I’m six months into my role as Director of Marketing and Business Development at Well Done. Six months into a whole new career for me. Six months of lessons learned, moments of intense pride, and incredible appreciation for the smarts and talents of those around me. (The timing also corresponds with six months of being engaged to my dear fiancé, but that’s a whole OTHER blog.)

It’s easy for me to make the argument that doing marketing and fundraising for various nonprofits resulted in skills obviously transferable to my new role. But certainly, I’ve had a lot to learn the last few months. Here are a few lessons:

1. It’s okay to say no.

I come from a world where I was willing to do almost anything to make a donor happy, no matter how big the gift. Here, the reality is that in order to do the best work for our current and future clients, we have to take on the right clients at the right time. This has meant that I’ve turned down opportunities for new business as often as I’ve jumped at them.

2. Investing in your people isn’t just about money.

This is a creative field. That requires inspiration and rejuvenation. Ken’s encouraged us to pursue that in whatever way works for us. It could be spending an afternoon in a museum or attending a high-tech conference in Seattle. The key is that we are welcome to explore what we see fit to make us better at our jobs. What a blessing.

3. Growth isn’t scary.

When I started, I was staff-person number 15. As of today, we have 21 bright people within our walls. In the nonprofit world, adding staff was usually the last thing that anyone would suggest. (What of our program to administrative ratios?!) But what looks like rapid growth on the outside has actually been a long time coming and allows us to properly serve our current clients. We are able to move more work through the office more efficiently, while maintaining a familial atmosphere.

4. Advertising isn’t all Nerf guns and keg-erators.

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By Ian Lamberson via Wikimedia Commons

What struck me my first week was how serious the place seemed to be. Not in any kind of mean, scary way. But where were the hammocks, scooters, and ping-pong tables? Well, this is serious business. We have an office full of smart and mature people who take their work seriously. It’s just that we’re able to do that in a collegial and respectful environment of easy camaraderie. Don’t get me wrong…there is beer. We just don’t drink it every day.

5. I have more self-control than I thought.

My biggest fear about my new job working in Fountain Square really was that I would have fro-yo from Cultured Swirl, chilaquiles from La Margarita, and pumpkin bars from Calvin Fletcher every single day. Miraculously I haven’t.

My point is that entering this new field of advertising hasn’t been everything I thought it would be. It’s been better and more rewarding than I’d guessed. I’ve been so lucky to be welcomed in a warm and patient environment, and I’m proud to be the one who gets to go out in the community drumming up excitement for the work for my colleagues.

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