3-Steps to Take When Hiring a Head of Marketing

3-Steps to Take When Hiring a Head of Marketing

3-Steps to Take When Hiring a Head of Marketing

No Goals No Career

Choosing a marketing leader is far too important to your business to waste time hiring the wrong one.


Ask 20 CEOs about the responsibilities of a Head of Marketing, and you’ll receive 20 answers, all varying in scope and the position’s ultimate accountability. How is it that, in 2020, one of the most critical functions in an organization, especially for B2B companies, is still so misunderstood?

Understanding of the importance of marketing has certainly progressed in the B2B sector over the past five years as technology tools have increased the ability to showcase return on investment and the client journey.

There are three simple steps to take to hire and ensure a new Head of Marketing will be successful in their role:

    1. Match your Marketing Leader’s skillset to your business needs
    2. Look for high Emotional Intelligence
    3. Set clear expectations and timelines

Building a Foundation for Success

When companies need to hire a new Head of Marketing, it is crucial to improve executive and Board-level understanding of the essential role marketing plays in the success of B2B firms.

First, we have to clear up some of the confusion over the role.

Marketing is the engine for the client’s experience and the unseen passenger that travels with them on their journey.

Marketing is not a siloed department. It is integrated and embedded within your organization and it provides services that touch every aspect of the client’s journey. From their initial introduction to the company, to the website, to the mission and vision of the firm, and its client survey, to expansion of services and thought leadership tailored to them.

So why do many B2B companies keep marketing from the table when it is time to talk business strategy?

After your client service team, your Head of Marketing is the person closest to your clients. It is crucial to include them when defining your business strategy. They have insight to share on what topics and services your clients are most interested in and have the data to back it up.

Data analytics and artificial intelligence can mine your CRM and lead generation systems, providing a wealth of forward-looking information. Your marketing leader can analyze the data and provide your executive leaders and Board with critical, time-saving information for your business that can be incorporated into your strategy, leading to enhanced market position.

If you don’t have the technology or a marketing leader that can get you this information, read on.

Let’s begin with the Three Simple Hiring Steps:

1.  Marketers’ skills are strategic, tactical and creative. Finding a unicorn with all proficiencies is rare. Determine what kind of skills your organization needs – today – in your Marketing Leader.

Too often job descriptions for Heads of Marketing include a wish list of everything that a company wants to accomplish, leaving the rest of the C-suite to wonder why the person they hired can’t succeed. You need to start with creating a clear job description based on your business strategy.

What strategic aims are trying to accomplish over the next 5 years? Is it brand building? Revenue growth? Expansion of offices? Expansion of existing client services? This determines the type of marketer you hire – you need to couple the Marketing Leader’s capabilities to your organizational strategy and business needs. Trying to ask them to do everything is a recipe for disaster.

For simplicity, I grouped the marketing leaders into four major categories, highlighting a few pros and cons of each type. My next article will dive deeper into each of these categories and the kinds of marketing leaders you will find with traits of each.

2. Look for high Emotional Intelligence. Find a great marketing leader who can manage up to the executives and down to their team.

It’s critical that you and your executives “connect” and “speak the same language” as the marketing leader you want to hire and that your overall communication styles match. Make sure everyone involved understands what this role needs to accomplish and how they are going to interact and work with your leaders.

But, don’t forget about the marketing team itself. No one in your marketing department wants to work for a bully. Have your recruiter talk with people who worked with the marketing leader you are looking to hire.

Having the respect of those who work for your leader is important to getting the most out of your team members. I once had a boss who was sugar sweet to the executives, and when they left, would start yelling at us. Needless to say, no one wanted to be there, nor did they stay long.

A great marketing leader knows how to adapt their style to work with executives as well as with their team.

My mentor told me when I first became a manager, “Treat those you manage well. Teach them, challenge them, care about them as a person. If you do it well, they will work hard for you, make you look good, and not want to disappoint you. In the process, your team, you and the firm will end up doing well.”

