Strivin and Thrivin is the career development podcast inspiring you to make some bold changes. Each week, we speak to Marketing professionals at different stages of their journey to understand what it takes to successfully manage your career.
In our latest episode, we got to chat with Samuel Williamson, global marketing consultant and startup investor, about MySpace, Master Mouse Patrol magazine and what happens when your Dad starts giving you deadlines.
The magical age of MySpace
What do art galleries, magazines and MySpace all have in common? They’re all a part of Sam’s career story.
After moving from New Zealand to Sydney after university, Sam felt he was destined for a life in the world of art. That blind passion landed him a curator role for an art gallery in Paddington – a job that would set the tone for his career.
“I walked into an art gallery that happened to have lost their curator the day before … I immediately was thrown into, I guess, event marketing. From there, that was kind of the story of my life, where, in these very peculiar ways, I ended up getting jobs which over time became more and more marketing focused.
“I ended up working at an independent music record label called Craving Records … that role, once again, was having to work out how to promote a bunch of different artists … We’re talking back in the day of MySpace. I was managing the different MySpace pages for these artists.”
Getting in on the ground floor of social media early gave Sam a unique edge and would fuel his ability of not being afraid to give things a crack.
“As these [social media] platforms were coming out, I was right there learning them in real time … there was no one to teach me, so I was just learning these different digital tools and eventually became quite good.
“After that I actually started the magazine … That, again, was an insane decision .. one of my mates said, well, just start one. I’ll help. And I did.
“For three years, I ran Master Mouse. It was a printed magazine, which we released here in Sydney, and then in New Zealand, and a few hundred copies got sent to New York … from nothing we ended up having about 25 to 30 people contributing. It was the printed magazine, but also a website where every day there was a new article.”
Not being afraid to jump in the deep end made Sam realise he had a passion for the startup world.
“You’ve got this new challenge and it’s something you’ve never even heard of, let alone dealt with, and you’ve got to learn all these new skills constantly, as you grow … it’s a really immensely challenging thing to do, but it also seems to attract the most incredible people … there’s something about them that shows they’re a daredevil and they’re bold and they’ll take risks and I feed off that energy. I love that energy.”
When your Dad sets deadlines
While Sam loved making the magazine, the reality was it wasn’t making any money. So Sam put it to bed and landed a marketing role for a product review website. In true Sam fashion, he found himself thrown in head first.
“Literally on day one the boss said, Sam, make a television commercial.
“A little trick I played that day, which I’ve done throughout my entire career, is I played it cool, pretended I knew what I was doing … I went for a walk and called two people I knew who worked in advertising and just said, where do I begin?”
After a few years in the role, Sam decided his time there had come to end. Coinciding with a friend’s wedding in Italy, Sam went off on vacation. When he returned, Sam felt ready for anything … but it seemed the world wasn’t ready for him.
“Lo and behold, six months later, I was on the verge of financial collapse … I couldn’t find any work.”
As parents do, his Dad stepped in with some common sense.
“My father came to Sydney for a trip and put it to me bluntly. He was like, son, if you don’t have a job by your 30th birthday, you need to move back to New Zealand.”
In the end Sam did find himself a job, multiple actually, in various parts of the world.
While it seems like Sam’s been blessed with plenty of good luck in his life, he reminds us it’s about being bold, saying yes and understanding things don’t always work out.
“Amongst all the insane Hail Mary’s and bold, I’ll just try this, things and it working out, I’ve had hundreds, if not thousands, of rejections. Just like any candidate, I’ve been demoralised in an interview process, I’ve been heartbroken, I’ve been ignored. There’s lots of roles I thought I was perfect for over the years, where I didn’t even get a call back.”
Finding your golden ticket
Though he used to be at the forefront of social media, Sam acknowledges that these days trying to be on top of everything digital can be too overwhelming.
“Your challenge as a marketer is working out which of them to use. You can’t use them all.”
There’s always going to be new tools and new technology, but Sam says understanding them all isn’t the key to landing that leader role.
“People who want to do it, who care about it, who want to improve their skills, who keep learning, are fascinated by people – those are golden tickets amongst the sea of average Joes.”
There’s plenty more of Sam’s story where that came from. Want to hear the rest? Click here to listen to the full conversation and catch up on our other episodes.