Mana IonescuBy Gini Dietrich

Four score and seven years ago, I met one Mana Ionescu.

OK. Maybe not that long ago. Perhaps more like five or six years ago. Neither one of us are old enough for it to be longer than that!

In all seriousness, I am very lucky to have some serious digital marketing brains in Chicago and Mana is one of them.

I was immediately drawn to her entrepreneurial spirit, her drive, her motivation, and the fact that she dresses her cats in little kitty clothes.

She founded Lightspan Digital, where they focus on doing social media for some of Chicago’s best organizations, and she and her team have become fast friends.

On my birthday this year, I got home to a gift on the porch. It was a chalkboard and chalkboard wine glass tags. It was if they were trolling my Pinterest page (they were) and it was perfect.

She was born in Romania and spent some time in Bulgaria before moving her way to the United States. She went to Brigham Young University and I remember thinking that was a fun thing we had in common (having grown up in Utah) the moment I met her.

She’s thoughtful, she’s kind, and you’re about to learn more about her on the Spin Sucks Inquisition.

What is the Biggest Mistake You’ve Made in Your Career?

In my corporate career, I made the mistake of caring too much about my performance reviews.

Specifically, the parts that said I was too outspoken, direct, and opinionated.

I should have said, “yes, yes, you’re right” and gone on to secretly sharpen some of those skills [insert evil laughter emoji].

Later on, those three “unskills” were key to the success of Lightspan. Now, people pay me to be direct [aka be honest about what will and will not help them]! 

The biggest mistake I made in my business-owner career was to wish better sleep at night.

And as a result, I delegated financial decisions without asking for proper reporting back.

I believe I told my finance person, “I won’t worry until you tell me to worry.”

I didn’t communicate well, and I wanted to avoid the loss of sleep that comes with taking proper responsibility.

What I should have said was, “give me x,y,z reporting and I won’t worry until the data tells me to.”

We ended up getting into debt where we could have avoided it.

If I had had better visibility, I would have made other, albeit tough and unpleasant, decisions. We’d have been better off with the temporary pain of tough decisions than with the unexpected and longer-term paying off of debt.

What is One Thing about Yourself that Would Surprise Most People?

I am shy. People easily classify me as an extrovert, which I am, but I am nervous in new public situations.

I was raised to be very polite, the Romanian definition of polite.

So I overthink every new social situation so I don’t offend anyone.

Throw in cultural differences and it’s uber-shy-town for me. 

If You Could Achieve Everything You Ever Wanted in Life, but Had to Die 10 Years Sooner, Would You Make that Trade?

Yes, I would. Because if I achieve everything I want, what else is there to live for?

I never really wished for a long life. I always wanted a full life.

But then I also love to learn new things, which could go on forever.

So maybe I shouldn’t make the trade, because I’ll never have achieved everything… 

What Industry Advice or Practice Would You Most Like to Cry Foul On?

I want to cry foul on so many things, we’ll need a full blog post. 

  1. You CAN measure the effectiveness of social media marketing. If you can’t, it’s because you’re lacking the proper infrastructure and/or you’ve done things which can’t be measured. Or you hired an intern to do your social media marketing. Sorry to the bearer of bad news.
  2. Stop talking about “engagement” as the end-all of business-verse. I have no idea what engagement means. Your audiences don’t know what engagement means. Think, what do they care about? They care about having fun, learning, being amazed, being smarter, being loved, feeling great, feeling important! You give them those things, they’ll give you love back. So stop wondering about how much engagement you got and start asking, how much of what matters to them did you give them? If you can measure that, you’ll be able to measure what you get in return, and it will be higher than zero.

What is the Best Book You’ve Read in the Past Six Months?

How to Survive the Loss of a Love.

It works for business loss, too.

Why Does Spin Suck?

I  was reading the other day an article about how the expression, “have the cake and eat it too” makes no sense. I thought it made no sense TO ME, because English is my third language.

But if you really think about it, it truly makes no sense, in any language.

If it’s YOUR cake, why couldn’t you eat it?

But it’s so popular, I even use the expression, although it makes no sense to me.

It’s the same with “spin.” We adopted it as “so lit” years ago, and then in our extended corporate speech impediment we continued using it because it was cool.

But I can only think of one positive spin movement, and that’s called a “pirouette.”

And when it comes to your company’s public image you shouldn’t ever be pirouetting…so it sucks because it makes no sense.

Where You Can Find Mana Ionescu

Mana, like any good digital marketer, can be found all across the web (which means you have your choice in where you stalk her).

Find her on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, Pinterest, Instagram, and YouTube.

You can also find her blogging at Manamica.

And, if you need help with digital marketing strategy or project management, check out Lightspan Digital.

Gini Dietrich

Gini Dietrich is the founder, CEO, and author of Spin Sucks, host of the Spin Sucks podcast, and author of Spin Sucks (the book). She is the creator of the PESO Model and has crafted a certification for it in partnership with Syracuse University. She has run and grown an agency for the past 15 years. She is co-author of Marketing in the Round, co-host of Inside PR, and co-host of The Agency Leadership podcast.

View all posts by Gini Dietrich