I’ve lived by that. And as a result, had low turnover and have individuals follow me from job to job. Why? I care and I want them to learn how to be better marketers. This is a crucial quality to look for when hiring a marketing leader – if they lead, will anyone follow?

3.  Choosing the right marketing leader is important. Once you have, agree to a timeframe for implementing the new marketing strategy.

You hired the right person. Congratulations!

Now, don’t micromanage them. Let them be the expert you hired them to be. Agree to a marketing strategy that makes sense for your business, let them explain why it will work, and allow time for it to do so, with all stakeholders agreeing to the timeframe.

A lot of the future success of Marketing depends on the buy-in of the company’s leadership and their own willingness to play their role in being good brand ambassadors and business developers. Make sure you are supporting and backing your Head of Marketing so that they succeed.


It is not always easy to find a Head of Marketing. But by determining what your company’s business goals are, you can determine which kind of leader or mix of marketing leadership skills you need to thrive.

Third Silent Career Killer: Bad Attitudes

Third Silent Career Killer: Bad Attitudes

Third Silent Career Killer: Bad Attitudes

No Goals No Career

You feel stuck.

You’ve been at the same job, grinding away at the same level without progression or promotion for years.

You’ve made sure you’re not the smelly kid in the room.

Your projects are done on time or ahead of time and are flawless.

So what’s the problem?

It is time to take a look at another silent career killer that holds back too many employees.

“If I’m not smelly, what is it?” you ask.


Your attitude!

“My attitude is just fine,” you say. “It’s my boss that has a problem. They play favorites. They don’t like me.”

While that could be true, you also need to be aware of the attitude you project in the office.

When a co-worker asks you how you are doing, do you answer with something like

“Hanging in there,” or, my favorite, “Day-by-day?”

Do you notice when a team member in the next cubicle is drowning in work? If you’ve finished up for the day and are checking your Facebook page and Instant Messaging friends, do you offer to help or continue to IM?

Your actions and attitude can play a silent role in helping or killing your career. 

I’ve had the pleasure of working with exceptional people over my career, and some individuals are naturally gifted with the technical skills to achieve in the workforce. But somehow, in their mind, they never seem to advance as fast or as far as they think they deserve.

Technical skills will only get you so far. You have to work on your soft skills – your emotional intelligence – to get to the next level.

You need to be aware of how you affect and interact with others. Doing a good or even a great job, but with a bad or indifferent attitude will limit your career. Your coworkers and managers all notice your attitude.

Do you know one of those negative-types who always has something to complain about in the office? I knew someone who complained about the type of toilet paper in the office and the tea they served in the kitchen. Nothing was good enough for this person.

Guess what? No one wanted to talk to this person because all they did was complain.

Don’t let your attitude limit you. Not when it is something you can control.


Here are a few ways I’ve learned to deal with stress and negativity in the office:

  1. Go for a walk, even if it is just around your office floor. I need to physically remove myself from whatever or whoever it is that is making me feel negative at that moment. Taking a walk around the block or getting outside for fresh air can really help to change your perspective.
  2. Music. Pop in some earbuds if it is permitted at your desk, or go to lunch and have some playlists prepared to bust your negative mood up. I have a few playlists based on situations and moods for the office. What is a bit amusing is my staff has learned to gauge my moods by which playlist is on. For me, James Taylor and Jimmy Buffett are my go-to personal negativity busters. I just can’t stay mad or negative and listen to them.
  3. Do a 30-minute switch-up. Change what you are working on every 30 minutes for two hours, choosing projects you enjoy working on. Set a timer to make sure you keep to the limit. By switching it up you force yourself to focus on something other than the negativity and its cause.

As most professionals do, as I have changed jobs over the years, I have also kept a mental short list of people I would love to work with again.

What is first on my list’s requirements? 

The individual is able to uphold a high level of work standards.

Exceeds expectations, exemplary work product, due dates completed in advance, is a team player, loyal, and loves marketing – what I would consider the basics.

Second on my requirement list? Having a positive attitude.

