The Importance of Knowing Your Worth

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An Interview with Sherilyn Shackell

The world of business is full of surprises. For Sherilyn Shackell, Founder and Global CEO of The Marketing Academy, her big surprise came on an otherwise normal work day – it left her crushed and ultimately changed the entire course of her career.

We caught up with Sherilyn to learn more about how to deal with adversity on both a personal and business-scale level.

Firstly Sherilyn, can you tell us about the worst day of your career and how you managed to overcome it?

The worst day of my career came when I discovered that an external person, hired as my peer, doing exactly the same job as me in a different office, had been given a salary 45% higher than mine.

I was hurt, bewildered and absolutely furious at the same time. I demanded that my boss explain exactly why he would place such high value on someone he didn’t know versus someone who had worked for him for 10 years. He failed to justify it, so I resigned instantly.

It was both the worst day (I was literally stunned that I could be treated this way – the hurt lasted far longer than the anger), and best day because I decided right then that I would never allow someone else to decide my worth.

Can you tell us what your favourite marketing campaign from around the world in the last year is, and why?

Can I have two? ‘FCK, we’re sorry’ by Mother for KFC and Fearless Girl’ by McCann for State Street. Both are brave, imaginative and impactful, but more importantly they provoked a visceral emotional reaction.

Fearless Girl took my breath away and, as a mother of three daughters, made me want to cheer every time I saw it. KFC’s campaign made me laugh out loud – courageous work delivered with honesty and humour. What’s not to love!

What’s the one thing you wish you knew when you started your career?

That ‘winning’ doesn’t mean that someone else has to lose. I’m pretty certain that if I met my 25-year-old self today I wouldn’t like me very much.

I loved myself at the time, which was part of the problem, I was totally self-oriented, ruthlessly competitive, ambitious and driven. I had no concept that the best leaders put others first, that inspiring and empowering people to be the best they can be requires selflessness, vulnerability and humility.

I thought that success meant being the winner, the number one, the top dog. I believed it was all about me. It took me years to discover how very, very wrong I was.

Lastly, the APAC region, and Australia in particular is well known for punching above its weight creatively. What is it about a place, people and geography that can make it more ‘creative’ than others? 

I travel a lot. I’m sometimes not sure which country I’m waking up in. Every country has its own energy – its own behavioural language – and each one has a heart which beats to a different rhythm. Some places suck me hollow the second I land on the tarmac; others make my spirit soar.

Of all the places in the world that I have had the privilege of spending time in, it’s Australia that fills my soul with joy. For me to be at my best creatively I need to see beauty, feel a sense of freedom, experience space and light and a vibe of ‘can do’ optimism. Australia has all that in spades.

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