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In conversation with Pat Malone - Episode 11 - Inspiring the Next CMO series

Updated: Mar 17, 2022

Join Lou in a conversation with Pat Malone, a senior marketing lead in strategic marketing, including market planning, brand strategy, digital marketing, and demand generation. Pat talks with us about:

  • her favourite word 'imagination' and of it in challenging circumstances

  • the benefits of reducing ‘busyness’ and appreciating a slower pace

  • her favourite creative inspirations – including Dr. Seuss and Shrek!

  • how living during a pandemic has brought home the significance of resilience in many forms

  • marketing as a way to use creative skills but also practice analytical thinking

  • how sometimes what you project on the outside is different to the self-doubt you might feel on the inside

Podcast channel: Website, Google Podcast, Apple, Podbean, Spotify

Links from the session:


Lou - Welcome everybody to our Behind the Fluff, Inspiring the Next CMO podcast. Now, you can find lots of fantastic resources to really raise your game on our website, Now, today, I would like to welcome Pat Malone. Now, Pat is a senior marketing lead in strategic marketing, including market planning, brand strategy, digital marketing, and demand generation. Hello, Pat.

Pat - Hello, Lou. I'm thrilled to see you again. It's great to be here. I just love what you're doing with this podcast. It's wonderful.

Lou - Thank you very, very much. We are super excited to have you here today. Now, Pat came through to me as a recommendation, and Pat and I hadn't met each other before this, but this is great for me because, I get to meet more exceptional people and also we get to have even more people involved in this podcast series.

So before we get started, I've got one question for you. Something we ask everyone before we start is, we have a campaign called #IntBunchWordOfTheDay, and we ask those involved in this to tell us their favourite word so that we can spread it all over social media. So, what is your favourite word and what does it mean?

Pat - I love that question. So, my favourite word is 'imagination.' And for me, what that means is really being able to envision possibilities that aren't real today. So it, to me, is kind of the foundation of creativity and I just love that word and I love the idea of the action of imagination and really how it brings to life things that you just didn't know before. I think, frankly through this pandemic, I think imagination has been a key in terms of helping us get through. Imagining what it'll be like as we come out of the pandemic, having the imagination of creative people who have really inspired us with new ways of delivering their different creative expression. I just think really imagination, it's an important word to me and it's my favourite word.

Lou - It's like imagining what Christmas is going to be like when we are actually going to be able to be in the same room as family. And I don't know what's happening in the US on July 4th, but all that kind of imagining when things go back to some kind of normality and you can tap your friend on the shoulder or let's just touch a friend, anything.

Pat - I totally see that. I know that holidays this past year have been extremely challenging. And I am actually imagining what it's going to be like in the future. In fact, today I'm in California. Lou, I think you know that.

Lou - Yes.

Pat - And yesterday was the, quote, "opening of our state." And it's been interesting because so many people, of course, are still tentative, myself included. But already we're starting to see the energy and the ability of people to imagine how it is now, how it is going forward. It's just amazing. So I agree.

Lou - It's an excellent word, imagination, because its boundless, isn't it? And it's also personal to yourself. So it's whatever you believe or whatever you think in your own imagination. It's an exceptionally good word I have to say. So...

Pat - Oh, thank you.

Lou - Okay, first things first. Let's find out a little bit more about you. So, what is the best thing that you have discovered in this last, very funny year that we have been in?

Pat - So, I would say that there is certainly a lot of adjustment that many have gone through in terms of working remote. For me though, I've been working remote out of my home for 10 years, although there's been travel along the way, which has made it nice. I would say, for me, the biggest discovery, because again, I had been used to being you know, working out of my home, has been taking time and slowing down. Really not experiencing the busyness. I call it busyness. That kind of that frantic way of working. I really have enjoyed the time of slowing down, and I want to keep that going. And so far so good. I've been able to continue to kind of take it more slowly and not feel so rushed. And I just love that. I just love what I've discovered through the pandemic. And I think many of us talk about things we've learned about ourselves or about our way of working or what has changed. And for me, that's what has changed. Is I'm doing a better job of slowing down, and I plan to continue.