Now, this doesn’t mean you can’t have a bad day, week or month. I know I’ve had my share and I’m one of those annoying happy people.

But don’t let it become a habit in the workplace!

You can control your attitude and your career. It is in your hands.

Second Silent Career Killer: Not Having a Personal Brand

Second Silent Career Killer: Not Having a Personal Brand

Second Silent Career Killer: Not Having a Personal Brand

No Goals No Career

Have you ever wondered what your coworkers think of you?

What about your boss?


If you work in a B2B company, as I do, you may have a group of stakeholders you work with daily. Do you know how they perceive you and your work?

“Why?” you ask. “Who cares what people think of me, I’m my own person. I’m unique.”

If you don’t know how you’re viewed, you are in trouble, deep trouble with a capital “T,” as my mother used to say.

In fact, you could be quickly on your way to damaging your career at your current company by neglecting one critical, vital component.

Your personal brand.


Your brand.


Your brand is what people think of you and what it is that you are known for.

Now, a lot is written about personal branding, much aimed at marketers and executives. But guess what? It is important for every employee at a company – from the mail room clerk to the CEO.

You need to know how you are PERCEIVED at your company, because PERCEPTION IS REALITY, fair or unfair, and that becomes your personal brand.

Are you known as the person that is the “Excel Wizard?” The “Creative Employee,” “PowerPoint Expert” or the “Technical Specialist?” Maybe you are the “Operational Guru” the “Executive Whisperer,” or simply the “Person Who Knows How to Make Things Happen.”

When I was a marketing manager back in Chicago I was known as the “Person Who Could Get Things Done and Make Projects Happen.” If someone had an impossible project and had no idea how to make it work or where to start, they knew to give it to me and I would put together an action plan, find the right resources and the creative hook to grab audience interest and make it happen. That was my brand; I could “Make it Happen.”


Now not every personal brand is good.

If you don’t pay attention to your brand, you might not realize what your colleagues and stakeholders REALLY think of you.

You could be thought of as the “Department Complainer,” the “Slacker,” the “Office Micro-Manager,” the “Executive Penny-Pincher,” Or the “Employee Who is Technically Good But Talks About Their Personal Life Too Much.”


What you don’t know CAN KILL YOUR CAREER at your current company.

So my question to you: do you know what your personal brand is?

If you don’t know what it is you are known for, it is time to take ownership of your brand!

How? The good news is that there are a ton of books and articles out there you can dive into to learn about the topic.

Here are a few tips to get you started.


1. Check with your HR department to see if they offer a 360 assessment survey.

“What? You want me to actually find out what people think of me? No way!” you say. YES! It is incredibly helpful because they identify what perceptions your boss(es), employees and colleagues have in their interactions with you. This is very valuable information when determining what your current personal brand is, as well as determining how to better communicate with the people you work with at your company. If your HR department doesn’t offer the survey, a free online tool, SelfStir offers a great 360 assessment. I encourage you to use it to not only help with your personal brand, but your overall career relationships.

2. Create a Brand Statement for yourself. 

In a few words, what captures you and your abilities that you want to be known for. Such as, “Trusted Marketer with Crazy Design Skills.” “Organized Accountant with Long-time International Tax Clients.” “Innovative Social CRM Connector.” What is the headline that captures you? That is your Brand Statement. Here are a few helpful sites: How to Craft Your Personal Brand StatementPersonal Branding Statement

3. Create an Elevator Speech for yourself and practice it so it is ready to go.

I use the method of putting everything on index cards and flipping through them until I am comfortable enough with the 30- and 60-second version of who I am and what it is I do. It is OK to show your personality a bit in your Elevator Speech, so if you are funny, be funny, but don’t cross the line. Be original and practice until you can do it in your sleep. How to Create Memorable Elevator Pitch

4. Analyze your web presence and take ownership of it.

If you haven’t already worked on your online “persona” it is not too late to start. There are many different online tools out there where you can develop an online presence for a few hours a week.

