Overcoming hardship, self doubt, and life threatening illness – Unstuck in October
October was motivation month on the Unstuck podcast. We were introduced to three marketing leaders that overcame unique challenges to secure their positions. Our guests faced many career hurdles but their individual hardships were tougher. These adversities arrived in the form of relationship stresses, poverty, and life-threatening illness. Work management also featured as we heard about workplace solutions and collaboration. Although it wasn’t always straightforward, our inspiring guests managed to build incredible careers in marketing and leadership. Here is a summary of the topics that shaped the Unstuck podcast in October!
The Productivity Triangle
Craig Robinson – Chief Growth Officer at Industrious
It could be argued that our first guest in October accomplished a great feat by earning a degree and securing a professional job. Growing up in a very disadvantaged Atlanta neighbourhood, it was unlikely that Craig Robinson would be able to break out of societal chains. He is now a Chief Growth Officer and Executive Board member that holds an MIT degree and an MBA from Harvard. So how did this Atlanta kid make it to the top of the real estate career ladder? Craig insists he would never have made it without generous support and guidance throughout his life. Teachers, neighbours, and coaches all went the extra yard to give him every chance of succeeding. He never forgot those who helped him and where he came from. As a result, he’s always happy to help others fulfil their goals so that they can have the same opportunity he did.
Nowadays, Craig is the Chief Growth Officer at Industrious. In this role, he is aiming to make the workplace evolve in line with human needs and corporate objectives. He describes workplace management as ‘not about space, it’s about place’. In this episode, the Harvard graduate provides valuable career guidance and work management tips for all listeners. This includes insights and useful commentary on building successful work environments, supportive work technology, and the three elements of human fulfilment!
Defining a Win
Denise Karkos – Chief Marketing Officer at SiriusXM
Our second guest in October would not usually be happy with that position . A born winner, Denise Karkos established her career objective in her early 20s. She wanted to become a Chief Marketing Officer and all roads ought to lead to that destination. Before rapidly climbing the career ladder, Denise made her mark on the soccer pitch. She captained The University of Notre Dame’s D1 soccer team and was a fierce leader that led by example. The skipper was ‘always looking for another win’ and this mantra has remained with her throughout her career.
After graduating from Notre Dame, Denise brought her champion skills into the agency world. Unsurprisingly, she climbed the ranks quickly. She progressed from Assistant Media Buyer to Media Buyer and then onto Media Supervisor. Driven by ambition she reveals ‘those promotions felt amazing’. Denise always wanted the top job though and set her sights on a Media Director position. Once she achieved this goal, she had a reflective moment. She wondered where she was going and whether this direction was what she truly wanted. At this point, Denise knew she loved managing people and wanted the best marketing job in that area. It was time to hunt that CMO job again!
Denise is now the CMO of SiriusXM and it’s been a wild ride to get there. Denise often had to change her personal approach to reach this point in her career. Personality conflicts with bosses set her back earlier in her career but she earned valuable experience in these moments too. Striving to win is a big part of her management ethos now. She incorporates her Notre Dame experience by continuously defining wins for her team. “What I do for my team is define what a win looks like – whether it’s an event, a campaign, a meeting – what does success look like?” Listen to Denise describe her impressive journey below and find out what makes a great CMO!
Strength in Vulnerability
Gina Jacobson – Chief Growth Officer at Starcom Worldwide
Our final guest of October set the tone early in this intimate conversation “I spent the last four years engaged in the brutal reality of stripping away the person I once tried to be, revealing at last who I really am”. Gina Jacobson spent her life displaying a strong exterior while trying to continually impress others. She wasn’t ready to show vulnerability when she found out she had stage 4 cancer during a bleak doctor’s appointment. Although this news was shocking, Gina returned to a highly demanding role and continued to lead her team. In her own words she ‘feared losing her work identity more than losing her life’.
She quickly found out that she couldn’t pretend everything was normal. The Starcom Worldwide Chief Growth Officer was not able to manage the workload she carried before her diagnosis. She was compelled to finally show vulnerability to her co-workers. This was an incredibly difficult experience for her, but it forged strong intimate connections with her team. It has been a daunting journey for Gina, but she has kept the show on the road and continues to lead the renowned broadcast company today.
In this episode, Gina bravely shares insight into her cancer journey to date. She explains how she was forced to find new ways to live and work. In addition to revealing deeply personal experiences, Gina provides invaluable advice to listeners on how to support a co-worker that is unwell. She beat the odds and the doctor’s diagnosis to be here today and we’re very grateful she has put aside time for us.