In June 2021, the founder & CEO of Powerful Marketers, Mari-Liis Vaher, visited the Marketing Mistakes + How To Avoid Them podcast hosted by Stacy Jones from Hollywood Branded. In the interview, Mari-Liis shared why focusing on yourself first is incredibly important for the well-being of yourself and others around you. Being successful professionally always depends on a happy and powerful background!
Here's the interview transcript:
Question (Stacy Jones): To start off, I want to have you share a little bit more about you and how you got to where you are today. Also, for everyone to know, she is calling in from Estonia. This is definitely an international call, and chat from a worldview on marketing. Mari-Liis, can you share a little bit more about yourself?
Answer (Mari-Liis Vaher): I've been in sales and marketing for almost 20 years. As I started, I wanted to learn business and marketing fundamentals, as most of us do. After I got my MBA, I started my first company. I wasn't doing bad at the time, but I wasn't really growing. I got some clients, but I wasn't very satisfied. At the same time, there were things happening in my personal life that affected me a lot. My mother got cancer and she died a year later. Also, one of my very good friends actually buried her three-year old son. That was too much to handle for everybody. That was the point that I started to seek some help, psychologically.
I ended up loving it more than I expected, because I just wanted to understand things. Life really can be unbearable sometimes, right? After a while, in 2013, I started my second business, with my husband. In 2015, the Institute of Marketing asked me to become a mentor to their students. When you are telling others what you know, you need to have a certain framework. I combined the long years of my own trial and error marketing experience, sales, leadership, and included hundreds of books, articles, and resources I had read. I condensed everything into one system with five pillars to empower every marketer to build the career and life of their dreams.
I also had a very good chance to practice everything that I was teaching, because I was serving clients in my own business. I helped many companies with marketing. By doing it hands-on, and working inside the companies with C-level and marketing teams, I started to realize that often problems are not really inside marketing. Problems come from lack of communication and not understanding and leading our own emotions. I had already studied psychology, right? After a while, I came to realize that I was mostly helping marketers and business owners understand each other. They became more grounded and started to see themselves every day in making decisions. It is the basis to put people to work toward the same goal without destructive emotions, assumptions, feelings, et cetera. As soon as people can see that, they start to work themselves into their superpower. As I like to say, being successful depends on your personal and professional growth. When we, as a person, are whole, success will follow. That's the story.
Question (Stacy Jones): What is the first step when you're working with someone that you explore? What is the first thing that you sit down and say, "Okay. Let's get down to the basics and talk about..."
Answer (Mari-Liis Vaher): We always start with the mindset training. We always start with where we are going and where we are today. It's identity and purpose. Imagine you're driving a car, you can't go from point A to point B without a goal or a map. If you're riding this car aimlessly, just rolling around, not knowing where you need to go, you'll run out of gas and energy. You will be tired and nervous. The same thing happens to us every day inside businesses. If we are just rolling around aimlessly, we are just putting out fires.
Our minds are built to seek structure and rules, because it gives us a feeling of safety. It is the same reason children need rules and boundaries. When we grew up and move out of our parents' house, we are so excited to do a bunch of crazy things. Then we realize we want some framework and boundaries in our lives in order to achieve something, to have a family, to build a career. No one really feels safe to rally on or to party on as long as we live, right? This is why we become stressed out. We feel excited if we don't find the path and the boundary suitable for us in the end. If you don't feel safe, you can't be confident in anything you do in your life. You are not sure if the decisions are right or if the road you choose is the right one for you.
In our lives, we always have different options to choose. It is much easier for us to make decisions when we know where we are heading with this car of ours. You want to be strong inside and outside, to make sure you can handle this car and these crossroads. However, you need to know where you're going and why. This is the reason we, at Powerful Marketers, talk about identity, purpose, and major road blocks, which are anxiety, stress, and lack of confidence. As you learn to deal with them, you are very well equipped for any situation in your life. Even if you don't know what the obstacles will be or how to deal with them, you can be sure that you have the inner strength to handle every situation. As soon as you start to work with yourself here, you realize you have more energy and more willing power to help those around you.
