This is the first solo episode from the Strategy Sessions. It’s a review of the first five episodes of season 4, a celebration of some of the best black marketing talent in the UK.
In this episode we discuss:
- What a dog poo podcast is
- Lessons from the BHM Mini Series
- Why Kevin’s episode had a major impact on me
- What equality through education means
Black History Month
This is a review of the Black History Month mini series. Throughout October 2023, we celebrated some of the best black marketing talent from the UK. I’ve done this as a solo episode, with just me, Andi Jarvis, talking you through what I enjoyed from those eps.
If you dive back into the archives, you’ll see I used to do a solo section in each episode but that died about the same time as Covid restrictions lifted.
After some feedback from friends, colleagues and people at conferences, I’ve decided to introduce a few shorter episodes that discuss issues the guests raise in more depth. This won’t replace the normal length episodes, it’s an additional treat for you. Aren’t you lucky.
Let me know if you like the new format.
Strategy Sessions Host – Andi Jarvis
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This transcript has been done automagically using Happy Scribe and hasn’t been checked by a real person, so there may be some hilarious mistakes where the AI can’t work out our accents – I’m sure they’re trained on just the American accent.
Eyup and welcome to the Strategy Sessions. My name is Andi Jarvis. I am the host of the show and the Strategy Director at Eximo Marketing. Today, we’re going to try something a little bit different. I’ve been talking to people about this podcast and getting a bit of feedback from different people within the industry, friends, colleagues, and thank you to those people who have given me some feedback and helped me hopefully improve the show. That’s going to be a great show for the show as we move forward. Now, one of the bits of feedback that I got was that a lot of the episodes are quite long, and they are. It’s the nature of the beast. I want to discuss really interesting things with really interesting people, and we let that flow over 45 minutes to 60 minutes sometimes, so that we can get the best out of those people. That’s a bit of a commitment. I had someone at an event in Exeter last week, introduced me to the concept of, I think it was called a Dog Poo Podcast. And that’s not trying to be rude about podcasts. It’s a podcast you listen to while you take your dog to have a shit.
And so it became known as a Dog Poo Podcast. 30 minutes walk in the morning, take the dog out, listen to a podcast. 30 minutes walk in the evening, listen to a podcast. That’s great. But when you have an hour podcast, you’re hoping that people have to remember and come back. What I thought I’d do, rather than just hoping that people would commit to listening for an hour, I thought I’d put some shorter episodes together. But how do we do shorter episodes when you’re a talker? Number one, and number two, you like the format that’s slightly longer. Well, you get me. This is just me this episode. It’s going to be a little bit shorter. I’m going to try rounding up some things that we discussed on the show, talking about some of the things the guests have talked about, and maybe diving a bit deeper into them. So if you listen to the podcast and you like an episode, or there’s something interesting in that episode that you think maybe gets skipped over, and that happens all the time, somebody says something interesting, but they’ll maybe make two really interesting points and I’ll just pick up on one of them.
So sometimes if someone skips over something or you want to know more about a subject, even maybe we deep dive, but you want to go deeper, drop me a message, reply to the email that comes out, hit me up on social, let me know something interesting about the episode, and it might end up featuring in one of these little strategy session shorts. So to kick all this off, I thought what better way to do it than just to wrap up five episodes in one? The regular listeners of the podcast, people who’ve listened to this season four anyway, will know that there are five episodes that we’ve just done in a Black History Month mini-series. I had five wonderful, amazing guests who gave me the time, were generous with the words and how they spoke about the issues that they covered, and really had an impact on me, really, which is not really what I expected, but I’ll talk about that bit at the end. The guests, Sherice Anibaba, who I spoke to, it feels like 1,000 years ago now, but it was only probably six, seven weeks ago when we recorded that. And then Anu, Kevin, Collette, and Thierry all gave us a real different perspective and talked about their lives and their work in different ways.
And I suppose that’s probably the first starting point is that there’s this phrase, which is the Black community. And it’s a really interesting phrase because it lumped all Black people in Britain together as one. And that’s interesting, because there’s actually a lot of diversity within the Black community. There’s huge differences in opinions and thoughts and ideas and history and heritage. And a lot of Black people in this country have come from different places and come on different journeys to get here. Myself, I’m from the Windrush generation, as Kevin was, we talked a little bit about that on the episode. Now, it wasn’t important to me, so I never asked. I didn’t say, What’s your heritage? It doesn’t matter. But the point I’m making is that on the show, what really came across is there was a lot of different experiences that come through people’s blackness and being black in the UK as well. We talked about that in-depth in different places with different people. Kevin probably covered more of it in his episode. But we certainly between Sherice, Kevin, and Collette, all touched on the modern black experience of what that’s like in the workplace too.
