Vin: Welcome to The Marketing Stir Podcast by Stirista, probably the most entertaining marketing podcast you’re going to put in your ear. I’m Vin, the Associate Producer here at Stirista. The goal of this podcast is the chat with industry leaders and get their take on the current challenges of the mark. And we’ll have a little fun along the way. In today’s episode, Vincent and Ajay talk with Christine Escribano, Senior Vice President of Marketing at NBCUniversal. She discusses how marketing is a dimensional industry and how telling a brand story helps with sales. Vincent loves the fall weather in New York, and Ajay wins a tournament. Give it a listen.
Vincent Pietrafesa: Welcome to another episode of Stirista’s The Marketing Stir. I am extra happy today. It’s sweater weather here in New York. I’ve got my purple sweater on. Who isn’t happy in a purple sweater, ladies and gentlemen? Marketing Stir, Vincent Pietrafesa, one of your hosts, the Vice President of B2B Products & Partnerships here. Let’s talk about Stirista for just one second. That’s all. We just take up a few seconds of the podcast. We are an identity marketing company. We have our own business- to- business database, our own business- to- consumer database. We help customers utilize those databases to get new customers. New customers are great, aren’t they? Also, we have our own DSP where we’re executing media, display, OTT, connected TV. Email me at email@example.com. That is how confident I am that we could help. The other thing I’m confident in is our guests all the time, especially the guest we have today. We’ll get to her in a moment. But my co- host, I’m confident in him. He’s got some big news, personal news on his tennis front, ladies and gentlemen. The people who listen to the podcast are always intrigued and asking about his tennis career. Ladies and gentlemen, my co- host, the CEO of Stirista, Ajay Gupta. What’s going on, Ajay?
Ajay Gupta: Hey, Vincent. Thanks. Actually, it’s the coldest day of, I guess the latter half of the year here as well. It was 45 degrees in the morning, which is pretty unusual for San Antonio.
Vincent Pietrafesa: Yeah, that is unusual. It’s around, what, maybe 50 here in New York.
Ajay Gupta: crosstalk.
Vincent Pietrafesa: I love it. I love this weather. But that’s the coldest you get. This is not the coldest we get. February is awful in New York City.
Ajay Gupta: Yeah. But we had a great weekend, actually. Five out of eight people on my team we played this weekend work here right at Stirista. And we won the state championship for 8- 5 which is a 4-0 and a 4- 5, the upper level of tennis doubles. So it was, I would say an unexpected win. Well, we thought we were going to win. Nobody else thought we were going to win.
Vincent Pietrafesa: No, that’s awesome. I was happy to see that. People have been following it. Now the 4- 5 and the 4-0 and the 4- 5, this of course, ladies and gentlemen, this isn’t McEnroe, this isn’t Nadal, but this is a big deal. This is a big deal, different levels, different states involved, different areas. So, I was happy to see that. More trophies, more hardware for the Stirista trophy case.
Ajay Gupta: Yep. Yeah, for sure. We actually got a big banner, so next time you’re in the office you’ll see it hanging somewhere. We got to find a good place for it. But yeah, we beat 14 teams to get here, so it was great accomplishment.
Vincent Pietrafesa: I love it. I love it. Let’s go right into it, accomplishments, because let me talk to you about this next guest, ladies and gentlemen. Let me just say a few things before I start. NBCUniversal, NBC, heard of them? Yeah, you have. Look at how lucky we are to have this organization and especially this guest, Ajay. Let me tell you something. There are guests who are on the show and we form bonds after the process and during. We already formed a bond prior to talking. We have so much in common. She is a New Yorker like me. She is Italian like me. And she will get to some of the other things we have in common later on in the podcast. But ladies and gentlemen, please, the Senior Vice President, Head of One Platform Marketing at NBCUniversal, Chris Escribano. What’s going on, Chris?
Christine Escribado: Hey, how you guys doing?
Vincent Pietrafesa: We are great. It’s sweater weather. Do you love the fall?
Christine Escribado: Vincent, we say sweater weather from where I’m from.
Vincent Pietrafesa: Sweater weather, I know. It’s cold out over here. I know. It’s cold out. It’s crazy. But yeah, I love it. This is the first day I broke it out. It was cold. I like this time of year here in New York City.
Christine Escribado: Absolutely.
