Field Notes: 2017 Future CMO Club Summit

Baby, I’ve been here before. I’ve seen this room and I’ve walked this floor. I used to live alone before I knew you. And I’ve seen your flag on the marble arch. And love is not a victory march. It’s a cold and it’s a broken Hallelujah.

At what point did you stop thinking “What on Earth is this about?” and recognize the song? If it’s still floating over your head, these are the lyrics to Leonard Cohen’s renowned “Hallelujah,” and I heard the most beautiful version of it in June.

It was part of the keynote lecture on purpose delivered by Roy Spence, co-founder and chairman of GSD&M and co-founder and CEO of The Purpose Institute.

The point?

In purpose-driven organizations, everyone has to know the words. Everyone has to stand up when it’s their turn. It sounds good when we sing together, and it helps when you have a great song to sing.

This, and more, are a few of the tips, tricks and trends I learned at The Future CMO Club Summit.


A company’s purpose (or song) should be at the forefront of everything and drive all decisions. Faced with a tough choice? Go back to the purpose. When Roy was working for Southwest, they proposed charging flyers for their bags. Roy remembered that their focus was giving people the freedom to fly and was challenged to find a way to make up that revenue. So he launched a campaign about how your bags fly free and they ended up making a lot more than they projected they would have for charging.

The purpose of life is where your talents and the needs of the world intersect. What are your strengths? Play to those. Strive to be better at what you’re good at, rather than average at what you’re bad at. Through purpose, we discover our passion, and when we pursue our passion, the work we do is fulfilling rather than burdensome.

Below are notes from other sessions. While you may be thinking, "Psh, I'm not a marketer. This has nothing to do with me," these insights are applicable (and inspiring!) for professionals of all fields.


Savvy CMOs Get Real About Managing Personal and Professional Success

Lee Applebaum, CMO, Patron Spirits International AG

Michael Guillory, WW Corporate Brand Communications, Texas Instruments

Sydney Seiger, CMO, TXU Energy

  • Have confidence.

  • Be comfortable with being uncomfortable.

  • Have a broad perspective.

  • Trust your gut.

  • Play with a new set of rules.

  • Drive change.

  • Remove barriers for your team. Make sure they have all the resources they need.

  • Never lose touch with the tactical stuff at work.

  • Less talking, more listening.

  • Create metrics for your own leadership goals.

  • Make time for facetime with your team.

  • Create authentic relationships with your peers.


Transcendent Brands Creating Frictionless Customer Experiences

Josh Levy, VP Marketing, Inspirato

Jorge Pederzini, Director of Global Marketing, Brinker International

Shelley Wise, Director of Brand Marketing, Princess Cruises

  • Huge difference between service and care. For example, a 'surprise and delight' practice differentiates care from service.

  • Make sure your brand promise arrives with the customer experience. Deliver certainty (i.e., Can your customers count on you? Can they be certain that they’ll receive the experience they’re expecting?)

  • Chili’s strives for connection—between food, people and technology.

  • What are your friction points? How can you fix or smooth them?

  • Recently, Princess Cruises launched a new program that allows guests to order whatever they need via mobile—towels, sunglasses, cocktails, etc. They also use a survey beforehand to get an idea of the guests’ interests, and then tailor an experience and deliver recommendations via notifications based on that information.

    • “Here & Now” Program: Forgot sunscreen? Kids left their goggles at home? Order up and have it delivered poolside.

    • “There & Then” Program: Know you’re going to sip through the show? Order a glass of wine while getting ready for the theater and it’ll be waiting for you when you arrive for the show.


Storytelling Works: Winning Hearts and Minds By Putting the Customer First

Khemari Cook, Director of Marketing, TaxSlayer

Dan Weaver, Sr. Director of PR and Communications, UCHealth

  • Your brand is not the hero, your customer is. Use real people and real stories. Deemphasize the brand. Focus on the people. The idea is that the customer is the hero, and we, as the brand, are here for support to champion them.

  • Storytelling involves

    • A) Purpose

    • B) Conflict

    • C) Surprise

  • Connecting the key players is important. Who knows the details? For example, our writer connected with one of our property's bar managers to tell the story about a family who vacations with us annually.

  • With storytelling, a brand can transition from starting a conversation on a topic to becoming a thought leader of it.

  • Stories should always tie back to the brand and purpose. (Remember: Purpose should be at the forefront and drive all decisions). Let brand and purpose drive and fuel the smaller stories.

  • Stuck on which stories to tell? → Who on your staff touches people the most? Our team members onsite at hotels have been able to make meaningful, long-lasting relationships with guests. Whether it's our bar manager who touches guests as they cruise downstairs for their favorite cocktail every day or our front office manager who maintains memorable connections with guests as she's one of the first people guests see as they begin their stay. Your folks on the ground and in the mix have the best insight on stories to tell about your customers.

Between Two Marketers: Polished, Proven and Hungry: Becoming a Marketing Disruptor in Your Organization

Steven Handmaker, CMO, Assurance

Sandra Zorratti, CMO, The Marketer Network

  • To be a disruptor (i.e., game changer), you have to be courageous in bringing new ideas forward.

  • Show appreciation, value and recognition for your team. Acknowledge everyone’s motivations. Show appreciation (and give strokes!). It costs nothing to say “thank you.” (Tip: Handwritten thank you notes go a long way!).