And I suppose to pick up on that as well, there’s this interest in… It’s an unspoken thing that you know about if it’s happened to you, but it is quite hard to put into words and describe it to other people when it hasn’t happened to you. And we definitely covered this with Sherice, and definitely covered it with Kevin, and definitely covered it with Collette, where you know sometimes that forces are working against you, but you can’t quite point to what it is, or put your finger on it. And it’s hard to then explain it, because people still assume that racism and things like that are about name calling, or overtly racist behaviour, or passing you over for promotion because you’re black and things like that. Now, those things do still happen. I was, sadly, racially abused by a taxi driver within the last six weeks, seven weeks. Now, yeah, those things still happen, but they are, thankfully, less and less frequent in my world anyway, at least. But this difficult to pin down racism is happening, and it still happens. One of the things I said to Collette is I said, As soon as you started talking about it, I knew exactly what you meant, and I did know exactly what she meant.
But if you’ve never experienced it, you could be thinking, I don’t know what she means. You could be thinking, Yeah, you’re probably just making it up. One of the things you hear as you go further to the right in UK politics is, Oh, stop playing the victim. Them. Stop playing the race card. That’s what you’re trying to do. Believe me when I say, The only time I am probably going to speak for all of the black community is when I say this, nobody likes playing the race card. Nobody plays the race card. You mention it when you believe something’s happening. And it’s awful when people say, Oh, you’re just playing the race card. I can’t speak for all the Black community generally because I am just one person talking about my experience, but that’s the only time I’m going to do it. But yes, it’s interesting how those things come across. And what can you do about that? I don’t know. Honestly, I don’t. It’s really quite difficult to resolve a situation that a lot of people don’t even realise is happening. But what I would say is in your organisation, if you are in a position of influence or position of power, this is something that you can at least try and work out and go, Look, there probably is bias built into some of these things.
How do we go about challenging it? Because I’m a big believer in accepting the fact that there’s a problem is step one, two, and probably three to solving it, because it gets you underway and gets you moving. But we didn’t just talk about race in the UK, we actually talked mostly about marketing. After all, the Strategy Sessions is a marketing podcast. And I want to just pick up on a couple of things that each of the guests said. So rolling back to episode one, Sherice’s blew my mind with some of the things we talked about. I just utterly loved that episode. She started off by saying, Being a mum is a superpower. I’m not a mum, clearly, but it was really interesting the way she talked about it. The way she just opened the series with a real honest view of the fact that being a mum is not going to be the end of your career. It actually kickstarted and is a superpower. Power for her in her career. I know from talking to friends and colleagues, that it is a concern for women still in 2023 that they get pregnant, and it is going to mean the end of their career.
It’s horrific to think that’s the case. Going back to what I’ve just said, Accept there’s a problem, and that starts the discussion to try and change it. It was brilliant that Sherice just opened the series with that. I wasn’t sure what to expect when I asked the question, What one thing do you wish you’d have known 10 years ago? But it was a great answer, and you just kickstarted the whole series really well. What else did Sherice talk about? You’ll know, if you’ve listened to me at a conference, if you’ve read anything I’ve posted on LinkedIn, if you’ve listened to the podcast, Talk to your customers is something that is going to be tattooed on my chest, put on my gravestone. In fact, I love it so much, it’s even going to appear on some T-shirts, but I’ll talk about them in another episode. Sherice went, when she worked in the marketing team at McDonald’s, used to go and spend time sitting in McDonald’s restaurants, listening, watching, observing what people do, and helping make her a better marketer, helping her understand the customer that comes in. It’s something that is often missed. I referred to it as Ivory Towers Marketing.
We sit in our marketing department trying to make decisions and guess about what our customers might want. Get out there amongst them and listen to what they have to say. There was another great story she told about asking a woman in a changing rooms at the swimming pool when she worked for Speedo about why she bought one swimming costume over a Speedo. And the answer she got just would never appear on any day at the dashboard that you’ve got. It was about sizing, and issues with that, and things like that. You’ve got to get out and talk to your customer. I’m aware that I have a bias to people talking about talking, because I love it. The Eximo Marketing logo is designed to be a person. It’s an X with a dot above it, designed to be a person. I’m a people-centered marketer. I believe people are at the heart of our discipline. The clue is in the name, marketing, we’re about the market. So when people talk about that, it really speaks to me, and hopefully to you. And Anu who picks up on that, she’s a PPC marketer, an expert who runs PPC Live community in London.