Lou - I love it. It's finding that. Well, it is interesting because I was talking to someone else about this the other day, and it's balance, but it depends how you weight something in a balance. But I think certainly, this last, it's been over 12 months now, hasn't it? It's been quite a long time. How much it's taught us about the value of spending quality time with people and doing things that actually really help your mental health. And I think, certainly this pandemic has taught us and has allowed people to be more empathetic around mental health, which I think has been incredibly important because I think many of us have experienced mental health in a way that we never have before, but we are incredibly resilient, incredibly resilient.

So, who inspires you?

Pat - Yes. So, I would say so many people, and it's mostly creative people. I'm inspired by people like Dr. Seuss, who through his creativity, helped many children learn how to read. I know he's somewhat dated, but I still find his work amazing. I'm inspired by people like people at Pixar who've created amazing films like "Toy Story" and "Shrek."

Lou - Yes.

Pat - I mean, it really all comes down to creative people. I can't really point to any one person.

Lou - Yes.

Pat - I'm inspired by musicians. Good heavens, there's a very long list. And marketers. I'm inspired by the marketers at a brand like Always who created the campaign, #LikeAGirl, which has really shined a light on the importance of self-esteem in young women. I'm inspired by that as well. So, I think of all these amazing, creative people who've made a difference in our world with their talents, and that inspires me.

Lou - And their imagination?

Pat - Yes, exactly. It comes back to that, doesn't it?

Lou - It does.

Pat - Yes.

Lou - When you were young, what did you want to be?

Pat - So, I wanted to be a veterinarian.

Lou - Me too.

Pat - And like many children, I loved animals. I still do love animals, but at that time, I wanted to be a veterinarian, I wanted to be a doctor for animals. I discovered when I went to college and started dissecting rats and whatnot. I discovered that wasn't for me.

Lou - Yes.

Pat - But I did actually hang on to that idea even into college. And that's what I wanted to be.

Lou - Fantastic. I too wanted to be a vet, but like when you get to a certain point and you realize sometimes what's involved with being a vet, like putting animals to sleep and some other operations and stuff, I was like, you're okay, thanks. Not for me.

So, if you were to have dinner tonight with anybody in the world at any time, alive or dead, anybody that you want, and it can be as many or as little people as you want, who would it be?

Pat - So, if you had asked me that question, and I had been asked the question seven years ago or so, I would say people like Charles Dickens or Dr. Seuss, but now today I would say it's my father. I lost him five years ago and I'd love more time with him.

Lou - Yes.

Pat - So yes, it would be my dad.

Lou - I think that that's certainly what this last year has taught us as we start not looking at... Like, I started talking to someone earlier and they were saying about who inspires them is their mother because of her resilience and because of how hard-working she is. And I think I remember seeing on Facebook a couple of years ago, there was a video and they asked people, "Who would you want to have dinner with tonight?" And people were saying lots of different types of people. And then they would ask the children, "Who would you like to have dinner with tonight?" And their parents would watch and they go, "Oh, Mummy and Daddy." And it's funny because then you suddenly think, oh, yes, of course. Why would I not look at my family? I think so. It's like when you have that phrase, "Go big or go home", that's what you do in your head. You just go, "I'm going to go there." But it's that sentimental side, isn't it? It's actually thinking, it would be incredibly, it would mean more to me than anything to spend that little bit more time with that loved one that I no longer have. It's making me feel a bit sad.

Pat - Yes. It is a bit sad. And in speaking of that, my mother who is... Gosh, she's 87. She's been doing an amazing job through this pandemic I have to say all by herself. She's not in assisted living or anything. She's in her own condo, she's been doing... She inspires me

Lou - Yes.

Pat - how she's hanging in there. So, I'm fortunate that I still have my Mum. Yes.

Lou - And we all hate to admit it, Pat, but we tend to find as we grow up that our mothers were probably right about 95% of the time.

Pat - So true.

Lou - We don't like to admit it, but we're like, "Oh, that person that they said, don't go for that person", and we do, yes. We know nothing. Oh yes, they do.

So, tell me about your career and how you got to where you are today.

