It's back! In conversation with Lisa Spicko - Episode 7 - Inspiring the Next CMO series

Updated: Sep 16, 2021


After the success of our first six, we're going to continue our interviews and we've got lots more in the pipeline!


Join Lou in a conversation with Lisa Spicko, an industry VP of Marketing. Lisa talks with us about:

  • about her love of all things awkward

  • how rummaging through microfiche and microfilm planted the seed to her future career with libraries

  • she’ll also talk with us about advice that she’d give to her earlier career-self about not taking things too seriously. “The older you get…you know the sun is going to rise tomorrow…everything’s going to be okay”

  • that the giving of your time to mentor others is the greatest gift that you can give, the greatest currency

  • how the pandemic has left her in awe of people’s ability to overcome all obstacles in order to put their families first

  • and what words she will be taking back with her to the US from her time in Australia!


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


Transcription (contains Amazon affiliate links):


Lou: Hello hello! Right. This is our Inspiring the Next CMO podcast series for Behind the Fluff podcast from The International Bunch. It’s specifically for those in marketing, those interested in marketing, those in academic publishing, scholarly comms and libraries. Who are we going to be talking with today? Lisa Spicko. Lisa is an industry VP and Lisa’s going to talk with us:

  • about her love of all things awkward

  • how rummaging through microfiche and microfilm planted the seed to her future career with libraries

  • she’ll also talk with us about advice that she’d give to her earlier career-self about not taking things too seriously. “The older you get…you know the sun is going to rise tomorrow…everything’s going to be okay”

  • that the giving of your time to mentor others is the greatest gift that you can give, the greatest currency

  • how the pandemic has left her in awe of people’s ability to overcome all obstacles in order to put their families first

  • and what words she will be taking back with her to the US from her time in Australia!

So why don’t we just jump straight in? Let’s go.


Lou: Welcome everybody to our Behind the Fluff, Inspiring the next CMO podcast series. You can find lots of fantastic resources on our website www.internationalbunch.com/inspiringthenextCMO. And also, /beinspired. Today I would like to welcome Lisa Spicko. Now, Lisa is Vice President in the industry. So, hello, Lisa.


Lisa: Hello. I'm so pleased to be here today, Lou. Thank you so much for having me.

Lou: No problem. I am absolutely delighted to have you here, especially, because here I am in Wales in the UK, there you are in Melbourne, Australia. So, truly global.


Lisa: Truly, I know, even if I don’t sound very Australian. I always let people down that way.


Lou: Well, I was just thinking before when we were speaking that because we're doing this while you're still in Australia, you'll look back at this, in say like a couple of years when you're back in the US and you'll be like, ‘I listened to my voice then and there's a twang of the Australian accent in there.’ Or, ‘I said that word!’ You’ll forever remember what your voice was like when you were in Australia.


Lisa: Great point. I'll try to insert heaps into this and that will really make it authentic, yes.


Lou: So before we get started, I've got one question for you now, something that we ask everyone before we start is that we have a campaign that we run called, #IntBunchWordOfTheDay, and so we would love to know what is your favourite word and why?


Lisa: So, you know, Mary Sauer-Games took one of my arguably favourite words, which is ‘awesome’, and that's fine. But you know, my kind of next…the next cab off the rank for me in terms of favourite word is the word ‘awkward’. I've always loved the word awkward and I think because it's kind of onomatopoetic, right? I mean, it sounds every bit as awkward as it is. When you look at the letters and how they come together and it's just you to me, any time I have an opportunity to use that or to type it, it always just kind of brings a smile to my face. So, ‘awkward’ would be my word. You know, hopefully it won't be too awkward today.


Lou: No, not at all. That is so true because it is a random word when you think about how it’s spelt and it very much says what it is, you know, when you hear awkward, you know, exactly what that means.


Lisa: Right.


Lou: What a great word to come up with, I love it!

Lisa: I'm glad that you asked. Thank you.


Lou: My pleasure. Thank you because we can pop that into our campaign because I don't think we've covered that one yet.


Lisa: Good. I was hoping to be original too.

Lou: So first things first, we want to know a little bit more about you, of course. And so, what is the best thing that you have discovered in this last very strange year that we've been living in under the pandemic?

Lisa: Oh gosh, I mean, it feels like there are so many ways to kind of take that question around, you know, looking at personal resilience and respect and the opportunity to get to know people more deeply. I'll say that the kind of my own personal area of interest has been a rediscovery of classical music, and that's been largely as a result of my 14-year old, who is studying piano and is passionate about classical music. And so it's interesting; it had been years since I had really engaged with it. That has shown up with me, my other COVID habit is that I learned how to knit, and that, and I did a lot of it for the holidays and that really helped during the 111-day lockdown that we had here in Melbourne last year, you know. So I did a lot of knitting and made a lot of Christmas presents and it was terrific. I feel good about it, I've got a new skill.


Lou: I love that phrase that you just used: ‘COVID habit’. I think we will all have a COVID habit from the past year, definitely. At least one.


Lisa: Yes, I completely agree.


