Marketing Mambo

Clear Communication is Critical to Effective Marketing with iLendingDirect CMO Renée Brown

March 07, 2022 Season 2 Episode 10
Marketing Mambo
Clear Communication is Critical to Effective Marketing with iLendingDirect CMO Renée Brown
Show Notes Transcript

Renée Brown is currently the Chief Marketing Officer at ILendingDIRECT. Renée has served in numerous marketing leadership roles since 1995 in Financial Services and Healthcare. She has led teams of all sizes with marketing investments ranging from $5 million to more than $100 million. She has been active in nonprofits, leading boards and serving diverse communities. She has a daughter studying at Boston College and lives in Denver, CO. 

To contact Renée:
Email: renee.brownlsu@gmail.com
Phone: (704) 996-5378

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If you'd like to talk to Terry McDougall about coaching or being a guest on Marketing Mambo, here's how you can reach her:

Website: https://www.terrybmcdougall.com
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/terrybmcdougall
Email: Terry@Terrybmcdougall.com

Her book Winning the Game of Work: Career Happiness and Success on Your Own Terms is available at Amazon


Hey everybody. It's Terry McDougall with marketing Mambo. And our guest today is an old friend of mine that I worked with. Like 25 years ago. At one of my first jobs after I got my MBA, her name is Renee brown and Renee is the chief marketing officer at I lending auto refinance. In Denver, Colorado. She has just a really interesting story to tell about how she got started in marketing, some of the work that she's done around diversity, equity and inclusion, And working in some of the most competitive industries in the world today, financial services and healthcare. So I am so excited to share her story. I think you're really gonna enjoy it. She's really thoughtful and very interesting person. Renee has done a great job of finding that overlap between professional success and personal happiness. And if you're in search of that, might I suggest that you check out my book, winning the game of work career happiness and success on your own terms. I think that Renee has led a career that demonstrates that, and I really wish that for everyone. So check out my book on Amazon or Barnes and noble.com. And now without further ado, let the Mambo begin.

Hey everybody. It's Terry McDougall with another episode of Marketing Mambo, and I am so excited to bring you today. Renee D brown. She is that chief marketing officer of I lending and she and I have known each other for quite a while. We met probably, oh my gosh, Renee, probably twenty-five years ago. They liked that.

At, at a predecessor bank to Wells Fargo, it was Wachovia that became part of Wells Fargo. And Rene was there for Renee, I think like 20 years, right? Yup. Yup. Two months shy of 19 years and 10 months. But yes, we'll say 20 years. So you've had a great career in marketing, working for Tia Cref and, healthcare company.

 I'll let you kind of go into a little bit more detail about your background, but  I've sat on the sidelines and marveled at your success and have been cheering you on. So I'm thrilled to have you here to talk about all things, marketing, Renee. Welcome. And please tell us a little bit more about your.

Thank you Terry, and is great to see you again, you still look the same, which is pretty impressive after so many years. So,  it's great to reconnect and, yeah, a little bit about my background. I actually started, working on the media side in radio for seven or eight years during high school, college and graduate school and saw  the media side of marketing before I actually.

Dover and started doing marketing from a company's perspective. I worked at two small community banks in Louisiana and then landed at Wachovia where Terry and I worked together for five years or so before it was purchased by first union and other things happened  but yes, you know, my marketing career, I actually in graduate school, studied communication theory, which includes mediation and other kinds of things, but not marketing.

Take one marketing class in college. So anybody listening, who is curious about how you become a chief marketing officer, everyone takes a different path.  And that's not necessarily a bad thing. And the first marketing role I had, I actually owned all four PS of marketing. And so that. Product and pricing, promotion and place.

So being able to start off with, understanding product and pricing was really important because any marketer worth their salt is clear about the relationship of product and pricing to actually being able to sell something. Because I think we've all faced situations where somebody like. Make a good marketing campaign and it can overcome that the product didn't go to the pricing is off and that's actually not the case.

