The Wonderful World of Marketing, Episode 27: The Modern CMO (part 2)

Imagine if you had decided to stop learning when you were nine years old.

You would know how to ride a bike, but you wouldn’t be able to drive a car. You could read The Cat in the Hat but would struggle with The Catcher in the Rye. You could fold a paper airplane, but get lost discussing the finer points of the inverse radial Kepler equation. OK, maybe orbital mechanics is still beyond your grasp, but you get my point. We don’t stop learning in the 4th grade. Our base of knowledge and experience continues to grow, and we’re better for it.

In our professional lives, however, we too often resemble my anecdotal youngster. We master the intricacies of our jobs, become comfortably complacent, and hit cruise control. We work hard, but we forget how to learn. That, my friends, is a recipe for career disaster (and unhappiness), especially if you’re a marketer.

In this Wonderful World of Marketing episode, I talk a bit more about the external forces impacting our industry, and offer some insight and encouragement on how to become a 21st-century marketer (part 1 is here, if you missed it).

It’s not rocket science — it’s marketing science. And the key to success in our industry today — and they key to success in life, generally — is to Always Be Learning … and coffee is for students:

Today, in the U.S., education is viewed as a time box. This is probably rooted in the industrial revolution – that’s when Americans started expecting children to attend school until age 18, and then either go to college or start working. Once they started working, most people stayed in the same job, at the same company, for their entire careers.

People worked to live, not lived to work. The educational system was geared around preparing a person for their first job and often nothing more.

Today, it’s extremely unlikely that a person will remain in their first job for their entire careers. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average person has 10 jobs by age 40. That number will probably be higher for millennials, many of whom don’t plan to stay in their current jobs for more than three years.

I haven’t talked much about Howard Luck Gossage, but I’m going to start queuing up some interesting posts on this iconoclastic ad great, known as the “Socrates of San Francisco.” He was an advertising innovator and iconoclast during the “Mad Men” era. He is known for having said that, “The object of your advertising should not be to communicate with your consumers or your prospects at all but to terrorize your competition’s copywriters.” You should read:

Is There Any Hope for Advertising by Howard Luck Gossage: Link
Changing the World Is the Only Fit Work for a Grown Man by Steve Harrison: Link
The Book of Gossage by Jeff Goodby: Link

Comments? Let me know at @gradconn