Did you just start a new business? 5 things to consider when you become an entrepreneur.

I’ve recently re-ignited my business entity… and I enjoy keeping the world updated on my thoughts and progress throughout.

This is my third stint, backed up by over 10 years of experience from the corporate world. The first time, frankly, I had no idea what I was doing. I did simple things like setup a bank account, create a website, create the service offering, do some basic marketing…but it was all disconnected and it was more of a hobby than anything else.

The second time I had seen up close and personal how other companies established new services or took themselves from small to medium sized. I built on all of those experiences and ended up securing over five clients.

This time, the focus is on scaling and turning it into a true business, rather than just me as an Independent Consultant. Here are things I’ve learned so far:

1 – Keep a strict routine
My second stint started in January of 2017. I found I loved my new found time to myself and how enjoyable it was to sip coffee on my couch through the morning while writing blogs and sending e-mails. One morning I woke up, though, realizing I was well rested and somewhat bored … and I started driving myself crazy without having my daily agenda’s defined. The past ten years I always had a time I needed to be at work, a To Do List to move me through the day and various activities that let me burn off energy. That was all gone and I found myself getting anxious sitting in my condo all day.

The solution was to develop a strict routine and follow it no matter what. These days, I wake up, eat breakfast (and I’m only allowed one cup of coffee) and shower before 8 am.  I am not allowed to be at home between the hours of 10 am – 4 pm and have to achieve at least 10,000 steps someway, somehow… Finally, I need to attend a non related work event or do something social at least three times per week.

I find it works, too. Once the engine is started, it’s easy to keep it running and somewhat enjoyable to shut it back down at the end of a long day.  Shutting it off and on, though at random isn’t… and is exhausting.

2 – Friends and family are everything
Being an entrepreneur can be lonely in the beginning. Luckily, that problem goes away once you sign enough clients to keep you busy.

Especially in the beginning, I found it’s imperative to keep a good support team. One thing I find fascinating about the corporate world is that it took up all my time. I worked around the clock and any free time I had was spent collecting myself so I could do it all over again. That goes away once you’re on your own.

At the same time, I’ve been catching up with friends from middle/high school, college and from when I first moved to Milwaukee. It’s always great to see them and I always leave with an extra boost in my step … It makes you remember your roots and who you really are. My best friend is getting married this year and I’m the best man. I find myself feeling fortunate I have time to actually be around and celebrate our friendship before he ties the knot…rather than just working all the time and making what otherwise would have been just a guest appearance at his wedding…

3 – Sales cures all
Being an entrepreneur can also bring uncertain times..at times. Cutting off your income and then spending your own money to generate business is very uncomfortable. It makes you question your confidence, general ability and sanity.

I find it funny, though. Last Friday (4/20) I sold a deal with a Law firm…and everything was immediately fine. No worries about anything whatsoever…all was right in the world…and then I took a nap.

4 – Get monkeys off your back
Truth be told, I never fully understood the phrase until now. Like anyone, there are tons of things that bother me and I find that my brain is at times wired to spend all of its time analyzing what it doesn’t like. This worked great in the corporate world, because companies had problems they were relying on me to solve and I was eager to dig in.

When you’re trying to build a business, though..it’s counter productive to spend time being mad about things that happened in the past. I find it’s more important than ever to get mad about it, get over it, try to solve it if possible and then move on.

Every week I write down something that bothers me and I keep it front and center where I can see it in my home. I refuse to be afraid of it or let it stop me from getting on with life. I do allow myself to try out various solutions and then I tell myself, “Okay so we know this bothers you…now what? What’s next?” and then I carry on.

I’d say I’m 50/50 right now. Some things I can solve, others I just have to fall on my sword or accept that I can’t change the situation, just learn from it. My dad told me something interesting the other week. Bringing up the failure or trying to solve something that isn’t solvable can also prevent the wound from healing on the other side, too. Sometimes you’ve got to just let it go or at least give it some time…

It’s not always easy, but it’s usually not that hard either… and I feel this is something I can become really good at.

5 – Appreciate what you’re doing
There are going to be so many errors and bumps when you first start out. Like anything in life, though, it’s all about the journey and racking up more wins than losses. If you’re lucky, even the initial losses will be viewed as wins in the long run and it’s the sort of thing you’ll be longing for after you’ve mastered the art of it.