But she’s not just technical about her discipline. Yes, she loves getting the earphones on and just getting stuck in a spreadsheet some days. But what she talked about was the importance of people and the importance of community. How people like Chima and Areej has previously been on this podcast, helped her launch the PPC Live community. And look, we’re nothing as an industry without our network, without support, but also without our customers. So again, all the technical, fancy AI solutions, data driven issues, yes, they help. Yes, they’re important. But we have to remember we’re selling to people, and then we need to understand them. And if you understand them, everything else you do as a market gets much, much easier. I’m going to skip over, Kevin, I’ll come back to you in a minute, poor old Kevin, and Collette, Philip came on, and Collette talked about clarity and focus a lot. And she talked about, Let’s be clear, was her catchphrase, which I love, because you sit in workshops all the time and think, Why doesn’t anyone agree on the same thing here? One of the things I do with clients is, we spend a lot of time initially agreeing what strategy means.
Why? Because there is no agreement on it. JP Castlin, again, previously of this parish, said the language of marketing is so imprecise to be almost meaningless. The only thing I would disagree with that is I would take the word almost out. It’s just meaningless. If I had 10 clients asked me for a strategy, they’re probably asking for 10 different things. That clarity and focus that Collette talks about was really important in driving forward what she does through her agency, through her consultancy, by providing companies with clarity and focus, it gets everyone on the same page. Your staff don’t wake up in the morning saying, Can I remember all 10 of our values? People wake up in the morning to go to work, to sometimes just get through the day. Sometimes they’ve just got a hangover. They’ve had a bad night. They’re having a bad day, whatever it is, they just want to get through. But if you can provide that clarity and focus on what you need them to do, everybody is always moving you a step closer to that goal. I think when you roll back to when COVID first hit, and companies did incredible things in very short spaces of time, like rebuilt websites or launch propositions and rebranded within weeks.
Why? Because everyone had one clear focus. That’s why those things happened. And on to Thierry. Thierry has energy, an energy that an old man like me struggles to replicate. He’s from Bradford. He grew up in Bradford, which is where I’m from. I’ve been away for a long time. I’ve lost a bit of the Bradford accent. As many people think I’m a Jordi, which isn’t the case if you actually go to Newcastle, nobody sounds like me. But I get, Are you a Jordi? Where are you from? But we both grew up in Bradford. There’s a love letter to Bradford in there. We both talk about how there’s an energy about the place, and I think we both do feed off that a little bit, but we love it. It’s a city with challenges, but a city that we both love. But what I mostly loved about Thiery is how we launched his products. He’s launched beers, he’s launched peanut butters, he’s launched video services, he’s launched all sorts, and he just does it, and he learns, and he iterates, and he learns, and he iterates. And he’s got a new product coming out soon, which he didn’t give us the spoiler for, but I’m sure I’ll probably talk about it when it comes out, as soon as he tells me.
I’m an overthinker. I’ve thought of hundreds of great ideas, I reckon, all of them so great that I’ve never launched any of them. And he inspired me to pull my thumb out of my backside and just get on and do some stuff. I’m really interested in his approach and how he just does it and see what happens. Love that. But he also, guess what? He talks about people, didn’t he? Of course he talks about people. He’s a data guy, and he’s like, Yeah, but I could just give everyone a dashboard and they can self-serve their own data. Yeah, great. But what do they do? They just find the data points that support their own bias, and then nobody learns anything. I’m like, Is that what I’m like when people talk about just people marketing? People marketing is just supporting my own bias, probably. But you know what? I think I’m right. So yeah, Thierry is a data guy, but a people guy. And again, there we are. It’s not one or the other. Ritson calls it bothism. It’s not this or that, it’s this and that. You put your specialism and the data together with people, lots of things happen.