Lou: So, who inspires you?


Lisa: So, this is tough because there are so many, you know, named individuals, people that I hold in really high respect. But as I really consider this, I come down to individuals that I know, that show such bravery under the most challenging of circumstances.


And, and yeah, I don't know that I've shared this with you previously, but both of my children are adopted from Guatemala. And so, I always have an, and I'm aware of the, some of the circumstances that Guatemalans and other peoples from Central America will experience, and having to flee their country. And I mean, and that's not just a Central America phenomenon; that happens in many places around the world. I think that people who are truly motivated to take that on and leave everything, leave family, leave support, move someplace else with the promise of a new life, doing it under the most challenging of circumstances, maybe not even understanding the language. I can't imagine the circumstances that get you to that point. It's unthinkable, and I'm so fortunate that it's unthinkable to me, but I can only imagine the level of bravery that it takes to do that. And then, you know, how that manifests in, sort of, generations to come, like developing the resilience and the ability to kind of cope and ultimately, not just survive but thrive.

So I just think people that come through those sorts of, those kinds of unthinkable circumstances and are able to, you know, come out the other end of it, it just takes a level of courage and conviction that I can't imagine that I would ever have. But that, that to me is always something that really, really resonates. So, not a particular person, but more kind of that, that type of behaviour, I guess that it really speaks to me.

Lou: Yeah. Absolutely. And I completely agree with that, and you're right: they have to do that all over the world. We have these refugees that, you know, even highly educated people and teachers and people of all different professions suddenly find themselves in war-torn situations or in terrible situations, they have to leave their homes and literally have to walk to the next country and find themselves with absolutely nothing. And it's absolutely terrible.


A couple of years ago, well, it's probably more than that now, probably about three years ago, four years ago, I remember at London Book Fair, at the conference they had a librarian come and do a talk and he had been at the University of Mosul. And when ISIS came in they had to leave, and I think it was about three years he was a refugee, and they completely decimated the library and they burnt it. And they burned the books and it was horrific. And he had come back with help from the charity to start rebuilding the library, because University students were starting to come back. And you're right, you know, you see these people in these different situations and the strength that they have as people is absolutely incredible. And I remember that when he was speaking, I literally like, you know, tears were welling in my eyes because it's like, wow, you know? What an incredible, incredible person, and we sometimes forget that that's even people that maybe, like, we've known through our careers and suddenly, they're in a situation in the country and something happens, and they just disappear and we'd never know.


Lisa: That's right. You're absolutely right. I'm fortunate, you know, living here in Melbourne as I've met a number of people that, I mean, we live in a real melting pot and it's been wonderful. It's beautiful. And we've enjoyed it just so much, especially as a mixed-race family. But you're right: I mean, people wind up opening up to you and you realize, wow, they've come here and they've left their families thousands of miles away. And, they might have been living really comfortably and they may have had very professional careers and then they take on something and they're suddenly working odd jobs and they’re cleaning homes because they say, well, this is ultimately what we need to do to create a better living condition for our children and our children's children. I think it's amazing. Absolutely amazing.


Lou: I feel, I feel quite, oh, you know, I feel like I need a drink after that. We could get really heavy into that, we could really put the world to rights, couldn’t we with that one?

So when we, when you were young, what did you want to be?


Lisa: Well, goodness, I'll say, you know, I kind of ran the gamut, I had really bad asthma when I was a kid and, you know, and it's very well controlled as an adult. But I mean, as a result, it just felt like I was continually, you know, under the care of a doctor and you know, frequent stays in the hospital and whatnot. And like I say just you know, touch wood that it's been great as an adult. But that's, I mean, I was initially really drawn to kind of the caregiving type of professions, potentially medicine: doctor, nurse, whatever. Then, you know, I kind of got into high school and I decided that I really wasn't that interested in kind of science and, you know, I was a little fascinated with it but it just didn't really stick with me. Then I became interested in writing, you know, and did a little bit of that. I mean, so where you start isn't often where you finish. I try to tell that to my kids right now. You know, there's a lot of career pathing and to say, goodness I had no idea then and have gone through several stages of adulthood for you to say, really, you know, am I really working to my purpose?

Lou: But you see the thing is, Lisa, is that as humans we live a lot longer now than we used to many years ago. And so if you wanted a career change halfway through your life, you know, have a career change. My mother retrained I think it was in her, it must have been late 40s, or early 50s, she trained to be a solicitor. She'd been an interior designer before that and so she obviously then had to apply to solicitors and she was up against people that had just left law school and, you know, young people. But yeah, she got her, don’t know, I don’t think it's an internship but she was, you know, ended up in a solicitors and absolutely loved it, and specialized in trusts. So yeah, the world is your oyster, you can do anything.


Lisa: That’s absolutely amazing. Yeah that's incredible. That's incredible, and you're right: I mean, you're not done until you're done, right?


Lou: Exactly. Exactly.


Lisa: As long as I'm learning something, I'm energized. That's the goal.