Being an entrepreneur tests my will, my determination and my spirit. I worry constantly about those things..and then tell myself if I wasn’t worried, there would probably be a bigger problem :-).

It also allows you time to pursue other interests. For me, I had no idea that I enjoyed writing so much (hence blogs like this one). It’s something I want to continue to do more of.

James Pellizzi helps companies align the right people, processes and technology needed to enhance their marketing efforts. He loves meeting new people, networking and talking about new ideas. Please e-mail him at James.Pellizzi@strategicdigitalmkting.com or fill out this form if that also sounds like you.


5 Reasons you need a Digital Marketing strategy … and why you may have to look outside your organization for it.

As 2018 roars on, the idea of Digital Marketing isn’t one that needs to be sold.  Companies have bought into the power of the Internet of Things and coupling that with Marketing Automation concepts.

A few years ago I would have wrote about the definitions of those and how to get started.  Now?  Not needed as much.

Instead what companies are now hungry for is a strategy that ties all of those elements together.  Components such as SEM, PPC, Email Marketing, Web Personalisation, Branding…the list goes on.

I like military metaphors.  In any type of operation, it can be assumed that various things will be available.  Soldiers, Vehicles, Air Support, other equipment, etc.  It’s crucial for any operation, but you know what else is too?  A strategy that enables all of those components at a tactical level.  If they aren’t all combined for a common goal and interacting with one another, any military exercise isn’t likely going to be any good.  When do the troops go in?  Before or after air support?  Are they travelling via the vehicles or foot?  If the latter, why are there vehicles?  What is their objective and how long will they be there?  Do they have enough food for the duration?  The list could go on…but there needs to be a strategy that gives direction for the why and how.

Digital Marketing is the same way.  Here are Five reasons you need a Digital Marketing strategy:

1 – One to One Marketing is all the rage (and always will be).
The most powerful marketing is personalized marketing.  If you can truly speak to someone as if you’re sitting across from them at a table, that will resonate more than anything else…and you’ll be rewarded with some kind of partnership.  To do that right, though, you do indeed need the various Digital marketing components initially described above.

2 – Companies have able bodies, but not Thought Leadership.
I find it interesting that at this point in time everyone is the next marketing genius (myself included..).  Companies aren’t looking for bodies or to outsource for this kind of work, rather they are looking to train their resources.  The people who truly know what they are doing in this space aren’t working at a private company…they are either on their own or at a marketing services agency and that’s how the wheel continues spinning for them.  They give their experience and get more in the process, which keeps companies after them.

3 – If people don’t know the why, they won’t care about the how.
Goes back to my military example.  Yes – your company likely has an email platform.  It likely has some elements of web personalization and someone on staff that can generate content…but why are you doing it?  Is there a roadmap that spells out an objective, as well as the foundational items needed in order to have a chance at being successful?  Do sales know what to do once a lead is generated?  Disconnected elements of the Digital Landscape could do more harm then good and even start competing with each other under the same brand.  Trust me…that’s a mess you don’t want to deal with.

4 – … because it doesn’t have to be just about demand gen.
I’ve spent a lot of time in B2B markets and the normal conversation is to use Digital Marketing to generate leads that have a better chance of closing when giving to a sales person.  I’m a big believer in it, but it doesn’t have to just be that.  Companies should consider tracking their brand awareness efforts or using it to bolster the four P’s (Place, Promotion, Product, Price).  No one really talks about Marketing Automation driving event management and I’ve always found that to be an interesting idea…

Get creative with the why.

5 – Guts versus Glory.
It goes back to the idea that the best professionals aren’t doing this for individual companies and it may be because they are cut from a different kind of cloth.  Not suggesting that particular cloth is any better or worse than others, just a preference.  The right strategy takes guts and bold risk taking… and the roller coaster that comes with those working or not working (The glory aspect) isn’t something most people want to stomach…and who can blame them.  You likely don’t have that person on staff, though (if you do, let them loose on idea generation!)

So there you have it.  There is no better time to be in marketing than now!  No longer are we viewed as just the tactical doer’s….we’re now the strategic dreamers that can truly move organization’s forward.  How awesome is that?

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Disgust, Alcohol and Lunacy. Ten things I’ll be thinking about while I figure out what’s next…

Hello again.  It’s been a bit…About eight months ago, I wrote about my excitement taking on a new opportunity.