So anyway, so I had a 20 year career at Wachovia and Wells, working on the B2B side originally. And that was really great experience on how to actually create marketing strategy. After that I moved into brand management, and actually was part of the team that developed the Wachovia brand, after the first union merger.

And that was a great experience on the advertising side and the upper funnel side of marketing,  as opposed to really getting, the sales into the Salesforce, which was my previous experience. And so brand management was great. I worked in diversity marketing and really got to understand marketing segmentation in that role.

And then I moved into the investment side and investments was one area of banking that I didn't understand. And that was one of my career risks was to go and work with the brokerage firm. And anybody who's worked with a brokerage firm knows that it's a very male dominated, but also complicated. And, cutthroat business in some cases.

And so I spent seven years supporting the investments arm of what CocoVia and Wells Fargo, including asset management, private wealth, ultra high net worth all of those kinds of businesses. And, that was a lot of fun. Working against the influence segment is a very interesting space to really understand and get to know at a deep level.

And then in 2012, I had a chance to jump into digital and stood up social media for Wells Fargo. That was my three years away from marketing, because that's where I learned PR and HR and compliance. To be honest, because in social media, there were so many,  issues on a day-to-day basis that have.

Dealt with, and it was a great learning to get into digital.  I spent some time in the community bank and then in 2017 left, Wells, and as Terry mentioned, moved over to Tia, trying to get a retail division going, Tia is also a retirement company. So again, I was in that banking and a fluent.

Segmentation. And a couple of years after that, I had a chance to move industries. And so I joined a subsidiary of United health group and anybody knowing United health group, it's a fortune five company. They have 350,000 employees. It's huge. I was on the Optum side. So they have United health care, which is insurance.

And then Optum is the care delivery. So I was supporting thousands and thousands of doctors. And helping them acquire patients and working on things like clinic design and, patient journeys. And so there are a lot of similarities between banking and healthcare in that it's big consumers. Don't trust it, consumers don't understand it.

And you know, branding is confusing. People don't even understand the difference between their. Insurance and their provider. And so there's a lot of explaining that has to happen. One thing healthcare does better is, taking language down to a fourth grade level. All of our marketing had to be translated to a fourth or fifth grade level.

And I think banking and financial services would benefit from doing that because. That confusion that can happen with a consumer is what we want to avoid in marketing. And then,  just six months ago, I moved and I'm now at a startup back in financial services. I'm at an auto refinance startup out of Denver, Colorado.

It's been around for a while. And, , in case you haven't noticed, automobile. Pricing is through the roof with our chip shortage right now. So the value of both used and new cars  is crazy. And, what my team does every day is,  one in three car loans is mispriced, meaning it's,  the interest rate.

Isn't good for the consumer. And so we reach out to those consumers and help them refinance their car. Usually we save people about $145 a month, which is real money. So I've moved from more of fluent marketing, and now I'm working in the mid to sub. Market, which I'm enjoying a lot because every day we help consumers who really need to save money, save money.

So there's a lot of joy. So I'm in a performance marketing role and we can talk more about what exactly that means,   I actually sit on the floor with loan consultants,  just outside my door right now. And if our leads aren't doing well, I hear it. And if our leads are doing. I hear it.

So it's immediate feedback to our marketing team.   Personally, I was born in Louisiana, lived in North Carolina, 25 years, and now I'm in Denver, Colorado, and I have  a daughter at Boston college Well, congratulations what year is your daughter at college?

She's a freshman. This she's starting her second semester next week. Yep. Oh, how awesome. I lived in Boston for a little while when I first got out of college and it's a great town. And especially for young people , in college or just out of college. Well, so wow. You know, career is.

Super impressive. I could relate to a lot of things that you were talking about in terms of, you know, I worked in wealth management, marketing and asset management.

Actually investment banking and talk about male dominated. I worked in that area for seven years at BMO Harris bank here in Chicago. And, yeah, you get kind of a master's class in how to navigate and how to,  influence when you're a woman working in a heavily male dominated,  financial services.

so. Gosh, like where do we even jump in here, Renee? Because I feel like there's so much, you know, one of the things  that, I thought was super interesting and I think I took one marketing class and one advertising class in undergrad. I was an econ major. And I agree with you a hundred percent that you don't need to necessarily, major in marketing to have a marketing career, and my observation, is that the way that corporations do marketing is not the way they teach it in school anyway. So you're usually having to learn on the job and, and nowadays marketing is such a fast moving profession that anything they teach you in school would probably be obsolete by the time you graduated.

