A big part of what we do as marketers is understanding a client’s problems and their vision for the future. We can’t begin to offer a solution without it.

Of course, listening is important, but asking the right questions to uncover all the details is critical, too. But we don’t always have all the answers. And sometimes we have questions of our own—things we’re thinking about that we could use a little insight from others on.

I get the opportunity to chat with a lot of smart humans on the Marketing Sweats podcast about a range of topics like marketing, customer experience, leadership, personal and professional growth and collaboration. The very last question that I ask every guest is, “What’s something that you’re wrestling with right now that you’d love help solving?” With it being the end of the year, we’re looking back and reflecting on our guests’ questions. As we head into 2023, other businesses and marketers may be asking the same questions as they think through their plans for next year. So here it goes. Here’s what was on the minds of our Season 5 interviewees and a few of my thoughts on the questions they posed.

We’d love to hear your take, too. Or maybe one of these questions gets you thinking, and you’d like to ask one of your own? Feel free to share your ideas in the comments below. We‘d love to hear from you.


Kathryn Spitznagle, Author of “Rock Star Millennials-Developing the Next Generation of Leaders”

Q: As a mentor, it’s Kathryn’s job to help people. She’s made it her mission to foster the personal and professional development of leaders. So, she asks, “What would help you? What would make your life easier? What would make your business better? What would give you more peace and less stress?”

A: I love that question because asking for help can be hard. Oftentimes we haven’t really even thought about what would help. Kathryn really helped me just by joining me on the podcast and pouring her wisdom into me. I’m so excited to share it with all of my listeners.

Listen to the interview Personal and Professional Development with Kathryn Spitznagle


Jennifer Junis, Senior Vice President of OSF OnCall

Q: There are a lot of things happening in the world right now. It’s also a really critical time for all of us personally. How do we balance it all? How do we keep a mindful eye on the big picture, sort through the noise and be an advocate while also focusing on our part to make a positive impact?

A: The last three years have been interesting, to say the least. Figuring out where to focus your attention is a challenge. Even though we’re not exactly saving lives in marketing, I like to remind my team that their work matters, even in their small part of the world.

Listen to the interview The Evolution of Digital Healthcare with Jennifer Junis


Shannyn Lee, Managing Director of Win Without Pitching

 Q: Although the great resignation has been a good thing on a lot of levels, it has created a serious capacity issue. Many businesses are struggling to find talent. How do we identify those who want to shift careers and get them trained in something new? How do we attract talent and get the work done well?

A: This is something we’ve faced at Simantel as well. It’s been difficult to find talent and staff up to stay ahead of demand. Hopefully, the worst of that is behind us but it’s always challenging to find the right people. That’s why when we do, we support their passion and ensure they’re in a role that keeps them excited and engaged. We’ve seen a lot of companies lately shifting their marketing dollars to talent attraction and retention, rather than driving sales.

Listen to the interview Rethinking the Pitch Process with Shannyn Lee


Dr. Rita Ali, Mayor of Peoria, Illinois

Q: Mayor Ali shared that one of her core beliefs is that we can accomplish more by working together in unity, despite our differences, than we can by working on our own. If we each do our part, we can make a difference in our community. So, how do you want to get involved? Everyone has gifts and talents. How would you like to apply yours to help Peoria?

A: I love that at an individual level and an organizational level. It creates so many conversations. Simantel loves Peoria and our Simantelites do, too. Whether supporting health and wellness initiatives, youth sports, childhood education, animal welfare, racial justice and equity, or helping fight food insecurity, Simantel employees are committed to making a difference in our community. And we hope that other companies will see the value of pouring into their communities too.

Listen to the interview Evolving the Brand of a City with Dr. Rita Ali


Dr. Sheila Quirk-Bailey, President of Illinois Central College

Q: A post-secondary degree with labor market value is a win all the way around. It changes the trajectory of people’s lives, their family’s lives, it helps businesses, it helps the workforce, and it grows the economy. So, why is there such bifurcation when it comes to funding to help individuals get the credentials they need to move their lives forward? What is it that’s driving the American experience to question if higher education is worth it at a time when it’s becoming almost a requirement and how do we address that?

A: After chatting with Dr. Quirk-Bailey I realized that there are a lot of misperceptions about community colleges and the true value they provide. For example, she shared the stark reality that only 40% of adults in this region have a post-secondary degree, yet 60% of the jobs require training beyond the high school level. And within the next five years, that number will climb closer to 70% of all jobs.

Listen to the interview Community, Connection & Collaboration with Dr. Sheila Quirk-Bailey


Brian Kessman, Founder of Lodestar Agency Consulting

Q: Brian is currently in the middle of a rebranding project for Lodestar Consulting and repackaging his services to make them more intuitive for his clients. It’s funny how what you do for others can prove difficult to do for your own business. Brian is seeking tips for reshaping the way services are described or packaged.

A: I think that’s something we all struggle with. It’s important to think about customers’ needs. One way to get at that is to talk to them. Get a better idea of what they’re looking for and wrap your services around that. A solid research plan is at the foundation of any good rebrand project. Listen to what your customer’s are telling you and leverage the data to inform your creative.

Listen to the interview Positioning Strategy & Organizational Design with Brian Kessman


Tony Fuller, Strategic Business Development Leader

Q: How do you make your products or services stand out in the market once they’ve become commoditized? Brand equity doesn’t last forever. Over time differentiators become less distinguishable. So, how do you continue to thrive and adapt to change and find new ways to disrupt the market?

A: I love this question. I think the answer stems back to understanding customer insights and problems. The conversations we’re having now with marketers isn’t about product selling. It’s about understanding the problem so we can revolutionize the business model to meet that need, even if the solution is something we don’t currently offer.

Listen to the interview B2B Sales and the Customer Experience with Tony Fuller


Diana Lucaci, Co-founder and CEO of True Impact

Q: A lot of people seem to be feeling a lack of motivation right now, or it comes in waves and is difficult to maintain. How do leaders maintain enough focus and motivation for themselves that they can impart it to others? How much of it is discipline and a matter of just doing it? How much of it is affirmations? Or what are people doing to cultivate that?

A: I can totally relate to Diana’s question. I’m a push, push, push, momentum person. I’m all about goal setting and I love to be busy. But I’ve been feeling a lack of motivation lately. I’m not sure if it’s coming out of the pandemic and trying to figure out what’s next, maybe it’s part of the great resignation. But I think a lot of people are feeling this way.

Listen to the interview Using Brain Science for Business with Diana Lucaci


Brent Hodgins, Managing Director of Mirren

Q: Locking down a senior management team and planning for the next generation of leadership and management is important. What are some insights on how to do that, especially in light of the great resignation and the increased possibility of losing team members?

A: It’s an important question, not just for agencies but even clients. I think it’s something we’re all struggling with. How can a leader still be the face of an organization but take a step back from the day-to-day without sacrificing operations? At Simantel, we believe in building great teams and then empowering all levels of individuals.

Listen to the interview Bringing Rigor to Business Development with Brent Hodgins


What’s Next for Marketing Sweats

Thank you to every guest who joined me on Season 5 to share their knowledge and help us all grow as we get back to life post-pandemic. For many that means a new vision with different priorities and a renewed focus on relationships, connections and collaboration to do more – for ourselves, our business, our clients and our communities.

The year is quickly coming to a close, but I couldn’t let Simantel’s 40(ish) year in business go by without sitting down with a few Simantelites to talk about some of their favorite projects. Check out our very special Season 6 of Marketing Sweats to hear what they had to say.