Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The Reluctant Love Affair

I generally like to plan my life. In 2004, I had two dogs - my 9-year old black German Shepherd, Pepper, whom we had raised since she was a puppy, and the Shiba Inu that my husband had rescued when it was a year old in 2003. I was not ready to take on another dog. But, Michael, my huisband was hell-bent on getting another German Shepherd to be his companion when he was away in Arizona, and had already paid the breeder a deposit. And so, in November 2004, I unwillingly accompanied him to have first pick of the new-born litter. The puppies were all so adorable, but I did not want to get involved in the decision. Michael picked the largest one, a rambunctius male with the longest hair, and named him Prince.

A few weeks later, the breeder shared with us the results of the personality test and warned us that while Prince was exceptionally smart, he was also apt to make his own decisions, thus making himn a bit of a problem to train. Prince had an enviable heritage --LAPD K--on one side and Search and Rescue on the other side. A day after bringing him home, I had reluctantly fallen madly in love with this adorable, loving ball of fluff with a mane that looked more like that of a lion cub than of a dog. And, every ounce of love that I have showered on him is returned at least three-fold from this now full-grown protective German Shepherd who is almost my height when he stands on his hind legs.

There is a striking parallel to my career as a marketer. When I was five, I had decided I was going to be a teacher like my aunt. My uninterested first students were my cat and dog and my nephews who were a couple of years younger than I. By age seven, realizing that I had not been able to teach this unruly bunch to read and write, I had decided I was going to be an actress and a writer because my father had introduced me to Shakespeare and the classics. Throughout school, I excelled in all the subjects, especially drama and writing, so I felt secure in my career choice until I turned 16. My mother drilled into my head that “good Catholic girls don’t become actresses.” So, it was decided that after High School I would go to Secretarial School like my sisters before me.

That is when fate intervened in the form of Daphne Lord, my Drama teacher who had seen my inherent talents since I was five. As she took me under her wing I got the opportunity to teach Drama to kindergartners through eighth graders while pursuing my degree in Drama and English. As a safety net and in deference to my mother’s wishes, I did complete my training at Secretarial school, which helped me land my first real job at Singapore Airlines as a secretary.

Just as I had reluctantly fallen in love with Prince, I soon was thrust into a future I hadn’t planned and into a tumultuous love affair with a career that has loved me back as intensely. Within a year, I was moving out of the secretarial duties at Singapore Airlines into customer service and Public Relations. I enjoyed a successful run during which I learned to develop strong media relationships and play a big role in managing the ad agency relationship portraying the Singapore Girl. Then I moved to the USA and secured a position at an ad agency where I learned the agency side of the business. This spring-boarded me into the marketing department at Security Pacific Bank (later acquired by Bank of America) where I learned targeted marketing, trade show and event planning, proposals and presentations, graphic design, collateral development and the print process.

Just when I thought I thought I had acquired and mastered the skills necessary to succeed in marketing, along came the World Wide Web and the endless possibilities of globalization and the need to have a web presence for customers to access at their convenience. Building on that, innovative companies like Apple and Verizon delivered smart phones demonstrating the importance of speed to market and faster analysis when dealing with a consumer that was “always on.” Social media has further empowered the consumer, changing marketing to an open conversation that anyone can participate in or observe.

Shakespeare said, “All the world’s a stage and men and women merely players. They have their exits and their entrances. And one man in his time plays many parts.” My early passion and talent for drama have served me well as I have learned to play many parts as a marketer – creative visionary, strategist, analyst, team leader, content provider, and most importantly, adapter and innovator.

The path of true love has never run smoothly as I have encountered companies and management that have been unwilling to spend their marketing budget when faced with uncertainty, not realizing that marketing is not an expense but rather the underpinning of a successful organization.

Although I didn’t plan or choose my marketing career path in my younger days, I have adapted well and ridden the waves of uncertainty and innovation, and enjoyed the adrenaline of success without going under. Looking back on a career that chose me as its almost reluctant partner, I am glad that I embraced it with all the passion it required. I am thankful that I did not stick to my original choices because my personality, talents and interests are all in harmony as I spend my days with my sole mate – the one love that has been as faithful to me as I have been to it.

Perhaps it is no coincidence that my reluctant love affairs have been with a dog named Prince and with a career that still gives me a “Royal Flush” in my cheeks each time I talk about it.

No comments: