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In conversation with Rachel Fadlon - Episode 10 - Inspiring the Next CMO series

Updated: Mar 17, 2022

Join Lou in a conversation with Rachel Fadlon, an excellent industry marketing director. Rachel talks with us about:

  • her favourite word 'shenanigans'

  • taking a rare advantage of family time that the pandemic created

  • her career working through different cultures and countries

  • the importance of transferable marketing skills across sectors

  • inspirational leaders in marketing

  • being brave and trying something new

  • the best advice she has ever been given

  • marketing hints and tips

Links from the session:


Lou: Welcome, everybody, to our "Behind the Fluff: Inspiring the Next CMO" podcast series. Now, you can find lots of great resources on our website, Today, I am so, so happy and delighted to have Rachel Fadlon with me. Now, Rachel is an industry marketing director and someone I've actually met through this process and has been recommended to me. And we spoke for the first time a couple of months ago and Rachel is definitely a girl after my own heart. And she is absolutely awesome, so hello, Rachel!

Rachel: Hello! Thank you for having me.

Lou: No problem. So, the first thing that we always start off with is, we have a campaign that we do called, #IntBunchWordOfTheDay, and we love to find out from the community, what your favourite word is and why?

Rachel: Okay.

Lou: So what's your favourite word?

Rachel: Well, I'm going to have to go with shenanigans, if it's not already fairly clear why, it's a very fun word. I like to incorporate it into sentences, really as much as possible. And also I'm a bit of a mischief-maker myself, so I just enjoy shenanigans and I just think the word is almost an onomatopoeia, it feels like mischievous, to me, the word.

Lou: It does, what an excellent word. I hope that you just bring them up, into like serious meetings? Somehow.

Rachel: Of course I do.

Lou: Yes.

Rachel: I always try to introduce shenanigans as much as possible.

Lou: That's absolutely brilliant. Okay, so first thing's first, we want to know a bit more about you. So, what is the best thing that you have discovered in this last year, year and a half, since we've been in this funny, old pandemic?

Rachel: Okay, bear with me, I'm going to say it's my kids, and I'm not being sarcastic and I'm not trying to be funny, I discovered them in a new way. My daughter is 17, almost 18, and my son is 15, very soon to be 16. And during this last year, my husband is an administrator at a private school and he was in-person all year. Whereas my children and I were at home, I was working remote and they were studying remote, the entire year.

Lou: Wow.

Rachel: So, yes. I discovered, well, my children are just lovely human beings. And they...

Lou: Mm-mm.

Rachel: I got to know them in a way in, I think, a more intimate way than I've been able to their whole lives, because we literally had

Lou: Yes.

Rachel: a year of uninterrupted time together. One of my favourite things from this last year was when we were able and when I didn't have meetings, we sat together every day for lunch and I've never gotten to do that with my kids. So I just feel like I've gotten to know them. I was lucky enough to get to know my kids, in a way that I wouldn't have been able to before and I feel really grateful.

Lou: Yes. Yes. I think that's a hundred percent right and I think that a lot of parents and people out there, that will really resonate with them. Whether it's a child or a family member, I think there is a lot that can be said for the valuable, concentrated time that we've actually spent with those people that we never really had the opportunity to do before. And even if it was forced on us, it's just, yes, I, it very much resonates with me. Last year, Poppy was, she was two, two and a half, and she goes to nursery every day, Monday to Friday. So for me to actually have to spend time with her, like you, we all work remotely here anyway, but to be forced to spend that valuable time with her, it was just, yes, they are amazing aren't they? They are absolutely

Rachel: Yes.

Lou: amazing human beings.

Rachel: They really... And I can't say this strongly enough, kept me sane, during the year.

Lou: Yes.

Rachel: I'm a really social, extroverted person and it was a hard year,

Lou: Yes.

Rachel: also for my kids. And they really, I don't know if they'd say the same about the past year as I'm saying right now, but I don't know if I drove them crazy, but it was just lovely. I mean, we found so many things to do together that, yes, it was just an invaluable time. And now they're away at, they go to a sleep-away camp over the summer, they've gone for years. This is the first time where I am like yearning, physically to see them, I miss it. I can't believe how much I miss, I miss them not being home. It's, yes.

Lou: Yes.

Rachel: The whole new-

Lou: Don't know what to do with yourself, do you?

Rachel: No, what do I do without my children? We had our routine. We had our little meals, we had our shows we watched. I can't watch any shows because I have to wait for them.

Lou: Oh, no!

Rachel: It's a lot.

Lou: Oh, I'm sure that they'll be at camp, maybe on their phone, they'll be watching these shows and they'll come back and go, "No, Mum, I didn't watch that show, let's watch it together".

Rachel: They best not. Well, I'll tell you what, the campers, my son, they're not allowed to have any electronics there.

Lou: Oh, they'll be fine.

Rachel: So, yes. He definitely didn't know, my daughter, who's a counsellor, that's quite possible that she did do that.

Lou: Yes. You just can't help it, can you? My husband and I are like that, we'll start watching a series together and then he's like, "Oh, should we watch that?" And I'm like, "Oh, I'm on season 7 now, sorry".

Rachel: I do the same thing.

Lou: I'm a binge watcher.

Rachel: Yes.

Lou: Oh, brilliant. So, who inspires you, Rachel?

Rachel: You know, I think that's a... that's a big question. I don't have a specific person in mind. I just, there are so many people that inspire me all the time, in so many different ways.

Lou: Mm.

Rachel: I am... I don't know, I just... I get inspired, I am inspired by just tough, resilient people. I'm inspired by people who are not afraid to speak their minds, especially their, you know, there are so many things going on in the world today and I am so inspired by people who aren't afraid to speak up and advocate for others. That's particularly been inspiring to me this last year, is people's bravery in standing up, not just for themselves, but for other groups.

