October 09, 2023

Personal Development in Career: Step out of your comfort zone (podcast episode #73)


Hear from Regina DeMars, Director of Content Marketing and Strategy, FNBO, on episode #73 of the How I Made It In Marketing podcast. She discussed leadership lessons, workplace mindset, career growth, and mentorship.

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

Personal Development in Career: Step out of your comfort zone (podcast episode #73)

Get the power of 10,000 marketing experiments. Play with MECLABS AI at MECLABS.com/AI (MECLABS is the parent organization of MarketingSherpa).

“Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one's own way.”

This is from Viktor Frankl, in the book ‘Man’s Search for Meaning.’ He learned it in a very serious way, as a prisoner in Nazi concentrations camps.

But he was a psychiatrist, and he used his experience in the Holocaust to write that book, one of the ten most influential books of all time according to the Library of Congress, and help us all learn to live better lives.

Which includes better work lives as well. As a marketer it can feel like you’re in the eye of the storm, with so much happening to you. But as our next guest reminds us, even in the times that seem most challenging to us, “the only thing you can control is your attitude.”

That’s right, when things are out of control, you are still in control of something.

To hear the story behind that lesson, along with many more lesson-filled stories, I talked to Regina DeMars, Director of Content Marketing and Strategy, FNBO.

FNBO is the First National Bank of Omaha, a subsidiary of First National of Nebraska. First opened in 1857, First National of Nebraska has $30 billion in assets and 5,000 employees.

DeMars manages a team of five people, both internal and external communications.

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

Some lessons from DeMars that emerged in our discussion:

The only thing you can control is your attitude

A guiding principle DeMars finds herself leaning into a lot is the only thing you can control is your attitude or it’s not what happens to you, but how you react to it that matters. She encourages herself, the teams she has managed and her family to face challenges as an opportunity to grow. There’s always going to be obstacles in the way or self-doubt but it’s amazing what the right mindset can do.

Once you work through the challenge, you get a great sense of pride/accomplishment and are better set up to face the next challenge that comes your way.

When she worked at ConAgra Foods, they knew that the company was moving headquarters to Chicago from Omaha. Rather than getting discouraged by the situation and spending time speculating and worrying, she chose to focus her energy on connecting with people at companies where she was interested in working and understanding her future options. She took time to research company cultures so she could search for the opportunity that was the best for her.

She is grateful that FNBO had an opportunity available that was a perfect fit for her – she has not only grown her skillset but helped move the company forward in content marketing and social media efforts and has made lifelong friends.

Step out of your comfort zone

DeMars tries to live by this lesson and has encouraged teams she has managed or mentored to step out of their comfort zone. She has mentored a lot of people in her career and always suggests that if they’re too comfortable, they’re not growing. It’s either time for a change or it’s time to get the courage to try new things.

She graduated from college and made the drive to a new city – New York City. She had several interviews lined up but didn’t have a job. She knew this was a risk she had to take, or she would regret it. This leap of faith took her way out of her comfort zone. She learned a lot about herself as she was on her own for the first time, she met so many amazing people who live all over the world now, and it set her up for success with the president of the company she worked for in New York.

This move helped her launch her career at Conagra. When she left Conagra, her relationships with the people there helped her decide to interview at FNBO. It was actually a former colleague of hers at Conagra who left and joined FNBO who helped make her decision to interview at FNBO based on the colleague’s experience. The ability to always be changing and growing has shaped DeMars into the marketer she is today.

She started her career in PR, which expanded into managing social media as well. This was her expertise, but she was asked to take on a new role leading in Integrated Marketing at Conagra Foods. She passed on the opportunity once before as she had just returned from maternity leave. She was hesitant for another change but a year later, took on the new role. It really allowed her to expand her marketing skillset to encompass additional forms of marketing, which helped her be better prepared for her next role.

It’s so important to take time to build relationships with the people you work with – it builds trust in each other and team effectiveness.

Building relationships has been a critical piece of her career. As a leader, she has one-on-ones with her team. It’s important for her to, at least, text each person a few times a week to check in to see how they’re feeling, if there’s anything she can help them with, and thank them for their hard work and contributions. It’s important for them to know that she truly cares and that they feel seen and heard. Building those relationships helps make the workplace a healthy and thriving place where people want to be.

She thinks it’s important to get to know each other outside of work, as well. As a team, they try to plan a team activity once a month. They rotate planning among each team member so they have diverse ideas. Sometimes they just meet for lunch or do an activity like checking out a new art exhibit, going bowling, or volunteering together like doing a team build for Habitat for Humanity.

