How being mentored accelerated my learning

I was pretty late to the party when it came to working in Marketing. In my 20s I worked as a structural engineer and found it bone achingly dull. I had no passion for this career and desperately wanted to find something where I was able to create without too much constraint. Enter digital marketing. I had no prior interest in this area and quite frankly, was a bit judgy towards marketers, as I thought it was a degree you did when you had no idea what you wanted to do with your life. And in some ways, that was true for me when I started out. But what I found in digital marketing was a career in which my engineering mindset could be applied with creativity. I love this quote from Guru Madhavan in Applied Minds: How Engineers Think which sums it up perfectly.

The core of the engineering mind-set is what I call modular systems thinking. It’s not a singular talent, but a melange of techniques and principles. Systems-level thinking is more than just being systematic; rather, it’s about the understanding that in the ebb and flow of life, nothing is stationary and everything is linked. The relationships among the modules of a system give rise to a whole that cannot be understood by analyzing its constituent parts.

At first, digital marketing was completely overwhelming. It was full of jargonistic acronyms — CRO, CTR, CPC, CPA……and the list goes on. I built my learning foundations by reading books by Seth Godin and got a high-level overview of Google products and digital marketing in Squared Online. Studying with the obsessiveness of a crazed addict definitely helped, but the real accelerated learning came from a mentor. For me, it was a case of the student being ready and the teacher appeared. This mentor didn’t necessarily equip me with technical skills, he gave me the confidence to create strategies and plans that I believe would have taken me years to achieve. I was able to leverage his long-career in marketing. I was able to bounce ideas off him and save time by not going down a path which has already been proven to have failed. And with this mentor, my network of influence increased dramatically, as I was able to tap into his contacts accrued over many years to accelerate my learning in areas of Marketing he was not an expert in (for example SEO). I’m incredibly grateful for the teaching I have received from my mentor and hope to pass it on to another hungry student one day.



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