Lou: Yes, exactly. So, if you were to have dinner tonight, well, and considering it's night-time for you now so literally, you're going to leave here and go and have dinner, and if you were to have dinner tonight with anyone in the world from any time, whether they're alive or dead, who would it be?


Lisa: That's tough. That's really tough. Especially, when you talk about alive or dead, I mean, if I could do this, if I could really do this, it would be Frederic Chopin. So, and this is kind of going back to that classical music thing that I was saying. And actually, I mean, as I think about it, he ties out to the kind of refugee. I mean, he left his homeland of Poland when he was 18 and he never returned, you know. I think he went to Vienna, inspired by Mozart. He ultimately, you know, lived in Paris. His heart is actually buried in, I think, the Church of the Holy Cross in Poland. I mean, he's you know, a national hero there. But I would have him and I would want to have like a really great piano at the ready, obviously, because I just enjoy his music and it just brings forth, you know, every bit of kind of melancholy and longing about missing Poland, but also those points in time when he was in love and joy.


So I would hope that he would play probably Fantaisie-Impromptu - that's one of my favourites. And then the one that I'm still working on, on the piano was Nocturne Opus 9, Number 2, and I would have him play that for me as more inspiration, then say, well okay, you know, I'll get close someday with more practice. That's who I would invite to dinner.


Lou: Yeah, to have the master play it, I mean, that’s quite an incredible thing.


Lisa: Could you imagine?


Lou: Amazing. I mean, music is…sometimes I forget about music and then I'll put on Spotify and I'll put on some random playlist. And then I'll just be like, I'll fall in love again, and every time I listen to something that I haven't listened to for ages. Like I remember last night, I was sitting on the sofa with my husband and I was talking about: oh, do you know, I haven't, I saw someone, I said, ‘Oh, that's the lead singer of Thirty Seconds to Mars. Do you know who that is?’ And he was like, ‘No.’ And so I played it and he was like, ‘Oh yeah, I know that song.’ And then I realised how much I love that music and so today I was like, I'm going to put some music on in the office. I'm probably going to be doing some data stuff, so it's great, and I’m going to have it blaring out, everyone in my neighbourhood is going to be listening to 30 Seconds to Mars!


Lisa: Yeah, like you, classical music is a, is a, is a beautiful soulful music and there are so many different types of classical music as well. And it's absolutely incredible, especially when you have so many instruments together. And orchestras are absolutely fantastic.


Lou: And I did not know that about Chopin. And where's the rest of his body then if his heart’s in the church?

Lisa: I think, I think the rest of him is buried in Paris where he died to my knowledge. But yeah, there was a whole story. He was apparently terrified of being buried alive and so he had apparently said to his sister who was with him when he died, make sure that they cut me open and they take my heart. So they did. And there's this whole story about how she had to sneak it back into Poland because I think that that was under Russian rule at the time, sneak it past guards. I think it was passed around members of the family. I mean, like, who knows? But then it ultimately made its way to the Church of the Holy Cross. And then there was a bit of, I think, scientific work and I think it was published in the Journal of the American Medicine Association or something like this. Ultimately, they went in and they examined it, they didn't touch it. They took hundreds of photos of it to try to figure out what his actual cause of death was. So there is, you know, the whole, if all you have to do is a bit of research on Chopin's heart and there is even, you know, fairly recent scholarly articles written about it. So that's, that's fascinating.

Lou: And I wonder if there are great examples after that, examples of multidisciplinary authorship? So you've got authors from a, from a historical side and authors from a scientific side because I think it's fantastic when you see that kind of research coming out. I feel a bit selfish because when I do these podcasts, I learn so much. The Wayne Sime interview, he was talking to me about Henry VIII, and there were things I didn't know about Henry VIII. To be honest, I didn't pay a lot of attention later on in school, so you could probably teach me a lot.


Lisa: That's very fun, but you're right; you just learn along the way. I love it.


Lou: Absolutely. So, let's talk about your career. Now, tell me about your career and how you got to where you are today.


Lisa: Okay. So, you know, it started right after university and my very first job was working at an instructional design firm, and what was interesting is, I didn't realize at the time, I mean, I was working as an educational researcher. I was spending a lot of time in the university library and I was the one that was sent to dig up things in the archives and go through the microfiche and microfilm and what not, and that was great, I really enjoyed it. But number one, it was a woman-owned business, which is fascinating, and this was quite a number of years ago. Number two, every member of this firm, and they were basically a consulting firm, either had their PHD or evaluation in measurement or instructional design. They all had their Masters of Information Library Studies - every single one of them. And I found this so interesting. And of course, I was spending a lot of time in the library and so I worked for them for a couple of years and then a different circumstance took me, took me elsewhere. But it really planted the seed of what I could do with the degree and it really provoked a very high interest in libraries, which I’d had and I’d always been one to regularly go to the library and study at the library and what not and do that all through university, but that really motivated me to pursue the degree.