Vincent Pietrafesa: It’s great to see you again. Thank you. I’m here. I had some technical difficulties with my computer, but now I’m here and I’m ready. It’s early in the morning. It’s the beginning of the week. I love it. I love when we do the podcast right after the weekend because it gets us right into it. But Chris, thank you so much.
Christine Escribado: You love Mondays as much as Fridays, huh Vincent? I can tell.
Vincent Pietrafesa: I am one of those people. I know.
Christine Escribado: Yeah. I love it.
Vincent Pietrafesa: Look, this is how much coffee I had right here. I just had this much and this is me. It drives my wife crazy. It drives my CEO crazy. I’m class happiest, 1996 Port Chester High School. Just gave my age out there. It’s okay. But yeah, I am. But you seem happy as well, Chris. Did you feel the connection between you and I immediately?
Christine Escribado: I did. There’s something thing about that shorthand when you find out someone’s from New York and they’re Italian.
Vincent Pietrafesa: That’s it.
Christine Escribado: I know we talked about the Vinny thing, and someone says to you, I have a cousin Vinny. I actually have a cousin Vinny. So, I was so crosstalk.
Vincent Pietrafesa: Is it me? Am I really your cousin?
Christine Escribado: You might be. You never know. crosstalk.
Ajay Gupta: You hear you’re not from Alabama.
Vincent Pietrafesa: No, no. We’re not from Alabama. We are born and bred in New York. Are you born and bred in New York, Chris?
Christine Escribado: Brooklyn, Brooklyn girl.
Vincent Pietrafesa: Nice, Brooklyn. One of our producers is Brooklyn. I’m born and raised in Westchester County, but not the wealthy Westchester you read about. There are a few nice blue collar gritty towns in there, Port Chester, New York. Shout- out to Port Chester, New York. That’s where I’m from. But then I moved here to Manhattan about 11 years ago. So, lots in common. My cousin Vinny, I love it. We’ll throw an episode name here. We always do stuff like that. No, we’re not going to do that.
Christine Escribado: Not going to do that.
Vincent Pietrafesa: No, we won’t do that. But Chris, so NBCUniversal, if you don’t know NBCUniversal, come on.
Christine Escribado: You’re living under a rock if you don’t know. That’s of sure.
Vincent Pietrafesa: You’re living under a rock. You’re living under 30 Rock. Hey, look at that. Boom, ha-ha. Oh, see, look at how this comes naturally. It’s Monday, it’s a Monday morning. I love it. So, Chris, but tell us about your particular role within the organization. Specifically, I would love to understand the platform that you work on. That’s question one for me. And then question two is how you got into marketing, this crazy thing we call marketing. We always love to know. It’s a staple question on The Marketing Stir. The floor is yours.
Christine Escribado: It’s interesting, NBCUniversal, there’s so much you do know. You know NBC, you know Late Night, Jimmy Fallon, Saturday Night Live. Probably even know Bravo and USA. But this company is so utterly that, and in the last couple of years we acquired a lot of businesses from Sky Media and we merged our companies. We obviously have a local group. We have a partnership with Apple News. Universal Parks and Universal Pictures, Focus Features is part of our portfolio. I have the coolest job you’ve never heard of. I just got to start there. It literally is. It’s the coolest job I had never heard of. And it’s funny because when I say Senior Vice President, Head of One Platform Marketing, there’s so much people don’t know. First off, they don’t really understand marketing. Vincent and Ajay, that’s a lot of the mystery of marketing. It kind of is defined in one way, but there’s so many aspects to it. It’s such a dimensional industry. I kind of like to, when I’m talking to my mom and I always say to my team as a marketer, if you can explain the idea to your mom, then you’re doing good because all the vernacular that we make up to sound really important and intelligent doesn’t work when you’re trying to sell something through to consumers. I like to say we’re kind of a collection of polka- dotted unicorns. We’re part of the Creative Partnerships team within the Ad Sales and Partnerships group. So again, groups within groups. Ultimately, what we do is we tell brand stories. We work with advertising clients from your blue-chip accounts to your direct-to-consumer accounts. We really work across digital, social, linear data. We have all the platforms of connecting, whether you want to target an audience or whether you want to be part of a specific story on our air and whether that’s showing up in Watch What Happens Live with Andy Cohen or on the Today Show in the morning. And we have Kelly Clarkson in the early fringe and we’ve got the Real Housewives and Below Deck and literally Top Chef. I mean, whatever your brand’s story is, we have a home where we can connect your brand to our fans. And we do so in partnership with client agencies and client direct. A lot of what we do is bridge, what I like to say in the simplest terms, need and want, the utility of products and the want of products. We all brush our teeth, we wear clothes, we use phones. So, what we’re trying to do is get consumers to choose our clients’ products through great storytelling. And really, I love to sort of elevate the team because we always say it’s curing cancer here, obviously in terms of that. But we help make people’s lives better by enhancing them, whether it’s through raising money for charity, whether it’s telling a great story, making them laugh, inciting them to share, giving them something to think about. Informing them of course because our news division is vast as you probably well know between CNBC, MSNBC, Sky News, list goes on and on. So, we really do try to find the right brand environment, a right environment for a brand to tell its story and make an impact on their business because ultimately we’re not curing cancer, but we’re helping stand up these businesses so that they can succeed and keep people employed, food on the table, and the lights on in people’s houses. When we lift ourselves out of the marketing vernacular, we are part of the economic ecosystem that is critical to our country and the world’s success. That’s a little bit of maybe elevating us this morning on a Monday morning, which by the way, I’m not a morning person. So, this is me after three cups of coffee just for the record.
