How To Be Good At Stuff
As I’ve begun to explore the possibility of perhaps entertaining the idea of considering once again working for the man, it’s forced me to think a lot about who I am, what I believe in (and don’t believe in), and what my value is as a co-worker, a manager, a piece of talent, and just as a person.
Because regardless of what I do next, it is of critical importance that what I consider to be my value, is aligned the way whomever decides to lock me up thinks about my value.
The ultimate output of this thought (and something I am actively working on) is going to become my “platform”. Sort of like political parties have their stated platform (so you know where they stand, and can join them or fight against them) - I am going to have my own. And I am going to create a page on my site, and let it live there.
However, getting all of those thoughts organized is no small undertaking it turns out. And as an early step in the process, I’ve begun to just jot down disorganized thoughts and snippets of things I believe. Hoping that at some point, it will all come together somehow.
And I want to share those raw bits here. Partly as a way to see how they feel when I throw them out into the real world, partly as a test to see if I am able to live up to and stay true to them, and partly because I am really curious to have feedback/input/additions from other people…should you feel so inclined.
So, in no real order, and with zero polish (I am literally slapping this list together from scraps of paper and emails to myself with no editing), here is a working list of things and thoughts that I feel are central to me as a marketing professional, a creative thinker, an advertising guy, and as a person.
Again, it may be shit, but it's
- Be fearless
- Be kind
- Be convicted - but know/admit when you are wrong, owning it and changing course appropriately
- Have heart
- Use your brain
- Be bold
- Have an endlessly open mind
- Embrace your ego
- Be irrepressible and insatiable in your desire to know more
- Know how to sell ideas
- Know how to make ideas real
- Look people in the eye when you speak to them
- Be genuine - even if that means some people don’t like you
- Read things that aren’t industry things, but look at them (and apply them) like they are industry things
- Know what matters and what doesn’t matter - be relentless about ditching the latter
- Question norms and don’t be afraid to ignore the prescribed path
- Know the difference between data and insights
- Keep in touch with everybody
- Learn how to play politics, but do so nicely. It’s sucky but it will matter.
- Don’t always focus just on the most important person in the room, but always know who that person is
- Respect people’s time
- Avoid meetings
- Really avoid meetings with more than 4 people in them
- If you have to have a meeting, make it short make it productive and focused
- If you’re in a meeting that you realize you don’t need to be in leave the meeting
- Most requests via email fall into one of three buckets - do it, dismiss it, or delegate it. Learn when to do each.
- Don’t use your inbox as a to-do list
- Observation is not strategy
- Get out from behind your desk. If you work in the strategy or creative business - or any business that sells to or markets to people - be out with those people as much as you can
- Fuck best practices
- Don’t care if it’s been done before
- Be the case study
- Big ideas win business, consistent execution and results keeps business
- Every brand or product has a story, find it
- Every brand or product also has a conversion event, some way to track your success, find that too
- Know where you are trying to go before you start going
- Don’t pre-kill ideas with data. Use predictive analytics only as a guide, and use trailing analytics to optimize and inform decisions
- Don’t go down with the ship. If an idea is bad, or something is not working (and you know it), get out and move on.
- If you work in an advertising agency, your job is to tell your client the truth, not just what they want to hear
- Think about how to create media, not just how to buy media
- Avoid buzzwords
- Have an opinion
- Make things that people want to spend time with
- Think like your consumer (but just refer to them as people)
- People are not neatly package-able into demographic composites
- Focus groups are usually a giant waste of time and are just risk mitigators. Avoid them unless absolutely necessary.
- Listen well and read between the lines. What the client really wants isn’t always in the brief, but often comes out in the hallway conversations or a chat over beers.
- If you can’t help someone, try and connect them to someone who can.
- If you live the principles of the strategy, the things you can count will go up.
- Don’t try to get fired, but don’t be afraid of it either.