Lessons (with stories) from people she collaborated with

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

Live a purpose-driven life

via Katrina Wells, former Sr. VP of Corporate Marketing, FNBO

Her boss at FNBO, Wells led a book club for their marketing team for whoever wanted to be a part of it. They read the book “What’s Within You” by Tom Lillig and David Shruna which in addition to her spiritual journey work, helped her formulate her vision that guides her life.

  • Vision: I share my experiences to connect with others and help them to feel seen and valued.
  • Goal: I want to bring a smile to others daily through gratitude and grace.

She has four words written on the front of all her notebooks: integrity, gratitude, empathy, self-awareness. She thinks it’s important to write down your values somewhere where they’re visible to remind you of what’s important to you and use these to guide the way you show up every day. Wells has helped instill this behavior in her. 

Learn how to be a good listener and be your authentic self

via Stephanie Moritz, Chief Customer Innovation Officer, American Dental Association

Moritz was her former boss at Conagra Foods. She was adamant about learning how to be a good listener. She stressed how important it is to show up as your authentic self and empower employees to be authentic. DeMars carries that lesson with her every single day.

Mortiz reiterates that listening is a sign of respect – she has shared her words of wisdom that listening uses the same letters as silent and encourages people to listen more, say less, and really hear others’ needs to build trust and strengthen relationships. If there’s a challenge you’re facing, understand the challenge as much as possible and include everyone in the solution.

She’s helped DeMars understand how to observe yourself like a fly on a wall – watch how you live in the moment, how you behave and react under pressure, and how you respond.

Lead by example rather than micro-managing

via Joy Farber-Kolo, Chief Brand Officer, Weber Shandwick

Farber-Kolo was her first boss when she started out of college at a PR agency in NYC, Weber Shandwick.

She learned so much from Farber-Kolo in the beginning of her career – how to become a strong PR professional but also the attributes she wanted to emulate as a leader. As a successful leader, she felt like Farber-Kolo did the following every day to create the most collaborative, successful teams:

  • Set strategic direction
  • Held everyone accountable for doing the right things
  • Communicate effectively and often
  • Empower employees to be authentic

Related content discussed in this episode

Heuristic Cheat Sheet: 10 methods for improving your marketing

Team Building: Loyalty, relationships, pre-selling, and other keys to marketing management success (Podcast Episode #16)

Servant Leadership in Marketing: We are only as good as how we handle humbling moments (podcast episode #54)

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.

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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.

Regina DeMars: I'm always kind of going through my list of who do I think is doing really great work at my company and, you know, just reach out to them, set up a one on one, set up coffee or lunch. And I've never had anyone say no, I'm not going to meet with you. So, I mean, really just getting on their calendars and understanding, you know, what's working for them, what's not, what are what's kind of keeping them up at night.

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 Bernstein, to tell you about today's guest.

Daniel Burstein: If everything can be taken away from a man. But one thing, the last of the human freedoms to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances to choose one's own way. This is from Viktor Frankl in the book Man's Search for Meaning. He learned it in a very serious way as a prisoner in Nazi concentration camps. But he was a psychiatrist and he used his experience in the Holocaust to write that book.

One of the ten most influential books of all time, according to the Library of Congress. To help us all learn to live better lives, which includes better work lives as well as a marketer, it can feel like you're in the eye of the storm with so much happening to you. But as our next guest reminds us, even in the times that seem most challenging to us, the only thing you can control is your attitude.

That's right. When things are out of control, you are still in control of something. Here to share the story behind that lesson, along with many more lesson filled stories, is Regina Demers, the director of Content Marketing and Strategy at FNB. Thanks for joining us, Regina.

Regina DeMars: Thank you for having me. I'm excited to be here.

Daniel Burstein: Let's take a quick look at your background so people understand who I'm talking to. You started on the agency side as a PR specialist at Weber Shandwick. Then you went on to the brand side or director of integrated marketing at ConAgra Foods. And now Regina is a director of content marketing and social media strategy at FNB, where she's worked for the past eight years.

FNB is the First National Bank of Omaha, a subsidiary of First National of Nebraska, first opened in 1857. First National, Nebraska has $30 billion in assets and 5000 employees. Regina manages a team of five people, both internal and external communications. So, Regina, give us an understanding. What is your day like as director of content marketing and strategy?

Regina DeMars: Yeah. My team is responsible for managing all of our FNB branded channels, so that includes Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, X, Tik Tok. We have an employee Facebook group. We also manage a cache ology Facebook page that's focused on really providing financial advice and guidance. We have a YouTube series and I also lead our social selling programs for our sales teams, our brand ambassador efforts, influencer marketing and our blog.

So that's a lot of content that we're creating across a lot of channels. So any given day, I'm brainstorming the right content based on the audiences who are engaged on each of those channels and then writing content for them and developing the creative.

