My 30th birthday was spent in a beach town with tank top weather and some of my closest friends and family. The day consisted of catered BBQ and an all-day party turning into... well, an all-night party.
From an outside perspective, what more could someone have wanted for their birthday, right?
I should have been happy.
On the inside, however, I was a mess.
As I stood there outwardly celebrating with the people I love, on the inside I felt like I did as a kid when I got a bad report card that needed to get a parent signature.
I perfected this move of waiting until I was running out the door to catch the bus to throw that report card in front of my parents. I’d hand them a pen and blurt out:
“I need this signed now.”
Then I would run out the door.
Like that kid, I didn’t have the heart to tell anyone that I’d failed. Because, what no one knew except for me in that moment was that I was two weeks away from being let go from my sales position of over five years.
I had no idea what I was going to do next or where my life was going to take me
For the better part of six years, I worked for a metal door and frame manufacturer in an inside sales position.
Before going further, let me make one thing very clear:
I’m not a good salesperson. I could get through the day-to-day responsibilities, but I was fundamentally a bad fit for that (and really any) sales position.
The reality of the situation is that I was making good enough money and could lead the life I wanted to live from the job. I had no opportunity for growth. I didn’t go to work excited. I went to work to make money and get to the weekends.
Six years of mindless repetition caught up to me in a blink of an eye. I opened my eyes, and I was turning 30 without a career or path forward.
I found myself completely lost and hopeless, all the while trying to put on a happy face as I celebrated my milestone birthday.
What happened next wasn't any easier
If I let my mind wander through every move that brought me to where I am right now, as a content consultant for IMPACT, I’d never move forward. Because I see now that, in order to take a step forward in my career, I first had to take a step back and really figure out what I might want to do.
What's funny is that I'd gone to school to be a marketer. I’d even been in the marketing club in high school. But in the midst of trying to grow up and have a real job, I’d lost sight of my passion for marketing.
The thing that I quickly realized is that “marketing” is a really broad term. If you asked a hundred people what “marketing” was, they’d each define it in a different way. This was great because it gave me so many opportunities to look into.
It was also terrible because of the number of paths I could pursue. I found myself in a state of analysis paralysis, being overwhelmed by too many options and not knowing where to go.
So, pink slip in-hand and realizing what I was doing wasn't working, I did the first thing that I could think of to get some actual marketing experience:
I had just lived through six years in a “legacy” sales environment without knowing there was another way. I often was tasked with cold-calling, cold-emailing, and continuing to knock down the door of anyone who showed any interest to bring in sales dollars as quickly as possible.
And through that HubSpot course, I learned that every single thing I had done in my job up to that moment (and absolutely hated) were the exact examples used in the certification courses... in the “what not to do” section.
That may seem like a terrifying moment at first — to be told in black and white that you were doing everything 100% wrong.
Instead, however, I was excited and captivated.
Captivated by this entirely new idea of how to communicate in business and how to be so helpful that you bring your ideal buyers to your doorstep, just by being the #1 expert about what you do in your space.
I pushed my fear to the side and embraced what was in front of me as an opportunity
Now, I had this loose idea of something that I was interested in but really didn’t know how to capitalize and build a career around this idea of content and inbound marketing.
The idea of restarting a career at 30 was equal parts exciting and terrifying. I didn't have to think for very long to know I had to follow this new path before me, regardless of where it was to take me.
If I wanted to achieve my goals, I had to adapt. I had to change.
I had no experience as an inbound marketer. I ended up being unemployed for five months with very few interviews and exciting prospects to show for it. After five months, I ended up finding an inbound agency that took a chance on me. My salary was 25% lower than my previous sales role.
In two weeks, I went from not knowing how to contribute to being the lead account manager for a couple of high-risk clients. And, after a year of being an account manager, I was promoted into a role where I worked with account managers directly to create the strategy behind their client’s growth.
Then I came to IMPACT, as a content consultant — a nontraditional but transformational service offering that empowers businesses to become the leading name in their space, through their content.
Now, six months into this role, I feel confident I'm helping clients create content that helps them close more deals faster and attract more qualified leads.
What does this have to do with you, or your digital sales and marketing goals?
I’ve been in the position that a lot of businesses find themselves in:
You want different results but don’t know how to get there.
Maybe you’ve worked with a marketing agency and not seen the sales growth you expected. Maybe you actually "built the better mousetrap," but your ideal buyers still aren't seeing the value of what you're selling.
Some of the common fears that I see in this role are not wanting to discuss pricing on your website because you’re not the cheapest. You don’t want to talk about the problems with your solution, because you only want to promote the benefits.
Probably the most common fear that exists in adopting The Big 5 content strategy is writing about your competitors. And not just writing about your competitors, but listing them as the best providers in your area.
If I were a business owner, I’d have similar concerns.
I would ask myself:
“Why in the world would I want to introduce people to my competitors?”
There is a natural sense of fear that comes up when you’re coached to write this type of content.
So, what do you do in the face of fear of the unknown? Run or adapt?
When fear arises, there are two very different ways that you can approach these situations.
The first is that you shy away from this unknown and fall back onto a more comfortable playing ground. This will lead to the same results that you’ve always gotten.
The second is that you explore and experiment with the possibility of greater success. It won’t be comfortable and you’ll question yourself along the way. But you will get a different result.
As a now 32-year-old professional who finally feels like they’re in the right place in the right seat, I wish I could tell my 22-year-old self to enjoy the painful moments that lead to growth.
I’d tell myself to love the moments that bring you fear. And that there is no such thing as "good enough."
"Good enough" is safe and comfortable.
However, what lies beyond that is the potential of where you could go.
Chances are that you will have to navigate through some fear at your company. The next time you face the moment where you can do things the same way, or you brave the unknown and get a different result — embrace that fear.
Yes, you will likely feel some pain or discomfort.
But by embracing it fully as a sign of where you need to go, you will most certainly achieve your most aggressive business goals and have the potential to grow beyond what you ever thought was possible.