7 min read
We are already at our 17th episode of People of Marketing podcast and each new story still gets to me. This one is made with a drop of fun, a drop of large experience in marketing, a drop of…well, I better let you discover on your own. So let’s start!
Our guest today is Perrin Lawrence, the Global Head of Marketing and Communications for AI. Reverie, a Forbes Top 2020 pick in the white-hot field of A.I. She jumped into start-up life from her previous role at the NBA as Director of Audience Development. Prior to that, she helped lead The New York Times’s transition into a digital-first company. Her past lives include brand promotion at Disney and a year filming a travel documentary and writing her way across 25 countries.
Life in a startup is a lot of things
Startup life might be pretty different from big companies in terms of work-life. Changing the industry or company-type can come with many unknowns, but also with a lot of lessons and skills development. Perrin went from 13 years in huge companies to start-up life. She’s still learning.
“I have about 13 years working for giant brands, large companies. So I think some of my startup experience is as expected. There are really no office politics. It’s a little more rolling up your sleeves and getting things done. You have to be a little scrappier. One of the things that really appealed to me is that I didn’t know what I didn’t know. I’m starting to figure out what that is now.
I think there are some approaches that you use in startup life that you seldom see applied in a big company. So I’m glad that I’ll have those with me. It is a little bit jarring to go from a big company to a small startup. You can be the squeakiest wheel and put out what you think is a big deal of a press release or a campaign and nobody cares. Because your brand budgets are small and the awareness is just lower. I’m going to have to be that much more inventive and resourceful and focused in terms of who we’re going after and how. It’ll just be really good training.”
I appreciate her positive attitude and how she turned some low points in opportunities for development. Flexibility and curiosity seem to be the foundation of the way she’s adjusting. It’s what’s making her path from big companies to startups smooth and productive.
Be patient. Career-building is not a race. It is a marathon
It’s true that after graduating, things can be confusing and the pressure of starting to work is big. But sometimes you just have to listen to your instincts and try to get the best that you can at the moment.
“I would say that at the beginning of your career you have to be patient. At least when I was graduating, I was scared about landing a job. I kind of took the first thing that came to me, even though my instincts were saying it wasn’t quite right. Follow those instincts! If something seems like grunt work that might not lead anywhere, that’s probably what it is.
It can be hard to shift once you start to build a resume in one sector, even within the wide world of marketing, people tend to specialize pretty quickly. Especially before you hone your political prowess, it could be hard to make horizontal shifts and network your way into something. So apply to a lot of different things.
Network and do your research, be a little patient, even if it means you might have to live at your parents’ house a year or a couple of months. Take that time and in general, just realize that the world of work it’s not a four-year program from which you graduate. It is not a race. It is a marathon.
Don’t pull too many all-nighters in the beginning, take care of yourself, and don’t get too stressed out about being promoted within six months. Just do really good work and keep following the things that genuinely interest you and you will be just fine.”
Looking for a good job, especially when you don’t even know exactly what you want from it, can be hard. Sometimes it takes time and can be frustrating. But as Perrin says, you should just keep following the things that interest you. When it will show up, you will know it is for you.
Any experience is a plus
You don’t have to take only marketing-related courses to turn you into a better professional. You can learn from everywhere and use the skills you learned in your day to day job. It’s all about perspective.
“I’m surprised how extracurricular activities and things that seemed unrelated to my career path have helped. I took a bunch of improv classes. I did improv for many years before I had a kid. So glad I got that in. I met a group of people who I wouldn’t have otherwise crossed paths with. Some of them wanted to be full-time actors or do something totally different. But a few were in marketing and in different spaces of it.
It was useful to have that network for guidance and job opportunities. It’s also been useful just to have that different skill set to help me do presentations, little things that can really help you move forward. It’s just exercising a different muscle, outside of the corporate space, and also just the sort of refreshment that provides.
You don’t want to be thinking about your job 24/7 because you will burn out. So having a varied slate with your nights and weekends is truly important.”
Taking improv classes may seem like it has nothing to do with marketing. But Perrin’s example proves that an unusual context can bring a lot of value. From networking to job opportunities or other useful skills, non-work related activities can bring a lot of advantages.
What great energy and interesting stories! I’ve learned a lot from our guest.
Now it’s your turn! Learn from the best!