on marketing, design & how I learned to love the internet.
1994 was a turning point in my life. That was when, at age 5, I first logged into a CompuServe portal to play casino games with real, live people across the country. (A totally normal thing for children to do! Somewhere.)
My dad, who helped set me up, was enticed by the promise of a digital Atlantic City (certainly more convenient than the 2-hour drive to the real thing.) I, however, was more curious about the “web surfers” on the other end of our bulky green computer in the corner of our basement. The internet was new to our family: My mom still believed the computer needed to be housed in the basement in case it “blew up.”
A favorite past-time: visiting the historic estates of old dead folks.
I got hooked on computers early on - I crafted my own short stories via word processing programs and made my own little greeting cards, flyers, newsletters with “cutting edge” (for 1995) design programs. Instead of the typical childhood lemonade stands, I set up shop outside of my house to sell my computer-generated artwork and poetry. What a creative, crafty, and entrepreneurial nerd I was/am.
By middle school, as an ever-so-junior entrepreneur, I offered my services at my mom’s local Century 21 realty office, providing assistance with her and other realtors’ online marketing. I quickly learned the ins-and-outs of the office web tools to help realtors upload listing slideshows and design sale sheets. (Who knew that nearly a decade later I'd return to the world of real estate? Well, my mom. She knew.)
Hosting an improv comedy show in New York City.
I soon began to teach myself Adobe design programs by submitting funny entries to Photoshop contest websites. (Think memes before social media.) Between these amateur contests and more practical learning as an editor on the high school newspaper, I soon discovered a real passion for marketing and design. By the time I entered college, I was always involved in some form of advertising - from promoting my on-air radio show to freelancing for local businesses and entrepreneurs. I loved getting creative to get people interested. Ultimately ,I knew I wanted this to be my career as soon as I became addicted to the business intrigues on Mad Men. The drama of the pitch! The brand pivots! The Coca Cola lightbulb moment!
A childhood foundation in graphic design eventually paid off, especially as I expanded my knowledge of the digital marketing space to strategy, advertising creative, and execution. Today I know that a career in marketing is more than just about the skills you’ve acquired. It’s about keeping your eyes and ears open, identifying and indulging in outside talent, looking for inspiration in the least likely places, and driving your colleagues to always take smart risks.
And yes, today I’m still having just as much fun as I did in 1994.