Vincent Pietrafesa: Thanks for that explanation because like you said, you think of NBCUniversal in so many different ways and iconic ways, and it’s so vivid when I always see the Universal come across the screen. It’s like, oh, this is going to be great. It’s so iconic there.
Christine Escribado: I got to admit, Vincent. When I first walked into the doors 12 years ago, I pinched myself. When I went for my interview at 30 Rock, I was like, oh my goodness. I could never even imagine being in this moment. I still pinch myself getting to work here, so I’m with you on that. crosstalk.
Vincent Pietrafesa: That’s awesome. Yeah. And then you could see, I know it’s a couple cups of coffee, but the passion shines through. It does shine through when you talk about it. How did you get into this business? A lot of people, we ask that question, it’s like, I never studied marketing in my life and here I am or I did marketing and here I am. We would love to hear your story.
Christine Escribado: Well, similar to a lot of people, like I said, it’s the coolest job you have never heard of. I never heard of it. I didn’t even know it existed. I totally landed in this by accident. And it’s incredible because when you look at your life and your career, every single thing I did in my life from high school to college to after college and my early career, all of it added up to this moment. And it’s sort of a fascinating evolution into this world because marketing to me, it was a mystery. I got my first job in advertising in a newspaper. You remember those days when we had to look at the newspaper crosstalk.
Vincent Pietrafesa: Yeah, absolutely.
Christine Escribado: I was 1996. I was working at this company called Knight Ridder Financial, and I looked in the newspaper. It was the New York Times. And I found a listing for a media assistant at McCann Erickson. I actually got the job, and I worked there for three years with the most quoted woman in media at the time. She was also known, renowned difficult. And I won her over maybe with the little sass and vinegar that I tend to have. I just grew my career from there. And so, I was on the advertising agency side for quite some time, for about five years. And then I switched to marketing when I had two jobs in front of me, two paths. I think we’ve all been there. I had a job offered to stay in the sort of industry of advertising, buying and planning, or I could move to marketing. One was more money. One was a bigger title. That would continue my path there. I took the lateral job for a lot less money and said, I love this because all of my creative talent that I think I had organically started to find itself into this work. And I just fell in love with the idea of marketing. I figured out what it is on the job, total osmosis. So just a very interesting thing. I often say to people, I could have been missed because I didn’t know anybody in the business. I never did an internship in this business. I didn’t study this business and landed here and made a 25-year career out of it. So, there you go.
Ajay Gupta: Interesting. It’s always interesting when we ask this question because I think it’s about half and half, half the people knew at 15 that they were going to be a marketer, the other half, like me, just kind of stumbled upon it.
Christine Escribado: Yeah. It was totally accidental, but I like to say about halfway through became intentional, right, Ajay? At some point you start to figure out what you like, what you don’t like, what you want to do more of or less of, and it just sort of kept evolving from there. And I started my marketing career in publishing, so very different, believe it or not from all storytelling, journalism, things like that. But it was a very different kind of organization than where I landed. I was there for eight years and then came here for another 12. So, it’s been an interesting journey.
Ajay Gupta: Yeah. That leads me to my next question. You’ve been at NBC for 12 years, which is great in a time when most people are switching jobs less than almost every two years, especially millennials. What’s been a highlight for you during your time at NBC? I know there’s probably quite a few just based on our conversation so far, but we’d love to have one or two that really stand out to you.
