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How Emotional Firewalls Help Marketers Become More Resilient | Nadja El Fertasi

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How we relate ourselves to others helps us deal with immediate challenges and provides us with the toolbox to navigate our immediate surroundings.

If you’re phasing into cybersecurity marketing or are already working in cybersecurity as a marketer, it may come as no surprise that you must have some thick skin for the job.

Between aggressive goals, sometimes stressful and fast-response support required, pressure to “rise above the noise”, ever-changing technology, and audiences that are sometimes hard to reach - all that can sometimes take a mental and emotional toll.

Despite the challenges we, as marketers, face, it doesn’t mean you have to suffer, lose motivation or have feelings of negativity in your personal and professional life.

There are ways to navigate fear, frustration, and imposter syndrome if you feel it like I sometimes do.

In this episode, I had a refreshing and open conversation with Nadja El Fertasi, Founder of Founder Thrive with EQ and Emotional Firewalls.

We discussed how to build emotional firewalls to become more resilient in today’s age and how to navigate fear, step out of your comfort zone, establish boundaries, and understand your audience.

Episode Highlights

🔥 Emotional firewalls is a symbolic meaning for the security world to help people understand that emotional intelligence is how we use dynamic information.

“Just like when we talk about tech, this is why I use emotional firewalls. What do technical firewalls do? They help IT teams or security teams manage access control. I decide what goes in and what goes out to reduce the risk of infecting systems or cloud networks.

The same thing is with emotions. So when, when we understand emotional intelligence, this is the official definition I work with - emotional firewalls is a symbolic meaning for the security world to help people understand that emotional intelligence is how we use dynamic information.

How we relate ourselves to others and to our environment, really deals with immediate challenges, with coping mechanisms, and provides you the toolbox to navigate your immediate surroundings, your cognitive intelligence, and your intellect. It is long-term and strategic.”

🔥 Against popular opinion, security people don't wake up in the morning and say, ‘I'm going to make the marketer's life miserable.’

“It's really shifting the perspective on not describing your product necessarily, but understanding people. In general, people seek pleasure or avoid pain.

So, security people have a lot of pain points. You can't blame them, especially now with the human surface attack, which is huge. And, their job is to minimize risk, minimize security. They don't, you know, against popular opinion, security people don't wake up in the morning and say, I'm going to make the marketer's life miserable.

But their job is to make sure security is high, to minimize risk for liability on the organization. To provide something that is safe and secure. So when you seek to understand, before being understood, invest in understanding, how can I help minimize their pain?

And if you can't do that to either refer or to be honest about it, because in the long run, if you're going to work with people with clients and your product is not a fit for purpose, it is going to be negative energy throughout the process.

You're going to increase your negative emotions. And you're going to hurt the credibility of your organization and yourself, your reputation.”

🔥 We all suffer from imposter syndrome. And that’s okay.

“I think it's, you know, sometimes we blow these concepts out of proportion when we're still human beings, being human is a magical mess. It is only normal to doubt yourself because when something is unfamiliar to our mind, we feel discomfort, and here is where we need to flip the script, feel our feelings of discomfort and flip the script because it is unfamiliar to the mind.

So what does the mind do? It goes back to past memory. It goes back to what is comfortable, right? You will find freedom on the other side of comfort and I always say feel a lot of discomfort and doubt - embrace it because it's a huge sign I am growing. You know, if you do the same things you've always done you will be where we are.”

🔥 Respect fear. It has an important function in getting out of your comfort zone.

“I don't like the word fearless because I think fear has an important function. You know, if, if we all would be fearless, I would not go bungee jumping. I'm glad I am fearful of bungee jumping, right? Because yes, maybe I saw a couple of, you know, bungee jumping going wrong and that is enough to keep me out.

Here's where it comes. Understanding what are your core values? Like, what is important to you in your work? How are your core values in the organization really understood, because what is important to you, you will feel strongly about, right? And that's when you need to navigate fear. And sometimes navigating fear doesn't mean jumping all in. It means I'm going to take one step out of my comfort zone.”

🔥 Our identity has no correlation to our function if we don’t allow it.

“We live in a society that correlates functions with identity and likes you to believe that you're only worth it if you raise X, millions of funds, if you have a title or status, right? I don't necessarily believe in that. It doesn't mean that I don't believe in work ethic. I don't believe in experience and working hard and, you know, going through the experience, not falling for the trap of instant gratification, putting in the work learning, to see people as people.

To genuinely come from a place of ‘How can I help you?’

You will get many no's. Continue. It's feedback. No doesn't mean no, it means ‘come back later. ‘Not for me, another time.’ How can you improve?

And it's not about me necessarily. It's not about my ego. Our ego gets hurt. It's about how can I really help solve a problem. There's an enormous problem when it comes to the human factor. People are being scammed. People are depressed or depleted. And it increases the cyber risk because of human error, because of human behavior.”

🔥 Boundaries are correlated to healthy levels of assertiveness

“You have to use assertiveness to communicate your boundaries. Right? I think people when they hear boundaries, think it's a parameter to keep people out. It is your way of communicating how you want to live a healthy and fulfilling life. And especially when it comes to working.

So, when we don't say no when we don't have boundaries, you keep piling up, and you keep accepting. It reduces the quality of our work. It depletes us, the customer will feel it. And ultimately the reputation of your organization will suffer and then you will get blamed. And all you're trying to do is help and do more and do more and do more.

Your energy levels are going to drop. Your motivation is going to drop is going to be a struggle. You're going to suffer. It's not going to be fun; it might be fun perhaps the first month, but after that, it's a drag.

Assertiveness is sharing your opinions in your view, even if it's opposing other people's views.

Now I mentioned healthy levels of assertiveness. If you have passive assertiveness, then you are not implementing your boundaries. It's finding that balance and understanding that you don't necessarily have to react based on someone else's behavior. There have to be really clear emotional firewalls.”

🔥 Building an empathy map will help you deeply understand the reason behind the actions your audience takes.

What I would do is create an empathy map.

So when it comes to their mind, what are they thinking? What goes on in someone's mind? What are they hearing? What are people telling them? What are they seeing? What are their pain points? And what are their wins? What would they want to see?

When you have an empathy map, you make it very personal, and then whatever marketing strategy you develop, or even how you converse in the situation, you can use that to drive your conversation.”

🔥 Listening is difficult because we listen to replies. Emotional firewalls will help you listen to understand.

“Use active listening through the LSD model. And I'm not talking about the Amsterdam LSD. It's called listening, summarizing, and deepening understanding, which listening is difficult because we listen to reply. Most of the time, emotional firewalls will help you to listen to understand.

So we have to be very intentional about it. And then ask questions to understand. To understand, to also establish a common understanding, just because someone says something, you may understand something very different and it's important to establish the common understanding. So ask questions, open questions.”

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