A few years ago, on this very blog, I met one Mr. Dwayne Alicie.
At the time, he had just quit his big corporate job and was headed back to school to study public relations.
I remember having a heart-to-heart with him because he was a little panicked about being an “old” student. I told him that people only dream of pursuing their real dreams, but never do later in life (and he isn’t that old) because of adult responsibilities.
He went off and did it and then got a global marketing job at Concur, which he loves.
He also is my source of serious pop culture and sends me random updates, which make me laugh uncontrollably.
But, more than that, he is one of my most favorite people to play pranks on (ask him about the beard beanies) because he is such a good sport and he always gives me the exact reaction I want.
Though I’ve not yet met him IRL (Laura Petrolino got to a few weeks ago—I hate her), I consider him a great friend.
That—and because he is so active in the comments here—are the reasons I asked him to sit on the Spin Sucks Inquisition hot seat this week.
What is the Biggest Mistake You’ve Made in Your Career?
I have to try very hard to remember that I am exactly where I should be. All the mistakes I have made have been learning experiences that make me the person I am.
As someone on a sort of non-traditional career path, I have to remind myself with a mantra that I picked up somewhere, “I won’t judge my beginning by someone else’s middle.”
And with those unicorns and rainbows out of the way, let me share a story by which I am inordinately embarrassed.
Years ago, I was working in fundraising at a small non-profit in San Francisco. I sat close to the front door, so when the office manager wasn’t at the receptionist desk to greet delivery people or whomever, I had to hop up and do it.
And it drove me nuts. I mean, it can be distracting to have to change tasks repeatedly when you’re doing creative work or working in a database, right?
One morning in a full team meeting (there were less than 10 of us) the door responsibilities came up, and someone said something about how I could keep helping to fulfill them. And then I did something bad.
I turned red and blurted out, “BUT IT’S NOT MY JOB TO ANSWER THE DOOR.”
The reaction from the team was precisely as you might imagine in a very small organization. No one was amused.
I instantly realized I had crossed a line, and I apologized and explained that maybe it came out wrong, but it was too late.
Relationships were damaged and the admin team didn’t really want to help the fundraising team much after that.
I was laid off several months later due to a “restructuring.”
I’ve thought about that moment a lot since.
What’s the moral of the story? Never say something is not your job.
Whatever the team needs to meet its goals is your job.
That’s how I approach my job now, and it’s working a lot better for me.
What is One Thing about Yourself that Would Surprise Most People?
I have a debilitating case of shyness.
I’m one of those introverts who can be “on” when I need to, and I’m even good at it, but social situations are usually a strange combination of physically draining yet intriguing for me.
If I disappear from a big social gathering, just give me 30 minutes and I’ll come back.
I’m probably hiding in the bathroom.
Send me a text! I’ll text back!
If You Could Achieve Everything You Ever Wanted in Life, but Had to Die 10 Years Sooner, Would You Make that Trade?
And here’s why: I think the top things I want to achieve in life are comfort with impermanence and to feel like my time in this dimension wasn’t a waste.
Saying I would give up 10 years is uncomfortable now, but if we truly cut the deal, I would be remembered fondly and feel completely fine with leaving at any time.
What Industry Advice or Practice Would You Most Like to Cry Foul On?
You know, I think Scott Baradell already said it, but I’ve been peeved by this for a while, especially with regard to its effects on the customer.
Marketers need to examine their relationship with the word “content.”
When the word “content” makes it into customer-facing calls-to-action, I throw up in my mouth a little. “Sign up here and get premium content!”
Such nonsense screams “we don’t consider our audience!”
Do you know anyone who is hungry for “content?”
Exactly what benefit does “content” provide to its recipient?
Real people watch videos and shows to learn or to be entertained, and read articles and blog posts for advice and information to help them make decisions.
Stanford Smith wrote a great blog post about abuse of the word “content” this, too.
What is the Best Book You’ve Read in the Past Six Months?
Well this one is easy to answer, because I spent 2014 reading all of Proust’s À la recherche du temps perdu.
I read the Moncrieff translation in English.
I once heard it said that “middle age is when you realize you’ll never read Proust.”
Well, the joke’s on middle age, because I grabbed that bull by the horns and … read Proust.
The result is that I started putting way too many commas in incredibly long sentences, and my outlook on the experience of life and the role of art has been changed completely.
I’m also a big fan of Southern Gothic literature, so I have started Light in August, which is blowing me away.
Why Does Spin Suck?
Spin sucks because it is a lie.
It’s a lie that builds a wall between you and your audience when what you really need is an honest flow of information back and forth so that you can constantly improve your offering to meet the market’s needs.
Spin destroys trust and ruins what should be a very happy, symbiotic relationship between businesses and buyers.
I am a firm believer that marketing is actually a force for good in the world.
Marketing, specifically promotion, helps connect people to things that make their lives better in some way. But generations of bad marketers have ruined it for everyone by employing spin and numbing us with a barrage of constant interruptions by ill-targeted advertisements.
Spray-and-pray is the enemy.
Where You Can Find Dwayne Alicie
I mean, the “it’s not my job” honesty and reading Proust and Faulkner without coercion? Those are such great examples of why I love this man.
He also is helping non-profits focus on their missions, as well by doing some pro-bono marketing projects through the Taproot Foundation.
See? Cool guy.