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Leading Ladies - Amber Naslund

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Social Fresh 2010... Can't believe it's been that long ago that I first got to meet Amber Naslund. Amber was one of the first people I started following on Twitter back in 2009. She was an inspiration to me as another woman in social media and the amount of things I learned from her are too long to list.  Always approachable, kind, hilarious, honest, dynamic speaker, and most of all, thought-provoking. Amber continually drove me to dive deeper into everything as I was learning because I saw her do the same. 

She's shared some goodness with us in her feature, so if you haven't already, meet Amber

HOW DID YOU GET YOUR START?

Accidentally! I was a music education major in college, and afterward, didn’t really want to teach or perform. So I went and knocked on the door of the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, willing to take whatever entry level job they had. Turned out it was in fund development, which is kind of the marketing arm of a nonprofit organization! I did that for several years in arts organizations, then for social service organizations in Chicago. That eventually led me into more corporate-focused marketing roles. All along, I had a strong affinity for the digital world and how it was shaping communication, fundraising, marketing, you name it. In 2008, I left my corporate gig to pursue freelance digital communication and content work, and Radian6 became a client. The next year they offered me a job…and so began my career as a technology marketer. I’ve never looked back!

WHAT RISKS DID YOU TAKE?

The better question is what risks DIDN’T I take? Ha! First one was probably quitting my unfulfilling corporate marketing gig in 2008 as a single mom with a 1 year old daughter, a mortgage and zero plan (I don’t recommend this approach). I made a go of it on my own when I realized that my career path wasn’t challenging me enough nor letting me do enough work with the digital marketing strategies I came to love. Then I took a risk abandoning the freelance path and a growing business a year later to take a full-time job with startup Radian6 (later acquired by Salesforce.com). Then AGAIN I started a business in 2012 after the acquisition, one that failed spectacularly and cost me nearly everything. My career has kind of been one long exercise in risk, loss, and reward.

WHAT IS SOMETHING THAT SCARES YOU?

Disappointing my daughter, or failing her as a parent. None of us are perfect parents, but I’m hoping I can guide her into adulthood with as little damage as possible. I used to care a lot more about what people thought of me, then I had a child. I used to fear failure a lot, until I failed…and survived. Once you’ve hit rock bottom, you realize that the only thing you can’t undo is death. The rest is negotiable, and largely recoverable.

LOOKING BACK ON YOUR CAREER, WHAT WAS A MAJOR TURNING POINT FOR YOU

Definitely when I quit my job in 2008 to pursue the kind of marketing I believed was going to shape the future. It led me to everything I know and love about my career today, including entrepreneurship and technology and the people that both of those things brought into my life.

WHAT ARE THREE PIECES OF ADVICE YOU'VE RECEIVED THAT YOU'VE CARRIED WITH YOU THROUGHOUT YOUR CAREER?

  1. Always hire people smarter than you. Then get out of their way.
  2. Everyone was a beginner once, and if you do it right, you’ll find ways to be a novice all over again throughout your career.
  3. No one dies wishing they’d worked more.

BIGGEST MISTAKE?

Trying to start a business for all the wrong reasons, and ignoring my instincts about product-market fit (or lack thereof). It never felt “right” and, as a result, it never worked. I lost a lot of money, a lot of confidence, a lot of friendships. Lesson in all of it was to stay true to who I am and what I know works for me, and never let my heart speak louder than my head when it comes to business. Passion is great and can make a good business outstanding, but it doesn’t pay the bills if everything else is broken or fundamentally flawed. I learned a great deal, but it’s not an experience I’d ever like to repeat!