Pat - Okay, so it's been an amazing journey. I tell everyone who's considering a career in marketing that just get ready for a lot of great experiences. And to me, that's what it's been. So, how did I end up in marketing? So, I was one of these confused kids who loves both art, I love drawing, painting, all the creative things, and then also science. I also enjoyed math and science and biology. And it was just I was very confused going through college: what do I want to be? And I think why I landed in marketing is because in my mind, it does bring both of those things together. So the ability to express your creativity, use your creative talents, and then also to have those analytical skills and the ability to understand data and research, consumer behaviour, which I find super fascinating. So to me, that's the science of marketing, and it really brings both together. I started out as a copywriter for a small advertising agency and then moved into agencies. Worked in agencies for, gosh, I guess 12 years or so. That's where I really learned the brand strategy piece, marketing strategy and planning and had a great experience. And then after my agency time I started to think... or during my agency time, I started to really want to be closer to the strategy. The strategic piece of marketing is definitely my passion, and I felt on the agency side, you are a little bit at arm's length from the strategy. So I really then said, I want to get into an organizational role. And from there, I was in healthcare. I've worked in so many different industries, which has been wonderful. I worked in healthcare, I worked in higher education, financial services, food and beverage. Just a lot of different organizations. And then now today, I'm consulting on my own. I've my own consultancy,

Lou - Yep.

Pat - and I'm able to take all of that experience I've developed and learned, a lot of learning over the years through my agency experience and my organizational roles to really help organizations that frankly might not want to spend $400 an hour on a consultancy. So where I come in is I have the experience to deliver really great marketing thinking for a lower price. And I think that ultimately, I love helping organizations grow and develop, I love launching new products, new brands. Most recently, I helped a K-12 online tutoring company, which by the way, that business is just booming. The online tutoring business is booming.

Lou - Fantastic. Yes.

Pat - And I helped launch a new brand for them, and it was just so much fun to be able to help this smaller organization with my experience and really bring to market a really exciting new brand. So I'm loving that. I love what I do. I love marketing. And I think I landed here for a reason, and it really ended up being the best place for me.

Lou - Yes, absolutely. I mean, it's funny because when I was growing up through my career, I was like, "Oh no, I love being client-side. I don't want to go agency side or consultancy side." And now being on this side, I love it. And I think like the positions that we can have now, that you and I get involved with, going into organizations and helping to inform and drive strategy is so incredibly important, and also being able to take in external expertise that we've learned from other organizations to enrich what they're doing and to open up more of a conversation and help with shared learning is phenomenal. And I absolutely love it now because I know that my clients, or our clients even get the best out of that situation. And it may not be the fact that you're not charging $400 an hour, but it doesn't mean that that service that is charging that amount of money is any better value than you are. So just because you're at a different rate, that's because you have a different proposition which is that you're smaller, more niche, dedicated service.

Lou - I think you raised a really great point about bringing to bear the depth or breadth of experience. And for me, the great reward is the feedback from the CEO of the, for example, this most recent project in launching a new K-12 brand. She's just been so effusive about how much she's learned, how much her team has learned, the things that I was able to share with them because of my experience, that to me is a huge reward. I just find so much satisfaction in that.

Pat - Yes, absolutely. And the great thing is that when we work in marketing, because of how our industry is and because of the way that we can measure what we're doing, it's fantastic that we can actually see the impact of what we're doing so easily with such transparency. And that does bring you a huge sense of joy, because when you know that you've done something, you resonated with someone and you've touched someone's heart in some way, or they've done their call to action, you're like, "I can do this." I'm with marketing. No wonder you've worked in so many industries because the skills are so transferable, so why not?

Lou - Yep. Agreed. So you may have already said this, but what have you been most proud of in your career?

Pat - So I think back on all the different amazing organizations I've been able to work with and the brands that I've been able to help launch or reposition, or new programs that I've created. I'm really proud of all of that, but I would say what I'm most proud of is what I've done in terms of helping other marketers, younger marketers, learn. And really having them say to me, "Pat, I've learned so much from you." Helping coach and mentor, that to me is the greatest satisfaction. I had actually a colleague from my most recent full-time job before I started my consulting call me, what was it? A few weeks ago just to... She was so... You could just hear the excitement in her voice. A member of my team talking about how excited she was about her new job. That she just got a new job. And she basically said, "Pat, if it weren't for you, I never ever would have even qualified. I learned so much from you." So it just made me so happy to hear that.

Lou - Yes, that's so lovely. That is so lovely. And the positive impact that you can have on those people, but still continually, how you coaching them and being their manager, how that still has such an important impact on them now and is getting them to be. You're part of that adventure of them getting to be where they are now. So, now this is an interesting one to ask a consultant because I'm not sure what I would say about this. What is your ultimate career goal? I mean, you could be there.

