Welcome to CultivatED Marketer …
In this seventh episode of CultivatED Marketer, hosts Brent Bowen and Matt Tidwell, PhD, chat with Mike Swenson — part two of a two-part conversation. A veteran communication professional, Mike has enjoyed a multifaceted career as a broadcast journalist, a governor’s press secretary, and founder and leader of a successful public relations firm that has produced ground-breaking work. His next act includes some voice and on-camera acting work. We’ll chat the evolution of marketing communications and the skills needed to advance in the industry.
CultivatED Marketer Ep. 7 (Part 2) — Mike Swenson
Brent and Matt talk with Mike Swenson, veteran communication professional. Mike has enjoyed a storied career as a broadcast journalist, press secretary to a Governor, and founder and leader of a successful public relations firm that produced ground-breaking work. His next act includes some voice and on-camera acting work.
- In the end, Mike’s firm came up with a campaign that became Lee National Denim Day. He tells the story of how the program migrated along with the cause over the years, which speaks to the depth and longevity of the program.
- After mentioning how all this work took place right in Kansas City, the group discusses whether new marketing professionals in the field still feel they need to move to the coasts to work on “cool” projects. Mike believes the culture is changing … and when his firm would fly candidates in from elsewhere in the U.S., including the coasts, they were always blown away by KC (in a positive way).
- Brent asks which skills Mike believes are most important for inexperienced marketers. When people ask Mike what he’s looking for when hiring, he says a sense of urgency. Focusing on the details and doing what you say you’re going to do — he wants people to be urgent about that. He also mentions the entrepreneurial spirit of having the freedom to try and the freedom to fail.
- For new marketers, Mike says there’s a learning curve to putting yourself out there and sharing your ideas, but you have to learn to sit with being uncomfortable at first. Brent shares about the conversations he has with new marketers in his own business — don’t be afraid to speak up because he wants to hear any ideas they have.
- Mike places importance on the idea that you always have to keep learning. And that you’re never alone … you have a team to lean on. Mike says his proudest accomplishment from 32 years in the industry is all the friendships and relationships he’s made along the way.
- When considering the next leaders in his organization, what did Mike look for in his employees? Mike says he liked to identify people who could do things better than he could, while also being inspiring to the rest of the team. He also says, once you’ve identified those leaders, it’s important to get out of their way and let them lead.
- Even when a leader isn’t leaving — like Mike left Crossroads in July of last year — Mike believes in creating practice groups with specific focuses within the organization as a way for people to assume leadership roles. It gives them a chance to build their portfolio and learn tactics for managing people.
- The group discusses the ways that professional development is important for young marketers and the types of opportunities that are available — from organizations to conferences and more.
- What’s the next act for Mike? Brent and Matt ask about Mike’s new focus on a creative pursuit: voice acting. Mike shares that he’s always been told he had a “great voice,” and he started out in radio and television broadcasting. He’s always been interested in voice acting but never had the time to pursue it until now.
- Now he has professional demo tapes, hired an agent, and is in the process of building out a home studio. He’s excited about it because it’s fun and something he’s always wanted to do. He says his dream would be owning a radio station and hosting a morning show with sports talk, news, and music … sell a few ads and play golf in the afternoons.
- Mike concedes it will probably never happen because he hears it’s not easy to buy a radio station these days … but Brent reminds him about the world of podcasting and says “we should talk …”