Lou: Yes. Definitely. And I think, it's very important, what you said, it's when trusting, when I asked this question, it usually isn't one person, unless it's someone that's been very impactful on someone's lives, it's... we take inspiration from all around us. And I think it would be very rare to find someone that would only have one person for example, that's ever inspired them. And I think absolutely taking strength from strong, resilient people and especially caregivers in the last year and all these people who've been the frontliners, absolutely incredible how, as humankind, we can really be. Yes, it's a funny old year isn't it.

Rachel: Yes, yes.

Lou: So, when you were young, what did you want to be? This is where I get a little visual in my head. when someone says like, Superman or something, I have these little images.

Rachel: Okay, well, so that's funny, because when I was really young, if you asked me what I wanted to be, I would say an eagle, because I just really

Lou: Oh.

Rachel: wanted to fly.

Lou: Wow.

Rachel: And then when, I just wanted wings and I wanted to fly. When I got a little-

Lou: That's a bird to choose, isn't it, I mean, if you're going to go for a bird,

Rachel: Yes.

Lou: go for the eagle.

Rachel: Go for the eagle, right for the eagle,

Lou: Yes!

Rachel: that was what I wanted to be. But there's a little bit of a theme in that then, so when I got older, when people asked me what I wanted to be, I had this image in my head that I wanted to be the thing that was the hardest thing that you could be. And I was a kid, so I'm like, what's the hardest thing? How? What's the hardest? So, I got in my head that the hardest thing in the whole world you could be, is a brain surgeon. So I would say, "Brain surgeon". It wasn't necessarily because I was interested in medicine, it was because I have thought that was the hardest job in the whole world and that's what I was going to do.

Lou: I think it's brilliant. I thought you were going to say like president or something. I apparently thought that brain surgeon was harder than president. Well, you know, a brain surgeon may actually say to you, "Yes, it is". Unless they've been a president and they can compare it.

Rachel: Right.

Lou: So, if you were to have dinner tonight with anybody alive, dead, it doesn't matter where they are in the world, at what stage, who, and you can have as many or as little people as you want, it's up to you, it's your night. Who would you have?

Rachel: I'm going to say Golda Meir. Golda Meir was the fourth prime minister of the State of Israel. I think this woman was just a badass. I've been following her, I read her autobiography in middle school. I admire the hell out of this woman. She was twice an immigrant, she's originally from Kyiv, and they're Jewish.

Lou: Right.

Rachel: Her and her family immigrated to the United States, to Milwaukee, Wisconsin. And then she sort of grew, her childhood was there, and then when she grew up, she immigrated to Israel at the time when Israel was just becoming a nation. This is a woman who had to learn a second language, adjust to a new culture, and again, as a woman in politics, anywhere in the world, it's not easy. And she, I just think she's incredible. She had to be one of the guys, she is tough as nails, she's amazing. She was a leader during, well, there are always rough times in Israel, but really during a historical time when there were wars going on and I just think she is, I would, man, what I wouldn't give to have dinner with her.

Lou: Yes. She sounds incredible.

Rachel: Tough as nails, amazing and you know earlier, you and I were having a discussion, before we started the interview about having imposter syndrome and feeling nervous. And I would just love to ask someone like her, "You seem so tough and confident, what's really going on behind the scenes there? Are you always tough

Lou: Yes.

Rachel: and confident or do you question what you do too? Do you get nervous? Do you have panic attacks? Do you?" You know? Those sort of things are interesting to me.

Lou: I bet she would really surprise you.

Rachel: I think so too.

Lou: Yes.

Rachel: I think most people do.

Lou: Yes, absolutely. We are all human at the end of the day. And I think,

Rachel: Exactly.

Lou: feeling nervous and those kinds of emotions, it tends to show that you care. So I think it's important,

Rachel: Right.

Lou: because it also keeps you grounded as well. So, let's talk about your career. Now, tell me about your career and how you got to where you are today?

Rachel: Well, I've had a rather winding path in my career and I will say that my illustrious marketing career started at a very small startup company in Jerusalem, Israel, where I was the office manager. I was a poor, poor graduate student, at the Hebrew University. I was getting a master's degree in Israeli Politics and Society, because I don't know if you know, I'm fascinated by politics and did actually think I wanted to become a politician in my naive youth. And in order to put myself through my master's program, I had a friend of a friend who was part of the startup. And in the beginning, it was just a gig to pay my bills in the beginning. It was, I was office manager, it was interesting. It was something new. I don't remember how long into it... I think the founders of the company saw that I had potential beyond being on administrative duties. So I quickly moved into the one and only marketing position in the company and I loved it. I mean, I'd already had a knack for writing and I loved anything creative. And so it just sort of felt like a natural fit. I will say that I've never had any formal training in marketing, I learned everything on the job. And so I would say I spent my early years, my twenties in Israel, kind of growing up in that world, in that marketing world and learning there. So the culture is very different than from where I am now, in the States. But I think that's only been beneficial and positive for me here.

Lou: Yes.

Rachel: After that company went bankrupt, I found a job in another software company in Israel, that's still there and...

Lou: Just to put that in there.

Rachel: Just as a...

Lou: This is not like when you go somewhere, they go bankrupt.

Rachel: Exactly, yes, I swear it wasn't me. It was not my marketing skills.

Lou: Was it my marketing budget spend?

Rachel: I swear, to be fair, I had zero in that company.

- Lou: You were very creative,

Rachel: And then in the-

Lou: like many of us had to be.

Rachel: I love that! And well, that's what's fun about startups. And then the next company that I went to was also, I learned a lot there and I was in the high-tech right at the time where the bubble burst. I don't know if you remember that, and everyone was getting laid off. So, and I found typically, that the first people to get laid off are the marketers, because as you said, I think the perception is that sales make money and marketing spends money. And so they typically let the marketing people go, so I lost another job and at that point, I decided that I would be open to marketing, it didn't have to be... at first, I was looking for more high-tech.

Lou: Yes.

Rachel: There really weren't any opportunities at the time so I was very, very fortunate that at the time I was looking, there was a position available at Israel's National Holocaust Memorial.

Lou: Wow.

