1.Tell us a bit about yourself (ie where were you born? Where did you grow up? Schools? Family life, etc)
My name is Marina Darling and I’m an adventurous, creative, and ambitious gal on a mission!
I’m the founder of a boutique content strategy agency, MJD Creative Consulting, which is focused on bringing the power of words and digital marketing to entrepreneurs. I help people explore ideas, connect with their audience, and foster business growth. In addition to working on projects through MJD Creative, I’m also a full-time student in the Master of Management Innovation and Entrepreneurship (MMIE) program at the Smith School of Business at Queen’s University.
Outside of my professional and academic life, I keep busy with my passion for an active lifestyle. I spend a large amount of my spare time riding horses, swimming, or going on photography adventures. I also have a pretty rough case of the travel bug and jump at any opportunity to explore the world. I am currently on an 8-week trip through the UK and a pinch of Europe and am sharing these adventures on my blog, The Darling Adventure and on Instagram @thedarlingadventure.
Although I have a love for buying one-way plane tickets and snapping photos of epic landscapes and cities, I will say that every trip brings a greater appreciation for Kingston, which I’m proud to call home.
I grew up in West End Kingston with my family and am very much looking forward to returning home at the end of March. I’m even more excited for another stunning Canadian summer!
2. How did you join the industry? Was it a straight path (ie school to industry job) or a more circuitous route?
My path to where I am now was definitely a circuitous one. The journey really began in high school, when I started working in sales and customer service. I also took on roles within social media management and literacy tutoring throughout high-school and university. These roles supported an entrepreneurial mindset while fostering a skillset in marketing, sales, and of course, writing.
During my undergraduate degree, my interest in entrepreneurship blossomed and was supported by my experiences as an Entrepreneurship Intern in the Queen’s Innovation Connector Summer Initiative (QICSI). During the program, I co-founded a WIFI-solution company with 5 other team members. While the venture didn’t continue on, the experience opened the door to further entrepreneurial endeavours.
Following graduation from my undergrad, I decided that I needed to explore the world more and lived in New Zealand for a year. Amongst the travelling, nannying, and even looking after horses, I started freelancing regularly to increase my income. I started out by ghostwriting blogs, articles, and social media content for clients to build my portfolio.
When I got home from New Zealand in the fall of 2017, I continued with freelance contracts and grew my business in services and offerings. I also worked as a Content Coordinator for a local community magazine called Neighbours of Kingston Southwest and was a contributor for ReFined Magazine Kingston. Somewhere in all of this, I also applied for my Master’s, and once I was accepted, I adjusted priorities to accommodate an intense year of study.
Needless to say, it was a busy and interesting year.
Since the fall, I’ve sharpened my skills in my field whilst picking up knowledge and acumen in design thinking, implementing innovation, social impact, and market research. I’ve also been researching innovation opportunities within the equestrian (horse) world for a project. And of course, I’m currently travelling, working remotely, and studying!
Phew! That’s the reader’s digest version of how I got to where I am now.
What is the best industry blog or Ted Talk you’d recommend to fellow members?
Generally speaking, I consume a ton of content and I’m constantly changing up my go-to. But, right now, I’m loving one called ‘The Mission’ on Medium. The Mission’s tagline is “The #1 Newsletter for Accelerated Learning” and it’s pretty accurate. They cover topics on the startup world, tips to increase productivity and intelligence and share helpful tools to start and grow a business. Since I’m quite entrenched in that world right now, it’s been fuel to my fire.
What are you currently reading or would recommend reading?
I’ve always been an avid reader and recently have made a big effort to dedicate more minutes in a day to bury my nose in a book. I always try to split time between reading fiction and non-fiction too. The cross of genres can stimulate creativity in all kinds of ways.
So, here are some recommendations from my recent reads:
- Do Not Say We Have Nothing, Madeliene Thien. This book is a beautifully melancholy saga which follows the trials and tribulations of three musicians during the Chinese Cultural Revolution. It was really thought-provoking and gorgeously written.
- Deep Work, Cal Newport. Want to produce high-quality work faster? Feel less overwhelmed by digital distraction? Have more time to think and do things that matter? Read this book.
- A Wild Sheep Chase, Haruki MurakamiPerhaps one of my favourite books from one of my favourite authors. It’s quirky, surreal, and an excellent capture of human nature. Murakami’s books are incredibly genuine and a fabulous reminder to tell stories which inspire empathy in their readers.
- Negotiation Genius: How to Overcome Obstacles and Achieve Brilliant Results at the Bargaining Table and Beyond, Deepak Malhotra.This is not just a book for business people. No matter who you are, you’re constantly negotiating – with your kids, your spouse, and of course, those you work with. Well written with a humorous punch, this is a must-read.
What is the best advice you have ever received?
Don’t sweat the small stuff. There are so many ways to get upset in life and it’s just not worth it. Take a breath, assess the issue, problem solve, get on with it
What is the advice you would give to your younger self?
Don’t take life so seriously. Don’t worry so much about having every single step figured out. There is always a way to adapt, change, and get to the next part of the game plan. Heck, there’s always a way to change the game plan. Change your degree, change your city, change your job, change your life. You’ll learn something every time and you’ll be a better person for it: professionally and personally
And possibly most important: get uncomfortable in contentedness and comfortable in the unknown. Growth doesn’t come from cozy places and the unknown is critical for creativity, innovation, and constant learning.
What’s your favourite ‘icebreaker question’ at a networking event/best conversation starter?
I like to ask philosophical questions like “What’s your biggest challenge in life?” Sometimes it’s a door opener for a really neat conversation and sometimes it’s just a good laugh. Either way, it’s different from just asking what someone does at work.
If it’s both terrifying and amazing then you should definitely pursue it.