Daniel Burstein: And I'm guessing you do a good job of staying on brand because you even call that social media platform X, which I cannot do yet. I can I can cannot handle seeing that repost, but I'm not used to that yet. But maybe a smarter man than me made a good rebranding decision, but I haven't figured that out. Let's talk.

Let's talk about you. Let's talk a look at one of the first lessons from the things you made in your career. You said and I mentioned at the beginning, the only thing you can control is your attitude. So I'm guessing, Regina, that was a hard fought lesson, a lesson learned under difficult circumstances. So tell us how you learn that.

Regina DeMars: Yeah, it's definitely a guiding principle that I find myself leaning into a lot. I always tell my employees, myself and my children that all you can do is control your attitude. And you know, it's not what happens to you, but it's how you react to it that matters. You know, I've managed a lot of people over the years and being able to reflect on that and lean into that can really help you grow in your career.

There's always going to be something in your way. There's always going to be an excuse. But you know, you'll have self doubt. But if you look at it and just try to have the right mindset, you know, you can work through those challenges. And I find that every time you do that, you, you know, it sets you up better in the future.

One example of this was when I worked at ConAgra Foods. I had been there for ten years and we knew that the company was going to move headquarters from Chicago to Omaha. And so many people were just, you know, super frustrated. I kind of felt like I was a therapist and rather than focusing on getting discouraged by the situation because there's nothing you could do to control it.

And a lot of people were just worried and thought, you know, I'm never going to find another job. And I really kind of tried to focus my energy on what can I control. So I networked in the Omaha area and really thought about what I wanted in my next career.

Daniel Burstein: And networked in the Omaha area. Think about what you want in next career. So take us. How did you get to your current role?

Regina DeMars: Yes, So I, I met with a lot of people who had left ConAgra and were looking were working at different companies and wanted to better understand what the culture was. One of the main things I was looking for was stability and a company who had been around for a long time. And I met with a former colleague who I worked with at ConAgra Foods.

She was a FBO, she loved working there and now they've been around for 165 years. So I knew that they were very stable and it was just something that clicked with me. She loved the culture, she loved the work, she loved the people that she worked with. So I took that leap of faith and started there and have been there for eight years now.

Daniel Burstein: So that's a great example. And, you know, when it's something in our career that really hits hard, it's personal. Let me ask you, what about for like a marketing project or campaign you had to work on? Like so many times? I feel like I hear from marketers. I get frustrated. They're working on a campaign and it's like, Oh, but I can't control this or can't control that.

And, you know, like for me, you know, McLeod's Institute, which is our parent organization, we have a series of your mistakes or thought tools. And, you know, readers have reached out to us before, and I've written even a cheat sheet of these different your tactics, because it really helps you like focus around, okay, these are the factors that I'm focused on.

So like, what are these factors? Can I control? What can I do, What can I add to what can I remove or what must I keep the same? So those are your six have been a really helpful thing in my career when I'm working on a piece of marketing. But for you, Regina, what about when you're working on some marketing?

Hey, there is some element you can't control. Boy, that's frustrating, but you still need to produce results. So what have you done in those situations?

Regina DeMars: Yeah, that's a great question. I feel like I have. My mother always told me growing up I never took no for an answer easily. And so especially working in a heavily regulated environment, a lot of the times people weren't maybe understanding a new channel. Good example is Tik Tok. We got a lot of feedback. We don't want to be on this channel.

There's too much risk. We don't want to move forward with it. And so it took a lot of education. So I feel like every time I hear maybe, no, we can't do that, like, okay, how can I help kind of sell this and how can I get you comfortable with it? I obviously, you know, don't want to get in trouble, but I want to think through like, what is the risk versus reward and really took the time to educate.

And I mean, that one actually took two years to educate people in the organization to get them comfortable with it. So I feel like I always really try to listen to what the concerns are. No matter where I've been in my career and say, okay, what is kind of keeping somebody from wanting us to move forward and how can I help them?

How can I help them get there and be able to test things? I do that a lot. I'll say, okay, what if we just test this in a small pilot or in one market and so there's less risk and then prove the results that way so we can move forward in a bigger way?

Daniel Burstein: Yeah, I like easy way in. Let's let the customer decide. Let's try it out and see how they react. I like it. Which actually brings us to our next lesson we're testing can really help step out of your comfort zone. You're talking about helping others step out of their comfort zone. Doing Tok from a bank. How have you stepped out of your own comfort zone?

Have you learned that lesson?

Regina DeMars: Yeah. So I learned this lesson really early on. I grew up in a small town, went in Nebraska, and I went to the University of Nebraska and loved it. But I always felt like I, you know, I needed something more. And I always knew everyone growing up. And so I think I just wanted to not know anybody. So I went from the smallest town to the biggest city in the United States.

