Lessons Learned from 365 Days of Consulting

Yesterday was my birthday! Not my actual birthday, but the birth of my business. One year ago, I was hired by my first client and officially became a consultant.

It was the scariest, yet most exciting and satisfying decision I’ve ever made.  Would this work? Could I really make a living being my own boss? Luckily for me, the answer has been yes. Early on, I took a number of interviews and phone screens and drove myself crazy, but after I turned down a great job offer early into my venture and made the decision to fully commit and haven’t looked back since.

Throughout my career, I’ve led global teams, traveled the world and managed numerous agencies and consultants.  To this day, I continue to learn from my mistakes and re-calibrating for ongoing success. I’m constantly learning how to figure out what I don’t like doing or where I struggle so I’m able to get help.

Below are some takeaways from the year that was, I hope you find these helpful!

“You must learn from your past mistakes, but not lean on your past successes.” – Denis Waitley

  • Small successes feel absolutely incredible.When I worked for other people, achievements in the business were exciting, but they never really felt like my successes since they were part of a greater organization. Now, every time something exciting happens, I feel like an owner. Every step forward motivates me and pushes me to work harder since I know what it took to achieve.  It feels good to know that anything I’ve achieved is well earned.
  • Set Goals. If you start a business with some success, your offerings and mind may shift. It’s like a little alarm telling you that you did something you once thought impossible, and now nothing really seems very impossible. It’s exhilarating however it can open up the flood gates allowing a million ideas that you may way to do roll in. I recommend that you set a quarterly goal for your business. Make it specific and set up an action plan to help you achieve it. It’s easy to get sidetracked and over promise to clients but staying true to myself and the goals I set for this past year has worked (so far!).
  • People don’t understand what I do, and that’s okay. Friends and family may not always understand or consider my job “a real job” since it’s outside the normal “full-time” description.  I don’t work 9-5 in an office or a traditional setting. Others perception has been one of my major frustrations over the last year. My business is important to me and it makes me happy.  I try to share what I do in a way that people understand.  I’ve learned there are ways of having productive conversations and getting what you want out of an interaction.  It’s been helpful for me to be honest with my friends and family about where I’m at with my business and letting go of any frustrations I maybe holding onto.
  • Support is key. I’ve always loved having alone time, but I get a bit stir-crazy being home all day. Building a great business means you need a great network of people to help you. Getting out of the house and doing work from a coffee shop or a friend’s couch has been a lifesaver.  I’d describe myself as a creative soul and often I get ideas from my friends within other industries and outside of my house.  I encourage people to build relationships with the people who can help to get your business idea off the ground. Connect with individuals who will give expert advice and save you from making startup mistakes and take a break to network and get out!
  • If you’re thinking about it – do it! I’m a firm believer that things always work out the way they should.  It they don’t at first, you have to keep fighting through.  Too many small businesses fail because they were never started in the first place, if you have an idea then give it a shot. I’ve been able to eliminate hours of commuting, travel, busy work for others and so much more.  And what’s the best part? Having the ability to spend more quality time with my children and family.  Until this past year, I never had time to join my children’s activities at school, meet friends for coffee whenever I wanted too, visit my parents in the middle of the day, or have breakfast with my children.  My life was a state of constant rush, drop the kids, rush to make a train or an early call, work and hustle to catch another train home to grab the kids from daycare to get home in time to put them to bed. After my second son was born, I had a harder time spending 11+ hours away from my boys in daycare every day even though I was only in the city a few times a week.  I wasn’t happy and it was really taking a toll on me and my husband realized.  He pushed me to follow my dream of setting up my own business and has been my constant cheerleader over the past 365 days.  He believed in me and kept me going, and for that I’ll be forever grateful.

It’s been a wild ride this past year, but one I plan to stay on for some time! I’d love to hear any advice you may have for a small business owner or someone new to entrepreneurship.  Please leave a comment below or reach to me directly!

 

Honored to Be Named as One of the Top 19 B2B Marketers To Follow In 2019

I’m thrilled to announce that last month the team from B2B Marketing Exchange included me within their list of 19 B2B Marketers To Follow In 2019.

These influential marketing professionals specialize in areas such as ABMinfluencer marketingdigital marketing and more. I’m honored to be included alongside 18 such influential and powerful icons within this list. 