Rachel: And, so I got the position. I still feel so fortunate that I worked there. I was the liaison. So I was the spokesperson for foreign media. And what I appreciate in Israel, which is very different than the US, your resume doesn't have to 100% align with what the role is. If they think you're a good fit and they think you have brains, and they think you can figure it out, they'll hire you.

Lou: Yes.

Rachel: So you can come from a totally different sector or position and it's not like, I feel in the US, they kind of silo you once you're on this track. You have to stay there,

Lou: Yes.

Rachel: because if you don't, you have to sort of start from the ground up again. Whereas in Israel, if they see that you could be a good fit, you could get the role. So I, yes, I was very fortunate. So I kind of moved into this PR role, leading very large press conferences for international media. At the time that I was there, Israel, the Holocaust Memorial was holding, I believe it was 50 years marking the time, from the first uprising from the Holocaust. I believe that's what it was. And so we had a 50 year, marking a huge ceremony where, diplomats from all over, the heads of state from all over the world attended.

Lou: Wow.

Rachel: And I was responsible for all of the foreign media and for the press for that event. Again, it just, an absolutely incredible opportunity, and I appreciate the fact that in Israel, you can just learn things on the job and they didn't expect you to know everything coming in. So it was an amazing opportunity.

Lou: Yes.

Rachel: After that I, excuse me, my husband and I moved to the States, I'd had a daughter. And when we moved back to the States, I, sorry, I had my daughter, she's about a year old and then very soon after that became pregnant with my son and decided that I needed to take a step back. And didn't really want... I'd been interviewing for some rather large jobs, I live in the Boston area,

Lou: Yes.

Rachel: in the Boston area. And it was like, you know what? I don't think I want to do that right now. My kids are little,

Lou: Yes.

Rachel: I know how demanding these roles are. I looked for a part-time role in the Jewish community to stay connected, for my own sanity, to get out of the house. And really,

Lou: Mm.

Rachel: when my son went back, went to kindergarten, that's kind of full-time school here, I was like, "Okay, I'm ready to go back to work now."

Lou: Yes.

Rachel: I had no intention of staying home and was looking, but like I was saying earlier, it's challenging here to find a role, when you've been out for a little bit, and to get into a new country and new connections and a new network, it was hard.

Lou: Mm.

Rachel: But I did, I was lucky again, I found a role in a nonprofit organization, as the director of marketing and communications, and did that for, I don't know, about five years. It was wonderful. We worked with a national non-profit organization that works with children, with Jewish students with disabilities.

Lou: Yes.

Rachel: Another incredible opportunity. And luckily, I had a friend, Tamir, who you might know, who I think referred... who introduced the two of us.

Lou: He did, yes, he recommended you to this.

Rachel: Tamir is wonderful. He had been at EBSCO for quite a while and in fact, basically, since he started, kept saying to me, "Rachel, I'm working at this great place". Every time a role in the marketing department came up, he's like, "Take a look at this role. What do you thinking about this role? How about this role?" And then finally, he said, "Rachel, I have a role for you. It reports directly to me, it's this great opportunity working with this new open source community, we're creating open source software". And then as soon as I heard, ah, open source, this is a job that has a heart. That is something I can get passionate about, that is a meaningful role. I was like, "Okay, let's talk about it". And so I've been at EBSCO, Tamir is incredible. It's a great role. It's allowed me to grow and learn more. And again, in the States, it's a little harder, and they did take a chance on me, because I did not have a background in the library industry, but I have a long background,

Lou: Yes.

Rachel: in marketing, so they took a chance, and it's been a great match.

Lou: I mean, the skills are very transferable in marketing. Once you understand your sector, then you can do it.

Rachel: That, well, that's, yes.

Lou: Amazing combination, isn't it? You just got to understand your sector. Just got to learn it.

Rachel: Well, that's what makes me laugh, I think, you're right, I think in most roles you want a marketer. The figuring out who your customers are, yes, there is a learning curve,

Lou: Yes.

Rachel: but it's not, it's not that difficult a thing to do.

Lou: Yes.

Rachel: And in fact, I'd say for most marketers it's exciting,

Lou: Yes.

Rachel: to learn a new customer base

Lou: You have to have that passion, don't you? And I think that when you want to learn who your customer is, that's when you actually get to know your customer,

Rachel: I agree.

Lou: rather than just taking for granted who that customer is, every time.

Rachel: I think so too. Yes, I think,

Lou: Yes.

Rachel: I actually think it's, well, I know this is going to get into some of your other questions, but I think it's refreshing when you bring people from other industries in,

Lou: Yes.

Rachel: because like you said, they do bring fresh perspectives, fresh ideas, and they look at your industry with fresh eyes.

Lou: Yes. And then you realize how incredibly complex it is, and you're like, "Yes, yes, we know".

Rachel: Right, yes. Well, that happens in the beginning, that's the honeymoon phase when you're like, "Have you done this? And have you tried this?" They're like, "Okay".

Lou: Have you heard of this library system? Did you know this one in the flow? And did you know that you need to be thinking about, "Oh, yes".

Rachel: Well, also in the marketing department, you come in because you're new and you're like, "Why aren't you on this? And why aren't we doing this?" And they're like, "Okay, calm down, rookie". "We've done that, we're good".

Lou: I'd like you to meet some clients and then they come out and they go, "Ai, ai, ai, ai, ai".

Rachel: Exactly.

Lou: Now you're going to understand the industry and then, you can't just do things like that. So, what have you been most proud of then in your career? I mean, you're working on that Holocaust side. I mean, wow, wow, wow. That must've been fascinating,

Rachel: Yes.

Lou: heartbreaking, but empowering.

Rachel: Yes. A lot of people when they hear, or heard, that I worked there were like, "Oh, my gosh, like, did you just sit and cry all day?" It's, you would imagine, it's a very difficult place to work. It... I would say that it's an inspirational place to work. The people,

Lou: Yes.

Rachel: that you meet and like, we got to, there are a lot of survivors, who give tours there. And so I had the honour

Lou: Amazing.

