by Erna George (@edgeo23) When you give it your all, you certainly start feeling it after a long stretch of being on the go — think how you feel about the end of November. At these points, you need some time out to rebuild and reenergise so that you have something in the tank, not only for yourself but also for your career.

With things getting ever busier, tougher and more serious, mini-renewals are critical, especially when it sometimes feels as if room for flair and fun has been lost. In this age of being busy, what do you need to give yourself to keep progressing positively, to feed your creative side and the part of you required to keep going and get the max score on the board?

Feeding the soul & creative mind

We all agree you need ‘time out’ of the fray to have time to think; strategy and creative take thinking time. Nurture your thinking self by stepping out of the crazy or doing things differently. Spend a work day at your agency, go on immersions and execute or even drive a different way to work to renew your brain power and spirit. End a crazy day at a vibey youth hotspot or experience an early morning breakfast at an inspirational space. Not too long ago, I went to a small coffee spot before a meeting and, with all the high-school traffic (quite different from the start of my days in Grade 8–10), I heard and saw so many interesting tidbits, learnt so much and the day just seemed to have more momentum.

Consider booking an external creative workspace — there are so many to choose from. Seeing things differently or getting your brain out of linear thinking helps you see opportunities, and the mark of a great marketer is being a growth hacker. Is there a creative course you want to do? Plan escapes, mind-twisters or learning moments into your diary or annual plan to have the inspiration to keep going and be better at marketing.

Keep the crazy & admin at bay

Alert! This requires planning and organisation, and I don’t want to dwell on this as admin excites me about as much as missing dessert forever! End on an admin-high (all done and prepared), whether it be the end of the day, week or year. This makes the start of the next so much more manageable and fun. If you get your admin work up to scratch before heading off on leave/week one (at least) or choose a day in the week to do this, you can plan time in for connecting or escaping as mentioned above.

You will have to find what works for you — I actually found a great organisation planner on Pinterest just recently that has made life tons smoother. Try to touch things once which requires the right processes. For email, answer it, forward it or put it on your list of things to do. This way, you don’t mark it unread and have to reopen it, only to have to decide what to do all over again. Keep data organised. Save files with intuitive names and keep important data at your fingertips for easy access. Perhaps capture key items in a growth playbook that you carry with you to immersions and meetings? Keep stakeholders comfortable so interruptions are proactively managed — if I miss a status with my boss, I try to send an email update at the end or start of the week which leaves him comfortable and ensures we’re aligned. Share ideas on how to get this done smartly and out of the way. Armchair marketers who aren’t connecting to their consumers, manufacturing and sales teams etc will be less effective.

Find your dream

Determine what kind of marketer you are aiming to be.

When last did you think about what you want for your career and what do you need to go after it? Too often I hear the question, “What is the business plan to build my capability and my progression?” When I ask what is wanted, the answer is often “to grow and be promoted”. To be promoted to what? Which aspect of marketing? What do you have to offer (your expertise and passion) and what do you want to be part of? In short, what’s your natural profile and what areas are you most drawn to? (There are fmany quizzes online that you can use for this).

Marketing has expanded into so many areas and you need to explore, understand and determine what your progression is right for you. Construct your career so you chase the tasks that will build this. This way, you won’t get itchy feet; you’ll be able to the balance the frustrations (which exist in every workplace) as you will be getting what feeds your spirit. Think about what fascinates you — sustainability/purpose/direct contact with consumers/high digital/big data and strategy/content and messaging over media/being a strategist, managing others or focus on execution and so on. When a new opportunity comes your way (internally or externally), you can measure it against what you’ve determined is your pathway through the world of marketing.

Leading your team

As a team leader, it’s helpful for me to know my team members’ proficiencies and gaps but it’s game-changing for me to know what they want. This way, when opportunities arise, I can channel the right projects to the right people.

As a marketer, you’ll be able to know what to ask for in your development plan, how to channel your reading or choose what to study to boost skills. Knowing your story and writing your future is a vital part of being satisfied at the end of every week, helps you find your edge and may maximise your time in the business you’re in or help you plan the right exit, rather than blipping all over the place.

Make things fresh as often as possible so that you may grow and be energised to grow your brands in the right marketing industry for you. Here are three ways:

  • Feed your creative soul: on digital, direct to consumers or simply making yourself see or thinking differently
  • Keep admin under control so you’re focused on the growth agenda
  • Set your own growth agenda to match your expertise: this helps your own career and the organisation you’re working in building capability and nurture your specific talent.


Erna GeorgeAfter starting at Unilever in a classical marketing role, Erna George (@edgeo23) explored the agency side of life, first as a partner at Fountainhead Design, followed by the manic and inspiring world of consultancy at Added Value. She has returned to client-side, leading the marketing team in the Cereals, Accompaniments & Baking Division at Pioneer Foods. Her monthly “Fair Exchange” column on MarkLives concerns business relationships and partnerships in marketing and brandland.

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