This weeks interviewee is Allie Johns, a part-time senior lecturer in digital marketing at Manchester Metropolitan University who also freelances in digital strategy and research. She specialises in consumer behaviour, specifically why/what motivates us to interact with media and technology, and in particular what persuades us to engage, purchase and/or change behaviour.
1. Biggest Mistake of your career & how you fixed it?
In all honesty, I’d say the biggest mistake of my career was not finishing my secondment in New York after 9/11. It was a time of incalculable trauma, upheaval, and uncertainty and I just felt I couldn’t leave the familiarity and comfort of loved ones, friends and surroundings once I’d returned to London.
My time in New York had been exhilarating and life-affirming; having to settle in quickly as a coffee-carrying subway commuter, working with the top digital agency at the time and getting to grips with digital strategy in the early days of the dot com rush. And yet I knew I couldn’t go back. I felt so much guilt for leaving. I felt I’d failed myself and the colleagues who had put so much faith in my ability and so much effort into providing me with opportunities to flourish.
I’m not one to dwell on ‘what ifs’ but this has been the biggest ‘what if’ of my career so far. And the way I overcame it eventually, was to look back at that time but not to stare. There were so many positives to take from that brief secondment. I’d packed a whole lot in and given it my all. Something I strive to do to this day.
2. A lightbulb moment
In July 2013, I was Googling absent-mindedly, seeking escapism (from a client brief most likely!), sipping a milky coffee and daydreaming, when I typed the search term ‘media and psychology’ out of the blue. The first link I clicked on sent me to the Salford University website. ‘That’s it’, I said to myself. ‘That’s what you need to do next.’ And the rest, as they say, is history.
3. Tip for tomorrow
Never assume the obvious is true! It’s all too easy in this content crazy world we’re working in. We’re literally drowning in it. So be curious. Read into and around your world and above all, validate your thinking with robust data.
It’s also a good thing to specialise. Yes, this takes time but clients will thank you for it. And, above all, you’ll transcend the need for wanky bollocks!
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