Anyway. Yeah. You were talking about your background in studying communications, how has your communications background and, things like,  arbitration, how has that help to be successful in your marketing career? You know, marketers are often stuck between Tufts situations and we're having to do shuttle diplomacy all the time.

And so I think communications and having that background is critical because what happens is you might have a product and pricing structure that is misaligned. With the Salesforce and marketing and stuff between that. And you have to figure out how to keep everybody happy, but make it something that's marketable.

And that requires finesse. And it requires the ability to not say yes to everyone. But if you say, no, you have to have a solution, an alternative, something to keep the keep things in place.  So yes, I mean, marketing. part of driving business at the end of the day.

So in my every day, I know my team needs to get 1400 leads into the system. And it's through a number of different channels and I am watching  our scorecard every day. And if we're off, I'm adjusting and those 1400 leads have a certain conversion rate and that has to be maintained.

So like my role with the sales team manager, they've got to convert those leads. Because if the leads don't get converted as they should, then  it's a shared responsibility with sales. So I think that relationship management is one of the most critical and  I'll tell you another, One of my biggest learnings was moving into the investment space that you know, so well in order to be back to your male dominated piece in order to be listened to, I actually went out and took my series seven.

It was not required for my role.  For people who don't know a series seven, it's what a broker or a financial advisor has to. It's a pass fail test. That's very difficult. And so.  The idea behind that was to show the business I'm taking this seriously, that I understand what a broker has to do and the stakes at play .

And it earned me credibility. And so that's a way of building. It's kind of like any relationship you have chips and it put chips on my side to say, okay, she's taking this seriously. It gave me a seat at the table and marketing must have a seat at the table because there are some people who think marketing is magic, right?

Pixie dust where we all of a sudden just do something magical and everything turns around. There is nothing magical about marketing. It's a ton of data and it's a ton of hard work. You have to understand the business. You have to understand what's working and not from a product standpoint, and then figure out a creative way to improve each piece and part of the client journey to where you drive more sales and more revenue without doing anything.

Immoral or unethical in the process. Yeah, that's a good description.  I think that you're quite accurate in terms of, how many people think that there's something magical about marketing?  I think that it does take a certain set of  skills. I think that there's not a lot of overlap among a ton of people in the population, to be able to be analytical, but to also understand, human buying psychology and also know how to influence within organizations.

So you can get everybody singing off the same song sheet, and you can have strong relationships. So people want to work with you. Yeah. One thing to add to what you're saying is,  I've told a lot of people that you have to be both somebody who understands the art and science of marketing.

And so I come from a family of artists and I'm not that I'm right-handed and left-brained, and I'm more analytical, but I was raised with creative people. So I know how to work with creative people. So as a marketer, You usually are working with agencies and it's a very different way to inspire an agency.

Then you would inspire a data analytics person, which you're also working with on the other hand. And so you don't use the same techniques with both. And so a marketer has. Ambidextrous meaning you have to have the data side, but you also have to push the creative side. And very few marketers are good in both of those areas.

Usually there's one side or another. I enjoy the brand and creative side, but I Excel at the data side. So anyway, anybody who is, good on both sides of that would be really great at marketing. Yeah. Coming from. Somebody who studied economics in college and also took tons of art history and studio art.

I guess I found my calling when I came into marketing. And agree with you a hundred percent about how you have to be ambidextrous, when it comes marketing and. I worked in B2B marketing most of my career. And a lot of times, many of the products or the services that we're selling were sometimes kind of exotic, right.

Not using to understand and, being able to new cities. Let's get annuities. It's like, that's the hardest thing to first understand. And second to make it interesting and marketable is almost impossible. Definitely, definitely. And, you know, to be able to influence some of your partners within the business, but then to turn around and work with the agency and explain to them, you know, okay, well, what is this thing?

