I have always wanted to teach. When I was a kid I used to play “school” with my older sisters and frequently played the part of “teacher.” At my preschool graduation we performed a song about the future, dressed as who we wanted to be when we grew up. Who was I? Yep. A teacher. Complete with shiny shoes, an apple in hand, and pipe cleaner glasses. It was a sight.

Fast forward a few decades, and some of the strongest influencers in my life have remained the leaders of the classrooms in which I sat. They inspired, motivated, and challenged me to not only be a better student, but to find my passion in life.

Now, this story would make sense if it ended with me choosing the career path of a full-time teacher, right? Well, it doesn’t—at least not entirely.

I have found my passion in life, but it doesn’t only consist of leading a classroom.

Apple

I wake up every morning with the anticipation of working closely with others to help them meet their goals. That desire combined with my passion for creativity led me into the world of advertising. I began my advertising career in Account Services, and through honing my craft have evolved into the role of a Marketing Strategist.

Fortunately, my passion and skills have not only landed me my dream job at Punch, but it has brought me into classroom leadership as an Adjunct Professor at VCU. There it is. Teaching.

Teaching in the Advertising program not only helps me inspire and motivate others, but also keeps my mind moving at warp speed, challenges me to practice what I preach, and allows me to bring back fresh ideas to apply to our client work.

My course, titled “Empathy,” revolves around teaching the next generation of advertising pros the basics of account service and how to best serve clients. This means I get lots of questions about my job and what agencies are really like. “What do you do all day?” is the most frequent question I get asked by my students.

And, I love when it’s asked. It presents me with the opportunity to educate and inspire.

Often, I think people expect me to answer that question by describing a day full of competitiveness and high-stress drama similar to what they see on Mad Men. At Punch, however, it’s very different.

I work for an agency that values life outside of the office and people beyond their talents. Yes, I have to meet deadlines that challenge me, and I’m called upon to pull off projects that I never thought were possible, but at the end of the day I know everyone at Punch values me for more than just the work I do and the role I fill. And to me, that is inspiring.

Punch’s culture has influenced the way I do my job and how I spend my time at work. When I first joined Punch as a member of the Account Services team, it became clear that in order to be good at my job I must first focus on people, then on the task at hand. From that moment on, I knew I was in an industry that allowed me to fulfill my passion of working with others.

Most days, I have calls or meetings with clients or prospective clients to discuss business goals, target audience needs, and solutions that bridge the two together. These conversations ebb and flow between visionary dreams and the day-to-day tactics.

Which means I have to understand the way the person on the other end of the phone or across the table from me dreams big and how they manage their daily to-do list. Their strengths and challenges, hopes and fears are crucial to the success of the work and the health of our partnership.

So, how do we do this at Punch? It’s not fancy or proprietary. We listen.

A wise friend once told me, “Listening is not waiting for your turn to speak.” Listening is about truly hearing what someone is saying, understanding the meaning, and responding in a way that addresses a thoughtful solution.

Our vision at Punch is to stay one step ahead of our clients’ needs, which means we take listening pretty seriously. As a Marketing Strategist, it is my job to take what I have heard, understand all variables, and develop strategic plans that present opportunities for our clients to meet their goals.

Sound familiar? It’s what my teachers did for me, and it’s what I am fortunate enough to do every day for my clients and students—understand needs, identify goals, and motivate to achieve. Because someone listened to me a decade ago, I found potential and outgrew my pipe cleaner glasses.

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Rebekah Closs

Rebekah is always thinking one step ahead. As a Marketing Strategist, she listens to the aspirations of our clients and identifies pathways to achieving their goals. Many of her campaigns support a rebranding, new company or product launch, or repositioning businesses aiming to increase their market share.

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