Monday, December 24, 2018

Marketing - Learning to skate before you play Ice Hockey

 My University, Northeastern, below, wins 'the Beanpot.'  

2018, 'The Beanpot' is a famous tradition in Boston, Massachusetts, USA, where I lived for ten years and went to college. It's an Ice Hockey Tournament between Boston University, Boston College, Northeastern University (my college) and Harvard.

Jack, my ten-year-old son, is learning to play Ice Hockey. Of course, first He's had to learn how to skate. No point teaching him how to use his hockey stick to hit a puck into the goal, when he can barely stay on his feet on the ice.

So every week We go down to the Ice rink in Bayswater, London, and he gets to skate for two or three hours. Last week, we bought him some Ice Hockey skates and had them sharpened.

- Initially, he was actually a lot more unsteady on his feet, as he adjusted to the new Ice Skates.
I see this effect when we initially bring digital transformation to Marketing or start to use more sophisticated CRM

However, within a few hours, Jack was actually skating faster. I timed him, and he was about a quarter more quickly around the rink with the new skates.

Next month he starts his Ice Hockey classes. 8am on a Sunday morning. That'll be the big test.

My son, Jack, at his first Hockey class

Our coach, wearing the Boston College shirt, is from Boston, where Jack was born.

A lot of companies can't skate at all, but they want to be Wayne Gretzky (a famous Ice Hockey player, who won a lot of championships) within, let's say, six months.

- and often, when they're not skating like a superstar after six months, they change their trainer

As a Marketing leader, you could tell your leadership team that We will achieve some outstanding victories, but 'first we need to learn to skate around the rink without falling on our behinds'.

Of course, that doesn't sound very good. So a lot of Marketers, sort of skate around the issue and say 'Sure, we can do that. But we do need to do x, y, z first' and just hope that this expectation will go away.

But the truth is that marketing is hard. Digital Marketing is even harder. It takes a lot of time, testing, experimentation. It's not something that works with constant micromanaging.

It doesn't work overnight.

You see gradual, incremental improvement over time, with a lot of work.

You will also see better and faster improvements when the entire company is fully behind the marketing efforts

-but oftentimes that does not happen.

I know it's a pain in the ass to hear this - particularly in this high expectation, low concentration world we live in, but when it comes to effective marketing

- The adage is not 'Seize the day.'

- It's 'Rome wasn't built in a day.'

Marketing automation and analytics are the same. So why do a lot of startups expect this sudden, dramatic change in six months?

Impatience? Frustration? Lack of thought? These are all possibilities for their desperation. But I believe their problems stem mainly from not understanding how Digital Marketing works.

Marketers in the start-up industry need to start being more honest and say 'sure we can achieve some amazing results. But it'll take a lot of time, commitment, effort and yes, some money too. Plus we can't guarantee that you'll win the Beanpot this year.

'I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat' (Winston Churchill)  is a tough but effective message.

- But it's also a hard message to hear.

Sunday, December 16, 2018

7 ways to get the career you want

I've been getting messages on Linked from people looking for career advice. Also, from the LSE, where I was an undergraduate.

I must admit, I was pretty taken aback as I'd never considered myself someone to give advice, particularly on this subject.

I learnt a lot about myself at school. Our house was known as 'animal house' as in the movie.

We were often getting in trouble, and our Head of House (the student that is tasked with maintaining order amongst the boys) was actually a card-carrying member of the anarchist party

Crosby House, Oundle School

or 'Animal house' as we were referred to

But you know what, even though we were a bunch of oddballs, we worked well together. I left with much better grades than anyone had expected.

1. So my first lesson is - try to have fun. Enjoy what you do and make friends with your colleagues.

2. Realise that some of the time even people who look really serious have no clue what they are doing.

The Emperor's New Clothes 

Sometimes you discover that 'the emperor has no clothes on'

Other times I've been in a critical business meeting when suddenly, I've heard the resounding 'thirteenth chime of the cuckoo clock', as my dad calls it.

3. Make sure you spend some time in other cultures. I lived and worked in India, Australia, Spain, Holland and the United States.

It helped me realise how 'relative' much of what we do is. Take negotiation styles, below.

Image result for getting to yes across cultures

4. Ensure that you do what you want to. For example, one year I got a lot of flack from my company and my boss, for spending a day skiing at a Marketing event. Looking back it was the best event I've ever attended.

I got all the useful contacts on the ski day, as that was the only day some of the most senior executives showed up. It was also the company's most successful business conference (see point 1.).

5. Study hard and follow your dreams. Everyone keeps going on about 'stress'. But I find that when I follow my passion, I can work fourteen hour days and not feel burned out at all.

6. Decide whether you are a 'grinder' or a 'Blitzer' (as in blitzkrieg). Rugby is a game of grinding; long plays that require a lot of stamina.

American football is all about blitzkrieg, short, intense, power plays, where everything can be over in a few seconds.

7. Find a mentor. I have had quite a few outstanding mentors in my life.

- One was a Law Professor at the LSE

- A Stanford and Yale-educated Lawyer from California, who encouraged me to go to business school.

-A friend who works in the film industry lives in the USA and has two PhDs.

- A Professor of Finance at my Business School (US), who worked in business for half his life, and took his MBA & PhD in later in life, before moving to Academia.

- Someone who worked in a Senior position in the British Civil Service for many years, and now is in Politics

- My grandmother, who was a housewife for most of her life, finally went to college in her forties (She could have done at 18, but it was during Nazi occupation and she refused to swear allegiance to the party), went on to earn a doctorate and ended up in the career of her dreams in her sixties.

- My dad influences me a lot. He's working as hard at seventy-five as he was at thirty-five. Clearly, He has a strong work ethic. He is well educated and he continuously strives to improve himself; whether it's learning to dance, which he does very well now, or learning a language; He took his French 'A' level the same year I took my 'A' levels. I aspire to those values.

Many of these people are still helping me today.