And why should people care? You know, that. Definitely was a challenge, but to me it was fun. It was fun. Yeah. And I'll share a couple of interesting things. So the first one back on marketing, isn't magical. You know, sometimes people think you can do marketing without money and today that.

Virtually impossible. I'm sure you might want to go viral.  I personally don't want to ever go viral, even if it's for a good thing. Because there's always downside to that.  And so a lot of companies, particularly startups think they can do something with nothing. In reality, marketing budgets need to be at least 10% of revenue.

And that means if your revenue is going to be something in the future, you have to invest to that level in marketing. And when people cycle through marketing leaders, they probably don't understand. And there's actually Gartner and others have great research on here's what you should be investing in marketing.

And  it's not inexpensive to do. And so, anyway, so that's one piece, but  the other piece is marketing. Folks can change companies in the way that they think, and that's an amazing way to be at the table. And so one of the ways that I changed. In my role at Wells Fargo around social media in 2012, social media was just coming onto the scene and there was a fundamental shift happening in the companies, no longer being in charge of their message.

So if you think of large companies, if somebody was mad at a big bank, They could write a letter to the president. Well, the president would read it, maybe respond. No one would ever know with the advent of social media, if somebody's mad, they spray paint on your front door and everyone sees it, which is Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn glass door, 

anyway, so being part of that change was amazing because as a leader of that group, I had. Teach the 12 leaders of that company that they weren't in charge anymore. Now let's talk about power and what happens when people aren't in control anymore. So we actually put a kiosk showing all the social media, what was happening in the moment, right by the executive restroom, because they have to go to the bathroom every day.

So my idea was like, they have to look at like what people are talking about. We got more phone calls saying, what is happening? Like everything's either red or everything's green. What's happening. And it's like, it's through that, that people started to understand. They companies are no longer in charge of the narrative.

If something happens, they just have to steer it. You can't control it, you can only steer it. And so that's a huge change that has happened in the last decade. That has been very interesting to be a part of. And that's still, some people don't fully understand that clients are in charge,  much more than companies nowadays.

So anyway. Yeah, yeah, no, I mean, that is a fantastic point and  that whole thing about people wanting to go viral, I cracks me up because I can remember people suggesting that to me, like, why don't we do a video that goes viral? And I was like, you do understand that we don't really have control over what goes viral.

Right. That doesn't like it the point that you were making earlier, like. We can't make that happen. Right. Then, plus I doubt that, working at a bank that we would do anything that would be that exciting that people would be like, oh my gosh, you have to see this newest banking video.

Right, right. It's usually negative for the big organizations like healthcare and banking where there, the man. You know exactly the bad guy. And so they usually go viral when there's a gotcha or something stupid happens. And it's embarrassing as opposed to like dollar shave club is one that did take off through a viral video, but they were a disruptor of a niche market that hadn't been disrupted in a century.

Right. So, right. It's like a moment in time. right. Well,  they're sort of like agile rebel, you know, going against Gillette, right. The monolithic,  long time leader in that category. And, you know, I think it's interesting because if you think about,  for established brands, I mean the last company I worked for, hit it  200 years.

Anniversary when I was working there. So just think about a 200 year old bank. Right. I know crazy. And,  there's obviously a lot of equity in a 200 year old bank. Right. Right. So I think to your point, you do not want to go viral. Right. Because you've invested a lot in that and, there can be power in, something going viral, but you don't have control over it.

Right. And if you're a small brand and you literally have nothing to lose, and then sure. Why not? You don't have, maybe you don't have a lot of cash and you haven't invested a lot because maybe you're a young brand. Right. And so all you want is attention and maybe you don't even know what your brand is about yet.

Right, right. So, yeah, it's interesting. One, one thing that did go viral, right. When I first started in the social media space, that was when the Harlem shake was a thing. Do you remember that there was a branch that had a team building air quotes included that was. Horrific. And it did go viral. And I remember the many calls I got saying, Renee, take it down, make it stop.

