interview diary Part 3: where someone gets it

Note: If you missed them, here is Interview diary part 1 and part 2.

So. I get contacted for a global position with responsibilities managing brand integration. And they were interested despite the fact I have minimal (at best) global experience … and my website harpoons branding seemingly on a weekly basis. The good news is my experience is perfect for this type of position. Here is a quick look at how this happened.

The part that was not in my control

They had an intuitive grasp to go beyond the topline words in my resume and understand the relevance of words I wrote and experience I showcased.

Before I explain what I mean specifically, let me say that if someone you are talking to (or want to talk to) doesn’t grasp some things intuitively you can get frustrated. And you will waste energy banging your head against the wall. Or even trying to get them to understand (or educate them to the relevant linkage).

But here’s the deal … if they don’t get it intuitively … 8 times out of 10, you are wasting your time trying to get them there. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be clear and concise, but rather that in some situations your experience & expertise doesn’t align specifically, or literally, and some organizations don’t link it figuratively (or maybe more often they just don’t have the time to do so with all the resumes and things they have to do). And you just cannot check all boxes and still be distinct.

So. With that said here is what they got intuitively:

  • They intuitively understood that while my website is strewn with brand bashing, the underlying premise behind what I believe is a practical approach to distinctive positioning. And, while that is attractive to most organizations, to one that is seeking a “branding integrator” or a “marketing integrator” it is an essential attribute in a position where bullshit can hinder success.
  • They intuitively understood that even more important than global experience is the fact that integration is about aligning fragmented pieces (or disparate groups/divisions). They looked for experience in taking difficult multi-fragmented organizations, campaigns and situations and figuring out how to gain an alignment grounded in the positioning.

That was out of my control. They either understood that or they didn’t.

The part (s) that were in my control

1. My website (or let’s say published thinking)

I built a place for people to go if they were considering me … to read how I think, what I think about and some experience threaded throughout what I wrote. So. While my resume didn’t exactly fit their criteria, my website filled in some gaps. Or maybe better said … enough gaps to facilitate a phone call to ask a question.

2. An articulated philosophy

Sometimes interviewing is about quickly articulating the stake you are putting in the ground. And, yes, it is high risk, high return. My thought has almost always been you cannot please all of the people … so you may as well put what you think on the table as clearly as you can … and as quickly as you can. You can be eliminated quickly (in an interview process … in the business world it just facilitates debate or agreement/alignment earlier). Regardless, it gets things focused fast and you can decide where to invest energy.

So. In my typical “scribbled picture visualization” style, when asked what my philosophy with regard to global branding was I gave them a visual and described its relevance. I used an umbrella.

Suggested the handle and the ribs which hold the canopy as the positioning (and whatever aspects of the functional positioning and branding elements and product character) that are critical to maintaining its distinctiveness and the canopy fabric as the local activity. A tight construct with flexibility to create fabric to match local needs. They thought it was a nice visual capturing gathering disparate pieces into a useful functional solid construct.

Anyway. They got it quickly.

I also suggested a “local to national” mentality (instead of the traditional “national to local”). Basically the thought is that so often when organizations build from corporate out to local they get screwed because corporate/national plans typically get cut before local budgets do (uh, that’s because you need the sales that local generates so you cut them last). So I believe that local activity has to be constructed to live without a national/global overlay, because often they have to live without it (and if they do have it, it is a luxury/bonus). And while I wasn’t opposed to overlay programs if they created efficiencies, I tended to believe that local programs built within a good construct built brand faster and stronger.

Anyway. Just more from the Interview Diary.

I guess the point of this one is that there is a lot you cannot control. And you hope that the right people are weaving their way through that part. But once you have an opportunity to control the moment assess the risk, assess the return, and do what you believe is right as clearly as you can.

Look. First. There were several little things and words that caught their eye that I didn’t highlight in this post. But I couldn’t have counted on them nor could I have guessed that they would have played a role way back when I created my resume. Second. Not everyone likes putting a stake in the ground like I do. So don’t. It’s just an example of how to do it if it matches your style. It works, and worked, if it is right for you.

Oh. And despite this diary entry I still hate the whole interview process.

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Written by Bruce