If recent events have taught me anything, it’s the importance of listening.

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Luckily, I have some incredible peers who are constantly motivating me to level up my empathy, leadership skills, and marketing knowledge.

This month, I’m shouting out the CMOs who are inspiring me during this challenging year (can you believe we’re only halfway?). I hope you take the time to learn more about these amazing folks:

  1. Dara Treseder, CMO (Carbon): Not only is Dara a decorated leader in the marketing world, but she’s also a fierce advocate for diversity, public health, and women’s rights. As a marketer, she’s been on the boards and C-Suites of companies including Carbon and GE. Earlier this year, she and Carbon pivoted to start producing face shields when PPE masks were scarce. She also hosted an eye-opening Instagram Live session last month with Forbes where she discussed how business leaders can take action against racial inequality.
  2. Julie Liegl, CMO (Slack): COVID has fundamentally changed how we work. While the switch to virtual seemed almost inevitable, 2020 made the need to invest in digital necessary. As the CMO of Slack, Julie has worked extensively these last few months to help her customers adjust to new WFH realities. She joined other CMOs in helping businesses respond to the challenges caused by COVID. Particularly she’s been focused on how leaders can unify work in a fully distributed team.
  3. Bozoma Saint John, Global CMO (Netflix): Bozoma is a powerhouse CMO in every sense of the word. Her career spans marketing leadership roles at  Pepsi, Apple, Uber, Endeavor, and Netflix. Recently, she co-created the #ShareTheMicNow Instagram campaign, which asked prominent white women to share their Instagram feed with Black female activists, professionals, and academics for a day. (Bozoma took over Kourtney Kardashian’s Instagram.) And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Bozoma also teamed up with Katie Couric for their Back to Biz with Katie and Boz podcast. In this limited series, Katie and Bozoma interview CEOs and thought leaders across industries to understand how the pandemic is reshaping the country and innovation.
  4. Marc Pritchard, Chief Brand Officer (P&G): For the past 35+ years, Marc has climbed the ranks at P&G to CMO. Through his leadership, P&G has helped raise money for frontline COVID relief and is working to combat racial inequality through their Take on Race fund. This fund has already given $5 million to organizations like the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund, YWCA Stand Against Racism, and others. P&G helped define branding back in the day, so it’s been impressive to see their powerful response and leadership on prominent social issues even today.
  5. Udi Ledergor, CMO (Gong): Udi is a fierce promoter for his team, as well as a tactical CMO who doesn’t shy away from a challenge (like creating a digital campaign for billboards that went unseen during the pandemic). As an LGBTQIA+ advocate, he has championed diversity, inclusion, and belonging at Gong and even outside the business world. This year, I was incredibly fortunate to have Udi join me on my CMO Conversations podcast. Listen in to learn more about Udi and how Gong’s data-driven marketing and content strategy – with a comedic twist – has made them a wholly unique voice in their industry.

What CMOs inspire you? Feel free to send me a note on LinkedIn, tweet to @triciagellman, or reply to this email.

Now here’s what I’m reading this month 👇

Driving Growth Amid a Pandemic: Three CMOs Guide the Way [Annuitas]

With the pandemic far from over, the future remains uncertain. It’s now on business leaders to pivot and position their companies to be successful despite these challenges.

In this article, Annuitas interviewed three marketing leaders on how they’re driving growth right now. Here are some of the biggest takeaways:

  • Digital transformation is a necessity, not an option. To meet the demands of customers and buyers, marketing must invest in technology that will allow them to connect in real-time.
  • There’s a broader focus on customer retention and growth. Doubling down on customer relationships is key to reducing churn, creating happy customers, and identifying opportunities for growth.
  • Now is the time to focus on internal training and alignment. COVID has challenged teams like never before. Each leader indicated that they’re investing more time to better align sales and marketing and to ensure both teams are agile in the face of change.

The World’s Top CMOs on the Role of Marketing in the Future [Adweek]

I love Nadine Dietz’s work (if you haven’t listened to her podcast CMO Moves, subscribe now!). Recently, she facilitated a symposium with 50 marketing executives to discuss “what’s changed in the past three months, what’s changing in the next three months, and what’s forever changed.”

68% of leaders said marketing has a more prominent role in their organization than ever before. But with these new responsibilities comes greater scrutiny.

Marketers are now spearheading efforts internally and externally in terms of diversity, inclusion, equality, and much more across their companies. This is driven, in large part, to a growing call for brands to “put their money where their mouth is” on social causes. CMOs like myself must be prepared to act and respond. Good intentions and words aren’t enough.

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‘Don’t Go Dark’: Ex-Apple and Pepsi Exec John Sculley Offers Pandemic Brand-Building Tips [The Drum]

“Great brands will be able to play a role in society greater than just selling a product. And that will likely pay off in the long-term.” – John Sculley

? Marketing giant John Sculley made a career out of taking risks.

In this article from The Drum, John shares his past challenges building brands at Pepsi and Apple – as well as advice for marketers navigating these uncertain times.

During his career, John saw time and again that long-term brand success lies in taking risks, taking a stand, and investing in loyal customers. He sees this year as one of those defining moments for businesses.

I couldn’t agree more.

Companies can no longer afford to be tight-lipped on social issues. Identify ways outside of your products and services to help your customers and community. Then take action on those causes.

Similarly, companies can’t go silent on their customers during times of hardship. Check-in on your customer base right now. What you do now will have a lasting impact on your future customer relationships and the brand you want to build five, 10 years down the line.

So keep pushing.

See you next month,


(P.S. We recently partnered with Adobe and others on a new eBook to help companies make the switch to virtual events. I hope you find it a valuable resource for planning your next event.)

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