My goal was to get more experience … and I’m grateful I did.  That’s all over now and I’m back on my own.  Here’s what’s on my mind as I try to figure out what is next.  It’s in line with the whole, “not hiding behind anything good or bad” so if you’re not looking for TMI, stop right here!

The soundtrack for this go around is, “Crockett’s Theme,” by Jan Hammer.

1 – Disgust, Alcohol and Lunacy

I recently had lunch with the CEO of one of the former companies I worked for and he told me a great story.  One of the companies they acquired over the years stated that the reason they went into business was because of Disgust, Alcohol and Lunacy.  In other words, they were so disgusted with their current employers that they thought they would be able to do it better themselves.  Finding themselves at a pub, one of them said they either needed to put up or shut up with their complaints.  The other slammed his drink and said, “okay let’s do it, ” but not before some additional liquid courage.  Finally, they had to mortgage their houses and tighten their belts in order to finance their operations, something even they admitted was complete lunacy, given that they had young families and were leaving good paying jobs.

It resonated with me, as I ponder if I have what it takes to restart a small company and scale it.

2 – Approach is everything

I spent a week with my family in Orange Beach, Alabama taking some much needed time off.  It was nice to remember that the beach cures all.  More importantly, I was able to spend some time with my sibling’s young children and it was fascinating to watch them experience everything.  Things are so new and joyous for them all!  I started thinking about all the scars and disappointment we carry with us and this led to some introspection on what I had become … a person that at times, is unapproachable.  It wasn’t always the case.  At various times in middle and high school, college and my early career I was perceived as a very outgoing person and I did, indeed, enjoy being around people.  As time went on, though, disappointments with women, sales/marketing endeavors and just people in general led to frustration and withdrawing from various scenes.  Over time, I became equally known for my scowl and reservations…neither of which I attempted to hide.


Orange Beach, Alabama

I’ve been back on track for the better part of two years, but my goal is for people to continue to feel I am someone they can reach out to, be comfortable around and generally enjoy being with.  The best part about the last entrepreneurial stint was that I felt I got back in touch with who I always was.  I’m looking forward to continue working on all of this.

3 – It’s time to change the conversation

I’ve always been one to take on more than what was asked of me…and while that needs to be tapered off, it won’t likely completely change.  I’ve found that it creates the same scenario over and over again.  I get hired to do 1 or 2 things and before I know it I’m responsible for 10 things.  8 out of 10 of those usually go great, but the two remaining usually need some help (okay a lot of help) or added horsepower, but that’s never how the conversation goes.  If 1 thing is bad, it must mean all things are bad!  I still am at a loss for words on how you launch businesses or practices if you can get to this point, but not hire resources to then help manage the load.

I admit I need to do a better job of saying no, but at the same time I’m still interested in putting a spotlight on all the really good things that are going on and happening.  I’m prepared to go to battle over it, too, as I find simply saying it or writing an email doesn’t get any traction.  You need a sledgehammer to get people’s attention or shake them out of stale, comfortable ways of thinking.


A good friend of mine once said, “If you’re successful in your career, decent looking and single at age 30…there is something wrong with you.”  I’m 32 and I agree!

In some cases, it was assumed I was a ladies man, when in reality I was always more of a hopeless romantic (which needs to be managed in itself).  If I perfect this whole approach thing, that can be applied to more than one area of life … and I’d welcome that lightning bolt feeling of meeting someone intriguing.  If it happens again, I have a better idea of how to handle myself ;-).

… and I’m not taking it all so serious anymore, which has naturally added an element of fun to all of this that was previously absent.

5 – Culture eats strategy for lunch

I’ve known the saying for ten years, but I never appreciated it until now.  I’ve worked for companies who put a huge emphasis on it’s people and let them shine.  I’ve also worked for companies where it was one or two people calling the shots.  They say they understand people, they say they are looking out for them and that the success of the company is because of them…but no one actually believes they believe that.  I need to do a better job of managing ego’s (mine included).

Whatever I do next, whether it’s my own company or working for another company, the emphasis MUST be on the people and how they feel.  We spend the majority of our lives working…and I want to in some way foster (or help foster) an environment that people love being in and feel they are truly part of.

6 – I wish people would stop talking about Steve Jobs.  Be you for God’s sake.