I'm like, I can't, we can take it down. Somebody reposts it it's out there. And it was a great learning for me because I have always been a little bit more black and white, is it right or wrong? And that was one where I had to say, this is actually gray.   Good intention when it started, it was awful at the end of it.

Like the video itself did not represent the company well, but I know why they did it. It's just, the people who coordinated that were thinking in a pre YouTube world, and none of us do that anymore. It's like do a team building if it's being recorded. You know, if anything that's deemed inappropriate, it could make it go viral.

Right. So, yeah, for sure, for sure. That that's actually reminding me of, when I was leading investment bank marketing at my last employer and, people would come to me and say, Terry, I want us to get a front page article in  wall street. Oh, yeah. And I was like, yeah, yeah, we all want that.

Right. We all want to get a front flip chart tutorial and advertise it. So separate, separate, and also,  the fact that you can't control,  the earned media, you can't control what the reporter says, you know? And,  so going back to your point. Yeah. You know, it costs money to market. And, I also love what you were saying in terms of, plan your investment based on what you want your revenue to be at that time.

I that's not necessarily how I've seen marketing budget speed, determined. It's usually been a little bit more around what do we feel like giving to marketing this isn't B2B, right? So it's not as, quite as. Connecting the dots quite as directly, between what's being invested in what comes out the other end, but certainly  it's a factor that, is part of that formula.

And I was always a little bit frustrated that there wasn't more of an acceptance of, a percentage of revenue, right. Yeah, it'd be a lot easier if that were the case, right? Yeah, for sure. And a lot of times it was, Hey, there's a big bucket of money in marketing and, we've had a downturn, let's cut that, which is super, super frustrating.

And the opposite of what you likely should be. Yes, absolutely. Absolutely. That's the time to double down. Right. To, and particularly, with things that don't cost as much, but you still have to invest in whether it's blogs, articles, there's always a response, but usually you're not using a hammer with the same nail, right?

Yeah, yeah, exactly. Exactly. So,  Well, so let's talk a little bit about  your switch between financial services and healthcare. Because I think that some of the points that you're making are so valid in terms of, pretty much everybody out there needs both banking on. It's brunt and, and healthcare, right?

I mean, that's, they're both sort of universal services that most people need. And so  you obviously are dealing with, pretty broad  swath of,  people, right? And so I liked what you were saying also about, the fact that when you were working in healthcare, that you really had to make sure that the message was.

simplified to the point that, , pretty much anybody could understand it. And yeah. And that was surprising to me when my team said,  I forget the term that they use at Optum.  There's  a term that's escaping me right now, but,  it's basically taking everything down to that fourth, fifth grade level.

I'm like, really? , how do you go about doing that? But I didn't know that that was the average, which is a very interesting, Thing to know about our country and when you get your, prescription or whatever the doctor prints out for you, when you read that any consumer that's actually written at a fourth or fifth grade level, which is fascinating.

Huh? That is, yeah. That, that is really interesting. Well, gosh, you know, you think about how critical it is, obviously for people to understand it. Instructions, When it comes to taking their prescription or following the doctor's orders.  That makes a lot of sense. But  besides.

Some of the things that you've already mentioned, what are some of the other things that you took from your financial services background into your healthcare marketing role? Like what were some of the similarities and what were some of the differences? Yeah. So you'll appreciate this. I have one funny one.

So I'll probably get a laugh out of you on the second one, but the first one is I supported financial advisors, 16,000 financial advisors across the country. And in that you had financial advisors that were employing. By the brokerage firm. And then you had some that were contracted. So they were in a different channel.

So we had different channels and types of brokers. Well, physicians are the same way. Some physicians are employed and some of them are contracted and they're very different. And also with both of those groups of people, you have to take care, not to make. Angry or upset with what you're doing in marketing, because they can leave.

they are free agents. And, so that was a very interesting, similarity. Healthcare is going through what financial services were going through in the late nineties, which is a lot of consolidation and acquisitions. And so I did 21 bank acquisitions. And so one of the reasons they brought me over.

