SERIAL MARKETER WEEKLY
Issue 41: Meet Me in the Middle
From Serial Marketer: “The Cutting Edge of Marketing”
It was the year 2000.
I wasn’t yet concerned about the Y2K bug that dominated the news.
I was concerned, however, with holding on to my job at a dot-com startup where I started that May, fresh out of college at age 21.
I knew nothing. Maybe less than nothing. Or as close to the nothing asymptote as one can possibly be.
Following submitting an application through Monster.com, I had talked my way into a job at this veritable United Nations of small businesses, where the 15 to 20 Indians, Pakistanis, Russians, Italians, and Americans were making the world safe for shopping in pop-up windows.
Still, I apparently knew a few things that the CEO did not. This became all too evident when that CEO and I met up at the office of his latest company in Brooklyn, a bustling firm winning business head-to-head against some of the world’s software giants.
We reminisced, and he was surprised how much I remembered about that 2000-era startup where I lasted all of five months before earning my first pink slip. I told him, not really joking, “It scarred me for life.”
There was also a lot of good that came out of that startup, at least for me. The first bit of good was that I was actually employed right out of school – albeit in a relatively promising time, before the dot-com bubble bursting and the far more devastating 2001 terrorist attacks that chilled the economy, creating far fewer opportunities for recent graduates (especially liberal arts graduates).
That startup is also where my boss, the head of marketing, introduced me to eMarketer, where I would find a job two months after my layoffs (a stint I spent substitute teaching at an elementary school). I initially applied through HotJobs.
When I met the CEO of my first startup last week, he was able to share so much of what I was blind to – the fundraising, the growth, the despair. And I gave him plenty of color on what it was like starting my career at his company.
Nearly 20 years later, we could finally meet in the middle. We could finally look at each other as peers. We could finally share the pride and frustration.
It made me realize that so many of the most poignant moments I’ve had professionally working for and managing others has been that meeting in the middle. I cherish both the giving and the receiving – the times when titles and hierarchies don’t matter, and we could just sit down face-to-face and talk as peers.
It doesn’t just build relationships. It makes both parties smarter and better equipped to do their jobs. There’s the emotional value and also informational value. It requires one letting their guard down and the other mustering enough confidence. It’s not always easy.
During a stint where I was so fresh out of school and knew so little and wasn’t going to stick around that long, it didn’t matter all that much. But when managing and being managed, it so often makes sense to say, “Baby, why don’t you just meet me in the middle?”
Okay, not like that. The song lyrics (constantly stuck in my head) are so inappropriate for professional relationships. But there’s something to that idea – when you’re losing your mind at work, just a little, maybe there’s someone you can meet in the middle and work things through.
What am I making of myself? Meeting someone in the middle – 19 years later. What about yourself? What are you making of yourself?
PS: For one more week, scroll down to see a lot of recommendations for sessions at South by Southwest (SXSW). If you’re going and want to meet, I’ll be there 3/9-13.
LEARN. TRY. SHARE.
THE ELLA PROJECT
This is a fun collaboration shared by Anthony Onesto in Serial Marketers. Deloitte teamed up with The Ella Project, which produces the Ella the Engineer comic book, to launch a new series that will feature Ella solving problems by working through them with senior Deloitte execs.
Congrats to Ian Schafer and the team behind Kindred on the launch of their new firm. “Kindred accelerates social movements through the power of popular culture. We foster and bring together communities of influential creators, social media platforms, purpose-driven brands, and non-profit organizations to help tackle some of society’s most pressing issues.” Want to be part of that community? Sign up here:
15 USE CASES OF AI IN MARKETING
Econsultancy goes deep in this roundup, including examples from an array of industries about practical applications of artificial intelligence. If anyone thinks artificial intelligence is still a blustery load of puffery, this helps ground the tech and shows what you can do with it right now.
BRANDS CONTENT WITH PUBLISHERS’ CONTENT STUDIOS
What’s the latest on branded content studios? This piece details how brands are working with the creative teams at Washington Post, Meredith, Forbes, and others. Thanks to Dan Rubin of Meredith’s Foundry for sharing this with the Slack group; he’s quoted repeatedly there too.
SECRET AGENT MAN’S SECRET WEAPON
I hate words like “ninja” in the marketing world, but if there is a marketing ninja, then he or she might as well be a Canadian ninja, and I’d nominate Saul Colt. This most effective and unconventional marketer released a guide to experiential and word of mouth marketing (two of Saul’s strongest suits). He even has an option for you to read it without handing over your email (did I mention he’s Canadian, and thus a very polite ninja?).
DIVERSITY IN MARKETING? SOLVED.
Maybe not. But LiveIntent’s Kerel Cooper shares his thoughts on how to make strides in solving the diversity problem in marketing. Two of the most important ingredients are authenticity and accountability.
WHAT’S THE ROI OF A CONNECTION?
Valeria Maltoni, cited in this newsletter frequently, follows up on her experiment to reconnect with 30 of her LinkedIn connections over 30 days. In the process, she gives a primer on network dynamics and what aspects of one’s network provide the most value.