Steve Jobs was an asshole.  He really was.  Apple was built by a huge collection of people, not one man.  If I come across anymore dorky, unapproachable Steve Jobs wannabes who think they are better and smarter than everyone else (and that’s the reason they are unrelatable), I’m running as fast as I can the other way.   I’m not suggesting people shouldn’t have role models or people they want to be like (see below), I’m just emphasizing that this particular person is not one that I am looking to emulate.

I love the saying, “You do you,” compliments of a good friend of mine. Come on people.  More of this!

It might not get you everyone’s approval and kinship, but it will get the right ones and weed out the wrong ones.

7 – It’s time for people to stop pretending they are so mystical

Empathy is such a buzz word these days.  For the record, I’m a huge fan of it and am in the business of pleasing people.  The only way I’ve ever known how to do that is by wondering what it is they want or what (and why) they are experiencing something (and I’m not suggesting I’m good at it, either!).  These days, though, I come across so many people that are so eager to tell you how empathetic they are and how, “Yeah yeah, they get it.”  I’ve always found that interesting, because the people who I always felt got it never had to say so…and the ones that cut me or others off always made me feel skeptical.  People shouldn’t be empathetic for attention, as it defeats the whole purpose..they should do so because it’s usually in the direction of the right thing to do.

8 – Sonny Crockett

DJ.jpgFor the record, I know Don Johnson in his mid 30’s was better looking than me..and no, I will never be a Vice Cop…but I really like what the character stands for.  He’s not a lone wolf by design, but his integrity, drive to do what is right, fight against corrupt forces even when he’s outnumbered and keep a sense of humor even when things are bad.. are just things I really love.  He always has his team’s back…and they have his and there are times where both truly need each other.  I find myself at ease whenever I’m watching the early seasons of Miami Vice and I can’t wait to revisit some of my favorite scenes with my newfound time off.

9 – David Bowie

I’m in the process of unveiling a refreshed brand for my LLC while I figure out what’s next and it’s inspired by David Bowie.  “Cat People,” has failed to get old and makes it on every playlist I put together and every cell in my body is on fire when I listen to it.  I love his ability to recreate himself and act out multiple personas.  I feel the best marketers have those same abilities…and it sure does make the work fun.  A good colleague of mine talks about how certain people are aliens because of how legendary and out there they become.  I loved it and totally agree.

10 – The Devil’s Playground

This is a big concern of mine at the moment.  I didn’t realize it the last time I was on my own, but it was the first time in ten years that I wasn’t working somewhere between 40-60 hours a week.  Any time off that I had was welcomed and I enjoyed recombobulating myself.  Once I was on my own, though, I had all the time in the world.  This initially sounded nice, but I didn’t take into account that my brain would still look for something to analyze or solve and without a steady stream of work, it found all sorts of irrational things to wonder about…and let me tell you…that was another problem all in itself.

Luckily this time around I’ve rented a small workspace and have some rules I’ve set to keep me on a new routine.  Either that or maybe I will head down to Miami and buy a go fast boat (see?!)

Stay tuned for that brand refresh.  I’ll be looking to keep you updated on my progress, but will be shifting gears to post about best practices for various Digital Marketing activities.  Sign up here if you want them delivered to your inbox!


Happy New Year!.. 10 Things I realized over the course of 2017.

As the year wraps up, I’ve had some time to reflect on the past year…and my thoughts keep going back to, “What a year indeed!”

This article is filled with more contradictions and opinions, so you’ve been warned. Too much information? Absolutely!

I’m very much stuck on the idea of doing things in front of larger audiences. Not so much for the attention, but rather the liberation. Success doesn’t guarantee continued success, just like failure doesn’t have to last forever. Not hiding behind anything good or bad has generated a feeling I haven’t experienced before… It just is what it is.

Soundtrack: “Don’t take the Money,” by Bleachers.

Here are ten things I realized over the course of the last 12 months:

Not right, not wrong, but understood. Many past posts of mine are around Emotional Intelligence, something I became very interested in this year. I realized that for most of my life, I spent more time trying to understand others without being understood myself. I admit, in my 20’s I secretly enjoyed the mystery that surrounded me. Now, not so much. I don’t want to be fawned over, come across as intimidating, smarter than I actually am, loved, hated or anything in between. I want people to see what my good friends and family see. A normal person who is ambitious in his career, works hard to understand people/things and wants to be nice.

How strange it must sound for someone to complain about receiving attention and opportunities…but that’s where I am at.

