As I publish issue 200, six years after starting this newsletter as the monthly-ish Serially Sporadic and four years after taking it weekly, it’s an apt time for time travel.
The year was 2013.
I had recently wrapped up a seven-year run with my corporate alma mater 360i when my alma mater Binghamton University reached out asking if I might consider auditioning to give the address at their fall commencement.
Somehow, it all worked out, and there I was in a way fancier cap and gown than the one I graduated in, giving an address that connected the two most disparate themes I could think of for such a talk: the maker movement and Yiddish linguistics.
Fast forward to 2022.
I went on LinkedIn last week, ignoring a bunch of the usual connection requests from people selling me lead generation and virtual assistant services, and there was this request from someone whose name I hadn’t come across before: Ari Weinstein.
“Hello David. Jack Weinstein was my father, and I just recently discovered your 2013 Commencement Address at Binghamton U. It’s so good to see the lasting impression my father made on others, so hope you won’t mind connecting. Also: I love meeting marketing pros!”
Wait, the son of the venerated Jack Weinstein not only came across the speech and found me on LinkedIn, but he loves marketers?
This is why I’ve been so avid on LinkedIn since 2004, though this request is a hall-of-famer.
For those who identify as creators, you never know who your work will reach and what will result from it. I’ll be speaking with Ari soon and am so grateful for the connection.
Did I mention he loves meeting marketers?
Like, really. He volunteered that.
As for the speech, you can find it on YouTube if you’ve finished Only Murders in the Building’s new season and need something else to binge, but here are a few excerpts of a talk that I think still holds up pretty well nearly a decade later:
What Are You Making of Yourself?
How’s it going? How are you? Comment ca va? Que pasa? Que tal? Ni hao ma? Tsup?
Normally, people say these words and don’t really care about the response. People aren’t usually looking to give or receive an answer. If you do have an answer though, it’s a great way to catch people off guard.
I learned another way to ask “How are you?” when I was at Binghamton. I’ll never forget it. I had a professor, Jack Weinstein, of blessed memory. He taught Yiddish, and most people who took it once kept coming back for more not really to be proficient in the language, but to spend more time learning from Jack.
He was pretty good at teaching linguistics. He was amazing at teaching life.
One of the first lessons Jack taught was, fittingly, how to say, “How are you?” In Yiddish, it’s only two words – “Vos Makhstu?” And people in Yiddish often throw it out there like they’re saying, “How are you?” – a casual question that tends to yield a similarly casual response – “I’m good,” “I’m fine.”
But what Professor Weinstein taught me that I’ll never forget is the real meaning of “Vos Makhstu?” The literal translation is far more profound. Instead of just asking, “How are you,” you’re asking, “What are you making of yourself?”
Imagine that. You’re at an alumni reunion a year from now. You run into an old friend you haven’t seen since, unless you count a few Facebook exchanges. And your friend comes up to you and says, “Hey, how have you been? What are you making of yourself?”
How do you answer that one?
What are you making of yourself?
Do you have an answer for that? Could you come up with one? Are you remotely prepared to answer the question?
Since my time as a student, I have tried to make something of myself, and then remake it. Unsure of what I’d do when I’d graduate, during my senior year I received advice at Binghamton’s Metro Career Fair that changed my life. An alum recognized that by trying my hand starting an online publication for the university, I inadvertently gave myself job skills – something I tried as hard as possible not to do in my four years as an English and then a Psych major. I am someone who thought it was a good idea to take Yiddish, after all. Six courses of Yiddish, not one in economics.
I’ve tried to make my way through what was then known as new media and the new economy. First, it was technical writing at a dot-com startup, which let me go five months later and then imploded (that was also the time I really learned the meaning of the word “schadenfreude”). Then there was the research firm which I joined as an editor, and then I got the chance to make up a public relations role, with no training. This was followed by a couple of director of marketing roles in the interactive media field. Then I took a role so focused on making stuff up that “emerging media” was in my job title, and I lasted seven years doing it.
Each time around, it presented new opportunities to make something of myself, as well as of the organization I was working for.
That’s one thing Binghamton prepared me for in a big way. It is a 67-year-old startup. That’s to its credit. To be around that long and still create an atmosphere where anything is possible is practically a singular feat.
The world is now entering a new phase of entrepreneurialism. It’s called the Maker Movement. This is an era where it’s possible for anyone to come up with, design, prototype, create, fund, and market new products and services.
It’s an era where anyone can turn the iPhone in their pocket into Edison’s Menlo Park lab or Hewlett and Packard’s Palo Alto garage. It’s an era of disruption. If you think of the industries disrupted by companies such as Google, Expedia, Amazon, AirBNB, Uber, and others, just wait for what’s ahead.
Today, it’s quickly becoming just as easy to print out a new human organ that could save someone’s life as it is an unregistered gun that could take someone’s life.
What’s to prevent you from taking a pocket-sized 3D object scanner into a store, scanning a product you like, and then uploading it for anyone to access for free? As many lawyers as there are who have graduated from this university, the world’s actually going to need even more of them to sort all this out.
Beyond lawyers though, innovators are needed. The Maker Movement needs makers.
The world is now in demand for people who will make something of themselves. It needs people who know what it’s like to create something from nothing, to look at what there is and reinvent it, to imagine how the world should be and could be and will be, and to do something about it. There have been many good times over the past millennia for inventors. But there’s never been such a propitious time for makers.
You are one of them. You need to be one of them. And it’s not all about goods and services. Making something of yourself means molding your character and living your life in a way that you feel does justice and even honor to your name. That’s going to be the far bigger challenge, with the promise of a far bigger reward.
