This week, we’re highlighting CEEK’s Chief Creative Marketeer, Whitley Carson. Whitley will be telling us about her year of transformation on the blog next week. For now: Meet Whitley!
What does being CEEK’s Chief Creative Marketeer mean to you?
At CEEK and for me, this means introducing creativity in as many ways as I can. Taking something that looks or feels or comes across in one way, and translating it so that the message and intent can make as large an impact as possible. The most important element of “creativity” is creating and, to me, that means that where there was originally nothing or something lacking, we can build or grow something altogether different and give that life. So that creativity extends to not only what we can build and create, but also the way that we do it. How do we create creatively? How can we grow in unexpected and new ways?
How did you get into the field?
I worked part-time during grad school, laying out internal newsletters for a government contracting firm. When I graduated, I stayed on with that firm and became a project coordinator. Coming straight out of school, I was looking for a challenge in a field that I didn’t know, where I could apply some of what I learned. After six months, my role shifted into proposal coordination and later into proposal management, which was a brand-new challenge.
Although it wasn’t my original goal, I landed in business development and proposals and I expected to continue there professionally for a long time. I always had this concept that when you get into the professional world, you do what you can and hope you can learn to love what you do. I never imagined I could do what I love and still have room to grow in my role. So, when I came across CEEK, everything started to come full circle. With this unexpected opportunity, I found that I could return to my first love – creatively presenting information so it resonates with audiences.
What are you working on now?
I’m still in the business development world, but with a twist. The CEEK team has encouraged me to challenge preconceptions of what BD is today and how we can bring greater creativity to it. Right now, I’m developing an alternative approach that blurs the border between BD and marketing for use by CEEK and our clients or partners. I want to explore how we can push the boundaries and spaces that BD and marketing traditionally live in.
Marketing is often seen as “fluffy” by true BD practitioners. BD wants to know, “Where are we now and where do we need to go? How can we grow and do we have demonstrable ROI as we continue to pursue growth?” That really isn’t so different to marketing. When you assess and challenge the way you are being absorbed and consumed by potential clients and partners, you are actually tending to your BD in a top-down manner. It’s all connected. And when we can demonstrate the overall wellness of an organization – establish and demonstrate a strong commitment to culture and values – that is what truly differentiates us and draws in opportunities for sustained growth.
So what’s next for you then?
In addition to conceptualizing our up-and-coming marketing offering at CEEK, I’ve had the pleasure of exploring the world of coaching. I didn’t know what it meant at first. Our in-house CEEK coaches explained that we work with others to help them set goals, plan to make them real, and move forward. Yes, please! CEEK set me up with a certification program and it was probably the best eight-week course I’ve ever taken.
I’m a planner by nature. I love helping people formulate their ideas so they can act on them and get to a new place, which is what I do in coaching. I love the “a-ha!” moment. As a coach, I don’t give a coach-ee thoughts or ideas that weren’t already there. I pull at threads and help them take apart their own assumptions and dig deeper into ideas they already have.
What style of coaching do you subscribe to?
There are many different styles of coaching. Some approaches are very organic and nurturing, while other styles focus on really digging deep to help coach-ees get to the place they want to be. It’s a relationship and both parties have to commit. I am a more of a “plan–do–check–adjust” kind of coach. I am excited for whatever it is you want to do. I’m truly passionate about your goals and ambitions. I want that as badly as you do. What’s our plan? What resources do we need to get there? I am cheering for you!
Any final words for readers?
We don’t always have the answers or know where we’re going or what we’re after, but there is always time and space to find out, explore, and challenge your position. I suppose I just want to encourage others to push themselves further and find out what’s on the other side – for better or worse, it’s worth finding out. Sometimes you get lucky and fall into a great place. Even if you aren’t where you want to be, that should not diminish your desire to branch out and discover the path that is right for you. Lucky is great, but a willingness to seek out your own way is better!