I would like to share with you additional learnings that I’ve gleaned over my 20 years of experience in strategy and planning. I hope you find some, if not all, of these valuable in some way – especially the last one, it’s the most important lesson I can convey.
In no particular order, here we go:
Partnership is Greater than Individual Achievement: Don’t do things alone. Find a partner to write, ideate and create. It will lead to better, more informed product.
But, Start on your Own: This doesn’t mean you can’t take the first stab, that’s the best part of work. You need to try yourself first, even if you don’t know the answer. It helps you grow
Frameworks are the Start, Not the Product: Frameworks are a tool, they’re not the product. They are a good starting point for strategy and help govern the work. But just like a stencil in art, they’re not what you present publicly.
Beware the Flash, Glitz and Glamour: There’s a bias in the industry to tap into the new, the popular. What’s new and flashy can be good, but it may not last. Focus on what works.
Sometimes Old Ways are the Best Ways: It may not be flashy, it may not be new, but some tried and true tactics work the best, sometimes. I’ll say it, direct mail is amazing.
A Cannes Lion is Great, Driving Client Business is Better: Yes, we all want to be on stage and want awards. But, business success leads to longer term prosperity both for clients and agencies. (Fully admitting I don’t have a Cannes Lion)
Process is a Crutch: Those who yearn for process, roles and responsibilities and clear delineations to what they do and don’t do – will fail to advance at the same pace as those who just do.
Surprise and Delight; But Prove It: Just like glitz and glamour, surprising with innovative new ways is great! Make sure you have the reason for it backed with logic.
When Presenting, be Yourself: Scripts only make you sound scripted or like ChatGPT. People want to work with you for your expertise and who you are as a person. Be authentically you.
Simplify your Narrative, Then do it Again: A strong, simple and single minded narrative is essential especially when you’re presenting detailed thinking. Simplify it down to something anyone would be able to follow. Slides are made for presenting, otherwise we would make books.
Less is More on Slides: Don’t write a novel. Don’t repurpose Powerpoint as Excel. Write as a human. Write about what you’re trying to say, and leave it at that. Fluffery and marketing jargon gets you nowhere.
Show up Early: No one likes someone who just strolls in. Arrive early, show your commitment to the work if not the company. Show you care about what you do – it goes a long way.
Ask for Guidance: You’re not expected to know all the answers.
Saying ‘Data’ Means Nothing: It’s what you do with the data that matters. If you don’t know where it comes from nor can translate it into actionable steps, you’re just saying vaporware.
Stand Up for What You Believe, but Back it Up: Standing for principle is admirable and it shows your commitment. But proving it matters just as much.
Present a Problem AND a Solution: Going to someone with a problem may seem like you’re being proactive. Identifying a potential solution WITH the problem is even better.
Ask for a Double Check: Just like writing a paper in school, have someone review your work – you are not infallible.
Collaboration Breeds Consensus: It’s easier to sell something to someone if you include them in the process.
It will NEVER be Perfect the First Time (or ever): There will always be edits. Take the feedback, take the challenges and refine, refine, refine. Work is iterative.
In sales and marketing, lead generation and lead scoring have always been critical processes for businesses aiming to identify potential customers and allocate resources effectively. In recent years, Artificial Intelligence (AI) has emerged as a game-changer in this domain, enabling companies to streamline their efforts and boost conversion rates. I want to explore how AI is transforming lead generation and lead scoring, along with the top considerations for businesses looking to harness its potential.
Automated Lead Generation AI has breathed new life into lead generation by automating and optimizing the process. Companies using AI for lead generation have increased their number of leads thanks to AI’s ability to analyze vast datasets and identify prospects with a high likelihood of converting. AI-powered tools can scour the internet, social media, and other sources to find potential leads based on predefined criteria, saving businesses valuable time and resources.
Predictive Lead Scoring Traditional lead scoring methods often rely on manual evaluation, a lot of time in Excel, and guesswork. AI brings precision to this process through predictive lead scoring. By analyzing historical data and customer behavior, AI algorithms assign scores to leads, indicating their likelihood to convert. This means sales teams can focus their efforts on leads with the highest potential, resulting in improved conversion rates and revenue growth – while maximizing time.
Personalized Outreach AI doesn’t stop at identifying leads; it also helps tailor outreach efforts. AI-powered chatbots and email marketing tools can craft personalized messages based on lead preferences and behavior. A significant share of marketers reported an increase in lead engagement and conversions after implementing AI-based personalization. This personalized approach not only improves lead nurturing but also could enhance the overall customer experience.