So I graduated from college and I drove to New York City by myself, 21 years old. I had several interviews, but I did not have a job at the time and my mother was hesitant but supportive. My father didn't talk to me for six months, but I decided, you know, I'm going to go and I can always come home.

But I didn't want to regret it. And I just had a feeling that I needed to go to New York City and it was the best decision that I ever made. I went there. I got a job with an awesome PR firm, Weber Shandwick, and I just met so many people that have at the time I wouldn't have known that have helped me through my career years later, so set me up for success longer term, I got to meet and work with so many amazing marketers, started out from a PR perspective, then kind of changed to social media, and the president of Weber Shandwick actually helped me get my job in Omaha when I wanted

to move back to Nebraska with ConAgra Foods.

Daniel Burstein: So that was when you started your career. Right now, I imagine in your role you meant you managed a team of five. There's probably some early career people you're working with, either at your vendors or on your team. So what do you do to help encourage them to step out of their comfort zone? Because I mean, when you're coming in, I mean, when you can think about that, that was really daring going all the way to New York where you're coming in.

Hey, you've been in college, is your first job. This is a bank. It seems intimidating, right? So you might be a little gun shy, especially if you're having to, you know, monitor social channels and write directly from the bank. You know, someone's having an issue with the bank. So what do you do to kind of is there anything that's work to help encourage them to step out of their comfort zone?

What do you do as a leader?

Regina DeMars: Yeah, I have always loved mentoring people and I think people see that because a lot of people will, you know, text me, Hey, there's somebody new, not even within marketing. Can you mentor them? And I think the main thing is I do always try to tell them that, you know, if you're not learning something, if you're not challenging yourself, then it's time to move on.

It's it's difficult because, you know, sometimes you get into a groove and you're comfortable and you're like, okay, I'm just going to stay here. But any time I've ever mentored anybody or talked to people on my team or even my kids, I tell them the same thing. Mike, you're comfortable. It's time to try something new because you're not going to grow and you're not going to learn and you really learn a lot about yourself when you put yourself out there and and try something new.

Daniel Burstein: So for someone on your team, I mean, I guess this could be it. Find another role, but it's also okay, let's what is the next challenge you can take within our team? Like are you helping to kind of find that next challenge and find like, okay, who who needs to be stretched a little to take this on?

Regina DeMars: MM Yeah, I definitely, you know, in my one on one conversations with team members, both the F and bio at ConAgra and at Weber Shandwick. So my entire career I'll say what you know, what are you looking to do next. And of course sometimes that does mean maybe I'm going to lose a really strong talent on my team, but I care about them and I want them to grow in their career as well.

And sometimes that has made, you know, people that have been on my team, then they get promoted and they're my peers. And I love just watching people, you know, grow personally and professionally. So I just always am encouraging them, you know, get out there and and try something new. Or even if you're stagnant at your current company and you want more and it's been years and you're not getting there and you're frustrated, like try a challenge and try something new.

And sometimes people have left and come back and it's worked really well for them too.

Daniel Burstein: Yeah. And you also mentioned that relationship building is important in your career. So you talked about relationship building with your team there. You said it's so important to take the time to build relationships with the people you work with. It builds trust in each other and team effectiveness. So how do you build those relationships?

Regina DeMars: Yeah, I think it's really important. There's been so many examples of if you know someone really well, you can work through challenges and issues and hard situations. Easier, easier than if you don't know someone or you know, think about sometimes if you get an email from somebody you know versus somebody you don't and the tone of it changes if you know that person and you have a connection.

So I make sure to you know, connect with my my team frequently. We have one on ones and even if a conflict arises, I make sure to text them and say, you know, how are things going? Is there anything I can do? In our team meetings, we often will go around the room and I'll say, okay, how's this week going rank from you know, 1 to 10?

And you know, if they say six, I'm like, How can we get you to a ten? I always make sure I'm thanking them for their hard work and contributions, but also want to figure out, you know, what is something if they are going through a challenge, what can I help them with? We also do a lot of team building outside of work, so I have team members in different locations, but we try to get together at least once a month and we rotate.

Who kind of takes the lead on planning them because everybody has different interests. So I don't want to be the one that's planning them all the time because I might do what what I like to do the best. But we rotate that and it's come up with some really cool, diverse ideas. This month we went and to a place called Bat Putter.

It's a miniature golf place, but you play games and there's a lot of competing in that too. So it's just kind of fun to see people's personalities come out and just build that relationship, not just in the office, but outside the office too.

Daniel Burstein: That's great. And I wonder, what about outside the marketing organization, right? What about with your peers in other departments? So, for example, I interviewed Jean Hopkins, the chief Revenue officer of one screen that I on how I made up marketing. One of her key lessons was build strong CFO relationships, and she talked about how building that CFO relationship really helped her when they were doing 40 events in one year and all the key and expenses were coming on the marketing budget.

