Leading global marketing, firing up food startups, and combining work and life – Unstuck in February!

5 min read

After a brief hibernation for January, the Unstuck podcast came back with a bang this month! The objective of Unstuck is to remove everyday barriers to success for marketers and creatives. We attempt to do this by sharing practical anecdotes from creative thinkers, marketing scholars, thriving entrepreneurs, and inspiring artists. What did success look like for our guests? How did they overcome obstacles along the way? What did they learn on their journey?

During February, three compelling business leaders joined Clive Sirkin to impart their invaluable experience to listeners. We met a veteran CMO that led marketing for a revolutionary online business in the pre digital age. This was followed by an entrepreneurial strategist who is providing unimagined opportunities for aspiring food businesses. Lastly, we concluded an enlightening month on the podcast with a personal tale of nature getting in the way of a career.

‘Sales overnight, brand over time’

EP39 with Mike Linton, Former CMO at eBay, Best Buy

Why do companies keep tackling the same problems over and over? This question was posed to 5-time CMO, Mike Linton. According to the former eBay exec, it’s often down to problems communicating their value proposition. Having led several global organisations, Mike has seen marketers frequently scramble to overhaul every element of the marketing mix. “Many companies think they need ‘better marketing’ but the true problem usually lies within the value proposition or competitive set” says Mike. He explains to listeners how marketers often blame themselves or their agency partners when results disappoint. Again, Mike reminds us that the answer lies with your customer, “you’ve got to go to the consumer in the marketplace and find out why they’re not buying your product.”

In this episode of Unstuck, we get to hear from a marketer that has seen it all. Mike Linton led an online business before most of us owned a laptop. He introduced reward schemes for one of the biggest retailers in the world. On that note, how does Mike stay ahead of the game? Firstly, he believes that a CMO’s job is like managing a professional sports team. In progressing that metaphor, Mike describes the marketers within the building as your ‘most passionate fans’. Marketing leaders must always bring their team along for the ride. If they don’t believe in what you’re doing, then how can you influence someone who knows you to a lesser extent?

Tune in to EP39 with Mike Linton to hear more pearls of wisdom from a renowned CMO. Furthermore, you’ll find out about his famous marketing martini metaphor. It made quite a stir in the late 2000s (sorry).

‘Entrepreneurship First’

EP40 – Natalie Shmulik, Chief Strategy Officer at The Hatchery

Our second spring guest of 2023 is a culinary aficionada that helped build an academy and production space for budding food businesses. The Hatchery is a non-profit incubator for food entrepreneurs in Chicago that gives startups a chance to cook their creations at scale. East Garfield, West Chicago is an underserved and under invested community that often gets a bad rap. Natalie Shmulik wanted to open doorways for people that don’t usually have realistic opportunities to develop their dreams. For this reason, they settled in West Chicago for The Hatchery’s inaugural setting. “So many people in the west side have great ideas. They have nowhere to grow them though” argues Natalie. “It’s all about providing access. Rooted in the belief that innovation must create generational change.”

In this episode, Natalie describes the day-to-day operations of The Hatchery. In addition to a safe space for cooking, it’s also a dynamic business academy. Among their esteemed mentors is celebrity chef Rick Bayless. Young students can learn both knife skills and soft skills from one of the best in the business. However, kitchen competencies are not the most important aspect of The Hatchery’s function, according to Natalie. “It’s about entrepreneurship first, and ideas second” she says. This means Natalie prioritizes business skills and effective entrepreneurship ahead of the output from the production line. Tune in below to find out why workforce development is so important for The Hatchery and the community of West Chicago.

‘Parenting Paranoia’

EP41 – Katie Moran, Regional Lead EMEA at Kimberly-Clark

Our final guest in February is a dynamic marketer that made a successful shift from integrated marketing to a client focused role. Katie Moran’s career was on a continuous upward trajectory as she navigated through senior agency roles and eventually into a director position at Kimberly-Clark. However, a natural curveball presented Katie with her greatest career challenge to date. While making the transition into a new position with ease, the evolution into motherhood proved more challenging for Katie. The self-diagnosed workaholic now had to juggle a demanding job with a much more important role.

She describes an inflection point to listeners where she realised that she had created a “recipe for failure”. On one hand, she was still trying to be the workaholic high achiever at work. This was competing with a higher aim of being a good mother. Initially, Katie fought hard on both fronts to make both sides work but the situation was untenable. Something had to change!

In a personal recount of her story, Katie explains how opening up with colleagues empowered her. Previously, she feared telling her co workers about challenges relating to parenting. Katie would rush out to collect her kids from school in the hope that no one would notice she was out of the office. Furthermore, she would work overtime to minimize the impact of her children on her work. Once she confided with colleagues about her struggles, she found it many others were in the same predicament. Tune in below to find out how Katie and her team found a new formula for work that doesn’t make you choose between a highly achieving career and a happy family!

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