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

Updated: Sep 16

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 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.