Does Being a Parent Make You a Better Marketer?
At The CMO Club Awards, I received the President’s Circle award. To be a member of the CMO Club, one has to be a CMO or head of marketing as I am at my company, Unique Photo. Lots of industries recognize their best at these kind of functions. I could be glib about winning this award, except the truth is, that receiving this award was a huge deal for me personally. There was a time I never thought I’d be a creative person again.
I became a single parent of five children (ages 18 months through 8 years old) when their mother left us permanently in 1996. I vividly recall the enormous pressure that placed me under. I went through periods of low creativity and the marketing block that went with it. I was struggling just to survive. The free flowing creativity marketers need to have was just obliterated in me. I did not suffer from a lack of productivity, since God has graced me with copious amounts of mental and physical strength and five children who relied on me to provide for them.
So on the day I became a the sole parent of my five little kids it was like getting the job as CMO of an established mid-size company which had an ugly brand image, staff members which had no idea what to do, a completely disorganized work environment, no plan for increasing productivity, a minuscule ad budget and all it had to be taken care of rapidly or I would lose my job. Sound familiar to any of you out there?
The urgency I felt when my own children were suffering, unproductive and unhappy was greater than keeping my own job. This was a real creative problem unlike anything I knew before because the solutions are not linear. I had significant problems occur every day. They had to be solved. It wasn’t like I could turn them over to my managers. We talk about and know the difficulties in managing a labor force in business. But children are a force with an even greater demand for management.
As example – my son Zak: After his mom left he was severely traumatized and stopped speaking and interacting for years. His behavior was at times wild and almost uncontrollable. Many thought he had ADHD. I got advice from all over the place what to do from drugs to boarding school. The solution that came to me was putting him in travelling, competitive soccer when he was eight years old. He acquired discipline by having to run and train hard several hours a day, he learned to relate to his teammates and coach and gain the experience of competition and what was required to win. In High School he was an all-state player and won the NJ state championship with his team. Today he manages the largest camera store in New Jersey. Mine.
That’s a nonlinear solution which required the kind of creativity excellent marketers need to have everyday.
How has being a parent made you a better marketer?