So I’m in Italy as I type this, on a family vacation. We left Cincinnati for Rome yesterday. (Or was it today? I am not really sure what time it is and neither is my body.)
The trip has not started out well for me.
First, my family of four was assigned seats in all different areas of the plane to Rome. With a four and seven year old on an eight hour flight, that’s obviously not going to work. It was a full flight, and we were one of the last to board, so finding passengers willing to move seats so we could at least have one parent next to each kid was not fun.
Then, we get to Rome, and of all the suitcases brought here by my 20 extended family members traveling together, mine is the only piece of luggage that did not make it. In fact, it’s currently not accounted for, anywhere in the world. It just disappeared along with every piece of clothing I packed for this week long trip. I went to the luggage counter as you always do when in this situation, and the simple task of providing the address to the villa I’m staying in was difficult because of the language barrier. I’m finally told that IF they find my luggage, it will be at least three days until it is delivered here.
My family has loaned me a few shirts and shorts – but at this point, I really only have a few things to wear. And let’s be honest – they’re not the “good clothes” they packed. They are the "extra old t-shirts in case I spill wine on myself" shirts. So I’m a little out of my element with things that are not mine – they aren’t my style, they don’t really fit, and there aren’t a lot of them.
The icing on the cake - somehow, these few loaner clothing items got left on the bathroom floor when someone took a shower last night, and every piece is completely soaked. Guess what they don’t have in this secluded Italian villa? A clothes dryer. The few items I have are currently hanging outside and I’m waiting for them to dry in the humid Italian air.
So as I sit here with literally only the clothes on my back, I am reflecting on the day where NOTHING seemed to go my way. It got me thinking about bad days I’ve had as a marketer.
We’ve all had them. I always say, you’re not a real marketer until you’ve sent out an email with a huge error, selected artwork for a piece of creative that unintentionally offended someone, or walked out of conference rooms fatigued and frustrated after trying desperately to get someone to adopt an idea and feeling like no one is listening.
How we handle situations in times of stress is a critical factor to our success as marketers. Although yesterday was not fun, it’s travel – it’s unpredictable, just like we can’t predict mistakes on our campaigns or people’s unwillingness to hear out our ideas. Stress is going to happen in marketing, just like it inevitably happens in travel.
So how did I get through it without writing this vacation off as a total bomb on day one? Two things:
One, I asked for help.
I asked the flight attendant to help relocate our seats. I asked the luggage counter to look for and (hopefully) deliver my luggage to the villa. I asked my family to loan me clothes.
Two, I took an hour to reset my attitude. By the time I arrived at the villa yesterday, I was feeling snarky and negative from the lack of sleep combined with the stress of this experience. I was not fun to be around. So I asked my in laws to watch the kids while I took an hour to drive into the village with the windows down. I cried (in private – away from everyone else who was happy and excited to kick off their vacation), got over it, and decided by the time I got back I would move on. So what if I don’t have my luggage? I’m in Italy. I’m lucky. I have beautiful views and amazing food and wine to enjoy and family all around me. The travel disaster, although it felt like the end of the world yesterday, seems inconsequential now that I’ve reset my outlook.
When you have a Marketing Bad Day – which are at the same time unpredictable and inevitable – I think these two strategies can help. First, ask for help to remedy the situation as quickly and effectively as you can. You may not be able to fix it, but you can do as much as is possible to make it better, if not right. Then, take a break, feel what you need to feel, and move on.
The next day will be better – I promise.