So, I ultimately did that a couple of years afterward, I went on to the University of Michigan. And this is one of those just by chance situations, where I got the last seat in a course that was taught at that point in time by the President of University Microfilms, Joe Fitzsimmons. And what was interesting is that I had worked in a role where I was running an inbound marketing programme for a firm that was doing work on behalf of Ford Motor Company in the Metro Detroit area. So I had kind of a business bent and business experience under my belt. And so, as I was speaking with my counsellor for that first term, she had said, you might really enjoy this class because it's really around the information industry. That sounds interesting. That was it. So, like I say, the last seat in that particular class. And that changed everything for me. Absolutely everything.


We took a field trip by bus to OCLC – amazing, right? And at that point, Joe brought in industry leaders, like Roger Summit at the time, who was with Dialog, Anne Hartman who I think was with ABC-Clio, other names that aren't coming to mind at the moment. But it was a such a formative experience and I did well in the class.


The next term I was offered an opportunity to intern at UMI, and that was it. So I finished the degree and I've stayed effectively within this sector, you know, serving libraries or focused on ed tech or focused on education. But something that always had the library at the centre of it. So it went all the way back to that first role after university. There you go.


Lou: Yeah, interesting.


Lisa: Very interesting.


Lou: Absolutely fascinating. I have so many questions I could ask you there, but I think I would probably go on for a long time, but I think it's really interesting how you started your career in a firm that was woman-owned, and I think, was it, all the employees were women as well?


Lisa: Yes. All the employees were women.


Lou: And that's quite something, even nowadays, quite something. I mean, we, if I look at like The International Bunch, because we're marketers, the three core members of the team are all marketers, and then we have our freelancers to help us. But we're also all women. Now, that isn't because that's how I designed it, that's just because. We did have a gentleman with us last year. And so that is just because our industry is predominantly female, right?


Lisa: Right.


Lou: That’s just the way that it is, but it's fascinating. I can imagine, and I obviously don't know the person that was running it, but I can imagine from what you said, and what we've talked about before about that organization because, just so everyone knows; I often chat to people before we have these, because sometimes it's people I haven't seen for a while and we just gossip for ages. Sometimes it's just like you and I meeting for the first time, and you were recommended to me and we just gossip anyway because, you know, we get on so well, it was so easy. But what I sensed is that probably the person who originally, when you started out, is probably quite a strong individual.


Lisa: Very. When I think of, you know, people who have had a really formative influence on my career, it really goes back to the president of the firm, a person that, you know, that onboarded me. And then certainly, the other woman with whom I worked. But absolutely, I mean she was purpose driven. She had exceptionally high standards. She really had a people-first orientation. If I think of kind of first mentor, it really begins with her. And it's interesting, I mean, I don't think I really understood at that time how unique an experience that was, but then, you know, as you continue to move through your career, and I've worked with, you know, I've worked at large organizations, not like, not huge, but I mean, large enough.


Lou: Well well well, big now!


Lisa: Bigger now and about to be even bigger. That's right. But this was a small firm. It was a small business experience, but cash for my first, you know, first experience out of university, it couldn't have been more formative. And we stayed in touch for years. You know, she was interested to have me go on to the Library Science Programme where I was living at the time and, like I said, it just, it didn't work out for a number of different circumstances, but was pleased to know that I took it up afterwards. And as I said to her, I never could have predicted how this one job made such a difference. You just don't know. You have to be open to it, right?


Lou: Oh absolutely. Absolutely. You have to be open to it. And I think sometimes, good or bad experiences, it doesn't matter. They all shape us as people and you just have to learn from them. Yeah. Absolutely. And I love that she was such an inspiration to you at the start of your career. I can certainly look back on my career and know of some key specific individuals who were incredibly inspirational for me or had such a dramatic change in my mindset career-wise, that really changed me as a person for the better - always for the better. But just empowered and enabled me to be like, yeah, I can do this.


Lisa: Right.


Lou: So, what have you been most proud of in your career?


Lisa: Most proud of…oh my goodness. So, it comes back to probably the people that I've worked with. I mean, it kind of builds on what you were just describing, right? So you find those people who have personally influenced your career. They've been there for you when you needed it. They've helped to kind of show you the way. And so for me, any opportunity that I have whether it's with members of my team, whether it's through mentoring; gosh, ProQuest has a wonderful mentoring programme and I've taken that up several years in a row now and I've done it with previous employers as well in the past. I think that there's really nothing more important. And what you know, what I guess I'm proud of is where I feel that I'm able to just help make a difference, you know, and giving your time. I mean, when I think of the greatest currency, the greatest gift that we can give, it is our time.


Lou: Yes.


Lisa: And sometimes it, and this isn't to say, you know, gosh, I have all the answers because I certainly don't, but I have a listening ear [excuse me], a listening ear. I will give you my time. We can talk through it. I'll continue to contemplate whatever the situation is, that, to me, is what makes the difference.


I have a very good friend who uses the expression, ‘when one rises we all rise.’ And I have absolutely adopted that. I love that expression. So, I think that's what I'm most proud of: just the people that I've been able to kind of give that lift to along the way.


