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Interview with Adriana Rizzo

New York board member

What’s your golden rule? 

I’m pretty partial to “don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.”

The power of this is really evident in technological innovation. The CD did not provide better music quality than the LP, the mobile phone was not as reliable as a landline, the iPhone did not take photos as well as a point and shoot camera. Yet all of these items have created massive disruption and change. And over time, have themselves become better products, which have (or will) be disrupted by another good alternative.

And so it is with ideas: a good idea that is timely and can be executed is always better than a perfect plan.

What is your most hated business expression? 

“I just have one small tweak …”

Great, bold ideas are often killed by a thousand little cuts. To be a successful leader you have to be the champion and protector of great ideas.

How can marketers be braver?

Hire people that are smarter than you and then help them succeed.

Many of us are afraid of being upstaged, but you really are only as great as your team and ensuring their success is a great way to ensure yours.

What’s the biggest risk you’ve taken in your career?

I left a successful job in a Fortune 500 company to help launch a startup.

I spent a year developing the business plan, building a team, conducting research and just getting my hands dirty with all aspects of running a business.

I learned more (and worked much harder) than I did getting my MBA. In the end we closed shop but it was a heady experience while it lasted.

Which leader do you admire most and why?

My fifth and sixth grade teacher, Dr. Lois Zabriskie, was one of the most caring and influential people in my life.

First she made me (an awkward, immigrant child who had only been in the States a couple of years and was still learning the language) feel smart and like I had an amazing future waiting for me. Years later she insisted that I apply to Harvard (as a child of immigrants who had only an elementary school level education this was not in my plans) and wrote a letter of recommendation that I’m convinced was instrumental in getting me in. And after I graduated Harvard she offered me a job.

A truly incredible person.

What’s your favourite word?  

Lately I’ve begun to appreciate the power in the word no, not as an expression of negativity but as a way to own your life. The ability to choose what you want to do, how you want to spend your life, who you want to spend it with is incredibly powerful.

I think we should all have a personal “no list” that helps guide our priorities.

What excites you most about the Society? 

The Marketing Society is about so much more than meeting senior marketing people. It’s about really connecting with other leaders in a way that is very personal and enriching.

I’ve met many people from around the world that I’ve found to be smart, brave, and generous with their time and knowledge.

It’s been an amazing experience.

Tell us a secret?

I’m writing a novel. And that’s all I’ll going to say about that.


Connect with Adriana on LinkedIn