 In the Optum group I was in is because they were buying up medical groups and needing to rebrand them. But it's a very expensive thing to rebrand them, which is a whole different topic, which we won't go down that rabbit hole. But the funny one was around patient experience. So I have done tons of work with client experience, moving through, let's say a branch or working with a financial advisor.

What you do you do before, during and after a visit and all this stuff. So I'm a pro at that, but then you get into patients walking into a clinic. Here's the big difference with a financial advisor? The thing we worried with is that consumers felt very, self-conscious like, am I smart enough? Do I really understand it?

They were worried. They might be judged. Do I belong here? Can I afford this person? So there's a lot of like psychology that you think about in a physician situation with your primary care doctor, you actually get naked and sit on paper. So in that funny, it's like, I never thought about that. So you think about, it's not only that you might have anxiety around white coats.

Patients do right. When they see a white coat, their blood pressure goes up and they're sweating. Because there's a fear factor of what could happen. And to double it down, you're sitting on paper in a gown that is weird. And so what we started to do with my team was design, a clinic that didn't involve that where you were as the patient feeling so awkward in the doctor's they're fully clothed going.

What's your problem? So actually.  The company, was implementing instead of having, an examining table. Actually, it looked like a La-Z-Boy recliner that you actually sat in and would have a conversation with the doctor, and then it would flatten out into an exam table if needed.

So then you have a conversation with your clothes on. And eat at the end of the day and it helps the psychology. And there's a lot of other stuff that the company I know is still doing around being able to get text messages to say, Hey, your doctor's running early or running late. You can go get a Starbucks and come in at this time to make the experience better.

Cause you guys. Healthcare is awful around making people wait in a waiting room for an hour. Who, who does that? I mean, think about your Amazon experience. You don't even have to wait that long to get your package some days, right. And then your doctor, and all of a sudden, you have no control or power.

So anyway, but I think the point of all this. There are similarities. And of course there are differences, but the same thing is true in marketing is that you have to understand the psychology of your client and their experience and what happens before, during and after a transaction or an experience.

And, marketing's role is to find out what are the pain points and solve those pain points and make it better than the competition and try to change the industry. And that is so hard to do.  I think that that's so interesting. The solution that you guys came up with with the La-Z-Boy cause, That's very relaxing, right?

Relaxing to lay back.  I love the movie theaters that have those chairs in them now, you know, and that's showing you that healthcare is catching up to what financial services had to learn a long time ago. Then you've got. Treat a client  they are in charge, not your doctor, not your FFA.

The client is in charge and that is happening in healthcare slowly.  But it has a long way to go. Because the cost is huge and I will tell you, healthcare needs to be regulated. Now I'm in marketing. I fuss with compliance people. I have a history of working well with compliance and risk and legal, but.

If healthcare were regulated, like financial services, we consumers would not be paying what we're paying. So anyway,  I won't go further than that, but healthcare is due for more regulation because companies are making money, hand over fist. And it's because it's so complicated and not as regulated as it should be.

Yeah, that's for a different topic. I mean, it's interesting. Cause I thought one of the things that you were going to say about healthcare marketing, and financial services marketing is that they are both, Highly regulated, but maybe I'm thinking more along the lines of pharmaceuticals rather than healthcare itself.

Well, will tell you, privacy. So in financial services you have,  legal and compliance and risk in healthcare. You have privacy and legal and compliance. So privacy is much better in healthcare for obvious reasons, right? But no, where money is made between hospital systems and medical groups is. Not regulated.

So a hospital system, if they're a monopoly, can set pricing at whatever level they want. Yeah. With a broken arm, spend $16,000 or $2,000, depending on where you go. And that's just like, could you imagine if financial services had pricing that different, it would never happen.

Right. But in healthcare happens every single day. So that's what I mean by the pricing regulation between hospital systems and medical groups, but that is  fraught with issues, as you can imagine. So that's so interesting. And certainly I've seen. Some headlines about that kind of stuff. You know, where people are paying some ridiculous amount of money for something, or they're getting those surprise bills from somebody they didn't even know, worked on  their case.

