Starting over on anything can be daunting. Think about when you forget to save something on a huge project and you must start again. That frustration over losing your hard work is sometimes overwhelming, but the silver lining is that you are not truly starting over. You are building upon your past work with a fresh outlook and new ideas. That's how I like to look at my career; a project based on some things I have saved, others I've rewritten.
My first year out of college I developed a firm desire to make it to the top of the retail chain and swore to never look back. As part of my original "five-year plan" I had worked my way up to management at a retail store in Madison, Wisconsin, with no intention of stopping or changing paths. Many people don't realize that retail management essentially involves the same elements of overseeing your own business: financials, hiring, talent planning, sales strategy, inventory, marketing, etc.
In year four, my five-year plan was almost complete when I decided to hit reset. With a somewhat intense fear of the unknown but an underlying need for something more, I moved on from my well-built, fully functioning "small business" and relocated to New York City.
With no firm vision of where I wanted to take my career, an old friend pointed me to a job post from DISH Media Sales for a Sales Coordinator position. The previous skills I'd learned working in retail were nowhere to be found in this entry-level job description. What was this foreign language I was reading about? Linear? Clusters? General Market? Addressable? Every bit of the terminology was new to me.
I had my work cut out for me, but something about this opportunity attracted me and I felt a new five-year plan formulating. And with four years of sales-driven retail experience under my belt, I knew I had the foundation to succeed.
Through my interview prep research, I began to understand the basics of advertising and how brands were placing their messages on networks and programs relevant to their brand. But I began to realize this job was part of something much bigger. The conversations turned into: Where is this industry going? What's next? How do we get there? It was the start of something different and it was somewhere that would allow me to be in control of my own career project. This was my reset.
I quickly found out that things in media sales change every day. It's not just "spots and dots;" there's innovation, industry firsts and a consistent need for education across the marketplace. My own education began with addressable advertising, the hot topic at DISH Media Sales and one that I needed to immerse myself in, fast. "You're telling me my neighbor and I could see different ads on the same network at the same time? Because of my buying habits? Hold on … they can target me based off where I shop and what I buy? They can tell I have a cat?" That resonated with my retail experience.
I would never have ever sold different people with different style preferences or body types the same outfit, so why would we send the same advertising to everyone? I was hooked.
I caught on quickly, so was promoted quickly from my initial Sales Coordinator work. As addressable started to pick up, team roles were changing. I stepped in with no training and had to learn how the addressable business really worked. For me, the behind-the-scenes stuff was the most fun to work on -- the extensive data, the campaign analysis, the deeper relationships with agencies. This product was different from anything else on the market and it was thrilling to see it evolve and change day by day.
But the ever-changing landscape of media sales and the introduction of Sling TV made me realize I was missing out on how digital advertising works. I had been working at DISH for a year and a half and I was loving it, but I felt the need to switch gears once again. So, I took an opportunity at a new company to learn to "speak digital" in a new ecosystem, with the intention of getting as much as I could out of it. And although that experience was extremely valuable in its own-right, I realized that the addressable space was still growing around me -- and I needed to be part of it.
Dipping my toe in the digital advertising pool actually helped me make my way back to DISH Media Sales and secure my current position as the Manager of Addressable. My better understanding of digital advertising helped me jump right in to the evolving addressable landscape: If you think back to the very core of addressable as the right advertisement to the right person at the right time, it is about the person and really doesn't matter how they are watching content, whether it is through traditional or digital television.
And that brings me to where I am today -- bridging the gap between traditional television and digital through cross-platform addressable campaigns and writing and rewriting my path forward every day. I have learned that there is no reset button, no set path -- only experiences and skills that you are consistently developing and adjusting as you grow.
Coming to New York and proving myself in an industry that can be cutthroat, tiring and stressful was among one of the scariest and most rewarding things I have done. I am thankful that it brought me to media sales where every day is different, and the business is progressing quicker than ever into uncharted territory.
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