Rachel: of getting to hear their stories, as they're giving tour groups, or speaking to them for articles or things that we were writing. And they're amazing human beings and the fact that they've gone through something that is indescribably horrific, and came out the other side with hope and wanting to make a difference and positive, is actually amazing, and I tried to explain, I'm like, I don't, my office isn't in the middle of the museum, with like these pictures around me, I don't sit and cry all day. I'm like, "I get to share these incredible stories". Or where, how one survivor didn't realize that his brother was alive after 30 years, now I'm getting goosebumps. And they are reunited.

Lou: Wow.

Rachel: There was a case where I think it was sisters, who were both living in Israel, like 20 miles from each other and didn't even know that, and were reunited. I mean, there, yes, I'm getting goose-- there were just amazing stories like that, that you come home and you're, yes, you're like, "This is unbelievable". And it makes you like... Even now, I mean, when I get sick or when I get whatever, I... working there and working in an organization with students with disabilities, I'm always like, "It could be worse,

Lou: Yes.

Rachel: I'm fine". This is really isn't anything.

Lou: Yes. Yes, exactly.

Rachel: Yes, it's a little uncomfortable for a couple of weeks, but you know what? I'm okay.

Lou: But it's okay, to feel down or to feel-

Rachel: Absolutely. Absolutely.

Lou: And- Or to feel a lot of self-pity, but I think it's also

Rachel: Oh, for sure.

Lou: a great way to snap yourself out, isn't it? When you need to snap

Rachel: That's what it is.

Lou: yourself out of it.

Rachel: That's exactly it.

Lou: When you recognize, it could be worse.

Rachel: Ah, I mean I, don't get me wrong, I'm a huge fan of self-pity, chocolate, all that as well. But like you said then, there's the, "Okay, stop sobbing on those..." we have this Lifetime network here, that are just really all sob movies of things happening to women where you just cry, I'm like, "Enough Lifetime movies and chocolate, now we remember that this isn't so bad".

Lou: Love it, that is brilliant. So, I don't know if I answered your question for you, about what you're most proud of in your career, or if I probably took you off on a tangent, which is more likely.

Rachel: No, that's... No, I mean, obviously of course, that's amazing. I think what I'm most proud of is the fact, and this is what I was talking about, I hate talking about things that I'm proud of about myself, it makes me feel weird and uncomfortable. But what I'm most proud of, I think is the fact that I was able to move countries twice and build a professional community, in two completely new places, learn completely new cultures, but still land on my feet in the marketing community.

Lou: Yes, absolutely. That takes a lot of strength and resilience. And you and I talked earlier about people that inspire you.

Rachel: And so, so much chocolate. So much chocolate.

Lou: Strength, resilience and chocolate.

Rachel: Chocolate, that's my tagline.

Lou: But you know, that's incredibly unique. So, I say this to people, we're all unique. You and I can have the same conversation with someone, but we will have different experiences, and everything we go through is very unique to us. And you would be surprised about how inspiring that you would be to people who would be so frightened to go to another country to think, "Oh, my gosh, what do I do about setting up?" And you say, "You know what, this is what I did, blah, blah, blah". And they'd be like, "Ah, that's amazing". And you'd be like, "Well, it wasn't amazing, I just did it". But it's, for a lot of people that really would be. Something very special.

Rachel: Yes, I suppose so.

Lou: It is something very special. So, what have you found most challenging then? And I'm guessing it's not going to be working for Tamir, who's your friend, because that seems to be going down a treat?

Rachel: Yes, and I will, before I answer, I will say that, he and I had a very honest conversation before I started that this can go one of two ways.

Lou: Mm.

Rachel: You know? And it would have been a shame to lose him and his wife, as our dear friends, who we've known for years. So we always sort of had this pact that we have to be open and honest with each other. If something's not working, we have to say it. We have to just really... I don't think we've ever had to have a conversation like that because the two of us have a very similar work style, a similar leadership style. It's been nothing but, honestly, a pleasure working for Tamir, really. So I was blessed. So he's definitely, yes, that's definitely not a challenge. This might not surprise you to hear that I think my biggest challenge is being a woman.

Lou: I thought you were going to say about your cats, working with the cats, jumping up on the top.

Rachel: That would definitely be one of the top two. Luckily, they're being pretty quiet right now, but yes, that's definitely challenging as well. I think... I mean, I don't need to tell you, that as a woman, I just think we have so many more... hoops that we have to jump through, to prove ourselves. And I think, there are so many systems in place that make it difficult for us to rise to the top, even though we deserve to be.

Lou: Yes.

Rachel: Really, I think, there are still a lot of places that are very much, as we say, "A boys club," where,

Lou: Oh, yes.

Rachel: you have to claw your way into that group and you have to take a lot of crap while you're there.

Lou: Yes.

Rachel: To get your place. And I think that there is still just these impossible expectations on women. Like, when I had my kids, there's this... You know there's just judgment everywhere. You get judged for staying

Lou: Yes.

Rachel: home with your kids, you get judged for going back to work,

Lou: Yes.

Rachel: you get judged for doing both, you have to be just perfect super woman, where you're, if you are working, you have to be the perfect worker, but you also have to be the perfect mom and you have to have your kids doing all the perfect activities and that's so stressful. And so to me that's, honestly, been the biggest challenge. And just coming to the realization as I've aged, that I don't really care what other people think about what my lifestyle is, because everyone is different. Everyone does it in their own way, and in a way that works for them. And if someone wants to judge me, that's on them, because they're having their own issues. And I just have to understand that. It's not about me, it's about them, and maybe their own guilty feelings.

Lou: Absolutely. We are in control of our own emotions, most of the time. And we can control how we feel about how people feel about us and you're absolutely right, when we're younger we worry so much about what are people thinking and I mean, unless they are someone of real significance, who cares?

Rachel: Right.

