Everything we do — no matter how self-focused it may seem — reaches others at some point. Input = output. If you hold stress in, you will put stress onto others. If you allow yourself to be loved and feel joy, this is what you will ultimately pass along.
Matt Erickson is the Marketing Director for National Positions, a digital marketing agency in Westlake Village, CA. His main areas of interest include social media, branding, and marketing psychology.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! What is your “backstory”?
I was the self-proclaimed “black sheep” in my family. Coming from a family of government and stateworkers, I was far more interested in business, which led me to marketing. When it comes to education and my career, I’ve gone through the gauntlet — earning my MBA and helping start and run businesses, wearing every hat along the way. My continued interest in business, the creative process, data, and philosophy landed me in marketing. Currently I am very interested to see what is unfolding in the worlds of social, YouTube, and digital influencers.
Can you share the funniest or most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?
In 2015, I was the Creative Director and Co-Founder of an experiential marketing agency that had been hired by Marvel for the 2015 San Diego Comic-Con. While on location, Marvel was so thrilled with the results we produced for them that they wanted to book a national tour… that was to launch the very next day! So with minimal time, my team members found themselves flying into NYC and then executing eight event in nine cities in 10 days: NYC, Queens, New Jersey, Atlantic City, Boston, Minneapolis, Seattle, Dallas, and Miami. We truly had no idea about locations, lodging, or travel plans until each plane touched down. It was impulsive and awesome, giving us some of the greatest stories of our career. Thanks, Marvel!
What was your biggest challenge to date either personally or professionally and how did you overcome it?
One of my biggest challenges has been realizing that I could only be a one-person show for so long. In my current role I am working with content producers, designers, strategists, editors, etc. Settling into defining the borders of my role and trusting those around me to execute projects has been a learning process. Also, not taking things personally. I care deeply about what I do and deeply about my career; however, learning to let things roll off my back and not hold grudges has been a process. In a role like mine, knowing you are part of a greater whole, there is far too much you could take personally — and doing so will break you mentally. I had to learn where to push, what to hand off, and where to let go.
What does leadership mean to you and how do you best inspire others to lead?
Leadership means inspiring others and nurturing them to believe in themselves by acknowledging effort and achievements and offering guidance when things get off track. Leadership also means listening more that you speak (still working on this) and having the humility to listen to those around you and allow them to inspire you.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?
My biggest advocates have always been my parents. They never pushed me to follow their path; they encouraged me to pave my own way. Without their support, I don’t know if I would have found myself on the path that I am on today.
Was it difficult to fit your life into your business/career and how did you do that?
There is no easy way to put this. There are many aspects of my life that I have put off to focus on my career. It has been difficult to remember that there is more to life than work, and I’ve been trying to focus on creating a more balanced life beyond the workplace. Being more diligent with my health, waking up at 4 a.m. almost every day, and finding some routine on the “life side” has helped me develop more “life” balance with my career.
Did you find that as your success grew it became more difficult to focus on the other areas of your life?
Not really. As my career has progressed, it’s actually brought into focus the other things in my life that really matter: my close friends and my family. It has made me more cognizant of where, how, and who I spend my time with.
Can you share five pieces of advice to other leaders about how to achieve the best balance between work and personal life?
- Unplug: You need to have time “unplugged” from work. I will not access work email from my personal phone unless absolutely necessary. Every evening, after a certain hour (around 7 pm) I am adamant about this being “my time.”
- Spend time with friends and family: Keep close ties to those who feed you life and have fulfilling lives of their own. Time spent with them is a valuable reminder that there is more going on in the world than your career.
- Stay active: Get outside, exercise, and breathe. Staying active triggers endorphins in the brain, which helps keep you sharp. This has the residual benefit of making you more keenly focused on what you are doing in your life beyond work.
- Set personal goals: Whether they have to do with health, relationships, vacations — whatever — have life goals that you aspire to reach beyond your career.
- Get a pet: This one goes back to childhood. I have always had a dog in the house. It is a constant reminder that something is waiting for you and brings back that childlike feeling I would get when I would come home from school. Knowing that my dog is depending on me and waiting for me when I get home is a reminder that there are things that depend on me beyond the office.
What gives you the greatest sense of accomplishment and pride?
Seeing my team succeed. Knowing that our team has worked as a unit and has accomplished something great is a fantastic feeling. Individual successes feel good, but team successes are shared and embraced by all involved.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
The idea that all we can really do with our life, our time, and our emotions is give them away to the world. Everything we do — no matter how self-focused it may seem — reaches others at some point. Input = output. If you hold stress in, you will put stress onto others. If you allow yourself to be loved and feel joy, this is what you will ultimately pass along. Keep your mind and body strong and healthy, so you can share the best parts of you with the rest of the world.
What is the best way for people to connect with you on social media?
You can add me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn. My handle on all of them is @MattEricksonLA .You can also connect with me via National Positions’ social profiles:
Would love to connect and anyone is welcome to DM me as well.