Christine Escribado: Oh my goodness. There’s so many. I mean, I started working at Telemundo actually, in the Telemundo Group. I was working at People en Español before that. So, I had the wonderful gift of my former publisher moving over to be chief operating officer of Telemundo. And that gets you to how important relationships are and creating a really strong reputation for yourself. I think at Telemundo, I think one of the coolest things I did was I produced the upfront for three years. It didn’t do great the first year, but the third year I got five stars by industry standard and it was great. It was a very interesting experience to sort of be in this bridge of event marketing, which I’m very passionate about, experiential marketing, as well as sort of bringing the story of our company to life from a B2B perspective, but treating that audience like consumers. We did it at Jazz at Lincoln Center. It was just this incredible stage. It was sort of my last hurrah in terms of that work. And I moved on from it after, and they gave it to other teams, but that was a real highlight of my career. It was one of the moments and I’m like, wow, that was a very cool thing. And then honestly, every day of this job has been different. Every day, this company has been different. It’s been in a constant evolution. Obviously, technology has advanced that. The pandemic certainly did. But I have to say my favorite time is really now. I’m doing the work I’ve always dreamed about doing. There’s no limit to my imagination. I like to say we have a toy chest or a playground of infinite toys. I get to be the kid that borrows everybody’s toys and play with them for a little bit and move on to the next one. It’s kind of a dynamic environment that’s always evolving and shifting. And right now, I was actually promoted during the pandemic to head this team. So I started a new group called Portfolio Integrated Marketing, did it for about five years as a beta and then got the opportunity as we went through our reorg last year to essentially run the One Platform Marketing team, which was essentially taking a little bit of what I was doing in Portfolio and mixing it with the Network Ad Sales Partnerships teams so that we can be more strategic at a cultural level, a consumer level, rather than at the brand level, at the network level. So really take our capabilities and architect them for every brand and what their business needs are rather than just focus on, hey, I have this great show that we need to obviously sell. It became a transfer of selling to consulting. I think it was a transfer of push selling to pull selling. And I think it’s something that our clients have responded beautifully to. But even more so I’ve been able to bring purpose into a lot of our marketing initiatives. That is a passion of mine. How do we be in service to the audiences we serve? How do we help, again like I was saying earlier, making their lives better through the lens of storytelling, but also the power of our platform? I mean, most people think of us as this scale brand. We’re this mass brand. You come to us only when you have millions and millions of dollars. Yeah, we can work with that. We’re good with tens and millions of dollars. I’m good with that, but we can also play at any budget level. And so, really educating a new, what I would call the next blue-chip advertisers in the D2C marketplace has been a very exciting time for me as well. I think about my career, and it’s like, I found my job in a newspaper, but now I’m working and doing AR holograms with auto companies. The sort of what you’ve seen and sort of the beginning, what I call the sunrise of my career, to where I’m at in the sunset of my career has been so exponentially different and innovative and always being on that forefront of it. I have the opportunity to be this intrapreneur here. I get to act like an entrepreneur inside a really big company with incredible backing and incredible leadership. It’s a long career to talk about. I’m giving you the high levels, but there’s very specific things, projects I can get into in a little bit, if you guys want to go there, but that’s kind of I guess maybe a high-level view, a 30,000-foot view.
Ajay Gupta: Well, your passion shines through. But it would be great if you gave us one example that the audience could just kind of wrap their head around for project or something that you can share. Obviously, crosstalk.
Christine Escribado: Absolutely. Actually, if you don’t mind, Ajay, I’d love to share two.
Ajay Gupta: Sure.