I started 2017 wrapping up my tenure as VP of Digital Marketing at a Milwaukee Ad Agency. I felt like I launched a budding practice (and it was one of the hardest things I ever did) and I felt it fell apart in a matter of one month and I found myself completely out of energy. I told myself I didn’t care, but I did… I’ve written in the past about how people’s problems are indeed THEIR problems. I can’t solve them. In this particular case, the company I was working for wasn’t owned by me, so my opinions were’t the ones that counted… and the owner was free to do whatever he wanted. The mix of my passive aggressive/spiteful behavior, helping other former colleagues get new jobs and general bitterness wasn’t worth anyone’s time. I’m still in business. They are still in business. The world is still spinning. And like always, I’m not necessarily right about any of it…

What’s interesting to me is how much I enjoyed some of it. What does that say about me? So much time was spent being angry, which could have been spent on much more positive work.

The launch of the #10things blog series came from being an entrepreneur. I absolutely loved it and would consider giving it another go (Round 3). Although it was very lonely at times. What wasn’t a problem in mid winter proved to be too much for the hot summer & long days. I’d wake up by 7 am and by 10 am I was ready to not be at home. I’d go to coffee shops, I’d schedule onsite meetings, I’d network with people around downtown Milwaukee. I’d stay at the business lounge for an extra hour making cold calls. It just wasn’t enough and I’d still get home around 4 or 5 pm to a hot sun beaming through my windows. I was always restless and couldn’t shut my mind off with all that time on my hands. It’s the main reason I took my current job. I needed a more consistent routine and wanted to keep my digital marketing skills sharp.

I love that I can say this and mean it. In my early 20’s, competition was so high in our professional lives. Everyone was going to be a Director or President or Owner… and I wanted to beat them all. By my mid 20’s, I’d say 50-75 percent of people were no longer after those things and had settled into or accepted their career paths. By my late 20’s, after stints in Consulting and Advertising, I found most people five years ahead or behind me were burnt out after doing similar work…. and that’s when I began to realize. It wasn’t about beating others, it was about celebrating our collective success. You spent three years building a practice? You got your MBA while working a full time job and having a baby? You were promoted to Senior Manager or VP?

All those things are awesome achievements! Can you imagine what the individuals from the above examples could do if they teamed up? Michael Jordan said that back in his day he never would have imagined playing alongside Larry Bird or Magic Johnson. Those were the guys he wanted to beat and prove he was better than. I know I still have a healthy amount of that competitive drive in me, but with the number of individuals in Digital Marketing, I’m more interested in teaming up or hearing about others success in the space. I truly hope the people reading this progressed their careers in a major way this past year. Teach me what you’ve learned! We’ll all get to where we want to go, just at different times.

Over the Holiday season I had a very minor health scare. Ever since I was in elementary school, I’ve had occasional bouts of low blood sugar and low blood pressure, causing me to get light headed or faint when I stand up too quickly. It still happens to me about 3 or 4 times a year…and this time was in front of my parents.

It didn’t help that I spent the day before gorging on too much holiday food, including an abundance of appetizers, various meats, sugar cookies and beer. Mix that with no exercise (I usually run 5 miles a day), the first time I wasn’t stressed out in months and a skipped breakfast the following day… you had everything you needed for the right recipe for a blood sugar spike. Usually when it happens, it’s for a split second and then I feel back to normal, but occasionally I can’t shake the light headed feeling. I come across as confused, have trouble putting my thoughts together and can’t kick the flight or fight response. It’s very uncomfortable and lasts between 15-30 minutes.

Luckily, after eating some food and drinking fluids I got back to normal, but it really takes an odd toll on you for the remainder of the day. My immediate thought was, “Well I better make sure I’ve got a will prepared…” and then I told myself I was too young (at the ripe age of 31) to worry about stuff like that..but am I? It was a good reminder to take care of your health. Everything is always fine…until it isn’t and I imagine it will be a pretty instant switch. Another reminder for portion control, to stop smoking for good, limit booze, continue to exercise, make sleep a priority, etc… all stuff we’ve heard before.

It’s something I never talk about. I’ve been single for the past 10 years, something no one can seem to understand. The thought that’s been on my mind lately is around whether or not being in a relationship with someone is a matter of both people pointing at one another and saying, “Yeah you’ll do…” I’ve been on lots of dates (and am probably offending lots of women with this), but always found it too offensive or rude to the other person to date them just for the sake of it.