Lou: Yes, absolutely. Incredibly impactful on our lives. And you know, that really resonates with me, when we think about time, and I think hindsight is a great thing and we only really learn this as well as we get older. And we need to have the experiences to learn, but we are sometimes so quick to give away time to things that we shouldn't give away time to, or people that you shouldn't give the time way to.


Lisa: Right.


Lou: Because we'll never get it back, but that's all part of the learning process, isn't it?


Lisa: That's it. Exactly.


Lou: My Mother would certainly say that I probably had some boyfriends that I shouldn't have given any time to, but we all go through that.

Lisa: Isn't that funny? Yes, some of the relationships that you say, well, you know, try to try to capture the learnings if you can but maybe it's time to move on. And I remember getting some of that advice from my mother and thinking, why would you even say that? And then you look back and you go, oh yeah, really? I guess she actually knew, yes.


Lou: 95% of the time you realize your mother was actually right and you're like, no!


Lisa: If not even higher. Completely. I completely agree.


Lou: I think I’ll give myself 5%. I think it’s also the defiance; I'd dated someone for about four and a half years that I really shouldn't have dated, and my family were not pleased with me, but the more that they were displeased, the more I wanted to prove to them that I had made the right choice.

Lisa: Oh, yes.

Lou: They worked their magic in the end, my parents. They did a good job, they did work their magic. They sent me off to university and I went, ‘Ooh! This is life! This is fun!’


So, what have you found the most challenging?


Lisa: The most challenging. Okay, put simply: I think to not let other people's preferences undermine my self-confidence. That's really hard. I mean, you know, we work with a whole range of people, right? And whether it's the people that are part of your media cohort or it's your immediate manager or someone in an even more senior level role, you know, you may work for a perfectionist, you may wind up working for people that micromanage you. I mean, I've been in both of those situations, right? I’ve worked for people that didn't really listen. You would try to explain things, they didn’t really listen. And what I have found is that in those situations I will struggle to not let that kind of undermine my better judgment. And so, you know, and it's not tied to gender. I've had this in, like I said, I've had this when I’ve reported to men and to women, but I've experienced that same situation. So it's just, you know, at the end of the day, coming back and my husband is a great one to say, ‘Wait a minute, you know, why are you agonizing over this? Don't you realize you've got…what do you think? I don't want to hear what this person thinks or that person thinks. What do you think?’ You know, and helps to kind of pull me back to pull me back to centre. I guess that, that to me has been a challenge that shows up and you go, okay, here we go.


Lou: What an incredible person to have in your life because he, obviously clearly values you as a person, and I think often in organisations, it's funny because I was talking to someone the other day, who's really at the top of their game, but they said to me, I would have to get consultants in to advise on what was already my opinion, but I had to get someone external in. And that that just shows sometimes that often people don't value the team that they already have and the opinions that are already there, and there should be value in there, should be more trust. And your husband fully knows how valuable you are as a person. He was like, you know, I want to hear what you've got to say, and I think that's incredibly important. And he's probably very, very important in terms of, like, your career and helping you to be more confident. Because often when we do these podcasts, maybe you're going to say the same later when I ask this question, but when I do ask people about what would you tell your early career self, I think pretty much everyone has talked about confidence, and I think it's something that we don't have when we were younger in our earlier career. It doesn't matter what age you are. It's not the age of you as a person but the age of your career. So, in terms of that and so, yeah, it's a very, it's a very, very interesting area and what a very special person he is.

Lisa: I really appreciate you saying that, and you're right; I know that I can go to him and I can say, I'm really struggling with this particular situation, and he will, you know, he'll come back and he'll give me, he'll give me the hard talk where he'll say, I don't even know why you're debating this? And so it kind of stokes me up and you say, well, okay, actually it's like it shakes me out of whatever clouded vision I have. I don't know, I'm not sure what it is, but he can, you know, spouses can communicate in really direct ways and he will do that with me at times when he'll say, just stop it. Stop agonizing over this.


Lou: But he knows how to communicate with you doesn’t he and that also goes to the point of when you sometimes work with people that aren't listening to you, it's because you are not communicating in a way that they will listen to you, and that's often the way that you have to communicate with them is a bit alien to you.


Lisa: That’s right.


Lou: But it’s about working out, how can I communicate with this person the way that I just give them information that's effective, and they just take it and run with it, and that's a real challenge in itself. And I think –


Lisa: It sure is.


Lou: It’s pretty fascinating, what a fantastic chap. It makes me think about my husband like that as well. And I think, if we're lucky to have people in our lives that we can talk to in that respect, then that's a very, very, very important thing, to have a sounding board that brings you back down to earth as well. And we're all unique in what we do and I’ve had experiences. We could have the same conversation with the same person at the same time, but our experiences are different. So we're all incredibly unique and we bring so much uniqueness to the table. It’s like that question you get in interviews: ‘Tell me, why are you unique?’ Because I’m me! There is no other me out there. No one can replicate me or replicate you. We are very special and very unique as individuals.


Lisa: I won't ask you that at the end then.


Lou: Yes, exactly! Cross that off if you were going to ask me that.