Christine Escribado: Is that cool? I am a big advocate for diversification and the dimensions of diversity and bringing that into every aspect of your organization. We have many brands obviously in the last couple of years with our racial reckoning that has happened really unavoidably, long overdue. So, diversity equity and inclusion has always been at the core and passion of mine throughout my career. But it’s something different when you can bring a brand into that, and actually a brand feels the same. So, we’re matchmaking a brand with an initiative at all times and finding that right space. But we have this incredible program we did with Target called Scene in Color. It was really built upon the foundation of bringing BIPOC creators and giving them a seat at the writing table, the directing table in a much more powerful way. We have always brought diverse voices in the 94-year history of NBC and NBCUniversal but doing so in a more active way through our brand partnerships. And so, we spotlighted three incredible rising storytellers, filmmakers, and actually stunted and shared their stories that they wrote, directed in partnership and actually under the mentorship of Will Packer. And we brought that to our prime time. We brought that on every platform. We actually gave them an incredible partnership with our programming team, where they’re going to be writing scripts and a first look deal with them. It’s just a very fulfilling partnership in that not only do we unlock this opportunity for these creators, but then we open the minds of our audiences to stories they’re not as aware of. I think that that’s a great responsibility of any media company is to use our platform to voice for the voiceless but to also raise awareness and educate and inspire and empower people to think differently. That’s always been the job of media. And I think that you can’t under underscore that enough, that you have to take responsibility with that. And for Target, who by the way has always been on the zeitgeist of pop culture, they are purveyors of it. They are elevators of it. And to partner with them was such an exciting time because our DNA as companies really matched up in a very powerful way with this. And so, hopefully we’re going to build on this even more. There’s a program our company launch called NBCU Academy, which is about teaching this skillset and mentoring on a long- term scale. So, we’re really leaning in, in this space. And I have to say, the world of storytelling will be richer the more diverse stories are told. That’s the way I feel about it personally. And I couldn’t be in a better place right now to really see that to fruition. And then on the innovation side, an automotive partner of ours came to us and was like, we are launching our all-electric vehicle, which by the way, has been in the works for two years, all of these companies sort of testing and learning and all that. But this year for whatever reason was all in, every auto, all in on electric. I actually own one myself. I just bought the Ford Mach- E, and I got the Mustang Mach- E, so I highly recommend it to anybody out there who’s a Mustang fan. But for this particular company, we were working with VW and they wanted it to launch it in a big way but make it accessible. They wanted EV to be access at all budget levels and for any American interested in it. So obviously in the pandemic, we had a challenge. How do we get people to the auto room? Because you have to test drive an electric vehicle to really understand the actual full benefit of it. But when we have social distancing, how do we get people to experience the car to want to go to the dealer? So, we came up with this really cool idea, and we had been experimenting with holograms with some other partners of ours, and we ultimately created and brought the auto showroom to the living rooms of people in America through AR technology. We brought Retta, who’s from Parks and Rec, actually do a 30- second comedy bit and then a musical version of this creative. And she invited you in, and then this NBCU code, which also is part of our commerce platform, the NBCU code, actually, if you put your mobile phone in front of it brought you to a virtual showroom with Retta where she took over as car salesman-ish and walked you through the vehicle and you can interact with it and change its colors and everything. It was such a cool way of thinking about human need and tying technology to that human need and really enhancing people’s lives and saying, you don’t actually have to go to the showroom yet. We can actually design the car together and it’s in your living room. And then if you want to test drive it, you can go check it out inside. Even transforming the idea of what a used car salesman is, not a used one, but a car salesman, and sort of saying, well, why can’t it be your friend? Because most people get recommendations on auto from their friends and family. This was a way for us to sort of bring the persona, a personality to bear, obviously bringing technology to make people’s life better. And obviously, this type of code system is now really part of our day- to- day life, even when we go to a restaurant. Kind of normalizing this world but also just what I would say is collapsing the purchase funnel. It’s not just linear where we’re building brand awareness. It’s taking people and converting them and generating leads for this automotive partner and then ultimately driving to sale and conversion. It’s a very interesting two different projects that had two different purposes, but ultimately all had great social impact benefits at the end.
Vincent Pietrafesa: That’s awesome, Chris. Thanks for sharing those two examples there. That’s so cool with Retta of Parks and Rec again. I love it. She’s hilarious.
Christine Escribado: I can send you guys the hologram so you can see it.
Vincent Pietrafesa: Yeah, no. That’s awesome. It’s one of the greatest shows of all time, by the way, Parks and Rec. You and I, we could do like seven more podcasts on just all the iconic programming that NBC has. But Chris, you touched upon it there with the particular automotive dealer, the pandemic. I mean, we have to address it because our listeners love to hear what challenges our marketers had and how they kind of overcame those. Can you talk a little bit about some of the challenges that NBCUniversal, your division there, kind of went through and how you had to get through it? That was one example there with the automotive, but we’d love to hear more.