    • LinkedIn is the perfect place to get involved, build out your profile, join groups and comment in the sections.
    • Look for the online publications for the professional organizations you belong to and join the groups to comment and share as part of your membership.
    • If you are building out your expertise but don’t have time for blogging, try curating – using a service such as Scoop.it is great. This and similar applications let you comment on articles in your industry and service line and use it to create a blog or newsletter easily.


Now it is a few cities, jobs and years later in my career, and I’m still the “Make it Happen” person. I’ve also acquired a few more brand statements along the way. But it takes hard work and patience developing and maintaining a personal brand.

Start with your brand statement and elevator speech.

How do you want people to think of you?

Put it into practice.

Own it.

Live it.

A Silent Career Killer

A Silent Career Killer

A Silent Career Killer

No Goals No Career

Early one morning I sat at my desk reading and re-reading an email from an employee. I could feel the frustration and I hadn’t even had my first shot of espresso yet, and it took every ounce of control not to walk over to the wall and bang my head against it.

What was it that caused me to get a headache early in the morning? Why was my high performer suddenly turning in half-finished work product?

Was there some viral slacking bug infecting my team? No, unfortunately it was nothing that simple.

Instead, it is something that is the bane of every progressive, fast-moving, innovative leader.

It’s something that keeps me up at night. It’s something that is so irritating, aggravating, annoying and causes me to grind my teeth in an effort to keep my patience under control.

What, is it you ask? What could possible cause so much harm?

It is a silent career killer, an attitude that many employees unconsciously adopt.

A lack of curiosity.

There. I said it.

It pains me even to write it.

My keyboard might even explode as a result of typing it.

Now, some of you might be thinking, “What is the big deal? That was a big build up for a whole lot of nothing.”

Let me tell you, few things are more dangerous to a department – and a company – then an employee’s lack of curiosity.

It is especially dangerous in a marketing department, where we depend on our team members’ curiosity in order to explore and keep up with evolving technologies.

What exactly do I mean by “curiosity”?

The dictionary states it is the desire to know something: eagerness to know about something or to get information.”

In the workplace, curiosity is the lifeblood that flows in the veins of an organization, bringing ideas and innovation.

For employees:

    • Curiosity in an employee is stopping and thinking about the task they are doing instead of robotically doing it.
    • Curiosity means thinking about what the next step might be and how the task they are working fits into it.
    • Curiosity means asking “is there a better/faster/more efficient way to do this task?
    • Curiosity means keeping up on new technology and playing around with it in your free time or asking your manager if you can try the task out in parallel in the new technology to see if it is more efficient.
    • Curiosity means knowing what is going on in the world around you, outside your regular sphere of influence. You never know where you next great idea will come from.
    • Curiosity means reading at least one “real” news publication a day to know what is going on in the world and being able to talk intelligently about world events, not just about reality TV.
    • Curiosity means identifying a challenge and instead of dumping it on your managers desk, researching solutions, outlining a proposed solution and giving that to your manager with the backup research so they can just make modifications.

Get the point?

Curiosity is necessary to move ahead in a career.

It is the “what if I” and “how can I” and “where can I” of the job.

It is exciting. It is how we learn and grow.

It is how we challenge ourselves to stay interested in what we are doing.

The moment I have an employee bringing me something half-done, or telling me they don’t know what to do next when all they need to do was ask the person next to them, or pick up the phone to figure it out – I know the individual has lost their curiosity.

This is a sign that they are disengaged from their job and I’ve found that there are usually three causes:

  1. They hate their job (Some would argue that they are satisfied with things the way they are and don’t need to be curious. That’s an excuse. You hate your job.)
  2. They have something personal going on in their life that is affecting their work
  3. They are looking for a new job

So as leaders and managers, what can we do?

Well, that’s a HUGE discussion, one that could take months and pages to discuss.