Unfortunately for me, I’ve met a small handful of women that upon meeting them or seeing them for the first time, it was like a bolt of lightning hit me. It wasn’t just looks, it was the way they carried themselves I couldn’t get over. I had to know who they were and what they were like and I came on way too strong…and in other cases not at all in fear of doing so. I know that I was doing to others what I despise being done to me. I put these people on pedestals…but I really couldn’t help it. From what I’ve gathered, they are all now married and progressing with their lives. I find myself jealous and impressed. Why were they so willing to give things a try or make it work with others?… I need to get over myself and accept they just weren’t into me as they were given more than enough opportunities. My inability to convince these types of people to date me isn’t something I can easily let go of, and I just can’t stay the course if that feeling of intuition and intrigue isn’t screaming at me.

…and until I can accept that I’m likely wrong about all of this, I’ll probably continue to come across like a monk. All of this #metoo stuff isn’t helping either. I need a playbook to understand all the things I can and cannot do at this point to advance an intimate relationship.

I find this one funny. Again, at the ripe age of 31, I’m still considered to be in the demographic that is most marketed to in the world… but I find people that are ten or so years younger than me to be fascinating. I ended up going to a concert in Madison, WI at the Student Union with a good friend of mine. Mom jeans are back in full force? One piece swimsuits were being worn as shirts…

I was wearing jeans, Nike shoes and a henley T-Shirt…the same as I always wear. The same as I’ve been wearing for the past 10 years…the same I will be wearing in another 10 ye… Oh no. I realized that’s how it starts. I’ll be the 50 year old man wearing his college style jeans and sneakers. I was terrified of what I must have looked like among the crowd, sticking out like a sore thumb.

One of my old bosses once told me that, “No one is Steve Jobs…not even Steve Jobs.” At the time I disagreed with him. Why would you ever try to put a lid on innovation and great ideas? Fast forward five plus years and I couldn’t agree with him more. One of the biggest things I realized growing a practice and being on my own was that people only carry with them the memories of how they feel about things. Steve Jobs was known as an innovator but also just as a jerk. I think it will be interesting in 100 years how people like him and Larry Elison will be viewed compared to guys like Jeff Bezos and Marc Benioff.

To me, that’s what it’s all about. Making someone feel good. It may not happen right away and you may have to make them feel bad before you can make them feel good, but that’s how you grow relationships, businesses and make memories in life. Those are the experiences I’m referring to... and I want as many as I can get my hands on.

Another thing I found interesting about entrepreneurship was how easy it was to sit idle. In the winter time, I loved getting out of bed, pouring a big cup of coffee and just sitting on my couch writing blogs and sending emails. It actually became concerning and made me anxious. I realized how people become unmotivated and lazy. Even after I retooled my routine to get up earlier and get moving, the thought stayed with me, as if my couch was an evil force trying to persuade me otherwise.

I’m a big James Bond fan and in the movie Skyfall, his commanding officer, M, recites a line that has always stayed with me. Anytime I worry about becoming idle, I remember this phrase and realize that sitting around has never been my bag..and probably never will be (just the fact that I spent so much time worrying about it…).

She says, “And here today, I remember this, I think, from Tennyson: “We are not now that strength which in old days moved earth and heaven, that which we are, we are. One equal temper of heroic hearts, made weak by time and fate, but strong in will. To strive, to seek, to find, and *not* to yield.”

I think like many people I thought I had all the answers in my 20s…and now in my 30s I’m hungry for more knowledge, more power, more experience, etc. I’m still grappling with many of the things that have always bothered me, though. I’ve gained clarity around my problems and in the process complicated them. Even ones that I solved have led to new ones…and I’m okay with that. How boring would it be if we all peaked and had no challenges to confront? I don’t want to sit around. I don’t want to be idle. I want this engine running on all cylinders and close to redline!

I remember being 16 years old thinking I needed a Pontiac GTO. My dad told me I could buy one with my own money when I was older and I remember thinking, “It just won’t be the same when I’m 30. I need it now!”…well 16 years later I’d still love to have a GTO and I’m sure that won’t change for quite awhile…

Happy new year, everyone! There are so many great things going on and I can’t wait to see what 2018 brings. I hope the new year brings you all good fortune and joy!