Lou: As long as you're doing right, and you're being good, what's the problem? And I, yes, I completely, I think as a fellow woman, I completely agree with you about the challenge, and we've both will have been through different challenges throughout our lives. I think the only positive, or one of the significant positives that we can take from it is that, when we start looking at EDI, and we start thinking about diversity in different groups, progressively, we are further on, in terms of acceptance, than someone say, who's non-binary. So, I think it's, we've gone through a lot of stuff. And you and I have gone through, we haven't gone through stuff that people went through decades and decades ago and it just shows change can happen. And I really hope that my little girl grows up in a world where people don't judge each other the same. And I hope that your children grow up in a world where people are less judgmental, because that's what you and I have grown up in, is that judgmental side and that, you know, the old boys club.

Rachel: Yes, I'll say, I've been really inspired by watching my daughter and her group of female friends. They encourage and support each other in a way that I don't think women in our age knew how to do for each other.

Lou: Yes.

Rachel: I remember my girlfriends, in high school, were kind of, and again I think we were just modelling this, and this is the way that we were taught to treat each other. I'm not... this is what we knew.

Lou: Yes.

Rachel: It was kind of, there was the backstabbing and there was jealousy, and there was,

Lou: It's awful.

Rachel: this two-faceness, that I don't see in my daughter and her friends. And I love it, I love how they encourage each other, and they compliment each other and they support each other. And it's taken me decades to have friends like that,

Lou: Yes.

Rachel: and to learn to have those healthy relationships with other women as well. And seeing that my daughter just naturally has that with her friends, it makes me want to cry tears of joy. I'm happy for their generation that they have that. And like you're saying it's, I think that there, it has... Things do change every generation and it's really, I just hope it keeps going.

Lou: Absolutely.

Rachel: And like you said, not, not just for women, but for everyone.

Lou: And it will never be perfect, but it needs to be better.

Rachel: Yes, that's right.

Lou: Absolutely. So, what's your ultimate career goal, president of EBSCO?

Rachel: You know, it's funny, because again, when I was younger, I was like, "I'm going to be CEO of the company". I don't want that anymore.

Lou: Now you've grown.

Rachel: I don't.

Lou: And this thing you have

Rachel: Right?

Lou: you're like...

Rachel: And yes, exactly, that's not for me. I will say, though, that for me, really, my ultimate goal is to be happy, in what I'm doing and feel passionate about what I'm doing. I would ultimately, and again, I always feel because I did take that seven year hiatus, in my marketing career, I always feel like I'm seven years back and I get, I talk a lot with Tamir about this, how I get frustrated sometimes because I really feel that I should be leading a marketing team at this point, I have the expertise, I have the background to do it and I love it. So my ultimate goal would be leading a marketing team. One of my most favourite things in the world is being a mentor to younger, the younger people. To younger folks getting started out in marketing, and just in general, it's just a role I love. So, I love leading teams and I love serving, in that sort of, I guess, mentor role. So I think that would be, that's something that I'm building toward. And again, the second component of that would be doing it for a place that I love, but also whose mission I identify with. And I just, I can't work for companies, or anywhere, where I don't feel passion for the product, or for what they're doing. And it has to be something that's... It doesn't have to be life-changing or world-changing, but something that's doing some sort of good for the world.

Lou: Yes. It's very important, but you can tell that that's, that you working somewhere, it has to be something close to your heart. Because like, when you talked about when the right role came up for EBSCO, it was specifically open-source. So you knew,

Rachel: That's exactly right.

Lou: how important that was, this open, kind of collaborative, open environment. So, if money was no object, what would you be?

Rachel: Okay. So I've had this dream, for probably a decade now, maybe more, if I win the lottery someday,

Lou: Brain surgeon.

Rachel: And I swear, not a brain surgeon or not an eagle, although flying would still be really cool. And I do still have dreams where I'm flying. I'm never going to give up on that dream. But, if money were no object, I would love to start a nonprofit for single moms, Where, I just, I have this whole thing in my brain, where I'd love to start some sort of a co-op situation, for women who, to help women get out of these cycles, where they either feel that they have to stay in an awful, abusive, or some other type of relationship, because financially they can't get out of it. Or single women who are already in that situation that they're at, they're, either not by choice, or by choice, raising children on their own and just can't get out of the cycle of poverty or moving up in the world. And so I'd love to start, I just have in my mind, just investing in buildings, that could be like a co-op situation, where single moms have each other, so they'd have their own network where,

Lou: Wow.

Rachel: if they could watch each other's kids and not have to worry about money and just have this support network. But also have a network of a nonprofit organization in there helping them build management skills, and helping them go back to school and training them and getting them kind of out of, getting them to where they want to be, in their lives. So, and I just, yes. And I just envision a business going along with that, that could kind of funnel women in that had actual health insurance and good benefits for them. So, let them bring their children to work. That's what I would do if I had all the money in the world.

Lou: Because we know now, we can have our children at home as disruptive as they are, we know we can manage it. So bring your children to work, it's possible.

Rachel: It's,

Lou: So.

Rachel: it obviously, it would depend on what the business is, but it's, or like, or some remote opportunities, but some way where they can get by, have their children, but also move up in the world and be able to support themselves in a respectful way, and feel empowered.

Lou: Yes, it's very important for self-worth isn't it? And to actually be given opportunities that wouldn't normally be available to them. Oh, I love that. That's really, really...

Rachel: That's my dream.

Lou: Yes, that's very, very special. Very special. So, oh, yes?

Rachel: That and my second dream, is owning a house with an enormous backyard, where I could adopt all the homeless dogs and all the homeless cats, and all the homeless llamas and donkeys, and just have them in my yard. I love animals.

Lou: I think, I think you don't need a house with a big backyard, I think you need a farm.

Rachel: Ah, yes, I think you're

Lou: Because your neighbours

Rachel: probably right.

Lou: Are probably not going to love all the dogs next door, barking and so,

Rachel: True, true, yes. It would definitely need to be on a huge plot of land away from other people.

Lou: Thousands of acres.

Rachel: Yes.

Lou: And people to manage all these animals as well, to help you.

Rachel: That's my other dream.

Lou: Oh, brilliant, I love it. You can just go around on a little, what are they called, golf carts. And just, you know?

Rachel: I would do that.

Lou: Yes, you just have about 500 dogs following you.

Rachel: I would be okay with that.