Some Considerations when Leveraging AI in Lead Scoring While AI offers tremendous benefits in lead generation and scoring, businesses should keep these considerations in mind:
Data Quality and Privacy: AI’s effectiveness depends on data quality. Ensure your data is clean, up-to-date, and complies with data privacy regulations like GDPR or CCPA. Mishandling data can lead to legal and reputational issues. This is especially true in highly-regulated categories like pharma and vice brands.
Integration with Existing Systems: Introducing AI into your lead management process may require integrating it with existing CRM and marketing automation systems.
Continuous Learning: AI models need constant refinement and training to stay accurate. Allocate resources (both technology and people) to monitor and update your AI systems regularly to keep them effective.
AI is reshaping lead generation and scoring, offering automation, precision, and personalization that were once unimaginable. By embracing AI while maintaining data quality, integrating it effectively, and committing to continuous learning, businesses can gain a competitive edge in identifying and converting leads, ultimately driving growth and success.
A long time ago now, I was going to university for design and photography. In addition to my intellectual, creative and conceptual skill pursuits, I wanted to learn as much from the “masters” of design and design thinking; not just the principles, but the philosophy as well. My journey brought me to a designer named Bruce Mau; a man who started in design but broadened his application to focus on architecture and philosophy. Mau developed a set of principles in the late nineties called, “The Incomplete Manifesto for Growth.” The list of principles and guidance made its rounds in the design community and ultimately to me. I was so inspired by his humility and direction, I never forgot them.
More presently, I have made my own manifesto for professional progress; a list of directional thoughts, axioms and inspirational ideas of things I’ve learned throughout my career. This manifesto is meant to direct and inspire; a living, breathing list to light the way as I continue down my professional path.
Part of this exercise is share and inspire others through stories and creativity. As a result, I give you my Manifesto for Professional Progress:
Always Bring A Notebook: Take notes, turn the page, repeat. Doesn’t matter if you don’t go back to read them, at least you have your thoughts captured so you can go on to the next
Keep Creating: Creativity broadens the mind and soul; offers new avenues and a refreshed perspective
Listen Loudly: Intently and without compromise, always listen to what people are saying. You will never learn anything new from others if you’re always the one speaking.
Allow The World To Change You: There are so many perspectives, experiences and events outside of your bubble, allow those to change you, your thoughts, perceptions and beliefs – it’s the path to growth.
Go In Uncomfortable Directions: The path unknown is more interesting than the one you always follow. Being uncomfortable means, you’re tuning into something new and that is progress.
Debate: But Don’t Argue: The civil act of debate, the sharing of ideas and perspective is essential to progress as a person, but make sure you’re not just arguing and that you’re allowing and recognizing a different perspective.
Embrace The Passion: If you leave your passion at the door, then you’re always going to leave yourself behind
Do A Dance: Sometimes you just have to let it out, even if you look like a fool, you may inspire others. Don’t take things too seriously.
Forget Process. Start Anywhere: Don’t get stuck in process. Start where you think you should start; progress is individualistic.
Close Your Eyes: Take a pause, close your eyes, think; progress doesn’t need to be evergreen.
Shower Daily: Routine Is important: You can’t move forward smelling like that, can you?
Wake Up Early; Find Quiet Time: Start each day as early as you can but take a moment to appreciate the new day in all its grandeur and to listen to your thoughts for the day.
Push The Convention: Just because everyone did it that way, doesn’t mean you should. Try new things and push against what has always been done; progress doesn’t exist if we don’t move beyond what has always been done.
Use A New Framework; Make Your Own: Don’t always follow the rules, find a new way of thinking.
Work A Late Night Once A Month: Something special happens when we’re sleep deprived and under the gun.
Work Smarter Not Harder: Don’t work as hard as you can, work as smart as you can. People notice when you figure out ways to work more efficiently and productively. Additionally, working harder leads to stress and stress is not an ally for any type of work.
Always Tell Stories: Knowing where to go means you need to know where you came from. People like to know how you got to a conclusion; they like to know how you got there.
Free Flow Ideas: A river carves out its own path; you never know where your ideas will take you, flow with the current
I’ve been giving PowerPoint SmartArt a great deal of thought lately and how beholden we are. More often than not we are reliant on the simplicity of SmartArt, using in it all of our presentations and documents to communicate ideas and our approaches. SmartArt is a simple way of organizing our complex thoughts and representing them visually– in order to communicate more effectively. I admit, I’m a heavy user of SmartArt myself.
However, I’m wondering if SmartArt is, by its own nature, limiting our thinking.
Linear Thinking: It’s so much easier to think linearly, to think in steps, to present in order. The sheer nature of PowerPoint as slides numbered, illustrates this and SmartArt is not immune to this thinking either. By using PowerPoint, we present steps, processes, approaches, you name it in an order that is reliant on the step before.
