Who are you, and what do you do?
I’m a storyteller, creative director and brand reputation freak.
I cut my teeth in the Outdoor Industry where I learned the finer art of building a brand and creating lifestyle based marketing on a non-existent budget. In layman’s terms this meant I was expected to bust my butt and produce results with no money. Thankfully, my DIY work ethic was the perfect match for this task and soon I was making strides in one of the world’s most competitive industries.
After earning my chops working with iconic brands such as Ruff Wear, REI, Orvis, Patagonia, Life is Good, Cabela’s, etc., I was asked to join a small, elite team of marketing and branding professionals at an exclusive marketing agency in Missoula, Montana. It was here that I had the opportunity to manage some of the biggest brands in the world while working with marketing’s most well respected designers, copywriters, digital marketing experts and photographers.
Today, I’m Vice President, Marketing Director of First Security Bank in Western Montana.
I am also the founder and “Head Counselor” of Brand Camp Creative – a brand reputation and marketing strategy collective. The Brand Camp team works with select clients in highly specialized and competitive markets.
What has been one insight or lesson that has been most helpful in your career?
If you want it bad enough, work for it. Nobody is going to hand you success and if it is ever handed to you there’s a 100% chance that you’ve just been given something that you aren’t passionate about and it will show.
Someone very close to me once said, “If you aren’t learnin or earnin, it’s time to move on.” This is has been my professional mantra for over 20 years. In every job, for every employer and no matter what I’m involved in, if I’m continuing to learn new skills, ideas and push my thinking to places I didn’t think were possible then I’m content. If this stops and I find myself without any motivation or ability to go to the next level personally or professionally then I know it’s time to move on.
What has been your favorite mistake? A mistake that in retrospect led to a great lesson and progress.
I was desperate for work and took a job as a customer service rep for $8.50 per hour. It was a huge “step back” for me professionally. Little did I know that within two weeks the owner of the company had fired the national sales and marketing manager and since nobody else wanted the job, I was offered it and took it.
Taking that job lead to working with some of the biggest and best brands in the outdoor industry and learning the art of marketing from some of the best in the world.
Sometimes taking a step back is your best step forward. It’s the reason why I am where I am today.
Don’t ever think you’re too good for a job.
Project forward ten years. How will your industry or field be fundamentally different then? What opportunities do you see?
The days of IG influencers are coming to an end. It’s become another version of QVC shopping network. All the product endorsements are over the top and there’s no real authenticity anymore in that medium or any other social media medium.
There’s no more difference between “traditional media” and “new media,” it’s all one thing, one platform and the messaging is chaotic.
Simple. Analog. Emotion. Experience. These are the things we have lost in the current environment. The first industry leader that starts to embrace these again will be ahead of the new curve. I also see a time when “retro internet” will come into play. Making websites look old and retro with today’s functionality but made to feel like an older experience. Similar to how 60’s, 70’s, 80’s, 90’s, music and fashion always come back around with new generations. You’ll see this happening on the web. Right now old school, handheld video games from the late 70’s and early 80’s are becoming cool again.
Traditional agencies are becoming a thing of the past and ad-tech is also starting to shift it’s focus now that marketing professionals in-house can design, configure and deploy their own digital campaigns with as much or more efficiency than any ad-tech agency.
More independence away from traditional marketing agencies is already happening but you’ll start to see micro-marketing groups form in the way of a collective (similar to what I’m doing with BrandCampCreative) as a way to quickly work with highly targeted customers in aggressive industries.
What are some bad recommendations you hear in your profession or area of expertise?
The worst phrase I can possible hear in my profession is:
“What is best practice for this type of thing.” I absolutely hate the phrase “best practice.” To me that just means “second best.”
I’d prefer to be the one who is out there creating what others would deem as “best practice.” There are no boundaries in marketing, no rule books or instructional guides. If you ever look at working for someone the first question I would ask them is how do they feel about utilizing “best practice” in the field of marketing. Depending on their answer will be the the reason why I would take the job or keep walking.
In the last two years, what have you become better at saying no to?
“Can I pick your brain.” Is one of the things I’ve been really good at saying “no” to lately. People don’t understand the energy, commitment, sacrifice, weekends, holidays, time away from family, risk, emotional toil, physical toil, financial stress, etc. that it has taken for me to put enough mileage on myself in my profession to end up with a brain worth “picking.”
I’m always happy and eager to meet with interesting people doing cool things that are looking for a way they can tell the story of their product or service but that also needs to come at a price.
Giving someone free intelligence doesn’t do them any good. I feel that people need to have skin in the game when it comes to this type of thing. Even if they pay $100 for an hour of my time, I’ve found that they will take what I have to say more seriously that if they didn’t have to pay anything to get it. There’s actual value that is created for my intelligence when a price is put on it.
I’ve also had to say no to other organizations that want me to work with them on fundraising or board member activities. Between my day job, BrandCampCreative, family time and personal time I’ve learned that if I don’ protect my time it will be taken from me before I even know it’s happened. Sometimes the best yes is a no.
What is the one book you recommend most often and why?
Let My People Go Surfing – Yvon Chouinard
Yvon tells the story of how he started Patagonia. It’s an amazing story about how an individual took their passion and started it as a business for the sole purpose of sustaining a certain lifestyle. It also speaks to the value of never doing what the other guy is doing and stay true to yourselves and your passions without putting money or profit before anything else.
The Monkey Wrench Gang – Edward Abbey
Every good marketing person should be a renegade and question authority. This book is for renegades.
What advice would you give a smart and ambitious recent college graduate? What advice should they ignore?
Success is earned, not given. If you want it bad enough you’re going to have to scrap and hustle your way to where you want to be. My biggest suggestion is to find an industry that you love, be it outdoors, fashion, tech, etc. etc. and get a job within that industry. Any job. Just get your feet on the ground doing anything. Then start letting people know where you eventually want to end up and start asking people how to get there, what you need to do to be successful enough to get where you want to go.
There’s no utopia. There’s no perfect job and every single day won’t be amazing. That’s not how it works. So, you have to ask yourself the question: If I’m going to have a few bad days at work (along with a ton of awesome days at work) I may as well work in an industry, place or with people that inspire me. Your job is to find where that inspiration lies.
Read this article: https://markmanson.net/life-purpose
What is your favorite quote, one you aim to live by?
“Beware of all enterprises that require new clothes, and not rather a new wearer of clothes.”
– Henry David Thoreau