So now, being VP of Marketing, what's your ultimate career goal? CEO? President?

Lisa: Oh, heavens no. And it's funny, I mean, in the course of my career, I've never had one of those: okay, I'm here, and now I want to be here by this age, and whatnot. I've known people that have sort of, you know, charted their life that way. And that's great. I've never been wired that way. You know, for me, I always, oh, there's the cat. He wants to get in.


Lou: Oh, we were waiting for that! Cat-bombed! Let him in.


Lisa: Oh, all that all pandemonium. It will all be it then!

Lou: It’ll be that plant that you rescued, just beside you there with the one flower that it's finally because…Lisa had gone to a depot store and found this plant that was looking a bit miserable and there you see this beautiful flower on it, but her cat is a plant killer. You’ll be like [gestures pawing action].


Lisa: That's it exactly. Yeah. So we're not going to do that because it will get ugly, and let's face it; I've already nursed this one back to health so I'm not going to do that. Any I apologize for the interruption there.


Lou: It’s normal nowadays, isn't it? That's the great thing.


Lisa: That’s it. That's how it goes when you're working at home. That's right. No, I think, so to answer your question, kind of ultimate career goal for me, it's always around just wanting to find an opportunity to make a difference and that is, you know, making a difference either with the people who are members of my team, those people with whom I'm working most closely, making an impact on my business, the organisation that I'm serving, and hopefully helping others to achieve the best results possible.


You know, you and I share a bit of experience within kind of the scholarly space and library space, and I think that that's part of what has always drawn me to this sector, this education. I sort of put all of these ed tech into kind of the same big, big bowl. And I look at that as a sector where fundamentally, people come together because they believe in the value of information, education and making resources available, and the power that that has, the transformative power that it has to generate really positive outcomes in people's lives. So, you know, so for me the passion has always been around this sector, this industry. I love marketing, don't get me wrong. I don't know that I would have the same passion if I were working in, I don't know, well, maybe travel and tourism, I don’t know about that, maybe.

Lou: If you got to travel?


Lisa: Maybe. Like working for Kraft Foods or something like that, you know? That's not it. This library experience from where I started out, I mean, that's really, you know, that's what's in my DNA I think. And so the career goal is just to continue to help and to serve, and what the next role is - I don't know, but I'm always looking for opportunities to learn and I have that in heaps – there I brought in the word - I have that in heaps right now at Innovative.


Lou: Fantastic. Yeah, it's an incredible sector when you work with libraries. I absolutely love information professionals and librarians and I just think they're absolutely an amazing community, and when I took some time out following a redundancy, and I just needed a career break because I had just been working some obscene hours. So I didn't get made redundant, but then I got made redundant, so no fool me there – or more fool me [DH1] - and I missed it so much. I'm like, literally, my heart pined for six months for libraries, and so I came back. I just thought, you know, I think for many of us, and it's funny when we talk about it because one of my things is the value of marketing departments in organizations, and it's an area that I'm going to look into more, and how marketing is valued. But it goes from many departments and I think it's very interesting sometimes when you look at some academic institutions, for example, and how the library is valued in the institution, or how undervalued it is. And it is an absolutely integral resource and an incredible community. So yeah, fantastic.


Lisa: Completely agree.


Lou: So, if you weren't doing your role now and money was absolutely no object – wouldn’t that be great – what would you be?


Lisa: Oh goodness, so, you know I kind of paused on the whole travel tourism thing because I mean, that would be, of course we've all been kind of confined to quarters or confined to our land mass and whatnot, but I so love travel, love cultural experiences and whatnot. And I always find that that kind of takes me out of my box in really, really good ways. And I've had the good fortune to be able to do some of that, not near as much, life is short, and it seems like that and resources are usually at, you know, at odds. In the absence of having to worry about money, I think that there could be one passion.


The other passion is, honestly, growing things. This is crazy, you know, I mean, I've always just left a trail of plants wherever I live or wherever I work, and I bring them into the office and find a sunny window sill and then you know, come summer, take them back, put things out on the deck, and then come fall, okay, you know. I'm continually potting and repotting, so there's something about that that, you know, maybe I will go back and get a degree in horticulture. I don't know. But yeah, so one of those two.

Lou: Yeah, I mean, it might mean that you have to do a bit of science, which you gave up in high school and went, no!


Lisa: I know, exactly.


Lou: Full circle hey?!

Lisa: I know that’s right. Exactly. But somehow, when you take that hand as an adult and you realize, okay, you have to get through it and you know, I could probably do it now, but yeah, you know, we'll see.

Lou: What do you do with your plants when you move back to the US, what are you going to do with all your plants?


Lisa: Well, that's just it. So I, you know, I've already started talking to the neighbours here to sort of see and do you have an interest in house plants? I don't have a whole lot of room and you know, right now we're under lockdown in Melbourne, and a very close friend who has a green thumb and said, yes, I will take all the plants is unfortunately outside of my 10KM range and I'm not sure that I can work out a transport to go one person to the edge of one boundary and then to the next. So we'll have to see, you know, hopefully this will be lifted so we can get together and I can bequeath the plants, but otherwise I will. I will find homes for them because I’m kind of that way.