Instead, I will share my top three suggestions for encouraging curiosity:

  1. Interests: Find out what interests your employee and encourage them. It could be learning a new skill or taking a new class. It could be as simple as leaving on time to coach their kids’ games. Discover their interests and encourage them to pursue them. Ideas come from all areas of life and when your brain is rested or doing different activities. So encourage what interests them. It helps the ideas flow.
  2. Variety: While some individuals are hired to do a particular task, offer them the chance to work on different projects or help another colleague. Encourage cross-training. It can lead to them developing new interests and ideas within the company and that can lead to better ways of doing things as well. You never know.
  3. Growth: Give your employees a “growth” project that will benefit them and their career. Show them how it will build their skills and position them for growth. It will do wonders once they take ownership of their own career and see you taking an investment in them.

So what did I end up doing with that particular employee? I quickly found out that their apathy was due to their upcoming out-of-state move. Still, it was frustrating and stressful for the rest of the team to work with an indifferent teammate.

Cultivate curiosity in your team.

It will drive your best performers to achieve beyond your expectations and launch them from their current roles into their future careers.

Little Sisters and Turtle Shells Taught Me How to Deal With Aggravation at Work

Little Sisters and Turtle Shells Taught Me How to Deal With Aggravation at Work

Little Sisters and Turtle Shells Taught Me How to Deal With Aggravation at Work

No Goals No Career

Growing up the oldest of four kids in the 70s and 80s, three years separated me from my next younger sister. She always seemed to be hanging around, spilling my secrets and generally doing all the annoying things younger sisters do.


And we fought – did we ever – over anything and everything.  She knew what to say, and more importantly, when to say it for maximum impact to play to an audience.

When we were in grade school, we would end up rolling around on the ground – pulling hair, scratching, the works – until a parent would break it up, and I’d always receive the worse punishment, for being the oldest I should have “known better” and “set a good example” for her on how to behave.

I swear she always started it.

After each fight, my dad would sit me down and talk to me about letting the anger go and not letting her get me riled up.

“Nothing is that big of a deal to let yourself get that angry. It’s not that important. Let the words roll off your back,” he’d tell me.

While at the time his advice didn’t always get put into regular practice, (sisters, ahem) I eventually found it to be quite useful; I would visualize a turtle shell around me and her words sliding off my shell.

After I started working, I discovered just how handy the turtle shell is when dealing with heated situations to keep calm and focused.

It is very easy to get caught up in the moment at work. The day-to-day activities, deadlines, requests and “emergencies” can at times be overwhelming.

All too soon, you lose focus and become consumed in a situation where you have angry customers, employees and managers twisted and yelling at you. Essentially, you get on the ground and roll around with them the same way my sister would needle me until I would engage her in a fight.

Instead of participating, that is the perfect moment to stop, take a breath, pull out the turtle shell and refocus the conversation.

Advice on Handling Aggravation at Work*

    • When confronted by someone who is upset, listen to what they are saying. There could be a kernel of truth and fact in their anger, so strip away the emotion and listen. Is the problem a missed deadline? A personality conflict? Use your shell to let the emotion roll off so you can focus on the particulars of the issue and deal with the facts, not the emotions.
    • Recognize that sometimes people do stupid things to rile others up to get attention, even at work. It happens. Don’t react, that is what they want. Just move on.
    • Wait 24 hours to reply if you are upset. Full stop. If you are emotional, don’t respond to an email or phone call. Go home. Go for a walk around the block. Talk to your family, your friends, your pets, your plants or therapist, just don’t engage when you are in the midst of feeling upset if at all possible. Notice I didn’t say your co-workers – they usually are not an optimal choice since they are also in the same environment as you and can be biased in their advice.
    • Focus on the solution and the quickest, most effective and ethical route to get there. When it is time to confront the individual, do your best to set aside your anger. Keep the conversation centered on the solution and your commitment to making it happen. Bring it back around to it as many times as it takes until the other person runs out of steam or is satisfied. Remember, you have your turtle shell to deal with the stingers and zingers they throw your way. You can ignore them and stay focused on the solution.
    • When receiving criticism, especially “helpful” criticism, try not to let your blood pressure rise or immediately jump to defend yourself. Imagine: if you were giving this advice to someone else, would the advice be valid? If it holds true, or even partially true, slip on your turtle shell, strip the emotion from what the individual is throwing at you, thank the person and see how you can use the information you received to improve. Don’t drag out and continue the conversation – find a graceful way to exit and ponder what you’ve learned for another day.
    • Lastly, follow the golden etiquette rule: If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.