And then she had that relationship to be able to talk and say like, Well, wait a minute, So these are all becoming out of my budget. So for you, like how have you built those relationships outside of the marketing organization and how do you use those in your day to day?

Regina DeMars: Yeah, I make sure that I'm always kind of going through my list of who do I think is doing really great work at my company and, you know, just reach out to them, set up a one on one, set up coffee or lunch. And I've never had anyone say, No, I'm not going to meet with you. So I mean, really just getting on their calendars and understanding what's working for them, what's not, what are what's kind of keeping them up at night.

And we also do we are very fortunate at FBO. We do a lot of employee organize events. We're very involved in the community, so we'll do Habitat for Humanity. Last week I went with my team and Girls Inc and we volunteered locally there as part of our United Way Day of Caring. So we do we do a lot of more organized events beyond just my smaller team.

Our entire marketing team went to a baseball game last week and again, it's just there. It gives you a chance to talk to people that you may not talk to on a regular basis to build those relationships so you feel more comfortable. If there's a question that you have, you can just text them rather than setting up an hour, meeting with them or, you know, emailing and waiting for people to respond back.

If you have that stronger connection, then you feel like you can just pick up the phone or or text them for a quick answer.

Daniel Burstein: Yeah, I mean, especially with so many teams, remote and hybrid these days actually having that face to face connection can help. While people are key to our careers. As I mentioned, first we talked about stories from the things you made in marketing. In just a moment, we're going to talk about lessons from the people you collaborated with. But first, I should mention that the How I Media and Marketing podcast is underwritten by Mac Labs Institute, the parent organization of marketing Sherpa.

You can get the power of 10,000 marketing experiments working for you. Play with McLeod's Eye by signing up for a free trial at McLeod's dot com slash a I That's MSE Lab Ask.com. I'm a I. All right. So as I mentioned, you know, we build things. That's a really cool, cool thing about being a marketer, right? We build brands, we build content, right?

But we also get to build them with people like you talk about those relationships are important to you. So let's look at some of the lessons you learned from specific people. One of them is Live a purpose Driven life and you learned this from Katrina Wells, your senior VP of Corporate Marketing at FNB. So how did you learn from Katrina?

Regina DeMars: Yes. So a couple months ago, we she actually led a book club for our marketing team. And anybody who wanted to be a part of it could be. And we read the book. What's with the New? And it was just a great book to help really formulate what my vision was and so through, you know, lots of different examples in the book and exercises, I came to the conclusion that I my vision is I share my experiences to connect with others and help them to feel seen and valued.

And as I thought about that, I was like, Oh, I love telling stories and I've been in marketing for over 20 years, and storytelling is just a strong way to connect with people. And so I said, you know, after I read that, like I'm going to do more to help tell stories, to connect with people both on and offline.

So I've been sharing a lot more of my personal kind of journeys on LinkedIn that it's amazing. In a short amount of time people will text me or when I see them at the office or outside the office or like, Oh, I love seeing all the stories you're sharing on LinkedIn. I was like, Okay, that was my goal just to connect with other people.

So hopefully if they're going through a similar challenge, they would say, Oh, okay, I don't feel alone, or Thanks for that insight. So that book and that process really kind of helped me just reiterate to live a purpose driven life as part of that, we actually with the What's Within US, what's with the new book, we partnered with the nonprofit No Barriers out of Fort Collins, and we participated in What's Your Everest event in Copper Mountain this summer?

And we were able to help people in wheelchairs, people who are blind or visually impaired to reach the summit. So again, it was just so, so empowering to see the stories of people who had overcome adversity. And that's just something that will stick with me forever. It started with reading a book, and then it's something that really impacted my life.

Daniel Burstein: That's that's awesome. You know, it's funny you talk about posting those personal stories on LinkedIn sometimes. You know, if it doesn't get to like her comment, you forget that people can still see it. And like recently, this is silly, but I got a fortune cookie from Panda Express and it didn't have a fortune in it, and I just thought it was so funny.

I'm like, What? You know? And so I posted it and all these people posted like, What does that mean? Right? You didn't get a fortune. And like, you know, all these people posted funny things, but only people posting funny things. A lot of people that didn't post saying they are just run into them in day to day life and they would be they would mention the stupid fortune anyway.

So I thought it was so funny. You know, we look as marketers, we look for engagement. Was there a like or whatever, you know, was there a comment or something? But we forget a lot of times. Yes, there's just that impression and people just don't actually put anything in there. So with the book you talk about, I could see how it impacted, you know, your career and your direct interactions.