The making of your character is a far more meaningful undertaking than the making of your career, but the choices you have made and will make as to your education and life’s work will in turn shape how you make yourself into who you are. Making something is not just going to be your opportunity, but your obligation – and hopefully, your calling.
Get ready for each day ahead. You know what’s the best way to prepare yourself? Ask yourself each day, “What am I making of myself?” Listen to your answer.
At first, it may be a challenge. And then, as you make something of yourself more often, and it becomes part of your habit, you’ll start to love it. You’ll start to live for each moment that you ask yourself that question, because you’ll take so much pride in how you respond.
You’ll start to wish that instead of people asking you how you’re doing or how it’s going, they’d ask you, “What are you making of yourself?”
Because whenever they ask, you’re going to know the answer.
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WHAT TO READ:
Recent content shared by Serial Marketers and friends:
- Binghamton University Commencement Fall 2013 – David Berkowitz – “Be a Maker… by BinghamtonUniversity
- Antenna Group Names Edelman’s Eric Schoenberg Chief Operating Officer by Antenna Group
- Martech360 Interview With John Nardone, President, Mediaocean by Suchita Dey
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Keep checking out the #jobs channel in Serial Marketers for more. Better yet, subscribe to get updates from our job listing board. Here are some great opportunities shared in these places or sent to me directly.
Senior Associate, Content
New York, New York
Via William in the community
“You will assist the manager in translating the content strategy into content programs. You are responsible for completing the day-to-day needs relating to content partnerships, from developing tactical media recommendations, launching campaigns, and measuring performance. Your Impact: Meet and evaluate external suppliers around content & work with the Content Manager to develop a partnership with the best suppliers, Facilitate the Campaign RFP planning process by drafting RFP briefs, engaging with considered partners to develop proposals, and ensuring all deadlines are met by key stakeholders in the RFP process, Aide the Content Manager in negotiating partnership deals that deliver the most value to clients, Participate in brainstorms that generate original ideas that can inform the RFP process…etc.”
New York, New York
Via William in the community
“You will be responsible for helping to translate content strategy into content programs and will be responsible for flawless execution of the program. Responsible for the day-to-day needs relating to content partnerships, you will be leading conversations with partners and clients throughout the execution process. You will work closely with the Content Director and Account team to support them in developing strategy, and ensuring content programs plug into the integrated marketing approach and process. Your Impact: Develop tactical content recommendations that advance our client’s business objectives and marketing strategies, Meet and evaluate external suppliers around content & work with Wavemaker colleagues and trading team to develop a partnership with the best suppliers, Negotiate partnership deals that deliver the most value to clients…etc.”
Marketing Communications Manager
Via Brad in the community
“As the Marketing Communications Manager, you’ll oversee community events, social media, and content marketing for Fullstack’s portfolio of tech bootcamps and university partnership programs. You’ll conceptualize events, experiences, and compelling content for our community members that build evangelists for our immersive education programs. The Marketing Communications Manager will lead a team of professionals who specialize in events, social media, and content marketing. This is a full-time, remote role that will report to the Director of Marketing. This role may require travel at such a time as it is both safe and strategically meaningful to do so.”
Associate, Marketing Operations
Via Brad in the community
“As the Marketing Operations Associate at Fullstack Academy, you will be responsible for building and maintaining marketing automation workflows and operational processes that drive user engagement and student enrollment initiatives. On a day-to-day basis, you’ll be working deeply within HubSpot and other martech systems to provide impactful digital experiences for prospective students. You will build, maintain and optimize lists, workflows, marketing emails, automated and bulk SMS campaigns within HubSpot. You’ll support the creation of scalable structures and processes that enable experimentation across Fullstack Academy’s various programs. This role is both hands-on and collaborative. You will work with various Marketing team members on segmentation and communication strategies and you will partner with various functions across the Fullstack Academy organization to deliver an excellent customer experience to our prospective students. This is a full-time, US-based remote role that will report to the Manager, Marketing Ops & CRM within the Performance Marketing team.”
Also, check out the Serial Marketers job board.
Other job resources (see a full list here):
- Beeler.Tech: Job listings for ad operations, programmatic account management, sales operations, and more.
- Braintrust: A freelance platform where you are the owner and where freelance talent keeps 100% of the bill rate.
- Built in NYC: Jobs at a range of levels and functions, as long as you’re okay working in this quaint, backwater hamlet.
- Candidate: Featured marketing and sales jobs
- Creative Women of Color: List yourself in the database and find talent, via Women Who Create
- ExecThread: Senior roles spanning a range of verticals and cities; membership is free but fully vetted (this uses my referral ID to get you in faster)
- Gently Ventures: Helps scale businesses by finding the right talent
- Growth Collective: Apply to join this network of notable freelance marketers
- Hearty: Get recommended by peers and be discovered
- Hue: Amplifying voices of people in color working in marketing
- Lunch Club: Match 1:1 around predetermined goals with accomplished professionals (free)
- NYC Ad Jobs & Networking: A popular Facebook group
- #OpenToWork: There’s a channel in Serial Marketers where you can share what you’re looking for
- Pocit: A platform connecting people of color with jobs in the tech industry
- Questions to Ask for a Marketing Role: What questions should you ask when starting a new marketing role or job?
- Serial Marketers Job Board: Post regular and featured listings and subscribe for updates.
- VC Job Boards: Aleph, Eniac Ventures, Pear, Sequoia, Union Square Ventures
- Venwise: Submit your job interests here and get in front of their roster of hiring leads; select “Serial Marketers” under “How did you find us”
Do you run or enjoy other job listing sites? Let me know, and I’ll share them.
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