For young marketers, finding the right mentor is critical to professional growth and success. The right mentor can teach you invaluable lessons, open doors to new opportunities and provide guidance that is imperative when navigating the (sometimes) treacherous waters of a career.
But finding a great mentor isn’t easy. Paths and opportunities don’t always cross and those struggling to find guidance are often left feeling lost and discouraged.
As part of a new series, 73 Questions with a Marketer (inspired by Vogue’s), I’ll interview marketers who I’ve either been personally fortunate enough to have as a mentor or those who have been amazing mentors for others in the industry. To kick off this series, it felt only appropriate to interview my most influential mentor, Michael Brenner.
Michael spent nearly 7 years at enterprise software company, SAP, as its first Head of Digital Marketing and first Head of Content Marketing. During that time, he built an award-winning content marketing program that continues to this day. From there, Michael joined content marketing software company, NewsCred, as Head of Strategy. It was here that I was fortunate enough to be hired by, work for and co-author a book with him. Most recently, Michael started his own consulting business, Marketing Insider Group, where he continues to help brands build successful content marketing programs.
1. What time did you wake up this morning?
At 6:35 am. My 4-year-old punched me in the face and asked for breakfast.
2. What is your favorite breakfast?
Fresh kale smoothie with pineapple, apple, orange and almonds.
3. What’s your favorite museum?
The Louvre is amazing!
4. What’s your biggest professional weakness?
5. What’s your biggest professional strength?
6. When are you most satisfied with your job?
When I’ve helped someone solve a problem that keeps them up at night.
7. What marketing buzzword do you wish everyone would stop using?
8. What marketing buzzword do you most overuse?
9. What are three positive things your last boss would say about you?
Results-driven, committed, passionate.
10. Who is your favorite comedian of all time?
11. If you had to name your absolute biggest phobia, what would it be?
12. How would you like to grow professionally in 2016?
Meeting more leaders and creatives in business.
13. What brand’s marketing program do you admire most?
Casper’s Van Winkles – Duh!
14. What items do you always have in your bag or wallet?
I travel light. My iPhone case is also my wallet. That’s all I ever carry.
15. What’s the first thing you notice about someone when you first meet them?
16. Are you an extrovert or introvert?
I’m split. I’ve taken tests about a dozen times and always fall right in the middle.
17. What are you reading right now?
Influence by Robert Caldini.
18. What’s your favorite leisure book?
To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee.
19. What’s your favorite professional book?
The Service Profit Chain by James Heskett.
20. What’s the last book you read?
21. What’s a book you wish you had written?
22. What’s the best vacation spot?
23. What country have you always wanted to visit?
24. What’s the best part about your job?
The people I meet.
25. If you could make a documentary, what would it be about?
How digital, social and mobile have truly changed the world.
26. What’s the biggest risk you’ve taken?
Starting my own business.
27. What do you love most about marketing?
Helping educate potential customers.
28. What do you dislike about marketing?
That most people think it’s all about ads.
29. What’s another industry you’d consider getting into?
30. How many emails do you write each day?
31. What’s the greatest invention of all time?
32. What have you learned from your children?
33. What’s a skill that can never be mastered?
34. What is your motto?
Life is short.
35. What’s the biggest misconception about content marketing?
That content = content marketing or native ads = content marketing.
36. What do you most value in coworkers?
37. What do you most value in friends?
Being able to be my goofball self around them.
38. Where would you most like to live?
Key West, FL.
39. What would you consider your greatest professional achievement?
The people I’ve mentored and the success they’ve achieved.
40. What would you consider your greatest personal achievement?
Convincing my wife to marry me.
41. If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
42. Which talent would you most like to have?
43. When and where are you happiest?
On the beach with a margarita.
44. Which living person do you most admire?
45. What time do you go to bed at night?
46. Facebook or Twitter?
47. What’s the best thing about the internet?
I dunno, let me look it up on Google.
48. What’s the worst thing about the internet?
When my connection is slow.
49. What’s your favorite cocktail?
50. Have you ever sent a Tweet you wish you hadn’t?
Once I replied to a comment troll.
51. What is the last song you listened to?
‘Best of You’ by Foo Fighters.
52. What’s one thing about marketing at Marketing Insider Group that would surprise people?
How awesome it is.
53. What’s the best thing about working at Marketing Insider Group?
54. What’s your favorite TV show?
Game of Thrones.
55. Which professional experience made you laugh the hardest?
Bowling with my colleagues.
56. Who have you been most nervous to meet?
57. Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
Best selling author of a book that changes the world.
58. If you wrote an autobiography, what would the title be?
The Other Michael Brenner.
59. If you could teach a college course, what would it be?
60. What do you do to decompress?
Yoga, Drink beer, watch sci-fi. In that order.
61. What’s a cause you are passionate about?
62. What are three things on your desk you can’t live without?
Headphones, Bluetooth speaker, GoPro camera.
63. What’s the hardest part about being a marketer?
Convincing people it’s about helping people and not ads.
64. What advice would you give to junior marketers?
Focus on helping your customers and you will help your business.
65. What advice would you give to senior marketers?
The world has changed, your marketing stinks, there is a better way.
66. What’s your favorite of all foods?
67. What’s the secret to success?
68. What’s the secret to having work/life balance?
Do what you love.
69. What’s your dream job?
The one I have.
70. Describe your management style in one word?
71. What is your favorite hobby outside of work?
Playing with my kids.
72. What’s the biggest project you’re working on right now?
Building a content site for major brand.
73. What are you most excited for in 2016?
It’s a toss up: Game of Thrones or the election madness.
Thank you so much for your answers, Michael!