Ask the Experts: What is one piece of advice you received in your career that you still use today?



In 2021, Webbula launched a video series where we sat down with email industry experts to discuss various topics within the email marketing world. Each month, Webbula introduces a new lineup of email experts with a new topic.

Follow along in 2022, for 12 new questions and a new lineup of email experts. Thank you to every email expert who participated in this video series and provided advice to other email marketers. 



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Yanna-Torry Aspraki

Head of Deliverability & CBDO, EmailConsul



Growing up, my mom and I had a favorite quote, 'if it is to be, it is up to me.' It's something that I've thought about a lot throughout the years in different situations. For example, wanting a raise and then assuming that if I worked very hard for it, I'd get it. The up-to-me part was doing the work by working hard, working overtime, being excited, and not complaining too much about problems. But then the other part of the the-up-to-me was going to ask for it and advocating for myself and learning the skills I needed to do that. Doing the work is great, but at some point you need to go and ask for the things you need, deserve, and want. Because if you don't ask, no one's going to give it to you. That would be the advice that I've relied a lot.




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Anthony Chiulli

Senior Manager, Product Marketing, Iterable 


I'm old school, and I still use sticky notes. I don't know if that's like dating myself, but one of the sticky notes I've had on my wall for quite some time is this quote about beginning with the end in mind. I love that quote. It has always stuck with me, and it's more about setting goals and having a plan of where you want to take your career. What is the ultimate goal of a project you're trying to work on? And it kind of puts you in that mindset of breaking down that journey and creating milestones to achieve that goal. It always reminds me and it gives me direction and is a mantra that I use to measure the progress of where I want to be in my career.

It's one that's always resonated with me, and it's a really good reminder for myself to try to think ahead of where I want to be, and how I want to get there. Anytime I take on a big project where it seems daunting, it seems like a huge obstacle to overcome, but if you can envision the end result of what you want to achieve, it's, in my opinion, easier to break it down mentally.




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Kristie Doak

Manager, Database Marketing, PGA Tour



I used it a few weeks ago, and it applies to pretty much any position, any job, except for perhaps the medical field. In one of my mistakes, I met with my boss and admitted to the mistake that I made on the email send, it went to the wrong audience, and she looked at me and said, 'you're not in the medical field. You're not a brain surgeon. No, one's life is on the line when we send these emails. So you made a mistake, learn from it, move on, and don't have to stress out over something.'

We just had an instance with another department where something went wrong at the last minute, and she's newer to our organization. I just told her, 'No, one is going die. It's a mistake. We all make mistakes. No one's life is on the line for it. Don't sweat it. We learn, apply that learning, and move on kind of thing.'

So that's probably the one I stick with the most because when I get my wheels in a spin, and I'm just grasping at anything, I have to take a deep breath and say, 'okay, how do we fix it? What do we take from this mistake? Apply that moving forward, move forward.'




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Matthew Dunn

Founder, Campaign-Genius


I wouldn't describe it as a career, but stay curious. You have to keep learning. You don't get to say I know and do only X, and that's all I'll keep doing.





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Skip Fidura, FIDM

Fractional CMO, NED, Board Advisor, Public & Video Speaking Coach, Event Host, and Keynote Speaker


I think that one piece of advice is that inspiration can come from the most unusual places. We've all heard this story about how the janitor came up with some idea or other. That happens, in fact, many of you have been in the industry a while, will remember there was an event in Florida, it was an EEC event. Somebody was presenting and all of a sudden, out of nowhere, this question came up and it was the photographer for the event who also ran a small business. He stopped paying attention to his photography and started paying attention to the content and he had some really interesting ideas. From that, a whole intercession came up the next year. The point is, inspiration will come from a lot of unusual places. Take time to do things, take time to watch things, take time to read things and watch things that are different from what you normally do.