What about your communication to customers? What about your marketing? Because that book actually works within you. It's by Tom Willig and David Bruna. And I saw Tom Willig actually works as a director of brand management at an advertising agency. I mean, this is, you know, some marketing folks there. And I noticed Fabio's tagline is more than 165 years of putting customers first, which I love because Customer first marketing, working Sherpa, big proponent of customer first marketing.

We've done a lot of research into that. We show how effective it is. So I wonder for you, have you been able to take any of these lessons from this book and apply it to putting the customer first with your marketing and communications?

Regina DeMars: Yeah, definitely. So we call ourselves the Great Big Smile Bank and again, we focus a lot on storytelling. I mentioned like I think it's the most effective communication style. And at FBO we try to emphasize the human connection between our brand and our customer hours because we want to go beyond, you know, it's banking a functional relationship you're going to get, but we want to create that emotional connection.

So I get the pleasure of telling stories of how we're impacting our communities across all of our markets. We champion our customers stories. And, you know, I really take pride in bringing them to life. You know, we're helping customers dreams come true, whether they're a small business customer or they're getting their first house with a mortgage. And I feel like if we tell those stories, maybe others will see them and say, Oh, wow, I can do that, too.

Or I've had that idea. And you know, my favorite thing to see on our social media channels from an engagement and commenting perspective is That's my bank. Or this content really resonated with me. Thanks for the information. You've helped me with my financial journey, so I think just storytelling overall and being authentic kind of and bringing those characters and that conflict and resolution to life makes for really good stories and can help build that trust and credibility with us as a financial institution.

And not just you know, we can talk about our products and services. That's great. And we do that. But telling stories is what really is going to engage our customers.

Daniel Burstein: I love that because that as you can see, that's the whole idea behind how I made it marketing as well. And you use the word authentic though, right? And so, so many I so many people use that word authentic. And so we were just on a podcast where people were about to say, be authentic, be authentic. It sounds good in theory, right?

But how do you do it when the rubber meets the road, when you're hitting deadlines, when the results aren't coming in, when there's cuts, budgets and layoffs and all of these things when you're speaking to the CEO or difficult customer. And so I want to ask you about that because your next lesson is learn how to be a good listener and be your authentic self.

From Stephanie Moritz, the chief customer innovation officer at American Dental Association. Now, you worked with her. She was your former boss at ConAgra Foods. So take us into the room where it happens. Is there a time where it was difficult to be authentic? And how did you and Stephanie figure out how to do it?

Regina DeMars: Mm hmm. Yeah. I love I had always resonated with me that she said, listen, uses the same letters as silent. And that really stuck with me, because I do I'm a marketer and I've been in PR and social media. I love to talk. But she always encouraged that, you know, if you listen, you're really going to hear people and understand the challenges they're going through.

I kind of talked to that earlier. Like I like to step back and say, what? What? Really? Let's get to the root of the cause and the concern that people have. And by listening, it really helps you understand them and build trust and strengthen relationships. And, you know, including everyone in the solution is going to get you to a better outcome.

So I could say, okay, well, I just want to move forward with this and I'm just going to, you know, push this content out. But if I don't get buy in from the rest of the group, then the result is not going to be as strong. If you kind of bring everybody along with you. And I think it's important just kind of going back to the living a purpose driven life, like how do you show up authentically?

Because you can really tell if somebody is not being their authentic self. So one of the things that I've done in the past few years is just how am I going to show up? Like being authentic? What are the key values that I like to live by? And I do. I have these words written in every notebook and now it's like, Oh, I should be more vulnerable and write them on the outside instead of on the inside of my notebook as I have integrity, gratitude, empathy, self-awareness.

And that is kind of one of my goals. I want to try to even be more authentic and vulnerable by maybe putting them on the outside instead of kind of hiding them where I can just see them. Yeah.

Daniel Burstein: So is that your way of saying, Hey, hold me accountable to this like this on the outside? Like, am I doing these things?

Regina DeMars: Yes, definitely. Because I just think through, like, what if I have my specific values that I want to live by every day, making sure that I'm not just showing up personally and living those, but also making sure that I'm living those out at my in my professional career as well.

Daniel Burstein: So, you know, you've worked in large companies and small companies and agencies in those really big companies. Is it harder to do that? Is it harder to show up as your authentic self? I mean, I know I've interviewed CMO in the past and remember he said, you know, the first time I became CMO, I was like, I'm I'm not that type of person that people think I don't have that Ivy League education.

How about Slick Suit? I don't have, you know, I'm walking into this door as a CMO and I don't know that people are seeing the person they think they should be, see. And then he kind of had to realize and like, you know, work his way into like, okay, well, I need to do this my way and I need to explain to people, you know, who I am and share my personal experiences so they understand how I got here and kind of work with them and understand their personal experience, like you said, listening.

