Lead with Confidence: You Win or You Learn

Shannon Fitzgerald-Lussier
April 4, 2023

People take all different types of career paths; how did you get to where you are today? 

I didn’t follow a traditional path in my personal or professional life. In my twenties, I wasn’t working on a career. I lived in Argentina for a few years and came home at age 30 during a recession. I decided to go to grad school to study international business, figuring that when I graduated, the economy would be better. But we were still in a recession when I graduated, and I had to take a job I hated. 

One of my colleagues there encouraged me to attend a leads group. I couldn’t find one with an international focus, so I created one. Through that network, I met someone building websites for a global customer base, and they hired me as a project manager. 

I changed jobs a few times after that, looking for the right fit. Then I worked for a small company that was migrating to Marketo. My manager said, “I don’t have time to do this, I need you to go and figure it out.” I know so many people in marketing operations say that they got the gig because they just needed somebody to “figure it out”. It was the same for me, and I thought it was a lot of fun. 

What excites you most about your role today?  

I am passionate about process and finding efficiencies, especially when technology can enable those efficiencies. The ecosystem of data and all the touchpoints you can measure is a fun puzzle that’s never exactly the same. So, it’s exciting to find new ways we can leverage technology to solve problems and build a better solution.  

The other aspect that excites me is watching my team learn and grow. I love mentoring people—whether that means helping them excel in their current role or grow into leadership. 

How do you move from being an individual contributor to a leadership path?  

Communication will always be your best tool, and I mean that in several ways.  

The first is that you have to get comfortable with presenting. If you’re nervous about it, present even more. Face that fear.  

The second is to learn how to speak your manager’s language. Understand their challenges and how to solve them. This will mean a continuous education as you grow in your role, meet new leaders, join new teams, and change employers as every one of those things will require an adjustment on your part, but it’ll help them trust you to build better campaigns and take on leadership roles.  

The third way is you have to be very vocal about what direction you want to take your career.  If you don’t let management know you want to be in a leadership role, either through action or by telling them straight up, they may pass on you when the time comes.  

Many marketing teams have been impacted by budget cuts recently. What are some things you’re doing now to keep your team motivated when you have to do more with less?   

Prioritize and consolidate based on what drives revenue and what eats revenue. To do this, constantly measure time and projects in dollars. If you’re underutilizing a tool, or it’s eating up too much time in admin, consider eliminating it from your tech stack. For each campaign, ask how it’s impacting the sales funnel, MQLs, and opportunities.  

Essentially, just follow the money because that’s what your CEO and leadership care about.  

It’s the year 2023, if you’re looking back at your 23-year-old self, what advice would you give? 

I would say six things: 

  1. It’s all going to be okay. Your path is not direct, but it’s exactly what’s intended for your life. Other opinions about what you should do or who you should be are just noise. 
  1. Know who your professional allies are. Seek a mentor (or two). Ask questions. LISTEN. Then make your own decisions. 
  1. Don’t let pride get in the way of progress. There are a lot of people more experienced than you. Learn from them. Then pay it forward to help others when possible. 
  1. Follow your curiosity. You’re never going to find a role that keeps you in the honeymoon phase forever. But you’ll find the right roles when you’re curious, challenged, and internally aligned with the company’s goals. 
  1. There’s no such thing as failure. You either win, or you learn. If you’re having a hard time in your career, know that one day you’ll look back on this moment and see that it’s all part of the path leading to the next opportunity. 
  1. There’s no final destination so be present in every moment. Appreciate the relationships you’re building and know that everyone is doing the best they can. Impermanence is the only thing that’s permanent. 

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