What I Learned on My Journey from the French Alps to Becoming a Silicon Valley Growth Marketer
“Why is that happening?”
When I was younger, I couldn’t stop asking questions about the world.
It was easy to follow my curiosity. My Mom is French Catholic, my Dad is Jewish, and as a kid, I worked every summer in the French Alps.
Life lessons from atop a mountain
My grandparents owned an artisanal shop on top of a mountain. It was a unique family business that defined our heritage. We made woodwork, paintings, candles and other hand-crafted products.
We met many tourists and mingled with people from all walks of life. We also cherished the nearby peaks, friendly giants always looming near us — and we went on many treks. To say the least, my grandparents were mountain heroes — to this day, my grandpa loves exploring every landscape from the French Alps to the Himalayas.
All my life, I’ve fondly remembered these times with my French family, working hard in the mountains while finding time to explore.
Later I realized these experiences played a crucial part in helping me become a successful business professional. Working with tourists taught me lessons about customer service and working alongside my tireless grandparents taught me the importance of humility, creativity and leading a life filled with joy.
To keep up with the tourists I learned to speak French and Spanish, the idiosyncrasies of many cultures, and how to become more empathetic. Working with tourists was only a part of the learning experience. Participating in long treks — oftentimes traveling alone and encountering potentially deadly problems — helped foster my resourcefulness and appreciation of nature’s final word. I once got lost on a mountain during a two-day trek… I went way too far and lost the trail, ending up in snowy peaks as the sun set. Needless to say, some lessons are learned the hard way, and they shaped me.
Finding purpose-driven work
As I searched for a way to empower those in need in my young adult life, I gravitated toward purpose-driven people and international work. I aligned myself with universities and organizations willing to take a non-conformist approach to difficult problems.
After graduation from Wesleyan University, I joined a rising nonprofit called Generation Rwanda, where I worked closely with the Executive Director on fundraising and public relations activities. With our diligent efforts and our students’ success, we transformed the organization into a leading scholarship program in Rwanda.
Driven by a desire to continue to expand access to high-quality education in Africa, I then worked for a couple of years with teams at the Social Science Research Council, where I supported the development of two new programs:
1. A fellowship program dedicated to promoting the next generation of social scientists in Africa.
2. An African peacebuilding network, a support system for independent African research on conflict-affected countries and the integration of African knowledge into global policy communities.
Pursuing diversity — starting with an MBA
Eventually, my values and passion for social entrepreneurship found a strong foothold in Notre Dame’s MBA program. Seeing the many ways I could get involved with the student body, I starting working as the rep between students, the Dean and our administration. The MBA program also offered one thing I love: diversity.
My fellow MBA students hailed from all over the world. There were countless opportunities to engage others in meaningful conversations ranging from social justice to technology and define what it means to “ask more of business,” as our motto goes.
Looking back, I can almost say it was no coincidence I started my growth marketing career at Wonolo, a company that enables businesses to find vetted talent immediately, removing the friction for companies to find talent for on-demand hourly or daily job needs.
The mission driving many of us to work for Wonolo is knowing that we’re helping lift people up to find meaningful work. We know ambitious people looking for jobs and sometimes they just need the right connection. So, we help overcome the gap with the knowledge that a resume can’t always fill in your past with the successes that really matter.
One of our core learnings: Within the on-demand space, our community is as strong as it is diverse: it includes young professionals who want extra income, folks who are retired, and people from all walks of life. Many support children or adult parents while still pursuing a career. It’s easy for recruiters and hiring managers to count them out because of inexperience and other variables. By showcasing their skills in a unique way, we put talented people back in the driver’s seat of their careers.
With a strong leadership team at Wonolo, it began as an exciting journey that kept getting better. We had some early successes with our community programs, including launching a Wonolo badging program where people receive awards for completing jobs and earning high ratings in different job categories. This helps the most skillful job seekers differentiate themselves, and they are rewarded for their hard work.
We also tried experimenting with other outreach strategies, such as events for new Wonoloers, but the turnout was low. It’s a common struggle for many growth marketers. Sometimes your projects fail, but as long as you move forward learning and iterating you’ll eventually hit home runs.
Because “community is our DNA” as our CEO Yong Kim often reminds our team, we’ve even taken the extra step to call Wonoloers to welcome them into our community after they successfully onboard. Customers benchmark the value of a service based on their first interaction, so we thought we’d make it memorable.
As a growth marketer, it’s important to realize the need for data even for community-oriented tactics and strategy. We employ resources such as MailChimp for email, Looker to analyze real-time data, and Hubspot strategies to help content gain steam. With each touch point, the goal is to build a strong relationship with prospects and customers, even if it’s just a nudge to get them further enmeshed within our community.
As we head further into changing the recruitment space, there will be more challenges to overcome. We’ll implement new tracking tools, hire more team members and ensure everyone stays focused.
Effective growth marketing relies on good habits
To keep my sanity as a marketer, and now as the director of community, every day I ensure that I adhere to a few simple habits. I find time for the outdoors, meditation and sports. I also avidly block out time to listen to NPR podcasts and read high-level publications such as StrictlyVC.
Within the workspace, I ensure everyone is on the same page with daily standups, and I emphasize original thinking and the importance of stepping forward with our best selves.
Not too long ago, I had never heard of growth marketing. In growth, you can come from any background. What I’ve realized is that the best growth marketers understand “growth” is a mindset, not a job title.
For the many people interested in landing a growth marketing role, it’s more welcoming than you may think. You just need to be intellectually curious and creative because everything is learnable.
Every obstacle has a solution, so no matter the journey you’re on, and no matter how many failures you may encounter, the ability to add value to people’s lives can power you on.
Kimberly Greenberg is the director of community at Wonolo where she focuses on retention and acquisition. She holds an MBA from the University of Notre
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