This year I applied to the Marketing Academy to become one of their 2020 Scholars. The nine-month programme gives you unparalleled access to CEOs and CMOs with a view to creating the marketing leaders of tomorrow.
Imitating the 4 Ps of Marketing, the Marketing Academy looks to develop four Ps for each Scholar:
- Personal: Become an extraordinary human being
- Professional: Become an exceptional marketer
- People: Become an inspirational leader
- Purpose: Become a change maker
There are three stages to the process: initial application and ‘Showcase Me’, pitch and panel interview.
I didn’t get through this year but the process of applying was so satisfying and such a creative stretch for me that I’m so glad I went through it all.
Here are some of the things I got from the process.
Updating my CV
Anyone who has been through one of my CV or LinkedIn training sessions knows that I talk about keeping both updated on a regular basis. This is a lesson I stick to even when I’m happy in my role and not looking to move. Why? Well, as I tell everyone: it’s a struggle to remember all of your successes years later and particularly difficult if you’re going through a low patch in your career where your confidence has taken a knock.
I’m always struck by the number of people who have been happy in their role and haven’t updated their CV in years – and possibly don’t even have a LinkedIn profile. It’s wonderful to be so fulfilled in your current position, but you never know when circumstances will change. That’s something that we all experience first-hand when Primesight was bought by Global in 2018.
Here’s the ‘but’: while I’ve coached a few hundred people through this process, there’s nothing like having to go back through it yourself. Showing my CV to a couple of the people I respect most, showed me holes that I hadn’t ever noticed. My two pages were covered in red pen and I loved it. Having that critique from someone with a keen eye for quality is such a gift. I’m grateful that the Marketing Academy application prompted me to seek help and give my CV a real overhaul.
An upside that I’d like anyone reading this to reflect on: there’s a real joy that comes from reflecting on your successes at work, particularly from projects you found challenging or that were especially collaborative. For example, being able to look back at what I’d achieved in the past eight months as Commercial Brand Marketing Manager at Global was very rewarding and a validation of the really tough times we had been through as a result of the merger and the forming of a brand new company.
One final thing to note: no matter how many times I tell people ‘everyone struggles to talk about their successes’, there’s nothing like being forced to do it yourself and remembering ‘yep, I’m part of that everyone’. It was a pretty humbling experience!
I’d originally hoped to use a video to create my ‘Showcase Me’, which is a two-minute submission designed to give the Marketing Academy judges an idea of who you are and how you fit their criteria. The Marketing Academy deliberately leave the description of the ‘Showcase Me’ very broad to ensure that you can submit work in whatever way you think will work best.
I was introduced to an extremely talented Filmmaker & Photographer who I hoped would be able to help me with the project. Due to time constraints and my zero budget she had to very politely refuse, and honestly, it was the best thing that could have happened to me. While it would have been an honour to work with some as skilled as she is, it forced me to get creative in my own right, rather than depending on her to do the work for me.
A few days of focused brainstorming and asking some of the most creative people I know (as well as those who know me best) and I’d come up with my idea: creating a faux museum installation designed to look like the bookshelves in my London home.
I created a museum plaque and explanations for every element of the installation, so that the judges would know what they represented.
I ordered a mini shelving unit online, bought copies of just a few of the books that have influenced me the most and got cutting, pasting and writing. Those publications were:
- An American Marriage by Tayari Jones
- How’s Work? by NABS
- Le Comte de Monte-Cristo 1 (Folio) by Alexandre Dumas
- Noughts & Crosses by Malorie Blackman
- お茶をはじめてみよう―ようこそ茶の湯の世界へ from Tankosha
- Radical Candor: How to Get What You Want by Saying What You Mean by Kim Scott
- The Squiggly Career: Ditch the Ladder, Discover Opportunity, Design Your Career by Helen Tupper and Sarah Ellis
I spent two weeks trying to find a plant that would fit on the shelves and not die too quickly, and a diffuser scent that I would actually have in my own home.
I added a vision board – a replica of the one I have on my wall at home. This reflects what I’m working towards in 2020, having heard of the power of visualising goals from Dr Tara Swart on Dr Rangan Chatterjee’s Feel Better, Live More podcast.
I included a Passion Planner* which has been my number one self-development tool for the past five years, and an amazing designer friend of mine turned twelve months of my work on Feminist Fact Friday into a printable pamphlet that I was also able to include.
Finally, I filled the drawers with photos of moments of support and inspiration that I draw on every day.
Note: I took photos of every element of the submission but I’m only sharing a few of them here. I poured so much honesty into the work and some things don’t need to be shared as publicly as on this website.
Less is more
There were so many things that didn’t make it into my submission – Richard Rumelt’s Good Strategy/Bad Strategy and Richard Shotton’s The Choice Factory to name but two – and it took real work to cut the exhibit to its barest essentials. That’s one of the hardest bits of any creative process and took the final four days in the run-up to my deadline.
Almost as much as I dislike the word ‘authentic’, the word ‘resilient’ seems to have been over-used to the point of cliché. To me, both have lost their meaning.
And then… having said all of that, my application to the Marketing Academy involved plenty of resilience as being rejected is never fun. But it’s allowed me to remember the important things. I look back at my submission with a great deal of pride and satisfaction, knowing that the process was a challenge that I stepped up to fully, producing something no-one else could have done. Revisiting my ‘Showcase Me’ again here has been uplifting and a reminder that everything I submitted was as true as I could possibly have made it.
How on earth do I top this for my 2021 submission?!
*Referral link with 10% off for you, $5 off for me