And, a lot of times whenever we're. In need of healthcare. We're probably at our most vulnerable, right. So it's not like, we can shop around for a better price on a mortgage. Right. Right. And it's like, if you've got a broken arm or leg, or you've been in a car accident,  you really don't have a choice, but  if your life is at risk, but  to take, it and then pay for it later.

Right? Yeah. Well, one thing wanted  to share a little bit,  so, if you think about the back to the comparison of financial advisors and doctors with financial advisors, there's two types, there's one who gets paid on performance. So like they get 1% of your portfolio, which is preferred, or you have people who trade stocks and they make money on the trades, which is volatile.

And sometimes not in the consumer's best interest in health care.  If a doctor is with value-based care, they get paid to keep you healthy. Every other doctor is paid because you're sick. Yeah. And  if our healthcare system moved just like financial advisors are moving more to, I get 1% when you make money.

Versus, and having doctors paid because you're healthy. Not because you're sick, that's going to be revolutionary, but the amount of values-based care doctors is very small versus the norm. So, yeah. Yeah. That's super interesting. Well, so, I'd like to pivot here before we start wrapping things up and just highlight the fact that you have been a huge proponent for the lb H a L D T I, but love to talk to you a little bit about.

Maybe how you've seen things change during your career. I know that you were featured in a book that was called out of the closet into the corner, on our office. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. So love to just give you a floor on that. Which I think is kind of funny title, because the only time I had a corner office was my very first job out of college and I've never had a corner office since then, even though I've been a CMO anyway.

So yeah, I mean, , things have certainly evolved. I mean, when I started in my career  more than 25 years ago,  It was not something that was discussed and not a positive. And I would say, as companies have grown and have recognized most areas of difference and uniqueness.  It has been easier for. Not only people doing marketing with LGBTQ causes, but also in workplaces,  being seen as a diverse segment and understanding that there are differences. And so, for example, having a wife and a daughter. Very different. , when I started and had my daughter, we had domestic partner benefits and not real, you know, you couldn't get married and there were all kinds of things around that.

So to be active in that space has been really helpful. But also what I would say is working with diverse segments. It's always having to drive yourself out of the segment. You're a part of, so I should never speak for an LGBTQ thing. I should never speak for a female thing. I should be advocate. Or people with disabilities, veterans, people of color and people outside of my category.

And that's where their strength and the diversity work is to be an advocate beyond where you are. And I feel when I say almost all diversity, I don't think companies are doing a good job with socioeconomic diversity, with cultural diversity, with religious diversity. I mean, there are still so many different things that can fragment.

People from fully showing up even today, political issues very real in our workplaces. And how do you have space to listen and hear, even if you maybe disagree with somebody  is very, very important. So as marketers, I think we have. Experts in diversity, even if it's something that you're not comfortable with or don't understand, it's an area that you have to lean into.

So when I was between jobs recently, last may, I actually took a DNI certification at Cornell online. And it was fascinating. I mean, even though I had done diversity work for years, kind of as a side thing, there were so many things I didn't know. And there's so many things I still don't know. And so it's a.

Evolution and learning kind of thing. And, and the one thing I'll say about LGBTQ  is right now, , the gender fluid area is a space that people are really uncomfortable with in the workplace.  And I think that's an area that everyone should lean into and try to understand. There's a lot of folks who are, identifying as they, and in something that we should all be respectful of.

And so even in our marketing, he, her, she. All of that has to evolve with the times. And if somebody doesn't want to be referred to as either gender, we in marketing need to do that as much as we need to know the right spelling of their name. Right. agree with you. And I've learned a lot from my kids on this topic because a lot of their friends are identifying as non-binary and.

Regardless of how I think they look from a gender standpoint, I really have to remember how did they want to be addressed, and to respect that. And I think that,  it's been interesting.  I actually have,  put my pronouns on LinkedIn and I've had some people ask me about it and some people don't understand yet, but I think to your point, you can help educate.

