- Wed, April 09 2008
- Filed under: Marketing essentials
It’s late, I’m tired and I’m philosophical after a death in the family. When you think about death, you inevitably think about your life. And that got me thinking. There are many things I have struggled to master in life, but let me share just three from a very long list of things I haven’t fully mastered but know to be worthy of the attempt. Before I die, I want to do them as perfectly as I can.
Why? I think the very things that seem most difficult are often the best possible things we can do. The things that we fear will bring us catastrophic loss are often those that have the greatest returns. It is the way marketing - and life - mocks our silly sensibilities.
So in that spirit, here are three things that seem risky but actually yield great ROI. And happiness. And marketing success.
1. Admitting you are wrong. This has been a hard one for me. Fortunately, I have ample opportunity to practice! Too bad 98% of politicians, 85% of corporations and a healthy majority of nonprofits are still finding this hard too. If you make a mistake, just take responsibility and say you were wrong. Don’t do this halfway. “I’m sorry if you were inconvenienced” is NOT the same thing as “I’m sorry I inconvenienced you.” True apologies don’t include the word “if.” While you may fear admitting fault will be the end of the world, usually people are so happy you did it - and quite forgiving. Remember this if you ever have to do “crisis communications.”
2. Doing what you fear. No one ever achieved anything extraordinary by doing what was safe or predictable or copycat. As hard as it is, I’m still trying to lean into fear the way my friend Jocelyn does. Marc Pitman talks about asking for money without fear. Seth Godin talks about being as truly different as a purple cow - which is hard when it’s easier to follow the conforming herd. Andy Goodman talks about zigging when others are zagging. It’s scary, but frankly, it’s far more frightening to blend into a sea of mediocrity than to stand up, do the scary, and stand out.
3. Being lavish with praise. I used to view praise as a zero sum game—if someone else was great, I was less. But being generous is being bigger. Praise great work, credit everyone around you and share the spotlight. Show extraordinary gratitude to your donors, your colleagues, everyone. Share information freely with other organizations. Being stingy with what you give out will diminish all that comes back to you.
What do you have trouble doing? I am sure it is on my list too…