As I approach the end of my second year here at Riggs, my brain keeps folding itself around the idea of challenges.
The path from my former career in nonprofit arts management to marketing wasn't an obvious (or a linear) one. As a digital marketer, my workday is filled with creative problem solving, analysis, testing, strategy building and a good bit of blogging. As anyone who’s had to suffer through my geeking out over the latest Google or Facebook algorithm change can attest, I love what I do. The constant flux and frantic need to stay ahead of digital trends is exciting, and I like to think I’m making the internet a less horrible, more helpful place, while helping our clients accomplish their goals.
|Talking about a few of my favorite things for AMA Columbia|
My first several months at Riggs were amazing and overwhelming. I knew how to build followings on blogs and on social media—heck, that’s why I was there. But any ad agency vernacular beyond what I’d seen on Mad Men was beyond me. Gaining mastery of the constantly changing world of digital marketing was no small feat. Unless I wanted to go back to the pen-hoarding nonprofit sector, I had to learn fast.
It reminded me of the time I thought I should start playing roller derby. After being ousted by one team for being pretty terrible at the sport, I joined another where, for a long time, I sucked just as badly. I remember one practice where I finally snapped. I threw my helmet and skulked off into the hallway to loathe myself in private. My coach followed me and tried to cheer me up with platitudes like, “You’re getting better!” and “Don’t get discouraged!”
With my forehead still pressed against the cool cinderblock wall, I turned to face him slowly and said, “Do you have any idea how mentally exhausting it is to constantly try your best at something you’re horrible at?”
|My derby name was Thrill Kill Jill. Not kidding.|
Eventually, I got better. I was never amazing, and I’m far better at marketing than I’ll ever be at blocking large muscular women on the flat track. But that experience with all of its struggles and humiliations shaped me.
Challenges are exciting and intimidating. Whether you’re tasked with creating a digital strategy for a client that will foster engagement or learning how to bake bread for the first time, there’s a fear of failure that you have to get over in order to produce truly awesome and creative work. Safe choices are tempting, but big risks can yield big results.
|Just a lil inspiration.|
What I didn’t realize at the time was that when I started a hobby I was lousy at (roller derby), I was embracing failure in my everyday life and conditioning myself to be unafraid of it. That’s one of the reasons I began teaching myself how to sew, even though I failed spectacularly at it in the beginning. That’s why I enjoy tackling difficult recipes and love the challenge of morphing a potential kitchen disaster into something workable.
|Looks like a doughsaster right?|
|But that doughspolsion yielded the best loaf of bread I've ever made.|
Creative problem solvers learn this skill through failure, repetition and a certain fearlessness. That's what I strive for. That's what (at least in my mind) separates the remarkable marketers from the mehketers.
That's what I want to be.