Jim Ducharme, VP of Strategic Marketing at Maropost, is starting on a new adventure – really a continuation of his journey to making meaningful connections and making an impact. As he narrowed his focus over the years into community management and then online marketing, Jim’s found a niche for himself that includes building relationships to drive business results through social media, which is where we met years ago. Here’s Jim’s story.
Congratulations on your new role at Maropost! What does a VP of Strategic Marketing do?
My role is to be the brand voice and ambassador to our client community and external communities as well. My focus is on building relationships along with our brand and of course, help generate leads.
What do you love about your job?
Well, I’m still pretty new in this role, but I’ve been doing pretty much the same thing for the last 4 years and I love what I do. I just love meeting new people and building relationships. I know that sounds almost like a beauty pageant response, but it’s true. I love great conversation and finding out what people think — I love getting different perspectives. I get to practice what I preach: Good conversations lead to good conversions.
Did you think you’d be doing what you do today when you were graduating from college or even early in your career?
My first time through college I thought I’d be programming Q107 FM in Toronto by now or perhaps playing sideman for Elton John. I was a radio jock for years then went back to college for programming and that led to a stint working for an online gaming company in San Francisco during the “dot.com” boom. It’s snakes and ladders after that, but a great ride. Everyone reaches that point where they find a focal point of their life experience. We all reach this point at different times and some of us act on it and some of us don’t. Some people open up a bookstore with a coffee shop in it and me, I got into email/social marketing.
How do you balance career and family?
Rather badly since I work from home. I have a four year old daughter who relentlessly reminds me that she is my priority no matter how I want to rationalize that working like a dog is for her. Remember this, when your child wants to play Barbie or whatever, it’s only at most 15 minutes out of your day and it’s likely the best 15 minutes you’ll have.
As for marriages and relationships, make time and make plans for romance. Unless you’re in a Disney movie, it won’t just happen.
What advice would you give to someone who is considering joining an early stage startup/starting a business?
Be prepared to put in a lot of hours. Startups are like a new puppy, they take a lot of attention and they will pee on your rug (socially speaking at least). Keep a long sighted view on the eventual rewards. People who enjoy working for startups are builders and builders are a unique breed. If you’d rather move into a furnished apartment rather than building a log cabin, stay away.
Did you have a mentor or champion early that helped shape your career?
I’ve had more than one mentor and champion. However, the most important champion you can have is yourself and you become one when you stop looking for answers only outside and look inward for your own voice.
For early career professionals who are looking to build a relationship with a mentor, how would you advise they go about it?
Most experienced professionals don’t mind passing on their insight. Having someone seek that out is usually gratifying. Also, do not confuse a mentor with a teacher. Teachers lead you by the hand while mentors will point the way. If you want handholding, you will alienate them. Think of it like music lessons — ask to be shown a few chords then practice and come back and play them the tune. That will impress and cement the relationship. Initially, keep in mind you should focus first on showing them how smart they are and not how smart you are.
What was your “aha” moment in life, if you’ve had one?
The realization that the only real control you have in this life is your own reactions to any given situation.
If you were talking to a younger you, what’s the one piece of advice you would give?
Shut up and listen.
Connect with Jim on twitter at @hugeheadca.