Get outside your comfort zone and really get into the experience of it all. Then let them all jumbled together. Don't go to a museum, because I'm going to the museum to be inspired, because you won't be. Go to the museum and just be. Then something that your brain picks up that maybe even your conscious brain didn't, but your subconscious brain does that'll get jumbled together with a bunch of other stuff and a month later you're going to be walking in the woods or walking in the park or doing something and you're being like, that's the solution to that. You've put four or five random things together, and the solution has come to it.

The other thing I've learned that goes along with that is collaboration's great and collaboration can be really good, but until the thought is pretty well formed in your head, it's probably best to keep it to yourself. Sometimes, if you get your thought out there too early magic happens, and three or four people collaborate and all of a sudden, boom, it's great. But just as often, the thought kind of gets lost. So make sure you really understand the thought yourself before chucking it out there.

I have to say for anybody watching this that knows me, you know, that this is something I've worked on and continue to work on and will continue to work on probably until the day I die.





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Betsy Grondy

Director of Email Marketing, Recurly


My favorite advice, and it's a cliche one, but it is that the rearview mirror is smaller than the windshield for a reason.

The principle is that you shouldn't be looking at where you've been. You can remember where you've been and glance at it every once in a while, but it's going to be a much smaller view of your life. You have to keep your eyes on the road, focus on the future, and not let things from the past inhibit where you're going.





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Lisa S. Jones

Chief EyeMail Officer, EyeMail Inc. 



Looking at my career and the advice I've received in the journey, I would say the advice that sticks with me the most is to do your best the first time around. There is no preliminary, or if you're a Rocky fan like me and Apollo told Rocky, 'there is no tomorrow.' We have do it today. The idea of delivering your best the first time around is so critical to success; I would also say I've also learned to talk less and listen more.

You would be amazed at how many things you can learn from listening as opposed to talking more. Lastly, I would mention I'm originally from Alabama. My father always said, 'You have to strike when the iron is hot.' And I interpret that to mean whenever there's an opportunity or something before you; you have to seize the moment to capture what's next in that part of the journey.

I've learned to integrate those three key points of doing your best. Make sure you do right the first time, So you won't have to worry about the rest. Then I would say talk less and listen more. And then third is strike when the iron is hot.




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Gavin Laugenie 

Enterprise Customer Success Manager, Dataiku


I'm going to cheat here, and there's not just one piece of advice I've had someone told me not to sweat the small stuff, which was weird because when they were telling me that, they were actually saying not to be too meticulous. You should be meticulous and make sure everything you do is perfect, but because we live in a digital age, we can make changes very quickly.

Which leads me to another piece of advice - fail fast. We sometimes get caught in the weeds and overthink things. Sometimes we just need to do it, hit that button and send, learn quickly from what's either going right or wrong, fail fast, and move on to the next.

I've also been told to seek help. That is sometimes difficult to do. We feel like we should know it all, and that's not the case.

There are so many things happening, so many bits and pieces changing, that often what we need to do is steal from people. I mean this in a nice way, not just steal, but credit people, and understand what your competitors are doing and trying to see if you can use bits and pieces of that and not just competitors looking to other industries verticals. There's a lot of talk about B2B and B2C, not-for-profit and all those other industries. Sometimes we just need to look outside our little bubble and take from those other industries and make that work for ourselves.




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Magan Le

Email and Lifecycle Marketing, Bolt


My number one piece of advice that I've gotten in my career that I still use today is just thinking through the entire email experience. This is very email marketing specific, but thinking through the entire email experience, it's really easy to get focused on just sending the email, but what was the experience that led them to this email? Then what are they doing afterward? It helps you also become more of a holistic marketer in general, because just focusing on email is a very silo thing, but what that email impact is so much more than just that email. So it's very important to think through the entire experience.




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Kath Pay

Founder & CEO, Holistic Email Marketing 



Way, way, way back before I was in the email, I've always owned my own business. I've always run my own business, and this advice is also a life lesson. It's also not just in business, but it's something that you can use in business and also in life, pick your battles.

