Layla Nielsen | Crain's Baltimore

In this ongoing series, we ask executives, entrepreneurs and business leaders about mistakes that have shaped their business philosophy.

Layla Nielsen


The Greene Turtle has been a local hangout since 1976, when the first location opened in Ocean City, Maryland. The company has been spreading its love for food, sports and community for the past 40 years, and now has 45 locations in the Mid-Atlantic region.

The Mistake:

In any career or any job that you hold, staying in any one position for too long can be very detrimental and slow you down in your career growth.

In my career, I stayed in one position for over seven years. What I found was that I wasn’t learning as much as I needed to, because I was operating under the same four walls and under the same challenges and obstacles. If I had moved around a little bit more and pushed myself to go after more aggressive roles, I think my trajectory would have been a little bit quicker, and I would have moved up the ladder more quickly.

I wasn’t learning new skills in that one role, and I didn’t feel equipped to stay on top of trends. In my role, I primarily focused on digital marketing, and when you’re in one role you’re not able to see what people are doing inside and outside of your industry. It limits your perspective to that one role.

It would have been more advantageous for me if I moved around a little bit more, maybe even within the same organization, to help me become a better marketer. Marketing is a unique industry where you’re always having to pivot and optimize. In marketing, it’s key to take notes from other industries to help you to become better at what you do.

I got the feeling that I needed to do more, so I left my position and went to Georgetown to pursue my master’s. When I went to school and challenged myself and networked with other people in other industries, my perspective was broadened overall. It was in those classrooms that I realized I needed to diversify my skill set a lot more aggressively than I’d done in the past.

Marketing is a unique industry where you’re always having to pivot and optimize.

The Lesson:

In any one role, you should always look for opportunities for growth. Even in your first year, don’t wait and think, “Oh, I’ve only been in the position for 12 months, I need to be patient.” As long as you have the behavior of always looking for growth opportunities, those opportunities will present themselves.

One of the things that makes a great marketer is the ability to translate their creativity into a scope of work, or a communications and marketing plan. The lesson I try to pass on to anyone I’m mentoring or anyone I work with is that your idea and your concept mean nothing if you can’t hand it over to the next person.

As a marketer, always take project management very seriously. Make sure you’re up-to-date on the latest platforms and trends in project management. Make sure you can translate your creative goal or vision so the next person who’s responsible for executing that concept truly understands what your goals are. Otherwise, your vision will get lost in translation and you will lose so much time trying to re-explain yourself.

People don’t take presentation skills as seriously as they should in marketing. Keeping your project management skills and presentation skills fresh are key components of any creative process.

Layla Nielsen is on Twitter at @LaylaENielsen and The Greene Turtle is at @TheGreeneTurtle.

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