Interviewed by Courtney Madson
Name: Joni Claerbout
Where do you currently work and what’s your current role? Director of Sales SE, Spectrum Reach
Where are you currently located? Birmingham
What is the most impactful career advice you can provide to our readers?
The three most impactful pieces of career advice I can give are: stay open to change, move fast and be flexible. This is my thirteenth acquisition and so I think you have to be open as the industry grows and changes very rapidly. You’ve got to be flexible in business, and you’ve got to move through the change.
Did you or do you still have a mentor? How have they helped to shape you or helped you find success in your career?
Absolutely! In the beginning stages of my career, I was in such a learning mode and I always had a mentor. Now I think I’m not only learning, but honing skills, and I have three to four mentors at any given time depending on what project or what opportunity I’m working on. Each mentor has excellent strengths in different areas and is able to help in different areas of growth. I’m currently a mentor for WICT for the state of Alabama and those folks that I mentor, depending again on what their needs are, I may shift them to get additional information and get another frame of thinking from another person on the team.
Managing a large sales team, what are ways you motivate and encourage professional development with your team?
I always start with listening and understanding what their professional goals and objectives may be. Then I will share some of my professional experiences with them and just encourage them to really find their path, find the things that motivate and excite them and then do everything they can to be the best they can. I think a big part of the motivation in encouraging my team to develop, is just to be fair and consistent and be available. I always say that people leave bosses and not companies, and I think we have to remember that as leaders.
What advice would you give someone starting in the cable and media industry?
I think cable industry folks are special people that thrive on having to do things that are really hard, and in some cases almost impossible. Part of the drive and the excitement is that you can get your hands in and build and make something great happen.
To people just starting in the media industry, I would say that the way people are ingesting media is growing and changing so rapidly; that you’ve got to have an insatiable desire to learn because we don’t do things the same way we’ve always done them. If you can be flexible, can pivot and shift very quickly, you’ll can be successful in the industry. You’ll need to be prepared to work hard, remain flexible, and open to growth and new ideas.
You’ve graciously covered the membership fees for WICT and other professional development programs for Spectrum employees. How have you seen these programs impact your company culture and community?
While we’re just in the beginning stages, in the state of Alabama they are very appreciative of being invested in by Spectrum Reach (formerly Charter Media) and the opportunity that WICT has provided. WICT is an organization that we believe in and of which we covet the principles. So much so, that we encourage people to participate; we pay for their fees, and we pay their wages while they’re in training, participating in a seminar and/or at a WICT event.
This year’s WICT theme is “Be Fearless.” How do you think being fearless can help someone be a stronger leader?
I think being fearless is really important. You have to know when to take calculated risks, know when to push forward, and know when to adjust your plan. It’s not just making the jump. It’s jumping after checking your parachute and making sure that it’s packed well; that you’ve got your reserve, and your main chute. Then you jump. And then strive for success. Leading courageously and without fear can be a challenge. But in the end, it’s truly what organizations need to remain highly competitive in an ever-changing media industry. And to also, provide clients access to activate incredibly powerful tools to reach their audience through new technically. This new technology is combined with the long standing power of TV and Digital. Exciting times are ahead for Fearless, open minded, big thinking leaders!