Susan Lintonsmith on Navigating a Successful Career (Part II)

Susan Lintonsmith,
President & CEO,

Last week, we shared the first part of our interview with Susan Lintonsmith, President & CEO of Quiznos and CMO Club Member, where she shared with us some of the steps she took in her own career to get to the CEO role.

Today, she shares her top advice for marketers, and what she's most excited about in the future of marketing:

If you could give yourself a title to describe what you really did as a CMO, what would it be?

Chief Multi-Tasker!

Ironically, in a typical day, marketers will focus on so many different things that there really is no typical day…which is what is so fun about marketing!

Can you name a particularly influential mentor that you’ve had who helped you navigate through important moments in your career?

Yes - Ken Calwell, who is currently the CEO for Papa Murphy’s. He was the person responsible for recruiting me out of graduate school and hiring me at Pizza Hut. I had planned to go into packaged goods - not restaurants. But Ken convinced me otherwise…and has been a good friend and mentor ever since.

Professionally, he went from a CMO to a CEO, and inspires my own career trajectory, but he's a personal mentor as well. About twenty-five years ago, he was hit head-on while riding his bike. Despite the odds (he faced death and losing a limb), he made an amazing recovery. His bravery during that time and his overall take on life have guided my own attitudes.

Do you have any words of wisdom that you’ve learned along the way in your career?

There are a few things that I either learned or have been told by others, that have helped me:

1. Pick your Battles: 
Like most marketers, I am a passionate person. Early in my career, the SVP of marketing told me that I’d be even more impactful if I learned to pick my battles. Great advice - which I have passed on to several others since!

2. Do What you Love: 
You know that mantra, but I think it’s right on. I am sad when I hear people say they hate their job. I love both the restaurant industry and marketing, and have really enjoyed my career. Find something you love - something you feel passionate about. For example, I just had coffee with a woman who started an organic tea company. Her story is amazing and it was clear she loves what she is doing.

3. Life is a Marathon, Not a 100-yard Dash: 
Early in my career, I was so impatient and would push to get promoted - I was (probably) a huge pain! While I was in such a hurry to “get to the top," a good friend told me that life is not a 100-yard dash and advised me to enjoy the ride.

That’s when I made that pivot decision to get experience in other industries and took the scenic route to where I am now. I love the steep learning curve and found that when I took on different roles. 

4. “Yes, And” vs. “Yes, But:"  
Build on ideas, don’t tear them down. No one likes the wet blanket person. You can make someone on your team feel great and come up with even better plan when you build and brainstorm.

5. Attitude is Everything
I know I said this before, but I love what Epictetus says: “It's not what happens to you, but how you react to it that matters.”

And finally, before we go, what are you most excited about when it comes to the future of marketing to and doing business with today’s consumers?

I’m excited about the continued potential of mobile marketing, especially to influence purchase behavior for Millennials. In restaurants, it’s key to reach your prospect at the right time, in the right place with the right offer (ok, maybe that's all marketing). At Quiznos, it’s very efficient to message to a consumer before lunch, when they are deciding where to eat, when they are near our store, or near our competitor’s store. Geomarketing enables us to reach them with that attractive offer. 

And with today's technology, we are able to learn so much about our guests that can help us to be more impactful with a limited budget - like where guests were before they ate at Quiznos, what time we most effectively reached them, which offer worked best, etc. Because of these reasons, I’m excited to see what's next in mobile.