Pat - Actually, I would say, I really feel I'm there. I love what I'm doing now. I plan to continue doing this. And I'm excited about working with new clients and continuing to build my consultancy business. So, I'm really feeling like I'm where I want to be right now.

Lou - That's quite something, that is quite amazing, isn't it? Because many people would be like, "Oh, I want to be like CEO, running a company," and you are like, "I'm there. Yes, we're good."

Pat - Exactly. It's a nice feeling. I agree.

Lou - It is. It's a wonderful place to be because I think I'm there too, actually. Now you say that, yes, well, how bigger can I get than CEO of a company? My company? Who do I answer to?

So, if you weren't doing what you're doing now, if you weren't doing your consultancy see now and money was no object at all, what would you be?

Pat - So, I would really focus on art in some way. I mean, I find time to draw and paint now, but I would do it all the time. I also love photography, which to me is another form of art. So, focus more on that. And I think when I decide to sign down from my consultancy, those are the kinds of things that I'm going to really focus on in my life.

Lou - So, do you do art now?

Pat - I do. I would say I'm better at the drawing side.

Lou - Yep.

Pat - Just sketching. I'm trying to become a better painter and learning the medium of painting. And I do quite a bit of photography now just as part of my life, but I haven't focused on developing there. But I think I'm pretty good. I've got a good eye with photography as well. So I think I have some talent. I think frankly, it came from my dad. My dad was a very good artist, drawer. It kind of ran in his family. So I think I picked that up from him. So I'm very fortunate. My daughter by the way is also a talented drawer. She draws well. She paints. She's an artist as well.

Lou - Well, that's fantastic. So your father is forever going to live on, isn't he? Through all that artwork.

Pat - Yes. Yep.

Lou - Wow. So now, sometimes I ask this question and people say to me, "Well, I don't read professional books. I read blogs or articles or things." And some people go, "Yes. Look at my..." I mean, look behind you, you've got a load of shelves right now. So,

Pat - Yes, I do.

Lou - your books could be in there. So, are there any three professional books, say for example, if you want more or less you can that you would say are a must read, and why?

Pat - So the first one that I always suggest is "Start With Why" by Simon Sinek. And I know many people really love that book and follow it. And I think for marketers, it's important because it... And I've used the principles of Simon's principles from that book many times in my marketing roles. It's really the heart of what your organization is about, the meaning, and I think ultimately, that's what marketing is about. Is really bringing to life what is your mission in your organization? And your "why," which ultimately is your difference. So I always recommend that book number one.

Lou - Yep.

Pat - If you're leading a team, which we often are these days, I recommend "The Five Dysfunctions of a Team”. And I'm not going to get... I'm not sure I can... Patrick Lencioni is his name. I actually have the book here. I think that book, I read it at a time when it was just perfect for me. I had a team that was pretty dysfunctional. In fact, the book could have been based on my team. And so, I was able to really learn from that book and help kind of lead this dysfunctional team to a better place. So, if you're having challenges with leading a team, I highly recommend that book. And then last but not least, Seth Godin. I read quite a bit of Seth, but I really think one of his more recent books called "This Is Marketing", I recommend that for marketing professionals. Very inspiring. I don't know if you've read it, Lou, but it's-

Lou - I've listened to it on Audible in the car when I was in the car for seven hours.

Pat - Okay. I just really love what he talks about there in terms of... And we know Seth. He's kind of the father of permission-based marketing. He's really been a marketing guru in terms of his thinking, but I would say one of the things he talks about is how great marketers don't use consumers to solve company problems, but rather they use marketing to solve people's problems.

Lou - Yes.

Pat - So I think that's true. I think great marketing really does help solve problems.

Lou - Yes.

Pat - And I actually believe marketing can change the world. So I just love what he talks about. I think he gives a fresh perspective to some of the principles of marketing and really talks about how it's not being the loudest. That's not what marketing is about. It's really about helping people solve problems. So I just...

