Thank you to the 1646 leaders who’ve generously done the 7 questions! I hope reading 7 Questions with
helps you in your leadership.
Name: Mick Essex
Title: Head of Marketing
A journalist by trade, Mick has spent more than 2 decades in marketing and sales for organizations in broadcast media, healthcare, and the last 2 years in the SaaS space.
1. What have you found most challenging as a leader?
Staying up-to-date on the rapid changes in marketing. Every day, there's a new tool or new method to explore. Which ones do I spend time learning about? Of those, which ones do I implement? Did I choose correctly? And as soon as I decide, 10 new things have launched. It's a constant cat-and-mouse game, but ultimately, I have to trust myself, accept the outcomes, and make quick pivots.
2. How did you become a leader? Can you please briefly tell the story?
My first role in leadership was at the age of 20. While in college, I worked for an athletic store as a sales associate, but it immediately made sense to me that if the whole store performed better, we all would win, so I started doing things without being told, making suggested changes to the manager that would improve efficiency, etc. I didn't know it at the time, but those are tenets of a good employee and leader, so I was rewarded with a promotion to assistant manager. From there, I just continued to do the same at every job thereafter, and the result was usually the same, I would be promoted to a leadership role.
3. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?
I'm going to start from the end. I block out one hour at the end of each day to plan for the next. I begin the day around 7:30 am by checking my overnight emails while having coffee. My team is on the other side of the world, so when I'm waking up, they're finishing up their day. So I start by responding to all the tasks they've been working on while I slept. I work from home, so for lunch, I always leave for one hour and eat at a cafe or take a packed meal to the park. If I didn't leave my house, I would work from my office, which isn't healthy. I have to have a mental break in the middle of the workday. Every afternoon, I go to my health club for a workout, then return and finish the final 2 hours of work. In the evenings, we cook dinner, talk, watch television, and maybe have a glass of wine. Then, it's in bed by 10 pm.
4. What's a recent leadership lesson you've learned for the first time or been reminded of?
It's ok to take breaks and unplug -- often. I'm from the generation where you're supposed to work yourself to death for 25 years and then retire. The world doesn't (and never should have) work that way. I've always had an issue taking days off, afternoons, or sometimes 2 whole weeks. It's all work, work, work. But now, I know it's healthy to take personal time, mental health days, etc., and recharge the batteries. Same with leaving for lunch and working out in the middle of the afternoon. I'm more productive as a result.
5. What's one book that has had a profound impact on your leadership so far? Can you please briefly tell the story of how that book impacted your leadership?
Elements of Influence by Terry R. Bacon. It's a very deep look at the power others can have by influencing you, and more importantly, it teaches how to influence others to achieve the results you need. It's been an amazing tool. It was written in 2012, so before social media was so powerful, but just look -- influencer marketing is the largest growth sector out there and is single-handedly making traditional advertising nearly obsolete.
6. If you could only give one piece of advice to a young leader, what would you say to them?
If you are the smartest person in the room, you are in the wrong room. Constantly seek out those more accomplished than you and learn from them. Even after 2 decades in business, I still seek out mentors. And that doesn't always mean someone older. I have a mentor right now that is 13 years younger than me, but he knows more and has gotten more done, and I want that knowledge.
7. What is one meaningful story that comes to mind from your time as a leader, so far?
I was chosen to be part of a leadership retreat with 8 other managers in my company. It was 4 days of meetings, lectures from industry giants, and intense mental challenges. We had the privilege of hearing from the president of Ferrari US, and during his lecture, he cited a statistic that I knew was incorrect. Without thinking, I raised my hand and corrected him. The others in the room looked at me like I was crazy, and at that moment, I felt crazy! Did I really just do that? To HIM? He could see the looks on everyone's faces, then he said, "Thank you for that. A good leader will always speak their mind when they have conviction. Always challenge authority. How do I think I became the head of Ferrari?"