by: Scott Goodson

Here is my second interview in a series of interesting and wonderful personalities who are shaping the marketing landscape.

She could have been a rock'n'roller but turned to marketing instead. Now, after championing some of the most extraordinary and most-awarded work in the business, Kerri Martin is firmly established among America's heavyweight marketing stars. And the journey has been an adventure, she tells me.

Tell me about your life?

I grew up in Waukesha, Wisconsin, a suburb of the Milwaukee based Harley-Davidson and Miller Brewing. Interestingly these are both brands that I either eventually ended up working at or drinking an awful lot of while attending the University of Wisconsin-Madison. While in college I learned that I love creativity, diversity and self-expression. I also learned that I hated something... Jagermeister.

Your career?

My parents knew I destined for a career in marketing when at the ripe age of two I was singing Wrigley's Doublemint gum commercials at the top of my lungs. I graduated from college in a recession. After more rejections than I can count, I landed the ultimate first job on the marketing team at Harley-Davidson. Leather, motorcycles and Daytona Bike week...I was in heaven. While I majored in marketing, it was at Harley that I learned the art of brand and customer community building without advertising. In 1997, I was ready to rest my cheesehead for a bit and abandon six foot tall snow drifts, so I ventured east to lead the marketing efforts for BMW Motorcycles. Then, in the summer of 2000 I was bit by the automotive bug and leapt at the chance to launch the MINI brand in the US market. The MINI launch and the on-going success it enjoys today is by far my greatest career accomplishment. The entrepreneurial nature of that job was as exhilarating as it gets. In April 2005, I joined VW of America as the Director of Brand Innovation. At VW I championed some of the best work the auto industry has produced. The adventure of creating and building innovative iconic brands exhilarates me.

Any regrets?

Life is a journey with each chapter building upon the next. There are no regrets.

Greatest Lessons?

1. Be yourself. There is something that you can do better than any other. Listen to the inward voice and bravely obey it.
2. Remember what is important to you.
3. 'If you're going through hell, keep going.'--Winston Churchill
4. 'Live with intention. Walk to the edge. Listen hard. Practice wellness. Play with abandon. Laugh. Choose with no regret. Continue to learn. Appreciate your friends. Do what you love. Live as if this is all there is.'--Mary Anne Radmacher
5. Breath.

Stuff no one knows about?

I've had some of the craziest jobs that taught me incredibly valuable lessons. One summer I worked in a pizza factory sorting the 'good' crusts from the 'bad' as they rolled out of oven. Yes, people do that. I even had my own uniform with my name embroidered on it. The only cool thing about the job was that at lunch we walked through the factory and custom designed our own personal pizza.

The future; where's it all heading?

You must invertise before you advertise. Brands that are built from the inside out will thrive. The underbellies of each company fundamentally set the stage for creativity, innovation and success. It starts inside. Look in the mirror before you look to anyone else (e.g. your ad agency) to transform your business. Invert the pyramid.

What defines you?

My motto is 'Orville Wright did not have his pilots license.' I value innovation, design, fearlessness, ideas-based thinking, creativity, passion, positive energy, intuitiveness, customer-centricity, leaving a meaningful legacy and making sure to live a life of abundant joy.

Spiritual home?

Friends and family, Miraval Resort in Tuscon, AZ and looking through the lens of my camera while out exploring the world.

What are you up to now?

Photography, world travel and inspiring corporate 'clients' to unleash the creative power from within to generate game changing ideas that create goosebumps.

Who are your heroes in life?

Anyone who follows their passionate calling in life.

5yrs from now.......?????....who will survive and thrive.....who will die.....

The survivors and thrivers know that the risk is not taking the risk and practice bravery daily. The tombstones of the deceased will be void of any commentary since they never left their mark.

What are the greatest challenges for the ad/marcomms industry....?

Wallstreet and Dilbert-land-like corporate cultures.

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