This article comes from Bev Barnett’s insightful talk, ‘Going bold means never going back’, at our 2023 San Francisco Customer Marketing Summit, check out her full presentation here.

If there's one thing I've learned over my unconventional career journey, it's that going bold means never going back. 

There’s no such thing as backward - there is only now and what's next

This philosophy has guided me through many twists and turns to arrive at my current role as a Principal of Customer Advocacy at Workday.

My journey

Can you imagine, my career started all the way back in public relations in 1981? I've worn a lot of different hats since then. 

I'm an artist who creates 2D sculptures from found objects,  a songwriter, a grandmother, and yes, even at 62 years old, I can still deadlift 95 pounds, so don't underestimate me!

Everywhere I've been and everything I've done has shaped who I am today, even the stupid decisions. 

In the early days of my career, there was no time to worry about whether I had relevant experience or not. I was in my early 20s and all I could do was keep boldly moving forward into the unknown. 

I remember my very first day at a new in-house PR job - I flew to Boston, landed close to midnight, rented a car, and then sat stumped in the snowy airport parking lot wondering "What do I do now?" 

With only paper maps for navigation back then, I had no choice but to laugh at myself and forge ahead, even if that meant driving the wrong way down some one-way streets. Hey, I made it in the end!

The spark

While facing uncertainty like that might make some people want to cling to the familiar and comfortable, I got excited by the possibility of change. 

That excitement, to boldly embrace the unknown, is really about exercising your creativity. And we all have creativity within us, even if you don't think of yourself as an "artsy" type.

Creativity is how we navigate all parts of our lives and work. It's how you take a detailed report and summarize it for leadership in a compelling, insightful way. 

It's how you design innovative campaigns to energize customers and inspire advocacy. It's how you turn a roadblock into an opportunity.

One of my favorite examples of channeling creativity is the old metaphor of grabbing the brass ring on a vintage carousel. 

When's the last time you really thought about what it takes to reach out and snag that elusive ring? You have to fully commit, standing in the stirrups of a galloping horse, letting go of the reins just long enough to extend your arm at the perfect split-second. Sounds ridiculous, right?

But think about it - how often do you let go of what's comfortable and think about your customer marketing strategies in a totally new, bold way?