Category Archives: Ethics

“Many Woman Make Good Mentors” Interview with Ann Bonner on Leadership

Ann Bonner, Director at PFB Recruitment

Today, I spoke to Ann Bonner, Director at PFB Recruitment about leadership. She has worked successfully in leading marketing roles. I have known her for many years now, and have secretly been watching and admiring her on her successful collaborations and networking abilities, even in very challenging environments. Many people, including me, have learned from her leadership and mentoring abilities.

Ann, from your experience as a successful woman in leading marketing roles – what are the most distinctive characteristics that make “real leaders”, meaning “charismatic role models”?

In my experience, I was always motivated by leaders who were honest, had the ability to communicate clearly and succinctly and there was a mutual trust in the relationship. One will always be inspired and motivated by a leader to lead by example, does not discriminate, empowers, listens, encourages and recognises successes.

Do you think, engaging leaders are natural talents or rather that everyone can be a leader?

I do believe that some people are more charismatic than others naturally, but this doesn’t necessarily make them good leaders. I think you can learn to be a good leader. Life’s experience is a great teacher and if you are lucky enough to work with an inspirational leader you can learn a lot from a good mentor.

Are there differences between woman leading a team and men leading a team? What do men better than women or the other way round?

I think it depends on the individual man or woman. My own experience, in very male dominated industries, found some women to be more creative, better at empowering staff, defining job expectations and providing constructive feedback. I think many women make good mentors because they encourage openness, are more accessible and have a tendency to express appreciation more easily. They are also greater calculated risk-takers.

Many businesses are still very male-dominant. Women in leading positions are still an exception, no matter what the newspapers say. From your point of view, Ann, what is important for women to be perceived and appreciated as a leader among men?

In my opinion, the leadership qualities described above are equally important to both men and women. However, to be seen as equal among men, women tend to have to work harder at projecting their leadership qualities. Until this changes, it is very important to connect with the right network within the specific organisation in order to gain some strong sponsorship and inclusion.

How can women best network among men?

Collaboration networks already exist in any organisation – both formal and informal. By establishing relationships with the decision makers as well as the guys who have the knowledge and the power, you will soon build a collaborative network. Find a situation where you can talk to them about something they are interested in, or discuss a project that you know is their priority and offer help if you can. It may be that you need introduction by someone, who is already in your network, or if there is a social event or project team where you have an opportunity to introduce yourself and build on the initial introduction. One contact may lead to another contact.

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Confessions of a Marketer

How can I make him stand out more? Picture by Carlos Lopez-Barillas, 2013

How can I make him stand out more? Picture by Carlos Lopez-Barillas, 2013

Being a marketer isn’t easy. In fact, it’s a burden.

Yesterday, I spent the afternoon with Dorothe and Sabine in a nice café in Zurich. They are two of the co-authors of our book of short stories. We discussed our book and a couple of others subjects, we could further explore upon. We just bounced some ideas off, and I gave some unwanted lectures on promotions and brands. All in a sudden, Dorothe and Sabine made me realise, how much I live in marketing mode. I can’t help it, I turn everything into a business idea or a future brand. At least, they were amused…

In contrast, I left the café in deep thoughts: Should I go and see a therapist? Are there actually any therapists for addicted marketeers? Is there an “AM community” (Anonymous Marketers) anywhere out there? And then: Probably not. Should I found one? I could make it popular. Okay, where would I find my target group? I could do affiliate marketing with marketing associations, I could…. STOP!

Mark Zuckerberg never showed up!

Another story of my life is my marriage. Getting married wasn’t only about bringing our love to the next level of commitment. To me, it was also a question of “re-branding”. I mean, I was about to change my name!!!

So while my future husband was planning our wedding, I was planning my re-branding. (Sorry, Darling! For the audience: he’s subscribed to my blog.) For the wedding ceremony, he invited friends and family, while I had obviously plenty of industry leaders and influencers written down on the list, disguised as “friends and family”. (Weird and impolite: Mark Zuckerberg never showed up!) Afterwards, I also cut my hair short. Total new style. New name. New brand. Well, sort of.

I don’t buy by a brand’s name

As a marketer, I’m also not brand loyal. Shouldn’t I buy successful brands and – by doing so – show my recognition for other marketers that are doing a fantastic job? I can’t help it, I’m always skeptical. Despite the fact, that I am doing marketing within the scope of ethics and honesty myself, I trust my colleagues out there think the same. Just one brand disappointment, and we are caught out. It spreads within minutes on the web. Yet – I don’t buy by a brand’s name. I buy according to my inner price-value-algorithms or according to product comparisons. Both is very time-consuming and can be exhausting.

I wonder, which brand is going to hook me into its brand story? Will I then miraculously turn into a normal customer and citizen? Identify myself with brands, wanting to be like the people in their ads and not wasting time on my price-value-algorithms and comparisons? Simply trusting its promises?

Oh, life would be so easy!

P.S.: @Mark Zuckerberg: The wedding event was awesome. You really missed out on something special.

The Ethics of Marketing

Today I’ve had an interesting conversation with Annie, a mom of two kids. She told me about some initiatives a big supermarket chain is doing. (No names, they are actually brilliant in their marketing and communications.) Every now and then they have promotions, where they hand out little toys for kids at the till. As a matter of fact, her kids are now furious, if she doesn’t want to go to this particular chain for shopping.

This is a scene that reminds me of a subject, marketeers and people working in advertisement should consider more often. I call it “the ethics of marketing”.

If a supermarket chain hands out toys to toddlers, they are likely not only to drag their parents into the store every time they do the shopping. No, they are also emotionally attached to this supermarket chain, and might – unconsciously – do their shopping at the same chain as adults. Some brands also have promoted to toddlers (or even younger ones) for some time now. They want to influence kids on their later purchasing behavior. As a result, young generations grow up in a world full of promises and temptations. They might not yet know the rules of money, but they know what they want. They see and hear temptations everywhere.

Have you ever been thinking about the moral implications? If ads evoke the desire of “having”, into what sort of people will these kids turn? How difficult will it be to understand that they might not be able to afford all their desires. And their happiness? Will it decrease once they can’t get what a brand promises? Will they be able to compensate?

I think, the line between branding and influencing to kids is really thin, and marketeers should consider this in their daily jobs.

Luckily, Annie is the boss, and not the kids. Shame only, they are too small yet, to actually already do the shopping.