The Rise of Individualism and What it Means for Marketers

Jeff Chung, Sr. Manager, Global Brand Strategy, American Express

Deborah Dunay, Director of Marketing, Essent Guaranty

Anna Guelzim, Global Marketing Manager, Wilson Sporting Goods

  • Done is better than perfect.

  • The consumer wants to stand out. Give them that opportunity for individuality.

  • Have empathy for the consumer. Think like them.

  • Follow your gut and be true to brand.


Epic Thinking: Marketing as a Growth Engine for Business

Kari Janavitz, VP of Marketing, TE Connectivity

Adrian Parker, VP of Marketing, Patron Spirits International AG

  • No more “friend zone marketing.” If you want a “just friends” relationship with your consumers, do things that “just friends” would do. If you want loyalty, show you’re in for the commitment. To get advocates and committed, die-hard fans, enter the relationship that way.

  • Immerse people into your brand story and explain to them the “why.” Invite people to your events. Allow them to learn your business in an elegant way.


Between Two Marketers: How to Refuel & Refocus on What’s Most Important

Trish Mueller, Recent CMO, The Home Depot

Sandra Zorratti, CMO, The Marketer Network

  • Have a commitment to yourself and your team

  • Learn how to balance happy and healthy.

  • Vacations are a great opportunity for your “next emerging talents” to step up.

  • Nourish both your right and left brain.

  • As a boss, you want to be a human being, first.

  • “One day, when you’re on your deathbed, you’re never going to say, ‘I should’ve spent more time at work.’”


Refuel Yourself

  • Vacation time: Create an exit plan for vacation time and list all projects and statuses.

  • Spend time on fitness, with friends, with nature and the things that excite you.

  • Make a bucket list. Then be sure to do the bucket list.


Refuel Your Team

  • Have a fun day in the office. 

  • Host team building retreats

  • Spend time in a laidback and relaxing setting. For example, head to a cocktail hour together.


CMO Roundtables

Clint Hughes, CMO, Clint Hughes Consulting

  • People support what they help to create. The success of the program is directly tied to the enthusiasm of the people on the ground. Alignment and buy-in are key.

  • Share the metrics across departments so everyone can get a read on what’s going on.


Lee Applbaum, CMO, Patron Spirits International AG

  • Ensure there’s consistency in purpose. Remember: We want to deliver certainty. How can we ensure that the customer experience always aligns with the brand purpose?

  • Don’t be afraid to keep your colleagues and team members accountable. Ask people to check themselves against the brand and purpose. Stay true to your roots.

  • Innovation takes different forms—from product to organizational to marketing.

  • Set an “innovation mandate.” Encourage your teams to constantly innovate everywhere, but remember to be patient and cut your losses.


Leading High Performing Teams: How to Lead, Develop, Hire, Fire, & Retain


  • Have a vision. Share it.

  • Listen to others.

  • Be brave

  • Motivate.

  • Lead by example.

  • Be honest.


  • When onboarding, perform a skills assessment. (Remember: In order to play to your strengths, you have to know what they are.)

  • Create a growth plan. What do you want to learn? Be sure to align what you want to develop with what your supervisor thinks you should develop. Are you on the same page? Then, own the plan. (Check out the Jostle Library >> Corporate >> Corporate Culture for an Individual Growth Plan template!)

  • Establish a mentorship. Talk to folks and develop relationships with folks outside of your department or even your property.


  • Always have a hiring mentality. Have you ever come across a candidate who wasn’t a good fit for the position they applied for but would be a perfect fit elsewhere? Keep in touch! When the opportunity arises, you’ll already have the relationship to recruit a solid candidate.

  • Balance Skillset vs. Culture: While someone may be a good fit for the culture, think about the goals of the position and what it needs to be successful. Then, evaluate if they are the right fit.

  • Interviewing Tips

    • Conduct an outcomes-based interview.

    • Get to know their characteristics. Ask them to present their personal brand.

    • Apply their talent. Some companies ask candidates to complete an assignment or exercise to gauge their skills.

    • Outline the core values.


a) Assess the situation. Is it the company or employee?

  • Company: Were the expectations clear? Is the environment conducive for success? Do they have the resources to be successful

  • Employee: Lacking the right skillset, passion or enthusiasm.

b) Create and implement an improvement plan.

  • How can this employee improve? 

  • Set a time to follow up. Allow them to set a timeline for improvement. 

  • If issues persist, first see if they recognize that difficulties are occurring. 

c) Take action.

  • Provide a last warning

  • Termination: Be sure to set them up for success. Offer to give recommendations to other companies/positions that they might be a good fit for. Offer to be a resource in their pursuit of future career opportunities. 

  • How you fire is important. Do your best to ensure it’s on good terms. Practice compassion. Never take away someone’s hope. 


  • “People don’t quit companies, they quit people.” Create an environment that people will want to be a part of. Create a dynamic company culture. Offer transparency and lots of in-person communication

  • Invest in your employees on an individual level. Provide added value that’s tailored to them. What do they consider perks and benefits? For some it’s monetary related, for others it’s recognition, time off or free pizza.


Being Globally Minded

  • Be comfortable with what you know and don’t know. Understand your own self biases. Be self-aware.

  • Be culturally curious: explore, ask questions, build relationships

  • Learn from mistakes.

  • Practice what you preach. Learn to be culturally sensitive.

  • Be knowledgeable about current events.