Lou: As we say here in the UK, a man and a van; that's what you need - a delivery driver because they will have, they will be unrestricted, so he comes, you put them all in – bye.


Lisa: No, that's okay. You know, Lou, that’s a clever…


Lou: You see, I have solved your conundrum for you.


Lisa: I was just going to say, you know I'm going to make a note about that. That could work. Thank you, Lou.

Lou: That would absolutely work. Okay, now, I ask this question and sometimes people say to me, well, you know, when I say which inspiring three professional books would you say are a must read and why, some people say, well, you know, I don't read that many professional books, so here are my three books. So they can be professional. They can be, you know, not professional, whatever you think would inspire people, okay?


Lisa: Okay. So, you know, I have good friends that are avid readers and I mean, just kind of gobble up professional books and, and I've always wanted to be that person. I'm not, I'm just not, but I will invest the time when I sort of hear from close colleagues, people that I respect: ‘Oh my gosh, this is a must read.’ So I work from the power of reference of those people that I really respect. And so three titles come to mind for different reasons. So, the first is The Five Dysfunctions of Team by Patrick Lencioni. Are you familiar with that?


Lou: No.


Lisa: So it's a leadership fable, this is, it's a quick read but it also comes along with a lot of support material and it really talks about building first leadership teams, right? And having a shared mindset, and how everybody kind of shows up from different departments: from marketing, from finance, from product and so forth with different perspectives. And what’s so poignant about it is that it is a leadership fable. So, I mean it's really easy to read but there's lots of video resources, there's, you know, human resource facilitation packets, so if you go through this as a leadership team, you can then have the very deliberate, how you take these things and apply it within, you know, within your leadership cohort. So that to me is a, that's been a go-to for years and I think I've probably purchased close to a dozen copies of it and any time that somebody, an aspiring manager has an interest in it, I give it away. So that's just kind of a favourite to, you know, to have and give away.


Lou: Well, you should have yourself an affiliate link and just send them the link and then you'll start earning commission.


Lisa: Exactly, that's a great idea. They can finance my plant habit.


Lou: Buy your own, but here’s the link to make it easy. By the way, it’s an affiliate link but that’s fine.


Lisa: Let's see, number two is one that I've read a couple of times and I'm reading it now. It's called The First 90 Days; Critical Success Strategies, if you’re familiar with that book. It’s by Michael Watkins. So, I like professional books where, like: here's the model, here's the scenario, and here's how you can begin to take this and apply it. And, of course, I've taken up a new role as VP of Marketing at Innovative. It's great and I'm working those suggested strategies around your 30-60-90, because it, you know, whether you're brand new to a role or you're new to a team, you're taking on something, I just think it's a great reference. I worked for a reference publisher for a number of years and I think I kind of have this orientation around how can I take assets like this and kind of use them as ready reference tools for myself? So I love that book based on that particular situation.


The last one is a book that was recommended to me by someone that I mentored a couple of years ago. And it was something that she wasn't that familiar with, she had started to read it and said, ‘Hey, maybe this would be something for us to engage with,’ [excuse me] And now, I regularly suggest this with people that I mentor, it's called How Women Rise. It's by Sally Helgesen, I think, and Marshall Goldsmith. Yeah, Goldsmith, I think, and it discusses the 12 habits that hold you back. So whether you're looking to advance in your career, you're trying to earn a promotion, you feel that you're stuck, you're not getting recognition, and it’s really written specifically around women. The mentoring program that we have a ProQuest is broader than women but it had initially started as a woman's mentoring program. And it just so happens that I'm mentoring, I've mentored women this year and certainly in the past. It's really a helpful read. It's another one of those that, here's the scenario. Here's kind of the case study. And here are some of the impacts and here are the learnings. It's, you know, broken into these 12 habits that literally, for the person I'm mentoring now, we're going through these, you know? Next week we're going to talk about habit six, you know, and we will go through and kind of unpack it. So I find that a great…it's another one of those references that I kind of have it, have it at hand, flip through it, you recognize the behaviour and it just raises some awareness.


So those would be my three from someone who like, and I'm admittedly not a really avid reader of professional titles, but when I find something, I'll engage with it deeply based on reference and then, you know, then I kind of put it into my circulating list.


Lou: Fantastic. That last one sounds really, really interesting. I love ones that give you examples, like you said like case studies, it shows you it in practice, and shows how you can learn from it, and that works better for me in that sense, because I think I'm quite a visual person sometimes, so I can visualize things in my head better.


Lisa: Yes.


Lou: So what is your most favourite book, or podcast, or favourite blog?


Lisa: Favourite blog? So I read two religiously, and I think it's kind of a tie. I have a hard time picking one over the other. I like them for different reasons. So, the first is Adapt, Lead, Succeed. That's the blog by Lynda James-Gilboe. You might, I was going to say, you must know Lynda?


Lou: Well, of course! And Lynda will be doing one of these hopefully in the future.


