The Parallels Between Leadership and Marketing with Erika Cuadrado

In this episode of the B2B Leadership podcast, best-selling author and leadership coach Nils Vinje speaks with Erika Cuadrado, Vice President and director of Marketing at Gregory & Appel.
In this episode...

0:21 - Erika's background - Erika explains her role at Gregory & Appel.
1:47 - Experiences outside Erika's current role - The leadership experiences that prepared Erika for the role she's currently in.
7:01 - Leadership position advice - Erika provides advice for seeing things from a different point of view within an organization.
8:58 - The importance of experimenting - How does experimenting look from a leadership perspective, as opposed to a marketing perspective?
12:35 - Leadership checklist - What are the most important qualities and characteristics that embody an ideal leader?
15:15 - Reframing integrity - How would Erika recommend other leaders think about the concept of integrity?
17:50 - Building from a foundation of integrity - What other leadership skills get built on top of this foundation?
23:25 - Erika's advice to herself - What advice would Erika give her younger self?

Connect with Erika Cuadrado:

Learn more about Gregory & Appel at

Learn more about your own leadership style at:

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There are many parallels between Marketing and Leadership.

If you want to know how these two incredibly important worlds complement each other, continue reading to find out.

Erika's background

Erika Cuadrado is the Vice President and Director of Marketing for Gregory and Appel Insurance, a risk management advisor that focuses on helping organizations and people grow through tailored risk management strategies.

Experiences outside Erika's current role

Erika's current role is her first actual technical people leadership role. Even though this is her first leadership role, she has had leadership experiences from her previous roles that prepared her for this.

In the first 10 years of her career, she worked in sales and marketing, managing a large book of business. At that time, she was already leveraging her leadership skills to help guide her clients by navigating the goals that they were trying to accomplish.

How did Erika position herself as an expert in her field to help her clients achieve their goals?

The digital marketing and advertising age started in the early years of her career. Almost everyone was not familiar with it and business owners found it confusing.

Ericka demonstrated her leadership skills by providing them with resources and information about digital marketing and advertising. Research and information were really important for her clients to put their best foot forward.

She also got them comfortable with the idea of experimenting. In marketing, there's always this facet of experimentation. It can be scary to invest in something that may or may not give you the return that you expected.

Being able to guide and help her clients develop the best strategy alongside them, instead of leaving them alone, made a big difference for them.

Having an outsider lens to see things from a different perspective helped Erika have a more significant impact on her clients' organizations.

Leadership position advice

Collaborating, communicating and networking with people outside of your organization helps develop your outsider lens.

If you are a leader who doesn't know where to start with getting a different perspective, seek help outside of your own organization. Start with joining peer groups. Work with people in other organizations who are in the same field as you. Exchanging ideas helps if you have similar challenges and issues. Learn from one another and it will keep you focused on your field.

The outside perspective is always going to be a benefit because it's a blessing that they don't know what you know.

The importance of experimenting

Learning is a big part of experimenting. Anytime that you learn something new, whether it's leadership or something directly applicable to another area of your role, you have to experiment.

Experimenting from a leadership perspective could happen during one on ones with your team members, when you lead a meeting, or when you offer your insight to your peers and your colleagues. Experimenting in those conversations is a big part of learning and developing as a leader.

Experiment is incredibly powerful. A lot of times, people feel like they have to have the solution to whatever problem they face but when they have an idea to experiment with instead, it's less intimidating for them. Always apply that experimentation lens in your own role as a leader.

This simple tweak can have a profound impact. Even when you're communicating with other people inside the organization, talk about experimentation and it will change the reaction from everybody involved.

Leadership checklist

Erika shares what she thinks are the most important qualities and characteristics that an ideal leader should embody.

The number one on her list is integrity.

What does leading with integrity mean?

It means that you are being honest with your intentions on how you lead an organization. You are transparent. You lead with servant leadership in mind, and you lead to do things for the good of your people and for your clients.

In some companies, integrity was very easily neglected. So, when you see a leader with integrity, you should appreciate that.

Reframing integrity

Erika recommends advice to leaders who struggle with being honest with their intentions.

One of the first steps that you can take as a leader is to have open and honest conversations with your people. To create that environment where people feel comfortable sharing with you, you have to show up with integrity and with the best intentions.

It's not a one-way communication street. It's two-way.

If you're a new leader and you're growing, nurture that culture within your team and organization.

You have to have that two-way communication street to have intentional conversations.

Be curious about what's going on with your people. Ask them. You have to open the doorway to get them to feel comfortable to share that with you.

Building from a foundation of integrity

Another important leadership skill on Erika's list is listening.

It took a long time for Erika to practice listening with intention, where you are actually listening and not just listening to speak.

Listening with intention is taking some time to absorb what people have told you and not letting your own biases get in the way.

This is one of the many things that great leaders do. They are able to look beyond biases. They listen and respond in the best manner.

If you're only listening at the surface level and bouncing from one idea to the next, not listening with intention, you cannot have meaningful two-way conversations.

One more important leadership characteristic on Erika's list is vulnerability.

A vulnerable leader doesn't take themselves too seriously or feel the need to demonstrate perfection. A vulnerable leader is willing to say, "Hey, I don't know at all. I don't have all the answers".

Leaders nowadays have changed so much compared to the old days. Leaders today are being challenged to lead differently and the best leaders are the ones that are open, honest, and authentic.

During the pandemic, leaders were challenged to develop a whole different skill set that they didn't have to before because they weren't in the same place all the time.

They have to work harder to maintain the same level of connection when they're in a remote world, which means they have to be a little bit more vulnerable and still be able to have tough conversations with their colleagues and teams.

Erika's advice to herself

What advice would Erika give to her younger self if she could go back in time?

Be yourself.

You don't have to fit a certain mold to be successful. You do not have to change yourself for anyone. You are above and beyond what society has ever labeled you or thought of you. Be yourself because you are enough.

Surround yourself around the right people. People that build you up.

Be candid and be your true self at work. It can be hard but it's like a muscle that you always have to exercise and keep nurturing and building on. The growth comes from getting out of that and that's where the real magic is.

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