It would be easy to let the comments, emails and gossip eat away at and bother you. Remind yourself – it’s not that important. If you aren’t going to remember it in 10 years from now, it shouldn’t really matter to you today. Use your turtle shell! Pull it on and let it the comments and emotions roll off your back. You will be more productive, happier and less bothered by the “little stuff.”

It amuses my sister to no end to remind me of how she would get under my skin and drive me crazy when we were younger. I point out to her that her children are taking after her as little instigators and causing mischief.

I’m laughing – oh yes – I’m laughing. I may have to teach her the turtle shell trick after all.

Me and my little sister in 1982.


* This article does not pertain or provide advice on situations where there is harassment or verbal abuse in the workplace. You should immediately communicate those situations to your manager, human resources, legal department and anyone else at your organization that should be involved. This article relates to the typical office-life frustrations in the daily life of a professional.

Conducting a High-Performing Department

Conducting a High-Performing Department

Conducting a High-Performing Department

No Goals No Career

Managing a high-performing department is similar at times to conducting a small chamber orchestra.

Both contain the best players.
Both bring together an assortment of personalities.
And both are absolutely amazing when playing well together.


There are many ways to manage a high-performing department and I’m going to speak to marketing departments, since that is my area of focus, but the basics are relatable to other types as well.

I’m a believer in employing a team-based department model. A manager will “quarterback” the marketing program/product/service and then utilize the marketing functional players for a fast-moving, efficient delivery. Hiring high-performers for each of the functions ensures that we deliver the most cutting-edge programs in the industry.

So how do we get high-performers to play together on the same team? Especially when they are truly some of the most talented in the industry – and they know it?


Pick up your baton. This is where it can feel like conducting.

    • Take time to find out where their strengths and interests lie. What do they like to do outside of work? Do they like to take photos? Have them help with the employee newsletter taking internal photos. Are they secretly writing comic books? Maybe they want to give copywriting a try. Ask questions and see what other interests they have.
    • Rotate “coaches” to work with your employees every few years. It is good to have employees coached by different people so they can learn how to interact with different personalities, ways of doing things, insights, etc. (Here is a good article on the difference between a “coach” and a “manager.”)
    • Challenge them. Give them a project that has some teeth to it that will make them really think and expand their skills.
    • Develop their skills. Send them to conferences, classes and training. It is critical that they continue to learn and grow their skills, especially in the marketing field where technology changes the ballgame every five years.
    • Be honest. Give real-time feedback when a project is going so-so, don’t wait until the end or even the end of the year. Part of learning and improving is making adjustments. Use phrases such as “What about trying” or “Did you think of doing” and solicit responses from them with open-ended phrases such as “Where were you thinking of going next.”
    • Meet regularly to find out how they are doing. Nothing formal, take them to coffee or touch base after a meeting. Knowing how they are doing in their role will help to keep the surprise departures to a minimum.
    • When conflict arises between team members, diffuse quickly. This can be tricky and delicate. Sometimes jealousy, or a sense of unfairness can build up amongst team members and get out of hand. If you learn of something, even a whisper of something, address it with the individual immediately, before it turns into something larger.
    • Show interest. Guess what? They are interesting! Get to know them. You don’t have to cross the boss/employee line, but showing interest in them will demonstrate to your employees that you are not just a demanding boss, but a boss who takes an interest and cares. Looking back I know I’ve always worked harder for those bosses who showed an interest in me.

Is it possible for one person to do each item for each and every employee on a large team? Nope. That is why you have managers, directors, team leaders and supervisors to help manage a department. But by making an effort to be a boss that is human and relatable is noticed and appreciated – and will help the team play – and sound – truly harmonious.