Gina F. Rubel, was recently featured in Region's Business, a weekly publication covering politics and business news in the Delaware Valley. Specifically, the publication's September 13 edition included an in-depth look at Governor Tom Corbett's sliding poll numbers, community banks dealing with the Dodd-Frank bill, advice gleaned from the journey from employee to CEO and more. To read Gina's article titled, "From Employee to CEO: What I've Learned," click here or read the full article below.
Things I’ve Learned: From Employee to CEO
By Gina F. Rubel, Esq.
I have been thinking about the lessons I’ve learned along my career path: lessons I’ve learned on my own and others that I’ve been taught by former colleagues and bosses. Those lessons have been both good and, let’s just say, things I never want to emulate or repeat. So I decided to share a compilation of lessons as they relate to running a successful business (no matter if it’s a law firm, marketing agency, accounting firm, public relations agency, etc.) Here are just a few things that I’ve learned along the way which have become guidelines that I try to live by.
Set up systems and templates. Systems need to be adopted from the start of a business lifecycle and updated and refined regularly. I have met with firms time and time again which do not use business management software but think they are ready for strategic business development and marketing initiatives. I have been known to tell them to think again about adopting an aggressive and strategic marketing strategy without foundational systems as the company will eventually implode.
It’s not about you. I’ve been heard saying this too. Marketing and public relations is not about stroking the ego of the professional seeking to be the next correspondent on a major news network – it’s about strategically, methodically, systematically and frequently reaching your target audience on their terms, where and when they want to be reached with the messages that they will hear and respond to. So if your target audience isn’t watching that network news program, the time and energy spent landing the spot isn’t going to make that big of a difference. And if your target audience could care less about your new product or take offense to the messaging and campaign, you’re dead in the water. Just look at Bic’s most recent product blunder with the “Bic Cristal for Her,” a pastel ballpoint pen that costs 70 percent more than identical regular pens and has been criticized as having “sexist labeling.”
Keep it real. Flattery and overkill may land the client but it certainly won’t create a foundation for a long-term business relationship. I remember meeting with a prospective client (executive director of a national nonprofit organization) who asked me, “What tickets to which major sporting events are you going to give me if we work with you?” My response: “None.” From that moment on, I wasn’t interested in the business because I knew the executive was always going to believe the grass was greener somewhere else.
It’s okay to say no. Business development is much like dating – you don’t always like or believe the other person you are interacting with and/or you cannot always fulfill their needs. There’s nothing wrong with either. Keep your relationships real. Don’t try to pretend to be something you’re not and certainly don’t promise to deliver something that you have no clue how to handle. It’s okay to turn down the second date and hand the prospect off to someone who may be a better match.
Lead by example and practice what you preach. It always blows my mind when a person cannot follow his/her own advice. While the statement is certainly cliché – there’s no better way to put it. If you’re going to be an absentee boss, you can expect to have distracted and absentee staff. If you expect your staff to give 100 percent, then you have to do the same. If you want your employees to be honest and forthright, then you have to be an open book. Your employees and clients, just like your children, will emulate your behavior over time.
Provide sound reasoning and data. When you give someone advise or direct someone to do something, you need to explain why. Teach people your reasoning and back it up with sound data. As a marketing strategist, I give clients advice every day. The advice that is the most readily accepted is the same advice that is backed up with sound reasoning and data. It’s no different when you’re giving a directive to an employee or client. Teach them what they need to know so they can embrace the counsel rather than have it fall on deaf ears. And with that said, I will conclude with:
Choose your battles wisely. This is a lesson that took me more than 30 years to learn. As a youngster growing up in South Philadelphia, I had a bit of a chip on my shoulder and always thought I was right. I would go to battle over a political topic, a little white lie someone may have told me just to keep the peace, or the passing insult that had no real meaning. Since then I have learned to choose my battles wisely and if I’m going into combat, I’m going to back it up with sound reasoning and data, practice what I preach, know when to say no, keep it real, remember that it’s not about me, and in the end, walk away unscathed.
Gina F. Rubel, Esq., is the president and CEO of Furia Rubel Communications, Inc., a strategic marketing and public relations agency located in Bucks County, Pa. Gina and her agency have won many awards for communications, public relations, websites and graphic design, corporate philanthropy and leadership. An author, strategic thinker and visionary, Gina enjoys sharing what she has learned in business and in life. You can find her on LinkedIn at www.linkedin.com/in/ginafuriarubel or follow her on Twitter at http://twitter.com/ginarubel. For more information, go to www.FuriaRubel.com.
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