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On a personal note, this has been quite a transformative year for me.  I left my full time role last fall to dip my toes into the world of entrepreneurship and setup my own marketing consultancy, Marissa Pick Consulting.    It’s been several months since I made the change and I’m enjoying getting my hands dirty developing marketing strategies, content marketing campaigns as well as expanding my work across new fields and alongside some fabulous clients which I’ve thoroughly enjoyed.

Who knows what lies ahead but i’ve learned to enjoy every day and moment including sharing honors like this! Thank you again for the team at B2B Marketing Exchange for including me within your list of 19 B2B Marketers To Follow In 2019.

 

Event Manager Blog’s Social Media for Events Guide (2018 Edition)

Thank you so much to the Event Manager Blog for including my insight and experiences within the newly launched 2018 Edition of Social Media for Events: A Complete Guide to Marketing Your Events Using Social Media.

The guide shares 42 strategies, ideas, tips and tactics on using social media to promote events.  Levering social media at live events is crucial for generating engagement before, during and after the conference. However with social media rapidly evolving it’s not something that’s always easy to develop a strategy around especially since KPI’s around live events are sometimes challenging to measure.

I’ve been fortunate to have an extensive event marketing background which has helped me to develop innovative social media campaigns to enhance a variety of live events.   It’s crucial to always take chances and push the limit.  Failure is important to enable you to measure successes over the long term.  Always think outside the box and take chances, that’s how you and you brand can excel and stand out!quote-1-768x510.jpg

So, what are you waiting for, check out the 2018 Edition of Social Media for Events: A Complete Guide to Marketing Your Events Using Social Media.

What do you think of the guide, anything you would add? Leave me a comment below or shoot me a Tweet!

A trip down Event Memory Lane…

Ahead of the close of 2017 I was thrilled to see my name included as one of the Top 29 Event Industry Influencers to Follow from a newly released article from Tom Pick/G2 Planet.  I have extensive experience working within the Event Industry and am thrilled to be included with so many colleagues from one of my old employers BizBash Media.

My father Richard Aaron was the President of BizBash for many years ahead of his recent retirement and took a chance hiring me as the economy was tanking in 2007 to work within his event team.  I had just completed my Master of Public Administration and couldn’t find a job that fit my background and he encouraged me to join him and get some experience outside of my traditional interests.  Working at BizBash as an Event Marketing Manager I traveled the United States supporting nine  core markets learning first hand from him and others how to execute the onsite event managements for all of the trade shows and events the company put together.  I developed content for email, social media, direct mail and other channels to convert and engage audiences.

As social media emerged as a dominant channel driving both engagement and revenue for many of our events my interests quickly migrated into learning about digital and social strategy.  Within BizBash Events we developed a social media lounge a core part of our large scale tradeshows deepening relationships with Event Influencers within core markets and showcasing what real time event success looked like with giveaways, live twitter feeds and more. We were one of the first to develop this type of strategy and it was fascinating and exciting.

It was love at first sight for me. Seeing social media so deeply integrated into the success of our overall event success really hit home.  I knew I had to work to deepen my digital marketing background and move forward in future roles with more focus on social media and the strategies of implementation for ongoing success.  I worked alongside a fantastic team and mentor (my father) who took a chance on a young twenty something and deeply impacted my long term career success.  Since BizBash I’ve worked at several events and publishing companies (Crain Communications, IQPC, Euromoney Institutional Investor) and have implemented tactics I learned from my event days.

Within my role at CFA Institute I work to support some of our larger global events developing social media strategies for ongoing success.  At one of our annual conferences I developed a social media lounge featuring a social media vending machine where a tweet with a unique hashtag dispensed a prize to the participating delegate. Not something you traditionally see at financial events but a real wow-factor and attention grabber for many of our attendees. I’ve also lead our internal team annual kickoff meeting for the last two years bringing some of my old BizBash “outside the box” event skills to make work meetings more engaging including a live graphic artist, digital caricatures and hashtag cookies and chocolates to tie the theme together.