Lisa: Good.


Lou: Yes, and Lynda has been excellent at recommending people, she gave me a massive list, but yes, Lynda was the Senior Lead in the marketing team I used to working in.


Lisa: Okay, there we go. So of course, of course during your time at ProQuest, and so that makes perfect sense, of course. So, I love her style of writing, so I'm sure that you read the blog, I love her writing style. I love, I feel like I can hear her saying the words, right? So I mean, but even if you don't know Lynda, I can't recommend that highly enough. It's a quick read, there's always things that I take from it, a couple of nuggets, and every time it lands in my inbox, I send it out to others. I've just like a regular distribution of people that I will send, so highly recommend that for the insights and something to revisit over and over.


The other one that I like is the Tignum Thoughts blog. Now, Tignum came and presented at one of the ProQuest sales conferences a couple of years ago, and the blog offers insights on sustainable human performance. I'm going to underline the word sustainable, okay? It's about kind of coaching, recommended practices. It has a really strong well-being element to it, which I like. And it talks a lot about balance. And, you know, they made this point about how you have to have times that you give yourself a break; you can't always be in the sprint. You can't always be running the marathon, that level of performance isn't sustainable. And so they talk about the importance of recharging, and I think, especially in light of what we've gone through with COVID and with lockdowns, where it can feel like just a 24-hour work cycle. That blog has been a really important reset to say, okay, maybe you're not going into the office, maybe you're working in a different situation, we're all having to juggle and you need to find ways to make sure that you can show up as your best self, and you have to figure that out and you have to make the space to do that. So, really recommend the Tignum Thoughts blog.


Lou: Fantastic. Now, anything that we talk about when we do these podcasts, that we always include the links in the description. Also, I'll do this for those who are watching the video [gesture]. Yeah, so that you'll know that they are below the transcription, so they'll be hyperlinked to the transcription and then they're available in the description for the audio as well. No, they're fantastic and yet Lynda's incredible actually. And she was a really inspirational marketing lead as well. And I often post on LinkedIn a link to the post. I often see in the comments, such good feedback. Different types of people in terms of their careers. There's some from marketing, some from sales, from different parts of a business. It’s really, really interesting.


Lisa: Exactly.


Lou: And so, if you could travel back in a time machine, maybe one day we will have one I am sure, what would you tell your early career self?


Lisa: I would say first off, stop taking everything so seriously, so seriously. You know, you develop, I think, greater perspective the older that you get, the more that you kind of mature in life, and just as an adult and in work, you start to realise that, you know, the sun is going to rise tomorrow, it's going to be okay. Things will end up working out, but to not take things so very seriously and to give myself a break. So I think that would be kind of one bit of advice. The other would be, you know, find your self-confidence and hold on to that. And this goes right back to kind of where we had started; don't let that diminish, and find what you know is really true and authentic for yourself, and nurture that. Don't let that erode. Don't let anybody compromise that.


Lou: Yes, or if you do, recognise it and then stop it.

Lisa: That's right. That's it exactly, exactly, yes.


Lou: So what's the best piece of advice that you have ever been given?


Lisa: Oh, so this this was my advice from my father, and he would say something like, you're going to make messes and you are going to make a lot of mistakes in your life, and that's okay. Just clean them up. Clean up your messes. And I remember at the time, I didn't really understand, you know, I didn't get it, but he would reinforce this. And even after I started a career and what he would say that to me: don't ever assume that you won't make mistakes because you will. And if you're going to make a mistake, you might as well make a big one, right? But you just have to make sure that what you do is, then go in, hold yourself accountable and do what you can to try to clean it up, right? To try to make it right? Learn from it, don’t miss the opportunity to learn from it. So that to me has been a sort of repeated phrase that I've used and I try to use it with my boys as well: you're going to make mistakes, just clean them up. And clean up your mess too, clean up the kitchen too.

Lou: Yes, and your bedroom.

Lisa: And your bedroom. Yes, that’s right. I need to have a meeting at your desk under your loft so clean it up.


Lou: You look very pretty with your single flower that’s blooming.


Lisa: Thank you. Thank you.


Lou: It’s quite an accomplishment for that plant, so, you know. You'll have to somehow ship it to the US with you.


Lisa: I’ll have to find somebody really special to assume ownership, right?


Lou: Exactly. So, what is your number one tip for anyone working in marketing right now?


Lisa: I think that there is no limit to what we can understand about our

customers. You know, we, and I do spend a lot of time, we look at our analytics, right. I think that's hugely important. You need to know what channels are working. That's essential. You need to test your messaging. I mean, all of these things are at the heart of it, but at the end of the day, let's remember the customer. Let's make sure that the customer is at the centre of everything that we're doing, whether we're solving the problems in the ways that we're trying to communicate with them. Let's remember that they're human beings. I think that's part of what has been, you know, COVID has just been such an amazing experience for all of us around the world. Amazing in really bad ways - I understand - and there have been positives coming out of it too. But I think we've had this really unique shared experience with our customers. And if anything, we've been