Personal is Professional

Zach Gerber, Marketing Director

My personal passion has always been skateboarding. For 15+ years, it’s been my stress reliever, how I stay active, and even my creative outlet. As you might imagine, digital marketing isn’t the always the go-to field for a skateboarder. But in fact, I began seeing parallels within the work I do outside of digital marketing a few years back and they still hold true to this day.

I know what you’re thinking, how is skateboarding anything like digital marketing? I probably would have asked myself the same question a decade ago.

But they’re not so different when you break apart the pieces that build the much larger puzzle within each.

As I started connecting the dots between my personal and professional life, I began to see a surprising amount of overlap. To give you a taste, I’ve outlined three specific areas in which I think that any creative marketer can find useful and personally applicable.

The Creative Process

How many times have you stood in front of a blank whiteboard with nothing but a deadline and a dry erase marker? As digital marketers, we’re all expected to be creative, innovative, and to constantly challenge the status quo. And we’re not usually given a fluffy timeframe to crank out innovative ideas.

A few years back, I found myself starting to “play the hits” when it came to my skateboarding. I would show up to the park, do what I knew and what felt comfortable, then promptly leave. It was satisfying, but surely a massive departure from the days of my youth where all I knew was how to push boundaries.  

I quickly realized that I couldn’t keep this up. Well, I could. But I wouldn’t feel fulfilled or ever become better at my favorite hobby. And I’ve always had a few key goals in mind when it came to skateboarding, and I needed to figure out how to continue to drive towards them.

One of those goals is to constantly learn more technical tricks. Something that doesn’t come overnight, or without a dash of creativity. So, what I did was outline a few key goals that I would strive to reach so that I would be able to set myself up for success.

·Always be trying something that you’ve never done before. Each time you get on a skateboard, attempt a new trick.

·Watch and read industry publications in order to stay tuned in and up to date with the very latest happenings. Get inspired by others that are better than you.

·Find a unique location that you think the clearest with limited distractions. Sometimes that means a skate park, and other times that may mean cruising down the Scioto Mile.

If you find yourself “playing the hits” in your professional or personal life, take a step back and try to look at things from a new perspective.

Project Management

Whether or not project management is in your job description, we all wear a project manager hat from time to time. Ensuring deadlines are met for all aspects of a project is everyone’s responsibility whether you’re a developer or a project manager.

Most of the time, project management is beyond tracking hours and ensuring the completeness of an end product. It often means stepping into the unknown and tackling things that you’ve never done before. And I’ve found that the hardest part when it comes to picking up a new project or a new trick on a skateboard is simply getting started. The best advice I’ve probably ever heard (or given) in these situations is to simply “start anywhere.”

A few other key things that I’ve learned:

·Build the necessary skills to lay the foundation for completing the project. Being willing to dive in head first is noble, but it should be grounded with something foundational that you’ve learned to date.

·Set realistic expectations. Is this a project that you’ve never taken on before? Maybe it will take a little longer or it won’t be perfect right off the bat. Set distinct expectations for yourself and your clients, sometimes those expectations will differ.

·When things go off course look at it as a new challenge, not a roadblock in your path to success.

·Be proud of what you’ve accomplished. Many people are too afraid to step into unchartered waters.

Relationship Building

The unfortunate truth is that it’s easy to get caught up in your own day to day and forget about the people around you. And it may sound cliché, but it truly does take a team to create something worth talking about.

The skateboarding community itself is very tight-knit. At the same time, it is primarily a solo sport. So, it can become easy to just do your own thing. But what I’ve found is that the community itself inspires and is able to push you to do greater things than you would have on your own. It’s for that reason, that relationship building is critical to success.

Relationship building is not just a necessary skill for working in a client service-based industry. It’s critical for improving your own knowledge-base and skillset.

Keys to building better relationships

·Take out the headphones and hear the stories from those around you. Listen to something other than an Apple product or device.

·Visit new locations you’ve never been to (in my case, skate parks) and find opportunities to understand a fresh point of view from new people.

·Go to networking and key industry events or conferences. Stay active on LinkedIn. Become the thought leader that you’re used to being inspired by.

Translating these personal learnings into professional learnings is how you can continue to stay ahead of the curve. Be sure to check back as we hear from more Mindstream employees on how they find ways to shape their own professional life by learning from their personal passions.




Zach Gerber

Zach Gerber Marketing Director