Today we’ll interrupt our regularly scheduled content of customer-centric marketing to honor one of our own, Kimmah Shah, on being named to Marketo’s Fearless 50 class of 2019! The Fearless 50 is a designation recognizing the top 50 marketers in the world for their “bold, fearless marketing,” going beyond the ordinary to achieve the extraordinary, daring to surpass the status quo to drive success and business impact.
Kimmah is a Chicago State University grad and digital marketing professional with over 14 years of experience in marketing, strategy, analytics and communications for multi-million-dollar B2B and B2C organizations. She has been with Clutch for over two years, starting in the role as Senior Marketing Manager until moving into her current role as Director of Digital Marketing Strategy after only ten months! We made Kimmah sit still for a couple of minutes (it wasn’t easy!) to find out more about her professional marketing journey, and gain some insights into what being fearless is all about. Take it away, Kimmah!
Q:What does “fearless marketing” mean to you?…
A: You can be a fearless marketer, a fearless anything. As fearlessness specifically applies to marketing, however, you showcase the trait by being flexible, and not so married to your own creative ideas that you are not open to new ideas that someone else might have to offer that might not just be different, but maybe better!
Q:Describe your marketing style in three words.
A: I think of my marketing style as being Fearless (of course!), Relentless and Ethical. While being Fearless is something you might not normally associate with a professional career, it’s a trait of being bold, of being daring, not just in your job but in your life. It’s part of your DNA, the passion you bring to everything. That’s what I think of as Fearless. My second marketing style trait, Relentless, I can describe in my personal mantra: Whenever a door closes, open another door. If there is no other door, open a window. If there is no window, break down the wall. It means never stopping in your goals, being relentless in your pursuit to improve both your work and yourself. Finally, my third marketing style trait is Ethical. As a marketer, we have lots of information that our customers have entrusted to us, not to mention the permission to be in contact and share with them. It is critical that marketers do not abuse this trust by improperly sharing information (or not keeping information safe). It’s also important that marketers do not abuse the privilege of being allowed to contact potential and current customers by being unresponsive, being a pest, or being offensive in messaging. I think the best ethical rule to follow is the one learned in Kindergarten: treat others how you would like to be treated – and I use this simple creed to guide my life, both in my personal and professional life as a marketer.
Q:How did you learn to be fearless?
A: I learned through life. I had an unconventional path to be a professional marketer: I didn’t graduate from high school, and ended up getting my GED. At that time, it seemed the world had already made up its mind about what options were available to me, what I could become. I used that doubt, those preconceived notions and pessimism of those around me as a personal challenge. I refused to let society’s notions of what I was or who I could become define me. Like a horse wearing blinders, I was fixated on the path ahead of me, putting one foot in front of the other, overcoming obstacle after obstacle until it became second nature. But even with the history of besting adversity and the inner toughness I had to draw upon to not be defeated, I still felt (and feel) fear. I think fearlessness is not the absence of fear, but instead it’s continuing to move forward and evolve despite the fear.
Q: Who has inspired you on your journey to fearlessness?
A: I think it’s more of a “what” – as in, the memory of my mother. My mom was the epitome of fearlessness – she was the first minority woman in Chicago to open an employment agency, be her own boss, run her own company with steely resolve and incredible gumption. I was frankly in awe of her. She was a trailblazer, and not coincidentally, also a marketer! Sadly, in 1999 she succumbed to her battle with breast cancer. In addition to my personal loss, I also keenly felt the loss of potential, what she would have achieved had she not been taken from us so young. In some ways, I feel like I picked up the baton she dropped when she passed, and I have continued her journey, entwining it with my own, so every victory is one shared with her.
Q: What advice do you have for any young marketers starting their journeys?
A: I’ve got three! First, never stop being curious. The world is changing around us so rapidly through technology, and marketing is no different. You must have a passion to keep up with trends, learn what’s the big new thing, find out what’s going on if you want to keep up with both the technology and the consumers you’re trying to reach. Second, become self-taught. It’s wonderful to have a college education, but it should be the starting point, not the finish line. The internet has a wealth of information (and so much of it is free), that we all have incredible opportunities to learn on our own, educating ourselves on what we don’t know. Use the curiosity from point #1 and put it to work to teach yourself, constantly expanding upon your knowledge. Time spent in self-enrichment is never wasted! Finally, for the third tip, you should get a mentor… after all, you can’t teach yourself everything! Pick someone who is at a higher level of experience than you, is where you’d like to be and doing what you’d like to be doing as he or she will be most helpful in aiding you in your journey. Mentors are particularly effective when you’re trying to grow in your profession but perhaps don’t know where to start, the adage being “you don’t know what you don’t know.” A mentor has both the wisdom and objective distance to tell you what you don’t know and what you need to learn to evolve in your career, things that likely are not self-evident.
We want to say a final “Congratulations!” to Kimmah, as well as a grateful thank you for her continued contributions to Clutch’s success, and for inspiring us all to become a little more fearless ourselves!