By Stella Galli
“I am not a PR professional…This might be one of the least professional sessions of ICON.” He must be humble, I thought to myself as I joined in on the webinar “Being Human in Big Tech” with Netflix Brand Strategist, Colin Parajon. That is a big title, why would he downplay himself like that? But quickly I realized after the first five minutes of Colin’s presentation that he was not kidding – this definitely was the least professional presentation I have seen from ICON 2021. As well as my very favorite. Here’s why.
Throughout Collin’s presentation, he gave memorable advice – but in particular, three pieces of advice really stuck with me. The first piece of advice that stayed with me was to “lean into what makes you different.” Colin said that he believes that everyone has a diversity of thought, and we all need to be leaning into that and really telling our own authentic stories. Colin explained that he did this himself by creating a portfolio in college that showcased what he did outside of class to showcase during interviews. This included campaigns that he created for brands that he loved, creating an advertising business as well as an app. By doing this independent work, Colin was not only able to prove that he hustles and cares, but he also marketed himself as an amazing candidate into the professional world post-college.
The second important piece of advice that Colin gave was to “talk to real humans.” It sounds simple, but I feel as though it is often forgotten. We forget to simply sit down and listen to other people due to stress, hectic schedules, etc. In public relations, it is important to listen to people’s stories, opinions, and experiences to enhance your work. Collin explained that when he was working for Jose Cuervo, he asked his boss for gift cards so he could walk around New York City, buy someone a shot of tequila and ask those people to tell their tequila stories. Having those tequila stories in his pocket during a creative presentation to the client proved that he understood the consumers better than anyone else.
The third piece of advice that Colin said was to “prioritize authenticity and vulnerability over ladder-climbing.” Collin elaborated on this by explaining that everybody can sense when you are just trying to get a promotion, and urged that we should all be ourselves to get to where we want instead. He suggested not to be afraid and to be vulnerable with the people you respect because they will respect you for having the strength to do so.
Collin did not take himself too seriously and was not afraid to be himself throughout his career, which landed him great connections and a position at Netflix. Though at the beginning of his presentation he said it would be the least professional, it was the most valuable career advice I have ever received. I intend to follow these three crucial pieces of advice with me for the rest of my college experience, and into the professional world. Thank you, Collin!
To learn more about Colin, here is his LinkedIn page https://www.linkedin.com/in/colinparajon/