Lou - Yes, he was at Ad World recently, in part of what he was talking about, he was talking about the funnel because like, for example, HubSpot, they turn the funnel into the flywheel and they say, the funnel still has a place, but actually the funnel is now part of a flywheel. And for those that don't know so much about funnels and flywheels, I'll include a link in the description. And we've got like a webinar masterclass that we did on it. But he was saying actually, with what you can do with funnels is flip them on their sides and treat them like a... What do you call that thing? Megaphone? Is it a megaphone? Yes, so treat them like a megaphone to amplify your message out rather than the way that it's intended to just funnel down, which I thought was a really interesting way of flipping it. And he is very interesting. Simon Sinek, love The Golden Circle approach. And if there's any marketeer out there who's listening, watching, reading this, they absolutely, and I'll include a link from when we were talking about it to The Golden Circle approach. That really it's so important to start with the why: why is it important? What's the pain point about it that you're specifically addressing? How is it important? And then finish with the what, which is usually the product or service as the answer. And it's so incredibly important, and especially as organizations change their tone of voices now, which is happening so much. Now, I'm not a great lover, because I'm an Android user and not an Apple user, but I really, really admire Apple's messaging and how they will use that Golden Circle approach. And a lot of organizations are looking at how can we address the pain points first and then use that in our messaging to really resonate? So yes, I can absolutely understand and appreciate why you say marketing can change the world because yes, it absolutely can.

Pat - I agree.

Lou - So, if you could travel back... Oh no, actually, what is your most favourite book or podcast or blog, and why?

Pat - Okay. So that's another great question. I read a lot of blogs and content. I would say my favourite consistently, and I don't even know the name of it actually, but Arianna Huffington has a sort of a content hub. I think it's called Thrive, or maybe it's even her business name as well. But she brings to life

Lou - Yes.

Pat - a lot of leadership principles, a lot of principles around health and wellness. I just find a lot of her writing to be very, very relevant, and I love, I follow a lot of the content on Huffington Post as well. I love people like Richard Branson. One of my favourite posts that he had, gosh, it was years ago now, but it just made me laugh, but it was also so true. He said some of his best ideas come when he's sitting in a hammock.

Lou - Yes.

Pat - Yes. When you have your own island. I had to read further. I think he's just a magical leader.

Lou - Yes.

Pat - I really say that about him. And then I like people like... and it may be a lesser-known name, but Josh Linkner who happens to be out of the same town that I was from, Detroit, Michigan, is a kind of an innovation. He writes a lot about the innovation and entrepreneurialism and creativity, et cetera. So he's pretty inspiring and I enjoy his writing as well. So those are just a few that come to mind right off the top of my head.

Lou - Excellent Now, I just got myself a little bit distracted there because I was like, oh, I see. I was like, oh, this is going off behind me, but it'll come back on now, but I could see this hand print, right? And of course, it's my cursor and I thought it was a white hand print. I'm like, oh no, what's going on behind me? Yes, Richard Branson is an incredibly innovative and interesting entrepreneur. And very interesting how he began in his life. And I think it's really interesting to see how his businesses have evolved and developed and even had their own financial difficulties in the pandemic. And what you wouldn't expect to see from such a large, huge organization, but as well with Virgin, how as a brand it has diversified and the brand proposition that they've been looking at in terms of when they diversify. So you've got Virgin Atlantic, which is dealing on the aircraft side. And then you've got... I forgot what it's called, but it's like Virgin Holidays. And then there's the Virgin where you can buy different experiences and stuff. So, incredible to see someone start a certain way and how much that has evolved, but how the brand has evolved and how that's changed, and how they've kept that consistent brand voice and the brand name with the Virgin in, but then how that's gone along the way. He is a very, very interesting chap.

Pat - It is very interesting. I agree.

Lou - So, if you were or if you could travel back in a time machine, and if you could give any advice to your early career-self, what would it be?

Pat - I would tell me to chill out. I took things much too seriously in my younger days. I finally learned over time it's not that serious. I mean, honestly. And there's been so many amazing experiences that I've had in my life that I'm now realizing to savour it more. And just don't take things so seriously.

Lou - Yes.

Pat - Enjoy the moment in the moment and just enjoy those experiences.

Lou - Absolutely, absolutely. And it's interesting that you say that because sometimes when I ask that question, I found that most people have said confidence. So it's quite refreshing to hear someone else say, or someone say something different because it feels to me like a lot of people really struggle with confidence in their career whereas you are a bit more like, "Chill out. It's okay."

Pat - I will tell you, one of the things I reme