So I wonder, you know, when you talk about working in some of the big companies you work and working some of the small companies, like is it hard to not just get lost as a cog in there? Has there has there been anything you've been able to do or figure out so you can show up in that way and do your authentic self?

Regina DeMars: Yeah, I would say it's definitely it's more challenging when you start a new career at a new company. But fortunately I've been at the companies that I've worked with all of them for a long time, more than five years at each of them, and I have found that, you know, when I do show up the way that I naturally show up.

And, you know, I think people appreciate that more. And, you know, you may not see it at the moment, but being open and vulnerable, I've really tried to also, you know, show not just the serious side and we're all people and we're building relationships with with other people at our company. So letting them in to see, you know, who you are as a person and, you know, not take yourself so serious, but also while being professional.

And you can just feel like you build a relationship quicker if you know, people understand who you truly are.

Daniel Burstein: Yeah. I mean, I think one way that's work for me too, is doing when you make a mistake or showing really just coming out, getting it, showing others, showing people report to you, yeah, I make mistakes. I make them all the time. It's okay. You can do that too. But we want you all the time, right? But that's sometimes how we really push the envelope is make a mistake.

You talked about listening to and sometimes I feel like this gets short shrift in marketing. You know, we're marketers. We're kind of blasting those messages out. Social media, give it a little bit of of some airplay for us because we talked about social media listening. Right. But when it comes to being a close listener, you talk about as a sign of respect.

I totally agree. I think sometimes it also helps you determine who is a fit. And so I wonder for you if you've ever, especially when you've been on the vendor side, had a client you know, you were potentially working with or a vendor that was pitching you an agency. And by really closely listening, deciding whether they are a fit or they're not, it's I think you heard, I guess, for example, I was interviewing David Appel, the chief marketing officer of Intuitive Health, on how I made it a marketing and one of his lessons was fancy terms can lead to bigger missed expectations.

And he told a story about his role is on the vendor side before when the brand side and he was talking about some of these brands you worked with, they were just using these big fancy terms and these buzzwords and he kind of, you know, clicked him like they don't really know what they're talking about. Like, there's not there's not this fit here.

They just care about these buzzwords, don't care about actually getting this thing done or understanding it. So I wonder for you, you know, being a marketer, whether it's on the on the vendor side, it's so important to find the right brand partners on the brand side. It's so important to find those right agencies, those right platforms to work with.

Has that close listening ever helped you find that right match that right relationship? Mm hmm.

Regina DeMars: Yeah, I would say two words that came to mind. Research and insight. So when I've interviewed for roles on my teams or interviewing agencies or being on the agency side, the things that resonate with me the most is when, you know, people can say, you know, I've researched and this is what I know about your brand, and you can tell that they've really dug into researching and they have strong insights because I've also seen when agency will come pitching new idea and it's just, you know, the kind of shiny object and it's the latest thing and I'm like, why would we do that?

Because that doesn't resonate with our audience. We're not active on that channel. You know, Snapchat is a good example. Like you need to be on Snapchat. I'm like, Why? Why does that make sense? So what I've always appreciated is when people really dig in and they know your brand and your tone and your voice. And when I was on the agency side very long time ago, I really love that challenge of the insight that that the customer, the customer and the consumer insights and digging into them and coming up with unique ideas to meet those challenges.

That was really fun because I worked on so many different brands when I was at Weber Shandwick, and you could just tell, like if you researched the consumer and had really deep insights and coming up with ideas that would reach that customer.

Daniel Burstein: Now, I love that. I've always said writing, and you talk about pitching, pitching too, but writing is 80% knowing what to say, so only 20% saying it well, like getting those right words. And it comes to this research, that research. And, you know, one of my pet peeves is you get a pitch from a I've noticed it's mostly from PR agencies and agencies.

That's not to pick on them where it's a clearly a templated pitch. Right. And it's like, okay, you expect us to take you seriously, like insert name here and insert a few numbers there and insert like a screen capture of our home page. Like, really? But, but yeah, the research and in I mean, I worked on the site in very early days and part of that research was really trying to figure out or get in the minds of the decision makers, which was harder back then.

But as you mentioned now, like with LinkedIn or some of these social platforms, like if you're not going there and seeing like what is that person posting, what are they interested in, right? And how can I tap into that conversation? I understand that motivation and you're just falling short. So a great example. I love that. Let's talk about one more lesson you learned here.

Lead by example rather than micromanaging. And you learned this from Joi Farber Coelho, the chief brand officer at Weber Shandwick, who was your first boss right out of college. So how did you learn this from Joi?

Regina DeMars: Yeah, she was the perfect first boss for me to have. I learned so much from her. And when I actually started, I kind of had a few different bosses there and worked on several different clients, and she actually gave me the most work to do, but I loved it the most and was willing to, you know, stay late work weekends because she guided me, but she let me kind of lead it.