Lou: Come on boys, come on out, let's go! So, so I ask this question and sometimes people don't necessarily read books anymore, professional books, they'll read blogs and lots of different things, but I'm going to ask you anyway and you can say yes or no. And so which inspiring three professional books would you say are a must-read and why?

Rachel: Yes, I... Yes, you're right. I no longer read a lot of professional books. I used to when I was younger. I will say that, again, I'm by no means an expert, I don't think anyone is. I think everyone has their own opinion on how to do marketing best, and most other professions as well. I think it's interesting to read and understand those perspectives, but I think after a certain time, you have to have your own perspective and your own view. And I think really, what's important in marketing, as probably in most jobs, once you learn what the best practices are, This is similar to the authors writing these books. You learn rules, how to write, how to construct a paragraph, how to write a chapter. And then the best authors, the best movie makers, the best screenwriters are the ones who take all those rules, break them apart, and create new genres. And those are the ones who are winning all the awards and people are going to buy, those are The New York Times best sellers. I feel the same way about marketing. It's great to read these books and understand them, but then I want to come in and I want to break all those rules and try something new. Because if everybody's doing the same best practices, it's boring.

Lou: Yes.

Rachel: And people are used to it

Lou: Best practice, is like a benchmark, isn't it?

Rachel: and it's the usual.

Lou: Best practice.

Rachel: Exactly.

Lou: There should be benchmarks. You try it, but you build on it and you make it better, or you just keep evolving it. And if you're a marketeer and you get stuck, in a rut of doing the same thing and you're not testing and you're not changing, and you're not seeing if it's worked or something else is better, or maybe what you did was working great before, go back to it. If you're not doing that, how do you know? You've got to do it.

Rachel: Exactly. Well and that goes back to what we were discussing before, where I think that's why it's great to bring marketers in from other sectors, because they're going to bring in these fresh new ideas and perspectives and want to try out something different. And hopefully people aren't scared by that. That's another reason I love working with Tamir and EBSCO, is I'm always coming up with crazy ideas, all the time, and I never get shut down. They're always like, "Sure, try it, sure, great". I love it and why not? And if one of them fails, okay, it's not the end of the world, that didn't work for our market. Okay, let's try something else. Ooh, that worked.

Lou: Yes.

Rachel: But how would you know, if you didn't try it? So, I will say

Lou: Exactly.

Rachel: that the book that was recommended to me, by another friend in the industry, that I read, that it goes along with this, is called, "The Medici Effect".

Lou: Okay.

Rachel: And it's not necessarily just a marketing book, but it's talking about how during the time of the Medicis, in Italy, there was this renaissance of ideas. And they sort of talk about the reason why, was because they took people from all different professions, put them together in one house, and had them all collaborate. And why was it so successful was because they all had different areas of expertise and ideas. And so all these crazy new ideas came out of it, because they weren't just lumping, "All the marketers are here, all the architects are in their little silo". Once people start collaborating together, that's when cool things happen. So that, I think that's a great book to read, and it's just an idea that I just, I think it makes a lot of sense and I try to live by that, at work and in life as well.

Lou: Yes. No, that's brilliant.

Rachel: And then in--

Lou: And I haven't heard of that book as well.

Rachel: so in terms of like, it's a great book and in terms of podcasts and other things that I'm sort of reading, there's one person whose name is Jay Acunzo, who I followed for years. I met him here, locally, through a local content marketing group. Because again, I like to get out and stretch my wings, see what other people are doing, outside of where I'm working. I think it's like a breath of fresh air. So, he started this content marketing group, locally in Boston, now he's nationally known, he's on the speaking tour, he's written a book. But he puts out newsletters that go along exactly with what I've been saying, I think it's called, "Breaking the Wheel", this wonderful newsletter that he puts out talking about it. And he highlights in his podcasts, marketers who have gone beyond and done their own thing, tried something totally different,

Lou: Love it.

Rachel: and here's how it was a success. And so I love his thinking and I'm a huge proponent of that as well. And I think, yes, it's good - it's refreshing to read other people who are saying the same thing and giving just these amazing examples of how people are doing it.

Lou: I haven't heard of him, so I'm definitely going to check him out. He sounds like someone that I would take a lot of inspiration and probably get a lot of ideas from.

Rachel: I think you would, he's... I like that he challenges the status quo constantly, and he challenges everyone to do that. So, yes, I think I can, I will pass along some links.

Lou: Brilliant, yes, that's perfect. Because anything that you talk about, we include as links in the description as well, and in the transcript.

Rachel: Oh, excellent. Okay, good.

Lou: So, if you could travel back in time, with a time machine one day, it may just happen. What - I'm really interested about this one, after what we were talking about earlier - what would you tell your early career self?

Rachel: I would tell myself, I don't know why, I think in the beginning I was just so mystified, it was new, I was young. I didn't ask enough questions and I wasn't curious enough. Or... I don't know what held me back, but now, when I, I like, you need to dig deep into things, and understand them in your job, you need to-- I don't think, in my first job, I even understood who the customers were, that we were selling the product to even though I was the only marketer. So maybe it was me that caused the company to go bankrupt. I don't know. I know I-

Lou: No, I don't think so.

Rachel: But, I'm not sure, I think, again, I was just young and it didn't occur to me. Now, I really like asking big questions, and understanding and challenging, and I wished I would have done more of that earlier on. I think I would have moved forward much quicker, if I would have asked bigger questions sooner.

Lou: Yes, absolutely. I've just thought of another question to ask you, which is just off topic, but I'll see how we do

Rachel: Go ahead.

Lou: with the time.

Rachel: Do it.

Lou: I might start throwing this into conversations, these podcasts, when I'm having them, with people who work in marketing. So, what is the best piece of advice, that you have ever been given?

Rachel: In terms of marketing or in life? In life?

Lou: It could be, yes, it could be life. It could be marketing, it could be life.

Rachel: Okay.

Lou: Up to you.

