My First Year in Review

  • by Mack McKelvey
  • Feb 28, 2020

What 365 Days At SalientMG Has Taught Me


I have officially spent a full year with SalientMG. It seems like the year has flown by with the constant chaos of new clients, new projects, new teammates, the list goes on and on. Yet, in one single year, I feel as though I’ve worked at Salient for 15 years with the amount of knowledge I’ve gained and the amount of work I’ve taken on. 

After twelve months at SalientMG, and working in the marketing industry just in general, I give you my top takeaways and learning lessons. 

Building a Personal Brand

The first lesson I was taught – your personal brand is everything. The things you do and how you treat people now, will follow you forever. My first piece of advice for building a personal brand: treat everyone with respect at every level. You never know who will be speaking about you later – make sure the only way they can speak about you is highly. 

For a more visible approach, get social media. LinkedIn and Twitter have helped me tremendously in my research, my networking, and my client work. Twitter is an amazing resource and a great way to connect with thousands of creative minds in our industry. Create an account so you make yourself part of the conversation! Writing blogs and thought leadership articles are also a great way to begin creating SEO for your personal brand. 

Working Alongside Different Personalities

At Salient, just like any other company, I was tasked with working on several different projects alongside many different people. I have learned A LOT about myself by the way I’ve reacted to the people around me this year. I’ve found that you can improve your own work environment and morale when you increase your ability to deal with different, sometimes difficult, personalities at work. 

In order to create a positive and effective work environment, you need to be able to trust the people around you and they have to trust you. The best way to build trust in a relationship? Communicate. I’ve learned to be open, honest, and transparent when speaking to colleagues or clients in order to make sure my intentions are very clear and to build trust. Whether their personality is different from yours or not, most people respond differently and are easier to work alongside when they feel heard and valued. 

How to Handle Burnout 

I might be a slight work-aholic. I have a terrible time of knowing when to take a step back or walk away from my computer for a little bit because I am just one of those people that thrive off of the feeling of success. I love being recognized or having my work acknowledged, I live for it. Most people, especially employers, see that characteristic as a great thing. However, if you’re like me, you can crash and burn pretty quickly. 

I have learned in my time at SalientMG that you don’t need to work long hours and weekends to be successful. Work-life balance doesn’t necessarily have to be 50/50 all the time. The most effective employees are happy employees. My advice for avoiding burn out: put yourself first. If you need a mental health day, take one. If you think leaving work right at 5 pm to make it to a yoga class will keep you more grounded, leave. In my year at Salient, I’ve learned it’s a lot easier to prevent burn out by being proactive than it is to try and force yourself out of a burned-out state. 

Overcoming Insecurities & My Fear of Failure

I struggle with over-analyzing every interaction I come into contact with. I constantly convince myself that my colleagues don’t want to work with me anymore, or that I’m letting Salient’s leadership team down with my work output, or that my clients want a new account manager. I have spent many weeks working 14 hour days because I turn myself into a little ball of stress and need to complete my tasks. I don’t eat, because I won’t have an appetite until the work is done or until I hear praise from someone around me. I barely sleep because even if I do go to bed at a reasonable hour, I wake up in the middle of the night so anxious about work the next day that I can’t get back to sleep until I feel like I actually made an impact for my team.  I quickly realized that my fear of failure was becoming unhealthy and was actually affecting my work output negatively. Luckily for me, I’m surrounded by truly inspiring leaders. I’ve been praised at my darkest moments, and I’ve read articles from women I admire at just the right times to help bring me back to Earth. 

My biggest takeaways and pieces of advice if you have a personality that goes through similar experiences, breathe. I constantly have to remind myself that the world is not ending and the sky is not falling. My “comfort blanket” is reading articles from successful women about failure and how they stayed motivated to continue fighting. Podcasts are a really great hour escape, too. I listen to people in the industry talk about their weak moments so that it makes me more comfortable knowing I’m in good company. Find your comfort blanket, and use it. I have also been told numerous times, “There is no shame in taking a personal day to take a step back and recenter yourself,” which has helped me to put myself and my needs first in these situations.  

I’ve learned in this beautiful journey of a year, that as long as I am confident I have given 110% of myself to the project or task at hand, that is all that can be done. I should be proud of my work output, whether it’s at the same level as my colleagues or not, because that’s something that I put a lot of thought and strategy into. They say “comparison is the thief of joy,” and it’s so true. If you’re in the same place as I have been, remember that just because you have colleagues around you creating amazing work, doesn’t mean you aren’t as well. 

Exuberating Confidence & Knowing My Value 

I mentioned it already, but I’ve learned a lot about myself through my work and the time I’ve spent at Salient this last year. I was once overwhelmed and anxious – I still can be but it takes a lot more to get me to that point-  where now, I am proud. 

The biggest thing I’m taking away from my first year in marketing and my first year here at Salient, is I am so proud of what I’ve been able to accomplish. I came into my role, extremely inexperienced and underqualified, but I have fought my way through. Salient has had employees come and go this year, but I remained a staple. I’ve been asked to complete projects that I had no prior knowledge in, but I worked long hours to research and learn so that I could complete those tasks; and I’ve completed them well.  I have taken on tasks and roles in the company that I probably should have just crumbled because of, but I didn’t. I wore several different hats. I’ve stepped up, taken on new titles and projects. I filled gaps when needed and constantly searched for solutions to things that were never in my wheel-house, to begin with. 

When I first began my role at SalientMG a year ago, Mack McKelvey, SalientMG’s CEO, told me, “You need to know your value. Don’t accept anything less. Be confident in what you are able to offer. Stand up for what you know is right.”  Those words might have been simple for her, and I doubt she realizes the impact that they left, but I’ve thought about that advice since day one. I have come a long way since my first day with Salient, but I’ve grown in understanding my personal value and confidence tenfold. 

I am able to be client-facing because I’m confident in my abilities and know that I have a good base understanding. That confidence also gives me the ability to build out strategies for clients and call the shots on projects moving forward. I can easily say that SalientMG has shown me what value I can add to companies, and taught me what I’m truly worth. I’m proud of this last year and everything I’ve done along the way. 

My advice for those of you looking to grow in this area is to do this exercise a mentor of mine had me do. Take a sheet of paper and on one side, write down everything you’ve completed that was viewed positively. On the other side, write down places or projects where you’ve truly fallen short or failed. I guarantee the positives outweigh the negatives. That’s a great way to begin realizing what you’re able to bring to the table and to grow confidence in your skillset. 


Looking back at my journey, I feel accomplished. I feel like I have gained more knowledge in one year working in the industry than I did in four years of college. So here’s to the last year, the failures & successes, and every lesson I’ve learned along the way; I can’t wait to see what the next year brings. 


Follow my journey & get more advice from other posts on SalientMG’s blog. 


Categories:Executive Visibility, Marketing, Public Relations, Quotes, SalientMG

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