Written by Amanda Graf
“You can’t walk if you can’t crawl, and you can’t run if you can’t walk.”
This is a quote from Erica Yoon, Sr. Growth Marketing Manager at Reddit, during our first session at Inbound 2022 as she discussed how to build a brand and a community on emerging digital channels. Over the three days at Inbound and countless sessions we attended, this statement resonated with me. To me, it embodies the growth mindset we all need as marketers, and as people. It’s okay to start from the bottom— and in fact, it’s necessary.
When I first started at Three Rings, I was new to the agency world. I had never worked in this type of fast-paced environment before, and let’s just say my understanding of marketing was less advanced than it is now. There were days that I was confused and overwhelmed, and I sometimes felt like I should know more or do more, or have more ideas. But as time went on, I became more confident. I learned how to be a better listener, how to ask better questions, and how to communicate more effectively. I was able to adjust my expectations of myself as I learned to be a better marketer and learned first to crawl. With the support of my team (and slightly more patience with myself), I’ve been able to turn that crawl into a walk, and I’m now learning to run.
This idea of crawl, walk, and run applies just as much to my own experience as it does to the marketing programs and strategies we develop for our clients. We can’t build a world-class digital community without first understanding who our target audience is, what their motivations are, and, most importantly, where they are. We have to test and try different approaches so that we can take our learnings and apply them to the next test. Only then can we move in the right direction and build strong communities that deliver value.
Over the days that followed our session with Erica Yoon, I heard from influential leaders like President Barak Obama and motivating entrepreneurs like podcast host Sam Parr. In almost every session, the speaker, regardless of their industry or title, shared more about their failures than about their successes. I listened to speakers discuss how they attempted to start businesses that failed. I heard leaders talk about how they had no idea what they were doing as they built businesses, programs, or global organizations. I listened to discussions on how entrepreneurs made decisions resulting in the loss of money, employees, and even their sense of self.
It might not sound inspiring but look at them now. They were selected to speak and share their experiences at one of the biggest marketing conferences in the world. The reason that they were at Inbound 2022 was not that they had the best company or the best brand or the best speech. The reason they were speaking was because they took chances, they failed, they learned from their mistakes, and they started over…from the bottom.
Each speaker that I heard has had to learn to crawl thousands of times to get to where they are now. Each time they have new experiences under their belt to help them as they make changes, improve, and ultimately learn to walk and run. For me, it was inspiring to see leaders from all walks of life share their stories and experiences with us, knowing that they haven’t always been as confident, successful, and true to themselves as they might seem when talking in front of thousands of people.
Following Inbound 2022 I have been inspired to continue to learn and grow as a marketer and a person. I can’t wait to put my new perspective and all of the tips I learned from each session to work for my clients as I continue on the path of learning to run.