Rachel: The best piece of advice, this is hilarious, I've ever been given is by my father. He told me, you really need to save money. And, I'm not kidding. You need to save, this is like a resounding thing, that you need to save. You never know if your company's going to go bankrupt. You don't know if there's going to be a year like COVID, where, you know, people get laid off. It's always good to have that reserve in the back, because you just, you don't, you don't know, you don't know. It might look like your company's doing amazing and all of a sudden, we just got a notification yesterday, that there's this farm stand, it's enormous, in the next town over that is... people come from, I don't know, like, they'll drive an hour to go there. They bring,

Lou: Wow.

Rachel: their niche is that they bring international produce. So, we have a lot of diverse immigrant communities, that live around the Boston area.

Lou: Yes.

Rachel: So they bring really hard to find vegetables from Asia, they bring these Israeli vegetables that we use, for, especially, there's a specific fruit that we need, for the way that we prepare our Passover Seder, my husband's family is North African Jews. There's this one fruit you can only find there. And a lot of communities go there and we just got a notification that they're closing. And it was actually because we're like, "How, it's always packed, they just expanded?" The owner, who's like 85 years old, is retiring. And so all the employees are out of work. Now we no longer, it's, so you just had a flourishing business, so you just, you don't know. So I actually think that it's very practical, helpful advice, and then he was also, he said, "I wish I would have had money put away, for when you children went to university. Instead I was writing out these monthly checks and it hurt". So that always resonated for me so,

Lou: Yes.

Rachel: you just never know what's going to happen and it's just good that you have some money put away so you're not, sobbing and eating chocolate for six months with no plan.

Lou: I think that's probably advice that a lot of parents give a lot of children.

Rachel: We certainly do.

Lou: Yes, whatever! Get a pension!

Rachel: And I actually listened and I told him that. I always remind him, I'm like, "I... those were really words to live by".

Lou: "I do listen to you sometimes, Dad".

Rachel: He's doing it, yes. And some great advice from my mother, was, it seems so silly but when she was teaching me how to drive, when you see the brake lights on the car in front of you, put on your brakes, too. Such silly, stupid little advice, but so right!

Lou: It's sound common sense, you know? But actually, it'll save your life.

Rachel: It was one of the first things I told my daughter, when we got in the car.

Lou: Very, very sound advice.

Rachel: And words to live by.

Lou: I think it's brilliant. So what's your number one tip for anybody working in marketing right now?

Rachel: I would say, I don't really have a number one tip, but I think it's really important to be yourself and use the talents and the skills that you have. I think, again, it's like, we've been talking about here, everyone is different, everyone has their own backgrounds, their own story, their own things that they're good at, and I think you need to take that and use it always in your job to your advantage.

Lou: Yes.

Rachel: No one else is like you and no one can do the job like you're doing it. And so don't try to be like anyone else and imitate anyone else, do it like you.

Lou: Yes. I feel like I'm looking in a mirror.

Rachel: I love that.

Lou: I feel like it's me talking to me. It's brilliant!

Rachel: That's great!

Lou: Oh, that's incredibly sound advice and I think you're absolutely right, in terms of appreciating the colleagues and the people that you have around you, and how you can improve situations with their knowledge and expertise, and its respectfulness, isn't it? It's respecting your colleagues and those people around you about what they bring to the table and what they have to give. Yes, absolutely. So, what do you miss most since the COVID-19 pandemic? Because it's been a bit

Rachel: People.

Lou: difficult for everybody, in terms of lockdowns and, not lockdowns and all this. And we've all been in these funny old situations.

Rachel: We were on lockdown for a really long time. And our office continues to remain remote, so it's been over a year. I miss people, the most.

Lou: Yes.

Rachel: I do, I miss people. Professionally, I miss my colleagues, I miss seeing them every day. I think things are going to change, when we do go back to the office, most people are going to remain remote. So, it's going to change what it looks like, working, in general. I miss our customers, I miss librarians. I miss going to conferences and seeing everyone. I work in this folio, this open-source community, we usually have face-to-face meetings. I really love that community and I really miss seeing those people. That's what I miss the most, is people.

Lou: Library communities are incredible. And as I've said to someone previously before in these, when I stepped out of the industry for six months and took a bit of a career break because I was a bit burnt out, I just absolutely missed that community so much and they're so incredibly special. And what's been interesting, speaking to people who work in library teams, is over the past year, is how many of them haven't seen each other or spoken to each other. When they were working physically in the same library, they would see each other every day. But because of how different roles are in library teams now, and the different hats that information professionals have to wear, some of them will be like people that I used to see every day, I haven't spoken to them in about a year. And you're like, wow.

Rachel: It's so, it's sad. It really is sad.

Lou: Yes, very, very. So...

Rachel: I think, yes.

Lou: Is there anything-

Rachel: It's funny-

Lou: Yes, sorry.

Rachel: I was going to say, it's interesting because I don't even, it's weird for me to call librarians, even our customers, because I just feel like, first of all, I think customers, they're people, and they're... librarians are just this amazing community of human beings. I just think, again, I, that's why I feel so lucky to be doing what I'm doing, is particularly in my role, where I get to be so embedded in that community. Yes, I just, I miss them.

Lou: Yes, I know. Yes, some of them I have as some, people who work in libraries I have as friends and incredible people. Just an incredibly diverse range of people as well. It's probably one of the most diverse, or it's one, yes, it's probably one of the most diverse communities I've ever worked with and had the privilege of working with. And also I'm a chair of a local regional committee, of information professionals and yes, they're just brilliant. And libraries, what amazing places and how they have really gone through and in some respects, thrived, in this last year and a half. And it's been amazing to see the innovative campaigns that they've done. Also the different programs that they've done to get users to watch them virtually and all the different, like children's reading classes. And, I see like some librarians doing TikTok, and I just think, "Wow, you've really embraced this and it's amazing".

Rachel: It is amazing. And I will say, you're right, the way that they, so quickly got up and running online, was amazing. But the day that I went to return a book to my local library and the doors were open, and they said that they reopened, I actually had tears in my eyes. It felt so good to get back into my library and just to be able to, I like to just browse. I like to browse books. It was very hard for me just to order books online and go pick them up because I like seeing what the librarians suggest. I like looking at the displays.