Christine Escribado: Yeah. I mean, I think necessity is the mother of invention. I think we’ve been working toward a virtual world for a long time, but I think the pandemic tripped it much quicker. It forced it obviously. I mean, doing our business, which is such a human business, building relationships in a virtual world was a complete flip the script on all of our worlds. I mean, I’m commuting three hours a day. I’m traveling every other week to see clients, we’re building these relationships where people are advertising and generating money, and we’re obviously trying to tell these great stories and do productions. You can imagine the shift from anything from, we can’t do integrations anymore. Shows are not necessarily shooting right now. What’s our content plan for the coming year if we can’t shoot? I mean, it was an atomic bomb on our industry, if you will. I have never seen a company pivot. I mean, so many did, but we truly and quickly pivoted, to then start building, okay, how do we help our communities at large? We launched a program with Amex, focusing on uplifting and standing up small businesses and giving them resources to survive. All of a sudden, we went from, I would say three months of taking stock in what do we do next to full on action mode and lean in. Everything changed. We learned how to produce in a virtual world. We learned how to create green rooms and media rooms with our clients so that they can look into productions while not being there. We learned how to bring in health awareness and the importance of testing at our sets. We learned how to have client meetings and build relationships in a virtual world by, in a very interesting way, having these meetings. You see I have a drum set in the back. You ask me, oh, who plays the drums? All of the sudden we’re connecting in a more transparent and personal way than we ever did before. I would never be in my client’s living room. And here I am with their kid crawling along on top of them, the dog, the cat running across. So, you’re learning about people in a whole new way. I would say it was three months of just being in shock to then full-on action mode and evolving our entire way that we’re doing business. I mean, I absolutely feel like so much more good came out. I mean, I cannot underscore the unfortunate loss of life and the terrible things that happened during the pandemic, but I’m also, I guess I’m an optimist in the sense of what are the lessons you can learn from something like this? And I feel that we came out on top because we really leaned into our audiences. We created a PSA campaign to educate on vaccination and on COVID testing and all of that. So, we use our platform and our responsibility, I think in a very, very powerful way. I think we didn’t realize the power. You know when you’re doing something for so long, you can kind of take it for granted of how powerful it can be? I think this sort of brought that to surface in a much more meaningful way. And I think for me personally, just gave me a stronger sense of mission to be mission focused on what we can do with this platform that can make people’s lives richer, better, healthier, and make people smarter. And I think that’s ultimately what came out of it. But I mean, everything changed as you could probably imagine.
Vincent Pietrafesa: Yeah. No, definitely. But you don’t realize, like you said, it’s companies like NBCUniversal where throughout the pandemic, you’re watching MSNBC, you want to know what’s going on. My wife and I, we welcomed a child in April 2020. We were watching that news. Can I be in the hospital room? What’s going on with the hospitals, MSN?
Christine Escribado: It’s fascinating because I think the remote control became our control. Streaming blew up during this. We launched Peacock and that really sort of just skyrocketed. And I think it was because to your point, there was so little in our control that entertainment and content became our remote control. That was something I think everyone experienced at a very deep level.
Vincent Pietrafesa: Yeah, well, exactly. And I think it’s that those shows and that programming that people rely on. And then especially those shows that have come back, that people are accustomed to seeing the production come back that, they’re like, oh, okay, this show is back. This is Us is back. Good. We’re back.
Christine Escribado: It was that outlet, right?
Vincent Pietrafesa: Yeah, it is.
Christine Escribado: And congrats on your baby. How exciting.
Vincent Pietrafesa: Yes, my second baby. We had to leave. We had to get out of New York, but that’s a whole other story. People in the podcast know I lived at my in- laws for 50 days. I don’t recommend it. But anyway, thank goodness Jeff and Diane don’t listen to the podcast. They’re not in marketing, they’re retired. But Chris, again, we were talking about your passion, your knowledge, your experience there, what would you say kind of a trait that you have that you need to have in this business that’s kind of been a game changer for you?
