“I’ve spent a lot of time telling young adults that I mentor not to worry if they don’t know what they want to be,” says Dawn Zier, CEO of Nutrisystem and Target Marketing’s 2014 Direct Marketer of the Year. “It will all fall into place. I started out as an engineer, and I landed in a very different place from where I started 20, 25 years ago. And I really don’t see how in 10, 15 or even 20 [years], with rather limited personal experiences, that people can really know what they want to do. My advice to people really is to dream big, work hard, and don’t be afraid to change if you go down one path and realize that it’s not the right one.”
As for those who know direct marketing is where they want to be, Zier has more advice. “Really know your customer and understand customer segmentation,” she says. “Don’t assume you know what customers want. Too often people do that. We really need to ask our customers what they want.”
Next, she suggests, “befriend a data scientist.” Left-handed herself, the former electrical engineer and current data-driven marketer says she probably leans toward using her right hemisphere for multitasking. (Psychology Today adds that right-brained people are characterized as artistic, which may explain Zier’s love of romance novels and biking in the country when not running Nutrisystem.) Nonetheless, Zier advises befriending a data scientist in order to do database marketing well.