Lou: Yes.

Rachel: I can't even imagine how it felt for them to reopen.

Lou: Yes, I mean, just to see people and have people inside, except with all the COVID restrictions that they'd have to do. I remember seeing so many discussions, and we have it here in Wales, in the UK, where the Welsh government and what their... about sanitizing books and thinking about that whole process of, "What do we do with books when they come back in? Do you leave them in a certain room for a couple of days, or do you sanitize them?" And then the whole conversations that were happening. But yes, it's... So, fingers crossed we'll start coming out the other end soon, but you're absolutely right, it's wonderful to see them back open again. They're incredible hubs, they are so important. And I hope that now, when they suffered so much from lack of footfall, and getting people in, people really recognize and value certain services like libraries, cinemas, all those kinds of things, that was people waning, people's interests were waning.

Rachel: Yes.

Lou: Because of things like Netflix and all that. But actually, it feels

Rachel: Yes.

Lou: if you go somewhere, like that, people really value that more. And I think that's an amazing opportunity for libraries and other services.

Rachel: Absolutely.

Lou: So, I don't know if you're going to ask me anything, from what we've talked about. Maybe you're going to say, "No" and I'll be like, "Yay!" But is there anything,

Rachel: You're not, sorry but...

Lou: you'd like to ask me?

Rachel: No, because after our conversation, I have some questions for you too, sorry.

Lou: Oh, I thought you said no.

Rachel: Sorry, no, you're not. You used to be super excited because I have some questions for you. So, I'm just sort of wondering, you asked me, but I want to know, what have been some of your biggest challenges?

Lou: I think some of my biggest challenges, in my professional career, would be redundancy. I think having that mindset, shifting your mindset, to thinking it's not personal, you are just a number at the end of the day. Businesses need to survive and thrive. And it's not that you didn't do a great job, it's just that there's no need for your job anymore. And things have been restructured. So I think that for me has been a big challenge, because I've been in a redundancy situation three times, and twice I've been made redundant. And that really has helped me to grow as a person. And I think the other challenge, the biggest challenge, was actually, and it was because of redundancy, was taking the inspiration to set up on my own and be a consultant. And then turn that into a company and start employing staff, which is absolutely frightening.

Rachel: Amazing.

Lou: Because you're suddenly responsible for people. But yes, it's absolutely life-changing. And unless someone is going to offer me an enormous sum of money to go back and work for someone, it's unlikely that I ever would. Because I like being my own boss, I like just answering to myself and my clients. That's good for me.

Rachel: Well, that was going to be my follow-up question, but I think you probably answered it. I was going to ask what you're most proud of. Is that what you're most proud of?

Lou: What am I most proud of? I don't have any regrets. I have certainly made mistakes. I think I was talking to someone yesterday and it was interesting. They were saying in their organization, which is a publisher, that they have something called, "Blunder Club" and it's a club where they interview senior leaders, and they talk about what mistakes that they've made. And then what were the repercussions of that? And someone in a committee call yesterday, mentioned someone who was their boss, who said that they did something that got them fired. And how they overcame that. And I thought, that's quite fascinating. So in terms of what I'm most proud of when it comes to my professional career, I think part of it is the amazing team, that I have with me and that the special individuals, but I think it is probably, just being able to do what I've done and start up a company, and just, because sometimes I just wake up and want to pinch myself and I'm like, "Oh my gosh, I actually run a company with people. That is just insane".

Rachel: Amazing.

Lou: I mean, who would want me as a boss? But yes, so that's probably professionally, one of the things I'm most proud of.

Rachel: See that's that imposter syndrome coming through again.

Lou: Oh yes, yes, totally. Like you and I talked about, what everyone didn't hear earlier was we were talking about how sometimes in some situations, what we're projecting on the outside, which may be confidence, internally, oh, hello, puddy cat! Internally.

Rachel: A cat bum. Sorry.

Lou: No, love it! Internally maybe something completely different going on which is usually like, ooh! Yes. So, that, yes, there's always... but that shows that you care, right? So, you've got to be in touch

Rachel: Yes.

Lou: with our emotions, we're not robots.

Rachel: Anyone who says they don't get nervous, I don't believe them.

Lou: No, I don't believe them either. If not, I'm going to make them nervous!

Rachel: Exactly. Figure out how to push their buttons.

Lou: Yes, exactly. Any other questions?

Rachel: No, that was, this was very interesting.

Lou: Perfect! That was amazing! So, Rachel, I want thank you so, so much, for taking the time to talk to us today. It's been absolutely fascinating. One of my biggest take-homes, in fact, there are several, but one of my biggest take-homes is just how, when you started your career, where you started your career, how you've changed from going from, moving between different cultures and different working practices, because what's your working practices in Israel, were very different to what they are in the US. As for me, working in the UK, culturally, they're very, very different. And that's really awe-inspiring for me and quite incredible. And how you've managed to now work for EBSCO and really grasp the opportunities available to you, be part of this local content... Was it content management group?

Rachel: Content marketing.

Lou: Content marketing group. And really exploit those opportunities that were available to you. And I am so, so sorry that you are no longer going to be able to easily get all the fruit and veg.

Rachel: I know! I don't know what we're going to do.

Lou: You're going to have to plan now, about how you're going to get that stuff, in order to eat it.

Rachel: We are because it would be a tragedy not to have this special jam, it's quinces. Quinces, that's what it is.

Lou: Oh, was it quinces? Oh, yes.

Rachel: We can't get them here.

Lou: You just have to have a quince tree. So, thank you so, so much for taking the time to talk to us today, it's been an absolute delight. We will include a link to any of the resources that you mentioned and do some-

Lou’s Daughter: Mummy, am I going with Granny?

Lou: Yes, Darling, you're going to Granny's. And this is Rachel, do you want to say hi?

Lou’s Daughter: Hello.

Rachel: Hi

Lou: And so, thank you so, so much.

Rachel: I am so happy to be here. Thank you so much for having me. This was really fun.

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