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Lessons Learned: A Conversation on the Fellows Forum

On April 4, SMPS Seattle hosted one of its three annual Fellows Forums in which our Seattle Fellows share marketing and business development tips in an interactive forum. For this program titled ‘Lessons Learned’ the Fellows invited Jordyn Prince, Senior Marketing Coordinator at DCI Engineers and Brandon S. Peters, Marketing Director at CLARK | BARNES to be guest speakers. They were tasked with forming a series of questions for the Fellows for which they would have no advance knowledge and thus provide raw, off-the-cuff answers. The result was an informative, oft hilarious, and engaging program which was driven in large part to great audience participation and candid answers from Bill, Karleen, Vicki, Ted, and Carla. In the spirit of this, Jordyn and Brandon have recounted the event and their experience as hosts in an interview format for this post. Enjoy!

When was the first time you met the Fellows?

Jordyn Prince (JP): I first met the Fellows around three years ago when I helped organize a Fellows Forum. At the time, Carla was the Chief Marketing Officer at NAC Architecture and I was on her marketing team. I had met Bill through Carla since he was an asset to our company through presentation training and interview prep. Karleen, Vicki, and Ted welcomed me into the SMPS family immediately!

Brandon S. Peters (BSP): That might have been the first one that I attended or the first time I met any of them! My first SMPS event was a Fellows Forum and I hung back by the beer and cheese trays (typical). Thankfully you can still hear Bill all the way back there! But despite that initial shyness, they are all so approachable it makes it easy to connect with them.

So, how many Fellows Forums have you attended?

JP: I have attended around nine or so since I joined SMPS Seattle. The Fellows Forums are my favorite program our chapter provides!

BSP: Wow, there is no way that I can compete with that. I’m guessing I have been to six, but it’s so bad that we are talking about this and I don’t know that exactly, haha. That said, if I am in town, I always try to make it. Being a large chapter and having such distinguished fellows makes this event really unique and it doesn’t disappoint.

What do you get out of the forums?

BSP: Beer and cheese! But seriously though, the variety of perspectives is extremely valuable.

JP: Agreed. I love how differing the Fellows personalities and career paths have been so there is diversity in advice and input. Hearing about their firsthand experiences has been very beneficial. The engagement of the attendees with the Fellows and each other always provides for an interesting debate.

When creating the questions, what were you thinking about?

JP: My biggest concern when creating the questions was not to be too selfish and only tailor them to my needs and experience level. I wanted a brand-new Marketing Assistant to feel heard just as much as a more senior Marketing Director.

BSP: For me, I was focused on covering a range of topics. Everyone is experiencing different challenges at work and this is on their mind when they attend. Knowing that they are viewing the questions and the Fellows answers through this lens, it was important to me to make sure we had relevant content.

JP: Totally! And get differing opinions between the Fellows!

BSP: Haha, yes. It’s always so much more fun when there is disagreement!

How did you prepare for the event?

JP: A few weeks before the event I met with Carla and Bill to understand their vision for this forum. Remember, they were trusting us and instead of knowing the questions in advance they just wanted to give guidance. Then it was just a matter of brainstorming different questions and challenges with you that we wanted to present to the Fellows. Please tell me that the ten Diet Cokes you had the day of the event was your preparation.

BSP: Hey! Well, yes. But I think the question and category brainstorming was a critical component of this since we had a deep question pool which allowed for flexibility onstage and to work with feedback and questions we were getting from the audience. It might be tough to do during registration, but in the future, it would be great to source questions from attendees online in advance too.

What were the most compelling answers?

BSP: Oh, that’s a tough one. To me, it was some of the things that were said about finding a mentor, taking lessons learned from a corporate brand into your personal brand, and handling conflict in the workplace. But I’m sure it’s different for everyone.

JP: For me, the most compelling answers were when there was disagreement among the Fellows. Those questions got more interaction from the audience and it was great to hear their opinion or follow up questions. That first role play scenario that dealt with how to navigate confronting someone on your team who might be taking credit for your work was a great catalyst to audience engagement for the rest of the night.

What were the funniest answers?

JP: I was laughing of pure horror and embarrassment when I proposed a role play scenario and then Carla made me act out one of the roles. It was the challenge of approaching a team member on taking on a more strategic role without offending them or stepping on their toes. People began to give me advice on how not to be so aggressive, which was hilarious, because if you know me then you’d know I am a people pleaser and could probably BE a little more aggressive. I definitely blacked out during the role play of pure presentation terror so who knows if the answers were even funny!

BSP: Gosh, that was amazing. Yeah, that was a highlight for me as well.

Moving forward what were your lessons learned?

JP: I learned that no matter how much experience you have in the industry as a marketing professional, we can all learn something from one another and take each other’s lessons learned to incorporate into our daily routines.

BSP: Well said. I think co-hosting gave me further appreciation for all the effort that the Fellows put into these events. It’s definitely not just something that you ‘show up for’. Also, the audience was fantastic. The energy they provided really does fuel an event like this.

JP: Regarding the audience, another takeaway I had was that our network at SMPS is unbelievably powerful and should not be taken for granted. There are so many opportunities for connection, growth, and mentorship within the Seattle chapter as well as on a national level. It’s a great thing to be a part of.

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