risk averse. That's why some people get into the line of work and attracts a lot of risk averse people. But I think particularly for marketers in tech, you really can't be afraid to take risks, but they have to be smart risks.

So I think it's easy to get into a mindset of only going to do this if I have 100% certainty, it's gonna work. Marketing is changing too fast. Like there's new platforms, the consumer is changing too fast, like privacy is changing too fast. Everything with cookies is changing too fast. Like if you are going to stay ahead of the curve, you have to be willing to venture out, to learn and to take risks.

But you have to do them. Do you have to do that in an intelligent way? And I think doing that in an intelligent way means being really mindful of where your business is at financially. How much risk can we take, like if this is going to cost us customers, if this is going to have a relationship impact, like how much of that risk are we willing to take?

So having a much more global sense of the size of a risk, I think is really important to be a smart, smart risk taker. Another thing I think in which is very recent sort of to the the present time, is you have to have an A and an appetite to execute in a range of budget environments. I think some teams can get paralyzed by the budget process in the planning process, and you all of a sudden you end up spending more time planning and building plans and budgets, and you do actually doing the work.

And then you pick up your head and you're like, wait, how did we have so much admin work in marketing? And, you know, for some folks in marketing positions, that's a lot easier, said than done. But I think every marketer needs to be thinking about it. There is a range of things that can happen in terms of budgets every year, in terms of an uncertain macro environment.

What am I doing to deliver value? How can I change my approach, whether that's doing something else or coming up with a new smart risk to take or otherwise? But I think that's, that's that's those are some of the characteristics. But ultimately I think that, You know, being a high integrity individual and marketers that are aligned with leadership teams that are high integrity is, is is the key to sort of all of this.

If I had to sum it up.

Daniel Burstein: Well thank you. Well, thank you so much for sharing everything you learned in your career. It was it was really refreshing and good to hear from you.

Erika White: Thank you. Daniel, it's great to be here.

Daniel Burstein: And thanks to everyone for listening.

Outro: Thank you for joining us for how I made it and marketing with Daniel Burstein. Now that you've got an inspiration for transforming yourself as a marketer, get some ideas for your next marketing campaign. From Marketing Sherpa's extensive library of free case studies at Marketing That's marketing and.

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