And, you know, being fresh out of college, she trusted the work that I was doing. And so I always as you know, I advanced in my career and was a boss and managed to people at ConAgra Foods as well as up and below. I always try to kind of think through what the attributes were that I loved about having her as a boss and she just did not micromanage.

So I loved that. She guided me, she gave direction, she held me accountable. She communicated often. And even if again, if it was just like a five minute conversation, she wanted to know, you know, what do you need from me? Do you have any questions? And then would guide me based on those, but never felt like she was, you know, micromanage me.

And she also, again, going back to the authenticity, she always really wanted to make sure that her employees were showing up in an authentic way, which those things have really stuck with me over the years and I think have made my help to make my teams successful.

Daniel Burstein: So when it comes to trusting those new employees, in my example, that micromanaging you lead a team of content creators, the team, social media. I mean, sometimes they're out there speaking for the brand very quickly. So is there something you've built so you have a trust with them? So they have that trust within themselves to be able to do that, to listen, to speak, to react quickly.

Because, you know, as I mentioned, I started my career maybe when you were starting at Weber Shandwick, too. It was if you were doing something on behalf of the brand, it went through a lot of approvals because it was like a print campaigners up, right? And it took a long time before it saw the light of day versus now where we have to move.

So quickly on social listening. Like our teams could be out there very quickly listening and responding and they, you know, that sometimes have to do it on their own, so to speak. So what do you build into your team to make sure even those fairly fresh out of college are fairly entry level employees are able to do that?

They believe themselves and you and the brand believe in them? Mm hmm.

Regina DeMars: Yeah. We have a lot of training up front on brand tone and voice. We try plan as much as we can ahead of time, so we have responses. At long last, a huge document with responses for any different question will get on social media. But to your point, there's always something that arises that maybe we're not prepared for.

And so typically, again, we just text each other really quick or we'll email or walk over if we're in the office together and say, Hey, we just saw this, are we aligned on the response? And then we do a lot of strategic planning for a branded channels upfront, have guidelines. But again, I empower the team to develop that content.

A lot of times they'll be a trending topic that comes up and we're like, okay, we saw this and now we need to brainstorm something really quick because we want to leverage and be a part of that conversation quickly because, you know, before it moves on to the next trending topic and 5 minutes. And so a lot of times, especially with video, we're like, we got to go capture this like today.

And a lot of the times my team will just go to it. And then if it's something that they think might be questionable, they'll send it to me before for approval. But most of the time I trust them. They know the brand. They know, you know, kind of our tone and how we would respond as a company. It's well ingrained in them.

So I just kind of let them let them go and lead with it and my boss know she'll say, just don't get us in trouble. I'm like, okay, I've been here eight years, haven't got in trouble. So again, it's that that relationship ship building over time, a lot of people on my team have been here, been a FBO for a long time, and then there's some newer team members.

So we all kind of learn from each other and learn as you go as well.

Daniel Burstein: Well, Virginia, we talk about so many different things about what it means to be a marketer for you. What are the key qualities of an effective marketer? Who are you looking to be? What are you looking for when you hire? Mm hmm.

Regina DeMars: Yeah. I always look for somebody who is passionate and curious. They don't need to have experience, in my opinion, in the banking industry. If they are passionate and curious and ask questions and, you know, are good marketers overall. I mean, I came from both at Weber Shandwick and at ConAgra Foods. It was CPG background and those were the only clients I had.

So people were surprised when I went to work for a like, you don't have any banking knowledge. And I was like, No, but I have a lot of experience in marketing and I don't think it matters where you're marketing. If you have that experience, it translates well, no matter where you go. So those are the main things. You know, it doesn't always have to be the experience that people have or their backgrounds, but just in that interview process, I ask a lot just to see, you know, if they are curious and and passionate.

Daniel Burstein: Well, thank you for sharing what you've learned from your experiences, Virginia. You're clearly very passionate.

Regina DeMars: I try to be, yes. My my whole family and everyone I work with, they always say I have a lot of energy and put a lot of thought in what I do. And I clearly have left marketing I've been doing over 28 years and it's always a fun challenge.

Daniel Burstein: Well, perfect. Well, thanks for being on and thanks, everyone, for listening.

Regina DeMars: Thank you so much.

Outro: Thank you for joining us for how I made it in marketing with Daniel Burstein. Now that you've gotten inspiration for transforming yourself as a marketer, get some ideas for your next marketing campaign. From Marketing Sherpas, Extensive library of free case studies at marketing Sherpa dot com. That's marketing SRH, ERP, Ecom.

Daniel Burstein: It's been.

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