Christine Escribado: Yeah. I’ve been thinking about this, because I’ve been talking a lot. The podcast I did two years ago was actually about authenticity. And I feel like it’s become this buzzword. I think for me, and Ajay, you’ve said it a couple of times, it’s passion and compassion. I think those are the two things that I’ve genuinely had in my career that has made the difference in why I stand out to clients, why they trust me. I’ve been privileged to work and lead many teams. And now this is the largest. I have 60 people on my team now that I’m privileged and honored to be part of their story in some way, be part of their career trajectory. I think authenticity is important, but that’s singular. That’s about you. I think what’s really standing out about my edge in the world is probably my compassion, my empathy, my curiosity. I think those are the things that really matter in the world, I think in life, and I think in your career. I don’t think you can be inaudible. When I think about authenticity, I was sort of like, this is kind of a funny question. What if your authentic self is not a good person? You can’t show up that way. You can’t. You can’t authentically be a jerk. It’s just not going to work for you in your career. So, I think leading with compassion and human first and being more people first. I always say to my team when something happens in their lives, in the last two years especially, we’ve been divorced together, married together. We had kids together. We had six family members together. We’ve lost family members together. We spend more time with our coworkers than we do with our own family and friends. So, what’s been fascinating is that when you are a people first family first team, I think people feel a stronger sense of connection to it. I think they feel a stronger sense of purpose. And what’s better than finding your purpose in your work? And we started out with this, Vincent, love Mondays as much as Fridays. I say it to my team all the time. If you’re not in a place where showing up to work doesn’t make you feel good, you’re not in the right place. Maybe it’s not 100% of the time, but at least 80%, if you’re thinking about showing up to something you’re passionate about that you care about. I guess I also wake up with a very strong sense of gratefulness. I was a college dropout. I could have not been anybody. I could have landed in just a same kind of community that I grew up in, which by the way, was wonderful in many ways, but limiting for a woman. I’m the first woman in my family to have a career. I’m the first one to own my own home on my own, live on my own, still do this day, by the way. So, I really feel like I was an inventor in my life. I showed up with a lot to prove, a fear of failure, which most people have, and I have a lesson in that, and just an absolute drive for people. I love people, and I live to serve as a leader. That is absolutely my number one because I will never be remembered for the projects, I just talked to you about. Let’s say I leave this company. NBCUniversal will always take credit for those ideas. I think my legacy and what’s most important for me is the people I’ve maybe helped in some way or inspired in some way or ignited in some way. It’s showing up every day to really be part of making people’s lives better. And that is servant leadership that you probably heard of before. I mean, I don’t think you can fake that. You can’t show up and fake that. That has to be part of who you are and what you really want to achieve. Again, it used to be about the work, but I think somewhere along the line, I realized when someone told me my purpose, which was that I breed leaders, and I don’t know that there was ever a better compliment of my life than to say that you breed leaders. You inspire people to find leadership in themselves. And that’s honestly the most scalable change you can make in culture. That’s the most scalable way to move mountains when you have a pandemic or you have new innovation. If people feel like a leader at any level that they’re existing at, no matter what title they have, you can do anything. I mean, you can solve any problem, you can invent any new platform and make it work because when people believe in it and they believe in you, they want to be part of that mission.
Ajay Gupta: Christine, we can talk about-
Christine Escribado: That was a long answer. I hope I didn’t bore you guys.
Ajay Gupta: No, no. I think we can talk about leadership for hours, but maybe have just a few minutes left. And we have to ask you our staple question, which is, I’m sure with your title, you get a lot of LinkedIn messages, and we’d love to know, especially the second half of this question, what’s a LinkedIn message that gets a response from you? And what’s one that annoys you? Because you’re such a cheerful person that the latter question is of great interest.
Christine Escribado: That’s so great. I’ve listened to a couple of your podcasts, and I heard the way some people answered. I think LinkedIn is the coolest thing ever, first off. Let me say that. I don’t know that I’ve been annoyed, Ajay. I think I was sort of more like, I get kind of the same messages and now it says sponsored. It never used to. All of the sudden they started. They got it, sponsored. And it’s like, we’d love to have you come speak at this so and so. But they don’t know anything about me or why they want me. And I think what made Vincent stand out in his outreach was he had very specific reasons and sort of background of why. I love when someone makes a connection either between their belief system or something that they saw, or they saw me on a panel and they reached out. That always gets me. Or even something like, I’m trying to solve a problem. What do you think? That always grabs me. Feed my curiosity. Spark me in some way. Be provocative. I love a good tension point in marketing. But when people just sort of do a standard written thing without any true personal connection, then it’s just like a copy paste, I would say I don’t respond as quickly to those. But I’m glad that I do because I wouldn’t be sitting here right now if I didn’t, and I wouldn’t have met many people who have connected me to other companies, connected me to new people, connected me to new employees, potential employees. LinkedIn is an incredible way to build your brand, to have a point of view. I do blog. I’m a blogger on the side hustle, and I also share a lot of my thoughts. It’s such a great platform for sharing and supporting, so I highly recommend it to every single person on my team and every single person who’s rising in their career or even reinventing themselves mid- career because there’s a lot of those people too. You should be relentless in your pursuit of connecting and using that platform for it. Does that sound like a lecture? I hope it is inaudible.