Forced Frameworks: Trying to jam our thoughts into a pyramid or some sort of relationship venn diagram, forces us to communicate a thought in a language which may not be the right one.
Two Dimensional Thought: Every piece of SmartArt represents two dimensional thinking. Whether it be a process, flow, hierarchy, relationship or list, it’s all about the presentation of thought in two dimensions. Now, don’t get me wrong, I am NOT a three-dimensional thinker by any means, but wonder if it limits our ability to attempt to do so.
Forward, Rewind: Most SmartArt forms represent some sort of flow to a determined end point or goal. However, I have not seen one that allows for moving forward and moving backward or any sort of free flow of journey.
Too Simple: I understand the goal, as mentioned above, is to reduce complexity to simplicity. However, I would argue that most thoughts are not as simple, nor are actions. There is a vast amount of complexity, a consumer journey as an example and it’s difficult to articulate those nuances or complexities using SmartArt; it limits the thinking too much.
High Expectations: It also appears that if there isn’t some sort of SmartArt or derivation of SmartArt, people assume there’s no strategy. When did this become a thing?
I would argue that linear thinking imposed by SmartArt, where it’s easy to communicate thought, may wind up limiting our collective cognitive growth and may innately present an inherent bias in our strategic presentations. I would recommend trying to create something as it is, rather than force an idea into a preconceived image.
I have been working in strategy and planning for the majority of my career, and it has been a learning experience every day. I guess that’s one reason I love working in this field, I’m constantly learning. Strategy and planning wasn’t my first career, I was a designer, a creative thinker to start, then pivoted into strategy.
This is my effort to encapsulate what I have learned. My hope is that someone finds these observations valuable and if not, that’s cool; just want to share my learnings with others as others have shared theirs with me.
In no particular order, here we go:
Find Simplicity in Complexity: There’s a lot of information out there, and that’s an understatement. The role of a strategist or planner is to sort through that complexity to achieve simplicity. That’s it.
Briefs Are Not Commandments: More often than not, we perceive briefs as the end-all-be-all roadmap for the project. This is not the case. Briefs are not infallible nor are they concrete, they are fluid documents that are meant to direct not dictate the journey.
Briefs Require Action: This may be a no brainer, but every brief needs to direct some sort of action. If briefs become a compilation of observations, a translation of what clients said and or pithy statements, they do nothing other than showcase “how much you know” – briefs need to illicit or inspire action.
Cleverness Versus Understanding: A strategist can be clever, their words can be clever, but a really good strategist or planner understands what truly needs to be done, what the target cares about, how the category is evolving, etc. and convey that understanding to others in a clear way. Save the cleverness for poetry.
Find The Jewel: A jewel is a valuable piece of information, shiny and precious. The hunt for precious knowledge, an observation you need to nurture, something someone has overlooked, or something so pure and right for the moment is what our strategic search is all about; the hunt for the purity of thought in the chaos of information.
Aha Is Not An Insight: Aha is surprising and new. An insight is an observation based on data, mixed with a human behavior or truth, that has some significant tension built in or wrapped around. Simply, insights take time to craft and hone unlike “aha” which is just something new.
Also, Observations Are Not Insights: This is one that we have to try every day to fix. An observation is just something that has been discovered, an insight is crafted. To call observations insights is to confuse what you see with what uniquely needs to be done.
Everyone Wants To Make Their Own insights: I’m just going to say it, I don’t know where or when creatives were told, trained or taught to make up an insight to set up ideas. it’s a relatively new endeavor, but one that confuses strategists and planners as we have long been told, by creatives, to provide them insights. But, as you will read later, everything is iterative.
There Is No Ownership, Only Partnership: Long have I thought that deliverables or briefs that I write are “mine,” and that is most definitely not the case. Work, all work, is developed in partnership. The idea of ownership only manifests in what is assigned to you – and those two ideas are different.
Who, What And Why Are Your Most Important Questions: As a strategist, you must always ask “who…”, “what…” and “why…”. If you don’t ask those questions on every assignment, in every meeting, you have extreme difficulty understanding the “how”.
Strategists And Planners Are Business Development: Planners and strategists, by their nature, are generators of new business through the discovery of new avenues, new ways of thinking, or new problems (or the right problems). Since they’re unafraid to ask questions, dare I say need to ask questions, the answers lead to new discoveries.
Time Is Your Best Friend And Worst Enemy: There is no perfect amount of time to write a brief. Each brief or project is under some sort of constraint and a planner or strategist must be accommodating to each scenario; you can’t rubber stamp insights. Pressure is the necessity of strategic thought. The same thing holds true to the notion of too much time; if you have too much time, it’s the absolute worst.