So I used to be full of angst when I was young and wanting to fight for everything and everything, I hated injustice. My friend just and my mentor then pulled me aside one day and said, 'Kathy, you know your passion's amazing, but you can't win every battle. You don't have the time to fight every battle. So pick the ones that really matter.' It's applied in my business life all the time. I have to know when to let go and sort of go, 'okay, that's a loss, whatever, or know I'm going push through with that.'

From an email marketing perspective, I'm known for being a little bit of contentious or giving different advice to what the majority are. Sometimes I will sit back and won't because I'm just going, okay. Otherwise, it's just going to look like I'm argumentative rather than having a good strong point. So I just pick those ones that really matter. That will make a big difference to the marketer, their brand, and the industry as a whole. And I choose those ones.

So, if my friend hadn't pulled me aside and taught me that valuable lesson, you'd be hearing from me all the time saying, 'no, don't do that.' But I held back, and I know now the ones that I hear conflicting advice on from me as compared to many other people because I'm passionate about it. I believe that it's a worthy cause that is worth the fight.





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Dela Quist

Founder & CIO, Alchemy Worx


Someone once said to me, better to be lucky than be right, and I didn't get that. I thought that was crap advice. What is he talking about? Lucky? No, I was right, who cares?

As I've gotten older, I've begun to understand, that taking away the lucky piece. No one wins if you're right, you certainley don't, someone loses. You are forcing me to say I was wrong, which is a great piece of advice. So if you don't have to be right, that person doesn't have to be wrong. You can say it was just luck or an accident, or you just stumbled on. As my good friend, Bob, says to me, even a dumb squirrel finds a nut by accident every once in a while. You are better off not making people eat humble pie, as we say in the UK.

I still have that tendency, I haven't learned entirely not to do it, but I'm a lot better than I used to be.





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Matthew  Vernhout

VP of Deliverability, Netcore Cloud



As a manager, one of the pieces that sort of helped shape how I manage, and this goes back to that mentor question, because this was something that a boss of mine did for me, and I really enjoyed it. I took that mentality and learnings forward as I grew and managed teams as well.

It's never been a matter of your team bringing you questions and you being the sole person to answer those questions or provide an action plan for those. Early in my career, I was told don't just show up with questions, show up with problems, and bring a few solutions or ideas around solutions. We'll discuss those solutions and whether they're the right solutions or the wrong solutions part of that conversation. Don't just show up empty-handed or with your handouts and give me an answer or give me a solution for this.

It's something I've worked on over the years with different team members and different people I've managed. I've tried to take that same learning and that same education to say, 'I probably could give you an answer, but I'd like to know what your thoughts are first.' It's helped sort of shift and change how I've worked with my teams. I feel like it's a bit more empowering than just having them come to me or go to any manager for answers all the time, come to me with solutions and then we'll discuss which one is the right solution.




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Naomi West

Email Marketer & Founder, Email Characters



The best piece of advice I got from my manager when I used to work at Braze, she told me to be comfortable with saying, I don't know. Especially when it came to email marketing, you are working with potentially so many different areas of expertise and products and industries you can't be an expert with every project you step into. It can be so difficult when you're first starting out to feel like you need to know all the answers, so for her to say to me, 'you have to be able to say, I don't know, but I can find out.' Taking that uncomfortness and going out and looking for the answer insead of hoping someone will just provide it to you was the best piece of advice I could have gotten. It helps with being comfortable with saying no as well, which was another area that was a great piece of advice I had to be comfortable with being able to say to myself.



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Tom Wozniak

Executive of Marketing, Optizmo


I think I've certainly, over the course of my career, got some good advice and some terrible advice. I think one of the best ones is really to focus on what works. And I think in marketing, there's a tendency we all get distracted by the bright, shiny object. The new social channel, the latest exciting app, and it's easy to think that's where I should focus my attention, but I think effective direct marketers, whether it's email or whatever channel, but particularly email know that you have to focus on what works, and what drives results. It's not that that may not change a bit over time, but as long as you keep your focus on the real KPIs, what is it you're trying to drive sales, conversions, stay true to that, and I think that one will keep you thriving from a campaign standpoint, but also in your career.



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