Vincent Pietrafesa: No, I’m learning. We’re always learning. This is great.
Ajay Gupta: Christine, any final thoughts while we wrap up our segment here?
Christine Escribado: I love what you guys are doing, and I feel so privileged and honored to be here with you guys. Final thoughts, there’s so many thoughts.
Vincent Pietrafesa: I have a final because I want to talk about the, you said side hustle there.
Christine Escribado: Yes.
Vincent Pietrafesa: That’s another thing we have in common, Chris.
Christine Escribado: Yes.
Vincent Pietrafesa: So quickly, tell us about the side hustle. That’s why I was like, look at this. We are New Yorkers. We work hard. We have our side hustles. You touched upon that. Not to interrupt your final thought, but I wanted to say-
Christine Escribado: No. Maybe you lead me to it, Vincent.
Vincent Pietrafesa: Oh, good. Oh, nice. I love what you’re doing, so I wanted to get into that as well.
Christine Escribado: Thank you. Well, I think I was a self-proclaimed queen of side hustles in our conversation. That’s what I said. I’ve been a writer my whole life, but I never thought that I was an artist, and I never thought I really had something that people would be curious about. I started writing again at 40 years old when a friend of mine launched something called The Daily Feels. I started blogging under the moniker of Freak of Nurture. I’ve been writing regularly for about four years now. I also have a passion for interior design, and I have a company called Cherry Home Designs that we just started launching a restoration furniture part division, if you will. Very small, teeny tiny, me and my uncle’s girlfriend. But we’re doing good, and it’s fun. It’s just such a great hobby and a great creative expression. And then we launched a company called Casa di Amici, which is a vacation rental business. I think it’s house of friends, it’s all about bringing people together. I think it was really timely obviously coming out of the pandemic and families wanting to be together for the first time. And we have this big house in Wildwood, New Jersey. So, lots of passions and side hustles that I would say every one of them made me better as a marketer. Launching this small vacation rental business, I’ve learned about marketing from a small business perspective while I had this great 25-year career working with big brands. And I think you need to understand both worlds in particular because all the consumers we serve at a national level live locally. So, connecting those worlds couldn’t be more important. I also think that how you tell your story has to be true from the brand in how it looks to what you say when you speak to your customer, so I’ve had such a deep passion for customer service and how you really communicate to people your brand values. That played out in real life in a very different way in doing that. And then also, with writing, storytelling, and actually my tagline for my business is live your story, so everybody’s story evolves and changes. How you story tell and how you curate a story can happen in any medium that you choose, whether it’s a piece of furniture, whether it’s a blog about your life or whether it’s a brand campaign, your brand represents a life story. And I think if we treat it like that, there is so much of a stronger connection that you can make to people. I guess that’s my ending message would be, don’t believe that your personal life and your professional life don’t intermingle. I think that’s the magic for me is that I’ve never treated my life as two distinct separate worlds. I’ve always enmeshed them. And I always brought my whole self to work, sometimes dialed a little bit up too high, Vincent, as you can imagine as a girl from Brooklyn, a little high.
Vincent Pietrafesa: That’s it. That’s the story of my life too, inaudible.
Christine Escribado: I’ve learned how to dial it back a little for certain audiences. But yeah, I come as my complete self, and I welcome my team to do that. We do something called culture plus, so all about the culture add that people bring. We share our personal passions and hobbies and family recipes. I think that’s what brings people together. That’s where the dimensions of diversity show up. And that’s where we really connect as human beings. I think that’s the magic. I think that’s it.
Vincent Pietrafesa: I love it. I love it. What a final thought, what a guest, ladies and gentlemen, The Marketing Stir. Chris, this has been awesome. Thank you so much. Once again, Chris Escribano. She is the SVP, Head of One Platform Marketing at NBCUniversal. I’m Vincent. That’s Ajay. This has been The Marketing Stir. Thank you so much for listening every week. We’ll talk to you soon.
Vin: Thanks for listening to The Marketing Stir Podcast by Stirista. Please like, rate, and subscribe. If you’re interested in being a guest on the podcast, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. And thanks for listening.
Listen to The Marketing Stir Podcast with Christine Escribano