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In this episode, our guest is Elizabeth McIntyre, Group CEO of Think Brick on Eclectic Track Records, Creative Partnerships And Victory Through Tenacity.
We talk all about:
- How she has built a stellar track record despite an eclectic career path;
- Why a lack of resources was vital for stimulating creativity and innovation;
- Brainstorming your dream C-Suite role; and
- Lessons from Harvard and how being tenacious will get you heard as a marketing executive.
Connecting with Elizabeth McIntyre
Books and resources
- The Alchemist – by Paulo Coelho
- Talking to Strangers – by Malcolm Gladwell
- The Art of War – Sun Tzu
- Bill Gates’ reading list
“I think Walt Disney would've said to me, “Keep the spirit.” Because I think that's really what Disney is all about. The biggest thing that I learned from Disney is, what is the Disney difference. So, and it centres around that entertainment with heart and those bits where I cry a lot. So, in movies, you well up with tears, and everything was looking at how we're going to be different.”
On building a stellar track record despite an eclectic career path
- I think curiosity led me down a few paths. I really wanted to understand how loyalty points work, what's the point of a point? And back in the day there was one company that used to run all of that, and they still do a lot of it, it was called Pinpoint. And that was where you had the Qantas-Telstra Visa card, and you had all of these bank credit cards starting up. And you would get bonus points from partners, and things like that. So, I really wanted to go and learn how that worked, and I did go there and launched the Commonwealth Bank and Heritage Building Society, and the Bank of Queensland, and a few of those.
- You've got to have a vision and strategy, but then my biggest strength is taking people along the journey with me. And I think it's not necessarily the people at the top; even when I started with Think Brick I knew that my biggest asset was going to be the sales reps, or the members’ representatives that were actually out talking to architects every day. I knew they were going to be my biggest strength. Similarly, with Ford, I did a lot to actually become very close with the car clubs.
On creative solutions when there is no budget
- When I came on the scene there was no budget to leverage anything. And everybody talks about constraints, and constraints make you very creative, because then I was told, “Okay, you've got no budget to promote this now. You've got no budget for hospitality on track.” A lot of the budget was taken up in contract negotiations with drivers or teams, and so really for me it was this tenacity about, “What's the strategy here and how can I get through this?”
- I'd say to partners, “Could you do this for me? What can I get for you?”
- Around about 2010, we're going to have all this budget, we were going to do a consumer campaign, and then the GFC hit and I think one of my members withdrew 80% of the levies. And it's one of those moments like what we've just experienced with COVID where it's like, “Okay, so this actually wasn't going to plan.” So, I just asked myself, “Well, what is something that none of our members is doing well at the moment? And what is the 1% that's really going to move the needle?” That's one of my favourite sayings, “What's the best impact that we can have that going to actually make the greatest change?”
- You have to keep the end goal in sight and just keep chipping away, sometimes you may go off on a path or you may not go exactly the road that you thought, but keep coming back to keeping everyone on the same vision. And I think that's important from a grassroots perspective, as well as a board perspective.
On lessons from Harvard
- I went to Harvard and there were two things that stood out:
- There were 113 people in this course, from all around the world, and 95% of us were competitive sportspeople when we were younger.
- The other was preparation. One of my board members had actually been to Harvard to do his MBA, and he said, “If they ever call you out and you don't know the answer, that's what Harvard's renowned for.” I was completely petrified, I did all of the pre-work, I read everything, I tabbed everything.
- Harvard taught me just so much about preparation, and that it's really important to do your research. Also, because I'd done all that research I could really enjoy the lectures and learn more, whereas if you were struggling to understand the context of things, that makes your life even more difficult.
- Preparation also bred confidence. Everyone's human at the end of the day. I think I've had so many nos or people passing me off, you get a bit of a thick skin about it. So, I think it's that confidence with daring yourself to go and ask someone to do that. So, where do I draw that from? I think innately I just draw it from this driven motivation that I just would like to know the answer myself, and that I'd rather be told that myself, or I want to go and put myself out there.
- I think the stronger people are, or they seem, the harder it is because they're always expected to be really really strong.
Final message of wisdom and hope for future leaders
- There are just two things. One is to keep going, you never know who you're inspiring or who's looking up to you. And you may never know that. And the other thing is to just remember you're only human. So, be kind to yourself.
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