Mindful Business: The origins of Marketing Sweeet (Part 2)

February 28, 2023

Some things you learn through trial by fire. 

My sense of personal and business ethics was forged in fire, so to speak. For the 14 years, I worked as a salaried employee; I saw all the worst kinds of behavior. Racism, ageism, sexism, gaslighting, stealing, yelling, and lying to customers, partners, employees, and colleagues. The worst part? I watched it happen and, most often, never spoke up.  

The first time I heard a racial slur in an office environment, I was a young marketing professional getting a foothold in my career and happy that I got hired in a poor economy. My lips curled, and my eyebrows pinched when hearing the slur. Everyone at the conference table knew I was unhappy. They laughed and told me I was too sensitive. I lost respect for the CEO and the Director of Marketing that day. I knew I was not in the right place, but the job. I needed the job.

I needed the job when my ideas were discriminated against because of my age. When I was accused of being difficult to work with because I spoke my mind passionately, I needed the job. When the SKO meeting clearly did not intend to include the thoughts and opinions of the women in the room, I needed the job. 

This is not a unique experience in business and does not compare to the horror story that women of color experience. However, this experience traumatized me in a way I wouldn’t understand until the last couple of years. 

By the time I quit my salaried position for full-time contractor status, I was an angry person. As I mentioned in Part 1, “My body and brain were showing signs of prolonged stress and burnout.” Moving to contractor status allowed me to place a barrier of sorts between me, my work, and the poorly behaving individuals. For the next six years, my journey of personal balance started to bring my clients’ behavior and my sense of ethics into direct conflict. The anger was boiling inside and started showing through my veneer. I was becoming like those poorly behaving “business people,” and their poor reputations rubbed off on me. Yikes!

It all came to a head in 2022 when I burned some bridges to honor mindful business 

They say, “don’t burn your bridges.” I say, “f**k that.” Pardon my language, but I’m sweeet and spicy. I’m not of retirement age, but I’ve already reached a point where it’s unhelpful to censor myself for the sake of others. 

Authenticity rules and mindful business is on the rise. I love that authenticity and mindfulness are finally the driving theme for marketing and business. A highly polished and unfeeling brand is no longer effective. Authenticity is the key force that drives impressions these days. Thus, when a few relationships became untenable in 2022, I didn't hesitate to burn those bridges. The best part, my business and I are doing great by cutting out the bad relationships. 

A note on the good relationships

By this point, you might think I’m a disgruntled employee or simply a malcontent. I’ve spent a lot of time considering the same thing about myself. What I realized, though, is that I’m not. I’m someone finally standing up for my ethics. Furthermore, I wouldn’t have these ethics and principles if it weren’t for the good relationships and experiences I’ve had in my career. Like the boss who bought me a Spanish language learning course on CD, he wanted me to be competitive in the marketplace. Or the graphic designer who helped me build my first consulting brand in her free time. Like the CEO that put my “No Water, No Coffee” social media campaign images on the wall in his office. OR the saleswoman who became a lifelong friend. The client who helps me stay up to date on the best business books and personal growth philosophies. And the prominent consultant who saw my abilities the first time we collaborated, becoming a valued partner of mine. 

Business Ethics = Mindful Business

Marketing Sweeet strives for a higher level of accountability and effectiveness when serving our clients. Business ethics rooted in mindfulness is a critical core value for me and my team.

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Do No Harm and Stay Honest

In our day-to-day interactions with clients and colleagues and long-term relationships with our communities, we aspire to do no harm and maintain candid communication. The Marketing Sweeet team practices kindness, acceptance, and forgiveness for ourselves and others. What does this mean? For example, we will not yell, criticize, or assume ignorance or malice in challenging situations. It seems simple, right?  We think so. This includes the practice of removing gossip, slander, or resentment from our habits. 

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Foster Relationships that Work

At times, we will turn down work. It's nothing personal. It's mindful business. If a client or partner does not represent a mutually beneficial and core value-aligned relationship, we will not proceed. Said another way, we will never take on a client or sell a solution if it isn't a good fit. Without that mindset, we are essentially stealing time and energy from ourselves and the other party. Who wants to lose time when it's all we truly have in this life? 

The Pumpkin Plan Sums it Up

In the book “The Pumpkin Plan: A Simple Strategy to Grow a Remarkable Business in Any Field” by Mike Michalowicz, the author maps out a strategy for success. In summary, 

  • Plant the right seeds: Don’t waste time doing a bunch of different things just to please your customers. Instead, identify the thing you do better than anyone else and focus all of your attention, money, and time on figuring out how to grow your company doing it.

  • Weed out the losers: In a pumpkin patch, small, rotten pumpkins stunt the growth of the robust, healthy ones. The same is true of customers. Figure out which customers add the most value and provide the best opportunities for sustained growth. Then ditch the worst of the worst.

  • Nurture the winners: Once you figure out who your best customers are, blow their minds with care. Discover their unfulfilled needs, innovate to make their wishes come true, and overdeliver on every single promise.

While this is a business strategy and not business ethics, at first blush, I argue that it is also an ethical guide. Stay true to who you are, weed out the relationships and habits that do no good, and practice the habits that will nurture the best relationships with ourselves and others. 

In Part 3 of The origins of Marketing Sweeet, I’ll introduce you to the final core value of “The Sweeet Life” and hopefully help you see the value of kicking 20th-century ridged work standards to the curb once and for all.

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