The Drive to Mastery

I just finished reading a great book by Daniel Pink: Drive, The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us. The core, but likely oversimplification of his argument, is that business needs new motivational tools to foster the creativity, collaboration and innovation required in today’s service economy. The three keys to this new approach are:

1. Autonomy: to direct our own lives
2. Mastery: to continually get better at something that matters
3. Purpose: to do it for a larger cause

There are a lot of great concepts supported by extensive research and examples, but one idea really stood out to me. Mastery.

Daniel Pink argues that mastery is first a foremost a mindset. That is you need to believe your abilities are infinite and adaptable, but acknowledge that mastery like an asymptote is impossible to fully realize. Also, mastery is a pain. It requires effort, grit and deliberate practice over your lifetime. There is no easy button.

I think this concept of mastery is especially important for marketers today. Two reasons:

First, the skills, tools and mindset required to be a successful marketer today is very different from what it was five years ago and what it will be next year. Most recently, the proliferation of social and mobile technologies requires marketers be armed with new tools and a different mindset in order to just survive.

Second, as Thomas Friedman recently described: the world isn’t just flat, it’s hyperconnected. We are all competing with the global connected workforce and disruptive technologies. Creative design, application development, even your tweeting can be outsourced because there is someone else who can do it cheaper, faster and better.

My takeaway, it’s imperative to not only deliver distinct value but to continually pursue the Mastery of it.

Check out this great article from Fast Company describing how Generation Flux succeeds in this new world of chaos.

Thoughts from China Town

After a few months of unemployment, several vacations, interviews and a platinum status at Starbucks, I have decided to accept a great opportunity at Holland-Mark.

The inspiration for this post came while eating my favorite late night snack, fried rice and dry fried squid, in China Town while thinking about the opportunity ahead of me and the excursion now behind me. These are the five lessons learned:

  • When you start feeling bored don’t walk. Run! Inevitably we get comfortable at our place of employment and stop learning, growing and being challenged. There is a fine line between being comfortable and being bored and as you approach that line its time to change roles or pack your bags and move on.
  • Do everything you can before you start looking. If you don’t have a bucket list or things to do before I blank, make one. When you get a window of time take the opportunity to start checking things off before you start checking what’s next. The experiences I had changed my perspective on what was most important and ultimately pointed me in a new direction.
  • Stay sharp by staying connected. I am an avid reader of marketing research, blogs, news, etc. and I made an effort to dedicate hours of time every day to ensure I was not falling behind. Unfortunately, I found reading was not enough, so I started a blog. Knowing that the content would be public forced me to push the envelope, and the subsequent discussion kept me honest.
  • Don’t prepare for the interview, prepare for the interviewee. I went on dozens of interviews and prepared by doing research on the company, competitors, industry trends, etc. In the end I found it more valuable to spend time thinking about the interviewee, their role, goals, and objectives. In understanding what they needed to be successful, I found myself better prepared to discuss how I could help.
  • Don’t underestimate the importance of culture. Interviewing is like dating and there are two similar elements in the evaluation. How things look on paper and how things feel. In my search I found several opportunities that fit the requirements I had defined. While these opportunities were right on paper, the chemistry was not there. When I finally found the opportunity that matched both it was clear it had been worth the wait.