—We’re all struggling to get through the pandemic. But responding to that email or answering that call can go a long way towards helping someone through difficult times, says Kerry Fleiser—
I have been putting off writing a post like this for months. I did not want to come across as negative. I did not want to come across as needing or wanting sympathy.
I just wanted to be honest and raw about what it has been like for my business, and ultimately me, during the last three or four months of this pandemic. It has felt like quicksand, sinking further and further down as the weeks go on, with no sign of a lifeline.
But I stopped myself from writing it. Who am I to speak of hardship in comparison to front line workers? In comparison to people who were working minimum wage jobs and lost them. In comparison to the homeless, to those suffering in isolation from sickness, disease, and other horrific life circumstances. Who am I to use the word hardship?
Today, something changed. On a Peloton ride, the encouraging words of the amazing instructor Robin Arzon, combined with one of the songs, Andra Day’s “Rise Up,” moved me to tears (a common occurrence lately, but I digress). It gave me the courage to write this. It isn’t about what I’m going through in comparison to others. As with everything in life, there will always be someone in a better and worse position. This does not minimize what someone is experiencing personally. So here it goes.
Business failure. Career rejection. Dramatic statements, but they sum up exactly how it has felt day in and day out. I am admittedly not used to this.
Once I got my second corporate job, the companies and brands I would come to work for were more than just jobs. They became part of my identity. I was Kerry from Nike. Kerry from RBC. Kerry from BMW. They also became my key to future opportunities. When you are in marketing and work for leading brands, people not only listen; they gravitate towards you.
They bang down your doors hoping for the chance to meet you, talk to you and ultimately work with you. I’m not trying to glorify myself as a person, I am articulating what I came to observe over almost two decades working on these brands.
My father, a businessman whom I greatly respect, always instilled in me the importance of treating others as you would want to be treated. Meet as many people as you can. Try to make time for those envious of the position you are in, because you never know when your paths will cross again.
I can honestly say I lived by this throughout my career. If someone had a child that wanted to get into marketing and would love 10 minutes of my time, I answered the call. If an agency partner wanted to better understand how to win or hold onto the business, I’d answer the call. I’d spend time at events talking to people who just wanted to meet someone from BMW. And on and on.
Karma is a thing. Or at least so I thought. I thought that if I go about my career interactions as a decent human being, with careful thought and consideration for others, then that is how I would be treated.
And while this pandemic sucks for pretty much everyone, it especially sucks for small business owners and entrepreneurs so new into their venture that the foundation isn’t yet strong enough to withstand the hurricane.
Throughout the last few months, it has shocked me how few of my calls and emails are returned. It is an understatement to say that it has been a shot to the ego. I know deep down that my insight and perspective would be of value, yet very few are willing to give me that chance.
Please note: This is not a blanket statement about everyone. There are certainly people who have answered my call. Who call me and give me the time. Unfortunately, though, there are more who do not.
I am at a crossroads. When I left a stable job at BMW to start my consulting company, I told myself I will give it three to five years. Next March will mark four years. Granted, we are in unprecedented times, but the realities of life remain. I have a house, a wonderful son, a dog, and my health. All of which I am grateful for. I would also like to keep my sanity. Is chugging through another six months to a year perseverance or irresponsibility? To be honest, I don’t know.
Thank you Andra Day for the powerful words I heard today while cycling to “Rise Up.” Thank you Robin Arzon for your anecdotes and for giving me the courage to be raw.
To everyone reading this, please do me and everyone around you a favour. Answer the call. Respond to the email. Follow through on that connection you promised to make. Go that extra mile, even if you cannot see how it benefits you today.
You’re broken down and tired
Of living life on a merry go round
And you can’t find the fighter
But I see it in you so we gonna walk it out
And move mountains
We gonna walk it out
And move mountains
And I’ll rise up
I’ll rise like the day
I’ll rise up I’ll rise unafraid
I’ll rise up
And I’ll do it a thousand times again
Kerry Fleiser is a seasoned marketing leader who has helped shape the marketing strategies for some of the worlds most beloved brands. In her consulting practice, kif marketing solutions, she works with brands and agencies on partnership search, brand & sponsorship strategy, business development and more.