By being an advocate for, I think just, bottom line respect for other human beings. Right. Because absolutely just because things have been a certain way up until now, doesn't mean that that's the best thing for everybody. And as  a coach and leadership consultant, I really believe that organization.

Are at their best when they make it safe for everybody to show up and give what they're capable of giving. And if people don't feel comfortable, if they feel like they've got to watch their back, if they've got to be careful, if they can't divulge things about themselves. And then there's a lot of energy going into that and not energy going into creating value for the organization.

So to me, Yeah, it just makes sense for organizations to be respectful of the differences that their employees and customers, are showing up with. Yeah. And,  my one example of a success  is not related to the workplace it's related to my daughter.  She just started Boston college in the fall and has a lot of great friends.

And one of her African-American friends and her group, they got caught in a rainstorm and my daughter gave her. Her umbrella because she kind of knew that she had just had her hair done. And this young lady just so appreciated and then found out later that my daughter was raised with two moms and she actually approached Sydney and said, thank you for being an.

Yeah. She's like, I can tell from your upbringing, you've understood what it feels like to be a little different. So thank you. You know, and it's like, to me, that's the biggest success because it's like, you hope that your children would learn from at least something from their upbringing that carries your values.

And  that was a great moment because,  I never did anything perfectly in raising her. I got that one, right? Yeah. Yeah. Well, that gave me a little bit of a chill, you know? That's really about making the world a better place, just like one little thing at a time. Right. It's not exactly, but you never know.

One nicety  can actually make somebody's day a lot better. And yeah. I mean, sometimes we look for these big grandiose gestures and sometimes it's just being nice to somebody and seeing them. How would you say that? Yeah. Yeah, for sure. For sure. Well, more question before we close out and related to, people being nice.

I know that \ you grew up in the south and then you were in Charlotte for a long time and you've moved to Denver within the last year. How are you finding.  environment in Denver compared to Charlotte or Luis. Yeah. You know, what's interesting is Denver's about the same size as Charlotte with a lot of similarities.

The downtown is the same, and it's very spread out with a lot of different cultures, but I've been super impressed at how nice everyone is.  Like the first time I stopped by the dry cleaner, the. I don't recognize you. Are you new in town? Where are you from? You know, and I had that repeated whether it's a hairstylist or going to a new eye doctor or dentist, everyone has been very inquisitive in a good way.

And nice. And so I've been very impressed with how welcoming Denver is, even though it's exploding,  with Humana will moving to Denver. They aren't too angry. I hear they don't like a lot of people from California because there's just an influx from California. So I guess maybe North Korea. Less intimidating, but anyway, but no, it's been a good experience.

Yeah,  that's so great. My daughter's going to be going to college next year. And my husband and I have been thinking about like, do we want to stay in Chicago? Cause it's super cold.

Like right now it's like five degrees outside. And so we've been talking about maybe moving someplace and  I was on somebody's podcast, I don't know, six months ago or so. And I said to him,  just out of curiosity was asking the sky, how do you like Denver? And he's like, well, I was born and raised here and by the way, don't come too many people are kind of,  but, well, Renee, listen, it has been wonderful catching up with you.

I loved hearing all of your insights, about marketing you're you're just so thoughtful and, , just love the fact that you were willing to share your experience with our listeners. Before we close out. I just want to ask you to have any last words of wisdoms for the marketing Mambo list. Oh, I don't know if it's words of wisdom, but just a reminder that marketing is a ton of hard work.

And also there are a lot of marketers that would love to share things that have worked and not work. So network with other marketers and ask questions.  There's not a marketer out there that, well, there might be some that might be guarded, but usually information is not power it's to be shared. And so ask others, get in groups, connect with folks like Terry and, you'll be wildly successful.

So thank you for having me on. Well, thanks coming on. And that's a great bit of advice. I'm a big proponent of networking. And so Renee, where can people find you? And I lending, well, you can find me on LinkedIn, Renee D brown on LinkedIn. And, I lending, direct.com and, reach out any time.

would love to connect with folks. Okay. Well, thanks a lot, Renee. It was great seeing you.