Question (Stacy Jones): It's especially hard as a leader. In a company where you're in charge of the marketing, you're in charge of impacting sales, you're in charge of making sure that everyone's rowing in the right direction. If you're not really strong enough yourself to be that power or that first line of defense, everything, I'm assuming, I know this from experience, everything does kind of go sideways. How do you work with people to start tearing that down and rebuilding it? What are those steps to that?
Answer (Mari-Liis Vaher): That's a very good question. Others will benefit from you putting yourself first. You need to work with yourself. As you said, only then will you be empowered to help others around you. We start with MIP time. MIP stands for most important person, which is you. You need to work with yourself first. In order to be grounded, aligned, calm, and confident, you need to take time for yourself. You need to structure your own mind and you need to plan things. This is where people often forget themselves. We're just waking up in the morning, going there. We are like hamsters on a wheel, going crazy every day, doing everything. We don't take time for thinking, planning, organizing our own thoughts, and our marketing.
This is where we often see that people are making a bunch of decisions. "Okay, let's get to social media. Let's do this. Let's do this," but they don't feel aligned with what they are freely aiming to do. That's why you should start with taking time to plan and to think. It's one of the most important things.
Question (Stacy Jones): After you have encouraged someone to carve out at least 10 minutes of time a day to ground yourself, to recenter, to align with your own personal goals, your work goals, and clear your head... What's the next step to make sure that you're operating with a marketer's mindset?
Answer (Mari-Liis Vaher): The next thing we work with is stress and anxiety. We need to understand where it comes from. We forget that stress is always there. Our whole lives are about stress. For a baby, birth is a stress. Dying is a stress. Everything in between is also stress. We are moving from one obstacle to another constantly. We need to acknowledge where the stress and anxiety are coming from. There are many, many ways to help ourselves. Even the understanding itself already helps us with that. We know that, "Okay, this is where I'm thinking too much." If you already discover yourself there and you realize that, "Oh my God. I'm getting this anxiety right now, what should I do? What should I do in my everyday life?" Then you can already help yourself when you understand that you are stressing. You feel this way, and that's totally fine. Every feeling is okay. That's the other thing that marketers should work with. They shouldn't be afraid of their own feelings. They should understand where they come from and why and how they can really help themselves.
Question (Stacy Jones): Then after that, what else do marketers need to keep in mind?
Answer (Mari-Liis Vaher): The next thing we work with is confidence. A big reason marketers are not performing in a way they would like to is a lack of confidence. If you think of where confidence and self-esteem come from, there are many things that affect us, like the way we overcome obstacles. Of course, the way we adapt to changes is another thing that affects our self-esteem. We have all felt this during the time of pandemic, right? We were forced to adapt really.
There are other aspects that affect our self-esteem. The way we act in difficult or unfamiliar situations and the way we analyze and use information are affected, because information overload is huge right now. These are the crazy things we all need to manage every day. Usually the biggest roadblock for us is ourselves. We start to make excuses as to why we can't do things. There is so much stress around us every day that takes all the energy away. We don't even want to figure out how to help ourselves. This is something we need to handle and it's not hard. In terms of self-confidence, if I had to say what confidence is, I would say confidence is a miracle that happens when you make the right decisions to work with it. Changing long held beliefs about yourself and your reactions to others is just one part of the equation.
Confidence is built from inside out and there is inner work to be done, the MIP meetings as we call this. There might be meditation, therapy, coaching, and some trainings to do. There are a lot of things you can do to strengthen yourself. There are external things you can do like engaging new activities, networking, getting out of your comfort zone as frequently as possible, and just spending time in a positive and supportive environment. Keep inspiring people around you. Confidence is a learnable behavior and mindset. It is a matter of discovering the best tools and resources to help yourself develop it.