I’m so grateful to Tom Pick and G2 Planet for the Inclusion and to my father for taking a chance on me.  It’s important to have a mentor that supports you and helps you refine your skills as the years go on.  He’s always been a sounding board for many of my ideas helping me to think outside the box and refine for success and I’m grateful beyond words.

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My Three Rules to Maintain a Healthy Work-Life Balance

In an age where we are readily able to access our work 24/7 many people are putting in extra hours, and using their smartphones to continue to be “on-call” outside of traditional work hours. I’m guilty as charged and often reach for my phone and answer work emails early in the morning and late at night before getting out of bed. I’ve found a few ways to maintain a healthy work-life balance.

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Here are three ways which have helped me find a little more daily balance within my routine:

Rule 1: Learn to Unplug

Because we are so plugged in and connected it can be a challenge to step away and leave work behind. When I take my vacation days I now unplug and turn off my alerts completely. I leave my team my personal email and cell phone, and they’ll find me if it’s urgent, but by unplugging and not reading emails & listening to voicemails has helped me to enjoy my paid time off.

As long as your clients and vendors are informed of your plans in advance (i.e. through previous correspondence, voicemail or out-of-office messaging) they typically respect your privacy and need to disconnect.
Rule 2: Use Your Vacation Time

While we are on the topic of taking time off and unplugging, it’s important to schedule vacations and personal days to step away from work and relax. Vacations allow us to re-energize and return to our job well rested, and too often we don’t use our time off!

Americans throw away $52.4 billion every year because we won’t take time off from work. (Source: Oxford Economics) Click to Tweet.

Overall, Americans are taking less vacation than they did a decade ago. In 2013, the average worker took 16 vacation days, down from 20.9 in 2000, according to an analysis by the U.S. Travel Association’s Project: Time Off, an initiative to encourage more workplace vacation.

It’s important to schedule time off, and use your vacation time.  I’ll admit sometimes I take a “mental health” day and do nothing but lay in bed and relax, and for me, it makes such a difference. However you use your time off is your decision, a lot of people prefer “staycations” but whatever you do, use your time off, don’t throw away hard earned time off, use it and enjoy!

Rule 3: Communicate with Family, Friends, and Coworkers

Having an open line of communication with family, friends, and coworkers can help play a part with your overall happiness and balance. I always let my husband know key events and projects i’m working on so he understands when I’m going to be busy at my office. We’ve synched up our google calendars, and anything important and dates I need to be in early or stay late goes into the calendar. Since we’ve had the baby our time management skills have become thoroughly more efficient as we’ve had to make our days more productive to get home and pick our son up at daycare. We both typically bring home work, but after a certain time try to cut it off and be together as a family and enjoy dinner and a little downtime.

When we have big events at work I try to communicate to my co-workers to ensure all hands are on deck to help ease the workload and understand when longer hours are going to be expected. Ive found that many times issues arise in my work-life balance when I’m not properly communicating. Finding the methods and communication tactics that work best for you will help increase your productivity and overall well-being.

I hope these three tips have helped, what rules do you use to maintain a healthy work-life balance? Leave a comment below or send me a tweet @MarissaPick.

The Eight Traits Successful People Have In Common

Lecturer Richard St. John met a young girl on a plane on his way to speak at a TED conference in California who asked him a simple question, are you successful? This sparked him to travel the world for years where he conducted face-to-face interviews with a wide array of people to find the common factors with success.  He met people in all fields including comedians, parents, surgeons, nobel prize winners, celebrities such as Bill Gates, Russell Crowe, Peter Max, Seth Godin, and MORE!

He analyzed his 500+ interviews and sorted them line by line mapping out and reviewing over 300+ success factors. After analyzing everything he’d learned, he came up with these eight traits:

  1. Passion: Love what you do.
  2. Work: Really hard.
  3. Focus: On one thing, not everything.
  4. Push: And keep on pushing yourself.
  5. Ideas: Come up with some good ones.
  6. Improve: Keep improving yourself and what you do.
  7. Serve: Serve others something of value.
  8. Persist: Because there is no overnight success.

Success doesn’t happen overnight and Richard St. John found that these eight traits are at the heart of success and within the foundation across any career & field.  You can add in people skills, computer skills, and a wide array of other skills to help you succeed with your specific area of interest, but regardless of what you do, the eight traits above will always be within the heart and key to success.