Episode 332: Ask for forgiveness not permission with Stephanie Cox of Lumavate

Episode Summary

Stephanie Cox, VP, Sales and Marketing at Lumavate talks with Tristan Pillegrino about her journey as a marketer. She reflects on the challenges of making her opinions and ideas heard earlier in her career. 

She recounts her progress along a path of personal growth from that early career experience, which led to her ultimate adoption of a professional philosophy grounded in proactively tackling problems independently, without permission. 

Stephanie reflects on her former sense of relentless determination to achieve perfection on all projects, and the problem with striving to maintain that personal standard over time, especially in terms of the trade-off of speed and quality. She discusses the evolution of her mindset from commitment to incessant pursuit of perfection in outcomes to a principle of iterative stages of development. Stephanie compares the objectives of achieving top quality and providing rapid results and talks about how the switch to focus on incremental improvement through processes of iteration has transformed her project management and team leadership methodologies.

Guest Profile

Stephanie Cox

Key Insights

Episode Highlights

“I would have these really good ideas and they would be ignored, and then someone else who either was of a different gender than me, or was older than me, or had more experience, or was just honestly sometimes louder in the conversation and more boisterous would say the exact same thing. And everyone was like, “Oh, we should do that.”

That really was like the catalyst for me, I think. Taking the bull by the horns and saying, I do know what I’m doing. I need to stop asking people, and do what I think is best for the company. If someone has a problem with it, they can talk to me about it. I didn’t lose any of that Midwestern nature, I’m still super polite and humble, but I really just started realizing my own self-worth.”

“I really do think part of it is just how we’re raised. I think some work environments are more welcoming to both genders and treat everyone really equally and hear ideas the same, but I think regardless of the work environment you’re in, a lot of times women come into situations where we’ve been taught to speak a certain way.

We’re taught to be a good girl, which means, you’re not going to speak up, you’re not going to start an argument. But, I think there are ways to be polite and respectful while also advocating for yourself and what you believe in. Finding the balance of the two that works for you personally is something I wish more women felt empowered to do.

I think that’s a problem for my entire generation and the generation younger than me.”

“In my first role about a year out of school and I was in charge of brand management. My boss at the time had written a really stellar performance review, but as one of the areas for growth wrote, Stephanie can often be focused more on perfection. And while she always meets her deadlines, I wonder if we could deliver earlier if she wasn’t so focused on being perfect. 

I remember reading it and getting really angry. But, it really helped me start to realize — and it took years for me to get there — I have ridiculously high standards for myself. I started realizing the stress of perfectionism I was creating for myself. It wasn’t something that my company or my boss was demanding of me. I had to let things go. It’s not like they didn’t still get done, they just didn’t get done exactly the way that I had imagined in my mind.

The first time I was in a situation where I was forced to let things go, we still just absolutely blew our numbers out of the water, and so I realized maybe there’s something to this, maybe I need to let go of this perfectionism. I realized, I am killing myself when I really don’t need to be. For example, a lot of times when you spend so much time focused on a website, spending so much time trying to get it right, by the time you launch it, all of the data and perceptions that you used to create it are outdated, because you’ve spent so much time trying to get there.”

“I thought: What if the deadline is Friday and I can deliver something that’s 90% of what my ideal state is? On Tuesday and we can spend Wednesday through Friday getting data and then start iterating on it. I’ve always been a big believer that you don’t know what you don’t know. 

So, until you get out there and until you have data that starts coming back, all you have is a lot of assumptions or a lot of things that you’re using based on previous data. If you’ve done digital for a long time, you learn that something can work extremely well for six months and then stop working one day. So, I just really started pivoting to a mentality of let’s ship it. 

Let’s get it 90% there, and let’s just ship it, and let’s learn, and let’s iterate.”

How do you know when something is 90% there and it is good enough to get in front of people? “I think this is one thing that so many marketers still don’t do well, which is figure out what is your goal. What’s the primary goal? You might have secondary goals too. But, what’s the primary thing you’re trying to do? And, at the end of the day, it’s ready when it can do that primary thing.”

“In the first season of Mobile Matters, not a single guest that came on was a customer. We did that intentionally. You got to see Lumavate’s name and our podcast name tied to Google, Amazon Lowe’s, Crayola, MGM hotels, some of the biggest brands in the world. It really does help elevate you from a brand-awareness perspective.”

“So many marketers share their tech stack on LinkedIn, which then causes like other marketers who look up to them to go buy all the same technology. Then they’re not successful. Why? Because that person never shared their strategy. They never shared the number of people that are used to manage it, or any of the things that actually really matter. Technology doesn’t solve your problem, a technology strategy and resources solve your problem.”
“Marketers want to know what’s working and what doesn’t work. When things fail, that is some of the most important information for you to share. For those who are worried and don’t want to tell anyone because they might use the idea too, maybe you can gain inspiration from them too, or take a similar concept and make it work for your business. But, why wouldn’t I want to help you? If you’re not competing with me in deals, what does it hurt for me to share that this worked, or that I did this and it was an epic failure?”
“I think there’s a lot of opportunity for us to bring more education, create more of a community aspect around all the marketers. Are they your direct competitor? If not, share. We all learned that in kindergarten. Sharing is caring. I think a lot of times people think they have to have so many years of experience or have to have this big platform, I find what is most valuable is the people who do the work that share: Hey, I tried this out on LinkedIn ads and this didn’t work, but is anyone else seeing something similar?”

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