Fun Background Bits
You could read a long list of my accomplishments (and what I learned from failure – mine and others’), but perhaps hearing/reading a few stories will offer the added dimension – see what you think!
It All Started
Have you ever done something where you felt like this is the sum total of all the stuff I'm good at?
When I was growing up, my mother was convinced that I would make my living with my mouth. Now for her, what that meant was that I would be a newscaster and I was obsessed with Dan Rather with 2020, with Barbara Walters, and Hugh Downs. I was the 12 year old kid addicted to news. I wanted to get out of Mississippi. So my idea of getting out of Mississippi was to go back to Europe and I checked out a book the book was called a directory of American firms with overseas operations. I did this because I spoke Spanish, French, and Swedish.
I'd gone to school in Sweden. I'd gone to school in France. I grew up in Panama City. I was born there. I sent out 180 resumes and cover letters to American firms that did things that I thought I wanted to do- marketing, advertising, and manufacturing. I got back one positive response. That positive response came from a PR agency in New York called Ruder Finn. They thought that I was eligible for their internship program. I thought internship? I'm not trying to get an internship! I'm trying to get a job. I replied and sent in the things that they asked me to send in that I'd never done before. Write a press release. Write a cover letter. I didn't get a phone call.
Congratulations, you made it to the next step.
Next step of what? Oh this internship, wait a minute, I've got to audition for an internship and there are multiple steps involved.
What I didn't know at the time, that there were 325 applicants for 12 spots and I got one. Now I'm in public relations. Go on to marketing and advertising and events and all those things. That was the doorway that didn't put me in front of the camera. It put me behind it. It helped me help my clients get on television and get in the news. I was in the news business, just not the way my mother had originally envisioned.
Why Do I Do This?
I love what I do
Passion is both a driving force and an end goal. Like the more of it I use to get there, the more of it I get when I arrive. I love this. I love being able to see a brand take shape and to see consumers aligned to it. Whether you're fixing something that's broken creating, something new ,shaping something out of nothing, or reshaping and understanding even within the brand itself. More often than not, the consumers have a very good understanding of what the brand is to them.
It's said that a brand is the space that a name occupies in the consumer's mind.
The question is what's around that space. What does it mean to them? Authentic disruption is when you're different. You stand out but you're not different for the sake of being different. Sometimes I just want stuff that works so give me all the disruption you want.
I'm numb to it. Give me something they can actually deliver on its promise- now that's real disruption.
Memories and Learnings
from working with the "Most Famous Woman in the World."
Imagine you are driven to a private air strip; climb aboard Unilever's corporate jet only to meet fragrance mogul, 2-time Oscar winner and the woman who became the face of AIDS activism.
I was 25. She had just turned 60.
Joseph Panetta thought creator
Well that's a very interesting story...
I grew up in a family where my grandfather told stories. I learned from stories. I carried stories with me. It's how I remembered things. As a Storyteller and a person who tells stories for Brands and you know people and positions and all that kind of stuff, one story I've never really told is my own.
I'm 12 years old and the sixth grade choir teacher says, “tomorrow, you're singing for your parents for graduation.
I want everyone who's going to be on these risers to show up wearing blue and white.”
Every single kid in my class showed up wearing a white shirt and blue pants. I showed up wearing a blue shirt and white pants. It showed that I understood the assignment through an utterly different lens.
The CIA Tried to Hire Me!
Recently, I shared how I got my first job but there's a backstory to that that I didn't share and that few people know about me.
When I graduated from college, only two organizations showed up for me on Recruitment Day: Delta Airlines, and the Central Intelligence Agency. Both were interested in my language capabilities, I presume.
The CIA process was interesting. They tested me for a number of days off-campus, at another university. I spent the weekend doing their "aptitude test", which consisted of reading, writing and arithmetic, and a whole lot of attitudinal questions. This was in the late '80s, and it dawned on me that these guys wanted to send me to Nicaragua in the middle of Sandinistas vs. Contras because of my ability to speak Spanish, as well as my travel experience. Delta, too, wanted to take advantage of my language skills, but for long-haul flights. Lesson learned: if you have a language skill, it can open up a whole world of opportunity!