I was 38 years old, with 3 girls in the backseat of my car, 13 years of marital bliss, an impressive resume of several management positions, 4 years into our overseas adventure, and less than a year to our return date, when I decided I needed to know what I wanted to be when I grow up.
I was standing at a red light, finishing a conversation with the person who was going to take my position when we headed back home the following year—another pitch about the mission statement of the organization, the core values and the daily tasks of the role, the marketing platforms that our clients aren’t using anymore, and the new ones we should learn about and start using.
I heard myself saying words like: “audience,” “marketing platform,” “ours,” and I realized that in a couple of months I would have to do this all over again—get to know a new organization, fall in love with it quickly, understand its audience, learn about the story that needed to be told and where the best place for that story was, and market this new baby.
But what if the baby was ugly this time around?
A SNOB MARKETING DIRECTOR
You see, I learned a long time ago that just like my father, I also love babies very much. I just have one minor condition: they must be mine. Other people’s babies… well, how can I put it? Let’s just say it’s a completely different story.
And, all of a sudden, just like that, while standing at a traffic light, I realized how absurd it was. A snob marketing director! A professional who needs to actually believe in her product, who needs to love that baby before she can show it off to the world. So, what is my profession if I can’t market something I don’t identify with completely? Am I not supposed to enjoy the challenge and succeed no matter how I personally relate to the task?
I brushed that scary thought out of my mind and decided it was a good idea to update my resume when we got back home. But, then, something happened. My mind reader, the one who even as a fetus already knew when to give me a kick to put me back on track, suddenly asked: “Mommy when you were a child, what did you want to be when you grow up? Did you always want to become a Marketing Director?”
Bam, a kick in the gut.
“No, I didn’t always want to be a Director of Marketing.”
“So what did you want to be?”
“I always wanted to be a mom.”
“No, but what did you want to work in?”
“I didn’t have a career I dreamed about. When someone asked my friends what they wanted to be when they grew up and they answered ‘police officer’ or ‘doctor’, I always said I wanted to be a mom.” This was the best answer I could give her at that point, and I almost believed it myself.
“No way! You didn’t have any profession you wanted? That’s not possible! I want to be an interior designer, and also own a Target store, to be a teacher, and to write and illustrate my stories. I’m sure you had something like that!”
I tried to come up with an answer, something I could have dreamed about as a child, and I couldn’t find anything. The one thing I knew for sure was that it wasn’t a Director of Marketing.
A GIRL WITH BIG DREAMS
Don’t get me wrong, I loved my jobs, all of them! The current one and all the ones that led to it. I had challenging roles in organizations I loved and truly believed in, with bosses and employees I consider friends to this day. But here, in my car, I can’t say to my daughter with the giant aspirations that this is what I always dreamed about.
Marketing is in my blood. It’s the way I think, the way I conduct myself, and I’ve loved marketing every organization that I’ve worked for (even the ones where I wasn’t in a marketing position). But as I planned our return to Israel and looked for a new place to work, I slowly understood that even if I was given the dream marketing position—for example, the CMO of a leading company with no budget restrictions and full creative freedom—but the product was a hard drive, I would rather be a file clerk at the IRS.
This understanding scared me. A Snob Marketing Director is not something I dreamed about, and I am a woman who is all about fulfilling one’s dreams. So how is it that I’ve made it all the way to the US, started a family, built a career, and I still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up? I’ve run out of excuses. My guy is finishing the longest professional training ever, and he will soon start working like a normal person. My girls are older and don’t need me around as much. Our travels are coming to an end. And it’s hard to believe, but I’m turning 40 soon.
“So what was it? What did you want to be?”
“I don’t know honey. I still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up.”