So I want to come back, I skipped over Kevin, and there’s a reason I skipped over Kevin. He talked beautifully about lots of different things, about his experience, about supporting Black women, and his love letter, well, I have twice have used that phrase, but he has a book called Love Letter coming out, which is a love letter to black women. And we talked a lot about his experience. Kevin explained how his black queer upbringing, and spoke to how he’s underrepresented in different communities and sits at an intersection of different places. And he’s written books to express that feeling and to pull that across. But he’s also a son of Croydon, and possibly the only person I’ve ever had on the podcast, probably the only person I will ever have on the podcast who talks openly about being in a knife fight as well. A really interesting guy, absolutely fantastic. The line he said about trust your instincts, they’re probably correct. Yes, Amen to that. Absolutely, absolutely by that. But I think the thing, the reason I wanted to leave Kevin to the end is that there was a conversation that we had that, it had a real impact on me, I think.
Well, the whole five episodes did, but the way Kevin talked about the impact of people in his community and the black women in his life that have affected him got me thinking about my auntie, and my grandma, and the black women who shaped me when I was a child. Of course, lots of other family did as well. It’s not to the exclusion of them, but these were the couple I was thinking about. My auntie, particularly Nenen, my grandma lived in Canada all the time when I was growing up, so we didn’t see her a huge amount. And her sister lived in Bradford, so we used to see quite a lot of her. And it sent me down memory lane, thinking about Sundays round up my auntie’s as a child, and that different perspective that you got from your auntie, whether it’s feeding you, whether it’s trying to give you some advice. And she always had some semi-biblical quotes, probably misquoted for any stresses or hassles that you had. I went digging through old photographs that I posted on Instagram. There’s a link in the show notes if you want to have a look. With my auntie, with my daughter back in 2009, I think as well.
It really had an impact on me and took me down memory lane and opened up some emotions that I’d probably been suppressing for a number of years as well. It was just lovely. I know that’s a gloriously unspecific blurb about that episode, but it was great and I really enjoyed it. Not a marketing learning from that, but something that I really enjoyed. To round this off, there was one other thing to come back to Collette’s episode that I really liked. And Collette challenged me a little bit, not directly, but she started talking about racism, and she used things like white supremacy as a language around that, how white supremacy shows up in your brand and things like that. And this challenged me a little bit. I was like, Oh, because I actually asked the question in a third person way, I said to a lot of white people, white supremacy means the KKK and burning crosses and things like that, what I actually meant was, that’s what it means to me. I should apologise to Collette for sidesteping the toughness of that question, but I meant that as well. And the way she explained it, the way she talked about it, go back and listen to the episode.
There’s no point me going over it again here when Collette does it infinitely better. But the way she explained the rationale behind that language, and the way she uses it, and why she uses it, absolutely perfect, and really opened my eyes to new perspectives. Learning is something that is really important to me, and equality through education is a pillar of Eximo Marketing and what we do. Learning is about hearing new perspectives, processing them, thinking about them, and then moulding it with clashing into the things you already know, and then building on it from there. And that really did it to me. And hopefully, listening to some of these episodes challenged you, made you think differently, made you come up with new ideas, or helped you think in a new way. That’s the whole point of the podcast. We have a new tagline for the podcast, which makes you think differently, which comes from, guess what? User feedback. It came from Azeem, who has been on the podcast. Somebody asked on Twitter whats one of my favourite podcast? That was one of these bits of user feedback makes you think differently. I was like, if that’s what people get from the podcast, I’m a happy man, genuinely happy man.
Thank you for listening. This is my first solo episode. Do you love it? Do you hate it? Genuinely, I’m a big boy. If you’ve listened to this and gone, Oh, my goodness, that’s the most boring 20 minutes of my life, let me know. Tell me. Send me an email. Use the details in the show notes. Get in touch. Tell me what you think. Did you enjoy it? Did you hate it? Would you like more of this and less of that? There’s probably a lot more personal reflection in this one than there will be in future episodes, mainly because it’s the Black History Month roundup. I’m rounding up five episodes in one go, bouncing over some marketing concepts, how some of them made me feel, and some of the lessons I learned. You can’t talk about black history without getting personal with it when you’re a Black man in the UK. So excuse me for indulging myself on this. But let me know, please. Any feedback is always good. If you knew the podcast, thank you for listening. We’ll be back next time with an episode which features one of my favourite humans, David Mannheim, from Made with Intent, where we talk about Disney.
He kidnaps me in his house and people centred marketing again. So maybe we should change the name of the podcast from Strategy Sessions to human-centered marketing or something like that. I’m not rebranding. Anyway, thank you very much for listening. We’ll see you soon with the David Mannheim episode and your feedback, honestly, please, is greatly welcomed on this episode, because there’ll be another one coming after David. Thank you.