The one thing I know about most of the other individuals in my profession...they're passionate about what they do. It's a good thing. Working in marketing, especially digital, is fast paced and rapidly changing. You have to really love your field of work to be willing to keep up with all of the changes always taking place. However, is there such thing as too much of a good thing? I believe so. It may seem fruitful to always be reading the next big business book, the newest inspirational Seth Godin book and not leave time for anything that has nothing to do with your industry. Malcolm Gladwell suggests that it takes 10,000 hours to hit mastery skills, it only makes sense to achieve that level as fast as possible right?
Not all the time. Sometimes a more well-rounded approach works as well.
I read an interesting article by Jonathan Baskin in AdAge not long ago about two different conversations he had with two CMOs. One CMO was always checking his Blackberry, always chased the latest fad and copying his competitors trying to chase their successes. He notes that this individual has won marketing awards but sales at his company were average at best.
Then he describes another CMO who was also busy (it took three weeks just to schedule an hour long chat) but how both parties took copious notes and they talked on several subjects, some that touched marketing....but some that didn't. Baskin notes how this CMO was actually the more successful of the two and was one he wanted to seek out for another meeting.
What's the differentiator?
CMO #2 had a more well rounded approach to learning. Sure, he took the time to learn from marketing greats and smart people in the industry. However, he also took the time to learn things that not only made him a good marketer but a more interesting person. He invested time in learning things outside of his day-to-day body of work. He took time to invest himself in a world that didn't involve branding and selling.
Learning More About the World, Not Just Your Craft
As weird as this may sound, I think it's easy to forget that we're not selling to other marketers...but to people. People with all different tastes, interests and perspectives on the world around them. Knowing marketing best practices are good to have in your arsenal. However, taking time to learn more, outside of selling products and driving Likes, will help you better understand that world around you. The world that you're trying to sell to, not necessarily win awards from (though awards are a good thing too!).
The executive VP at my old company and I didn't always see eye to eye. However, one thing he drove in me from day one that will pay off was learning a little about everything. He talked about reading everything, from fiction books to books about science, art and history. I will say, he had some base of knowledge on almost any subject presented to him. His marketing acumen, in terms of reading people, was pretty good.
There's even research done that people who read fiction are smarter and more well-rounded, socially savvy individuals. Think about that before you read your 10th straight business book.
Preaching to the Choir
This is advice I need to take myself. Getting my head out of social marketing and coming up for air once in a while will be good for me. I know after a marketing-free vacation I come back to work sharper. Making a point to see what's going on around me will help me be better at my job in the long term.
"Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it."
What do you think? Is there a line between passion and unnecessary obsession?