Jennifer Bell

Jennifer Bell

Jennifer Bell, Chief Marketing Officer for Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises (LEYE) in Chicago, IL, shares her career timeline and words of advice for up-and-coming professionals.


The biggest lesson I learned was to find the courage to speak up. I put myself out there and was vulnerable, and every time I took a risk, people acted positively. Don't rest on your laurels. Instead, always strive for something outside of your comfort zone. Keep pushing yourself to be better.


EXPERIENCE
EDUCATION
I have been so fortunate in my career to gain insight and advice from some of the most inspiring leaders, including Rich Melman, the Founder of LEYE. He taught me to strive for excellence. He also gave me the best advice; Rich never wakes up thinking about his full list of things to do, but rather a very focused list of a just one or two items. He taught me to laser-focus on one thing at a time, accomplish that one task and make it great, then move to the next. I have put this theory into practice, and I am blown away how other tasks on my list tend to fall into place. When I feel overwhelmed, I reset, focus, and get things done!
I think my most significant career impact was when I decided to learn and embrace technology and start a web team in-house. I learned so much about technology and how customers behave digitally. It pushed me to learn new things and reinvent myself.
Since my first day in 1990 as an Orange Juice Server at Walker Bros. Pancake House, this industry grabbed me, and I have never let go. It has always felt like home. I love the energy, the fast pace, the strategy, the artistry, the passion, the people, and most of all, this industry allows me to be myself.
I do not think there is such a thing as work/life balance. I see life as a three-legged stool. One leg is your career, another leg is your relationships (spouse, partner, significant others, close friends), and the final one is your family. Two of the three are usually good, rarely are all three perfect. Instead of finding balance, I think of having an awareness of the one that is off-balance and then acknowledging that you need to shift focus and be attentive to that leg. Life, like the stool, can lean in one direction and can always be adjusted. 

When hiring members for my team I look for a positive attitude, hunger, passion, openness, critical thinking, drive, and motivation.
Marketing has become a blend of art and science. It is essential to find people who understand how to blend both. The critical skills that you need for this industry are people development, collaboration, empathy, strategy, long-term planning, and how to work with the team and play to everyone's strengths.
Inspiring and motivating your team is challenging; the industry runs at such a fast pace; we need to slow down and focus on inspiration and education. I find investing and listening to my people every day gives me useful insight on how to keep them motivated.
Rich Melman inspires me to continue to work and excel in this industry. He has always been my inspiration, and after 20 years, I am still learning from him. I now have the privilege to work with his family, and they inspire me in new ways. They are always pushing the team to be the best that we can be, and that passion drives me to be better.
I find inspiration in other leaders both inside and outside of my industry who have integrity, strength, and passion.
In any industry, if you are looking to grow, you need to find classes, conferences, or other external resources; you need to be willing to put in the time to find them.
I can’t live or work without great, passionate people!
The CMO Moves Podcast, New York Times Food Section, Dare to Lead by Brene Brown, Infatuation, and Eater are essential for me.


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Bill Nevruz
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