Challenge And Concede: It’s within everyone’s right to challenge preconceived notions, directions or agendas; even more so as strategists or planners. However, know your boundaries, conceding is just as important – you may be wrong.
Humility: You’re not always right; there’s always someone who knows more than you.
Creative and Account Leads Are Your Best Friends: You need to make a partnership with creative and account; the relationship turns out the best in all. It’s like the Avenger’s, each has a unique superpower and together you can take down the worst of the universe.
Don’t Be Afraid Of Excel; There Are Jewels In The Data: It’s a tricky platform and feels daunting if not intimidating, but in most Excel documents there is a nugget of information that is incredibly valuable. It’s okay, I’m not an expert in Excel either.
Ask For Help: This is agnostic of any particular role or discipline, but ask for help when needed – you can’t solve the world.
Anthropology And Psychology Are Essential: The understanding of the human condition, where we’re from, the why we act the way we do and the reasons why is what we do; you must have at least a basic understanding of both.
Find The Problem, Solve The Problem: Sometimes the problems we are provided are not the correct ones or sometimes we don’t even get a problem to solve. Finding the problem is just as essential as solving it; if we don’t have a problem, then there’s no need to write a brief.
Never Stop Reading, Learning, Questioning: This seems to be another no-brainer, but seriously, don’t stop reading, learning, or questioning… it has to be in your nature. Offer a fresh and new perspective. (Note: It doesn’t always have to be about work either.)
Keep Writing Briefs, Even If They’re Not Used: Get in the habit of starting off all your assignments with even the most basic brief, it keeps your skills honed.
Frameworks Matter Less Than What’s In Them: Every agency has their own “proprietary framework” but the irony is they’re all similar if not the same. What matters most is what is IN the framework then the framework itself.
One good thing to happen from the stay-at-home order is that I’ve renewed my passion for paining. As in the previous post, I’m trying new techniques and one of the most important lessons I’ve learned is self-control; don’t let yourself work to the point of destruction.
That said, I’ve now begun to call the series, “Reduction.” (This time, on canvas)
It’s been a long time since I published on this blog; I figured I would go back and revisit one of the more popular posts since the blog’s inception. I’m going back 10 years ago to the resume infographic post. Back then, I was aspiring to become part of the agency landscape once again after taking on my own clients for a while. Since then, I have been on a long and very productive agency career which has yielded some of the best experiences of my professional life; everything from creating a global social media infrastructure for a consumer electronics brand, to developing best in class eCommerce strategies for the world’s largest CPG brand, to collaborating on the strategy to launch the first mass-production electric vehicle in North America.
I’m happy to present to you my updated resume infographic. For those of you who don’t know how the first version was structured, here’s an overview:
At the top, you will see the title of the graphic, my name, title and contact information. Section Two:
Probably the most visually appealing graphic of the document, the work wheel. This graphic represents the work timeline from 1999 to now 2019. And wrapped around the wheel is the visual chronicle of my work history separated by colors. Lines coming from segments of the wheel define where I worked and when. Section Three:
At the bottom of the infographic is more of a linear timeline of my career path. Color of the timeline corresponds to the place of employment just like in the work wheel above. This timeline is simple, linear and gives you a different representation of work history.
For those of you who would like to learn more about my career history and strategic trajectory, I invite you to connect with me on LinkedIn. As far as the next infographic to come out; well I have no idea what it’s going to be just yet. I’m working on finding a subject matter. And of course, if you have a suggestions, don’t hesitate to let me know.
At the end of every year, I like to rewind and reflect on the year that is coming to an end. Since we are all accustomed to year-end lists, I figured I would populate a list of my most popular Instagram posts of 2016 (based on likes and comments). One of my goals for the year was to take more photos. I’m not sure I shot more, but I was more selective with the photos I did post. So, here we go, my top ten Instagram posts of the year.
There you go, my top ten Instagram posts of the year. Feel free to follow me on Instagram.
It was a pretty intense year filled with a lot of transition and change. Undoubtably, the transition and change had a major impact on the music that I listened to and the artists that I discovered, versus years prior.
The creation of the list started with the most played tracks of 2015. From there, the evaluation criteria focused on tracks with a significant memory and emotion, tracks that I couldn’t stop listening to and tracks that helped define me and the last year of my life. It is important to note that some of these tracks were not released in 2015, but that doesn’t matter to me. It’s a personal list and a list that reflects the life, emotion and events of 2015.
Here we go!
10. Funk With Me – Snails, Big Gigantic