Introduction to Bootstrap Marketing
I have done the inner work to go from someone who would never dare to speak about my shame of feeling not good enough to someone who won't stop talking about perfectionism and impostor syndrome.
All of that is a huge accomplishment. I'm at peace with myself and my life.
I've been living with perfectly hidden depression for thirty years, and the straw that finally broke the camel's back was leaving the safe and predictable space of academia.
Leaving the world of scientific research was the correct decision for me. However, it's been tough. I made a lot of mistakes. I started an environmental consulting company that barely made profit. I launched a blog about sustainable fashion that I never figured out how to monetize.
Meanwhile...I am getting older...and I had bought into this belief that I needed to have my shit together by my 30s (lol)
I was so ashamed I almost didn't fly back home to celebrate my 30th birthday with my family. I was so heartbroken because I felt that I had done my best to stay in Europe after my MBA, and my job prospects were not looking good (oh, the joys of being a third class citizen). Time was ticking, I only had 4 months to sort my situation before my permit expired.
In a fit of defiance and being fed up with the psychologically dehumanizing experience of being an immigrant in Switzerland...I packed my bags and followed my soon-to-be husband to Colombia.
That's when I did all this entrepreneurial stuff, which was a failure if you look at it from a purely capitalistic lens (we did not get rich from this). However, this experience was pure gold for me (though it did not feel like that when I was struggling to sell our expertise and learn the ropes of Influencer Marketing).
I got my first Marketing experience, and for the first time in my life, I thought I found something that was a reaaaaaally good fit for me.
I didn't suck as a scientist per se, but I am not wired to think like a chemist or mathematician. So, I had to work 10x harder to understand concepts that my colleagues would get just by looking at an equation. I love plants, I love biology, I love understanding ecosystems. But, I hate field work, I suck at organic chemistry and anything past Calculus II was incomprehensible to me.
What I liked about science was the process of researching, looking at the big picture, learning how to ask smart questions and then putting together the narrative to explain my work to my peers and also laypeople.
Those are my gifts, I was just applying them in the wrong environment.
Looking back, the dots always connect. I love stories. I love the power of words. I love understanding systems. Now I am working in a field where I need to put together systems with storytelling, because I believe that marketing is only as good as the operations behind your offer. I am also offering a course on how to use stories and symbols to heal the subconscious, because I believe that there is very little out there that can help those who have used a hyper-logical approach to survive. In tech terms, I found the back door to my operating system, and I reprogrammed myself.
I finally got a break in life. I found my stride.
BUT - it's been a long and bumpy road to get to this point, where I am launching this website and putting myself out there as a human being and as a marketing professional.
The first couple of years I was promoting my consulting business and my fashion blog, I was full of self-doubt and shame. No wonder my entrepreneurial plans flopped. When I moved to Toronto, I did the usual "fake it till you make it" and landed a job in Marketing.
Technically, I made it. I got my foot in the door, with a Manager title! But, I still felt like a fraud.
So, even though I have been working as a Marketer for a while, I've been shy about it because I was too hung up on the fact that I do not have credentials nor fancy accolades. That was my perfectionist brain talking. Yes, I have an MBA, but it was a general degree, so I didn't feel qualified enough...and I don't have a ridiculous budget (which is a 1-person department by the way) so I have to be lean in my approach.
I get shit done, but I don't have a multi-touchpoint, multi-channel, automated funnel, B2B2C2...FFS, you get my drift.
I was struggling with my perfectly hidden depression this whole time, and when I got to Toronto my mental health got worse because I was alone. I did not have to fake it at home because no one was waiting for me (long story short, my husband and I had to live apart for 2.5 years but we are together now, at last).
It. was. a. lot.
However, knowing that I had finally found a little corner of the business world that I didn't hate and I didn't suck at made me want to get myself out of the rut I was in.
It took me about two years to undo a good chunk of my mental conditioning, and I am already reaping the benefits.
I even dare to think of myself as a creator (that's crazy for someone who thought creativity was for artists only).
I even took this label to heart and started to learn Photoshop, because a lot of what I talk about in my course is meant to be felt and experienced - words won't do here. My hope is that the images that go with my captions will strike a chord in people's minds. Plus, I am having way more fun than I thought I would!
And now, I am starting this section on my website where I will talk about Bootstrap Marketing. That's a HUGE leap for someone who has been staring at her LinkedIn profile for years, not knowing what to put on there, hesitating on what would be appropriate and valuable content...
So what is Bootstrap Marketing?
For now, it is my catch-all term for the things that I am doing/interest me as a Marketer.
- Navigating the career transition from science to marketing
- Building a marketing function from scratch
- B2B Marketing for SMEs
- Human(e) copywriting
- Working in growth-phase companies
- Content creation for Instagram
- Authenticity and visibility as a WOC/recovering perfectionist
I call it bootstrap, because I am a one-woman department. I am not following anyone's footsteps, I am developing things from scratch. I also call it bootstrap because I work with what I got, and I don't have millions of dollars to throw at my problems.
I've had the luxury to explore the things that interest me as a marketer, so I've created my own education curriculum so I can sharpen the technical skills that I want to develop. I am currently learning about copywriting, SEO, LinkedIn and Instagram marketing. This is also part of my journey and part of the content I intend to talk about.
I started this post sharing about my personal life, so I want to circle back to how it relates to Bootstrap Marketing. I've done the inner work to believe that my work, my opinions, my emotions are valuable. I do not need external validation to justify my existence and my worth.
However, that does not mean that I do not have demons. I am constantly challenging my upper limits, and that always triggers something. The difference between then and now is that I can see through the lies and I can process those emotions without attaching my self-worth to them.
Bootstrap Marketing is also the mental and emotional process of showing up as a content creator and entrepreneur. This is a different ballgame, especially if YOU are the PRODUCT. I am starting this thing from scratch, with no previous success story, and I have to do this with the belief that *I can* and it *will* happen. Any half-assing on my intent will not get me the results that I want.
For someone who couldn't feel good about herself unless she was scoring 100%...this bold attitude is new. I still have days that it rattles my nervous system. The joy of witnessing my own transformation mixes with old grief, and I cry my eyeballs out.
I am sharing my story because I refuse to be silent and perpetuate the myth that success happens in a vacuum and that if you feel you don't have what it takes, then you don't have what it takes.
As an immigrant, a woman of colour, a woman who works in male-dominated fields...I won't be part of that charade of the "self-made man" anymore.
Let's do this. 😎