6 ways to become more coachable in your career

I read a lot of articles about emotional intelligence… and I must say, I’ve very much bought into it.

I think it’s important in all facets of life to understand yourself and others … and have them understand you so that all parties can move forward.

At the moment, I am a Marketing Director at a Digital Technology company. I firmly believe I have achieved the level of Director (and perhaps have too much confidence regarding it). I can close deals, I manage a team of Digital Marketing professionals and I know how to execute what we sell. Although, my goal is to become a top level Marketing Executive… and I’m not there yet.

… and how does one achieve that, anyway? One way is through coaching and feedback from other Executives. I find it’s a nice thought, but they usually aren’t easy conversations to have.

I’ll share some takeaways from a recent example involving myself.

Takeaway 1: Hear the person out.
I was called into my bosses office where he gave me feedback on a recent client interaction and sales call. I’ve been here before and knew it wasn’t an easy conversation for him, either. It was important to me to let him share the feedback. Basic listening 101. The fact that I was getting feedback was important. You’re in trouble when those conversations cease to exist altogether…

Takeaway 2: Don’t rationalize.
Although, I admit that as I sat listening to him, immediately my mind started racing to justify my actions. I thought to myself, “Is this happening again?”  I’m managing more than a handful of clients, helping close deals, mentoring the team and working almost 60 hours a week. 18 out of 20 things are going great, why aren’t we talking about those instead of the 2 that aren’t? Then I realized I was just rationalizing. No one was saying things weren’t going good, they were just saying a few things needed improvement.

Takeaway 3: Get mad… and then get over it.
For the rest of the day I was annoyed, mostly with myself. I wrote out all of the justifications and stewed over it all night. Then I also realized that if I was this upset about it, they must have a point, which I began to feel great about. If I wasn’t upset, it really wouldn’t have meant anything, nor would I be moving forward… and then I fell asleep.

Takeaway 4: Perfection doesn’t exist, but you can strive for excellence
I tell clients on a regular basis. You don’t have to be perfect to get started, we just have to start. You can polish process later. I feel the same way about people in their careers. No one was attempting to take away from me my past experiences or level (that was my own insecurities speaking). I had gotten myself this far before the age of 30. I effectively got started on the path. They were helping me polish myself.

There is a story about Brett Favre in his early tenure with the Green Bay Packers. No one doubted his ability to win games or athleticism and he captured the hearts of an entire fanbase. Although, people did question his ability to win a Super Bowl … and his disastrous, prior stint in Atlanta was well known. I was at his retirement ceremony where Mike Holmgren talked about the challenges of coaching him. He recounted the moment he knew the Packers were on the cusp of greatness. He said Brett came over to him on a plane ride home and said he understood the value of being coached and placing his trust in him. He had a role to play and if he wanted to go to the next level, he needed help. Favre went on to win three MVPs and the Packers won the Super Bowl during the 1996 season.


Takeaway 5: We are the masters of our domains
I also thought about what I was going to do with the feedback… and realized yet another thing. No one was necessarily right or wrong regarding the scenarios. I wasn’t being forced to do anything, I was being given suggestions. I think about US Presidents and all of the responsibility they have. There are tons of stories about how much feedback and advice they request regarding various decisions, but ultimately, they have to make a call on what they will and won’t do. The same applied here. I’ll likely take the majority of the feedback that was given to me and some of it I probably won’t based on what is and isn’t important to me… and I think that’s okay.

Takeaway 6: Know that what comes around, goes around
I’ve written in the past how we are all just in a race with ourselves to get where we want to go. Some of us are farther along, some farther behind, but we’ll all get to our destinations.

Interestingly enough, on the same week I had to give feedback of my own to a colleague… and I wanted to take some of my frustrations into account while giving it. In this example, this person was giving a demo for the first time to a client. I had to imagine this particular individual was nervous and I knew for a fact how much prep time went into it. Just the fact that this person was so willing to grow was very much appreciated by me…so I said so. I said how good I thought the presentation skills were (and meant it) and that this person had an ability to establish rapport with the client. Only after I led with the positive did I suggest some improvements to the actual pitch. I suppose I’ll never know for certain, but it wasn’t uncomfortable and I believe this person will continue to grow with some of my recommendations.

At the very least, hopefully they didn’t go home and over analyze the situation, but if they did they can at least read this blog ;-).

Until next time…