The 5 personal foundations of winning marketers

Post by Diego Kerner, Managing Partner of brandgym Latin America and author of the book “Lunes Felices (Happy Mondays): 7 Steps Towards a More Authentic Life”, that you can buy in Spanish here.

In a previous blog post, I explained the dimensions of a Winning Brand Team: winning leaders, self confidence in adversity, ruthless focus, sense of purpose and hunger to grow. In this follow-up blog post, I’d like to talk about what individual personal dimensions are needed to win.

In what is the most dynamic and vertiginous time in marketing history, we must learn at the speed of light about how the world of digital technology and neuroscience can help grow our brands and businesses. However, critical for succeeding is – more than ever – to also remember the fundamental features that are the foundations for any marketing leader or manager.

Let me share my perspective of what are 5 eternal capabilities marketers need to develop.  Combined with analytical, creative and leadership skills these should increase the chances of you achieving your ambitions: brand, business and personal.

Build unbreakable trust

The basis of developing and growing any human organization is trust. Being absolutely trustworthy means you honour your words and commitments. Alway. Agency guys and colleagues in sales, operation, finance will trust you when you promise, propose or inform them of something.

Does that mean you can’t be wrong? Nope. The other side of unbreakable trust is that when you do screw up you immediately let people  know. And besides saying sorry, you offer ways to compensate for the damage you might have caused. Although this may sound naïve, silly or expose your negative performance, it brings high positive returns in terms of long-term personal relationships,

Be a player, not a victim

You can’t choose what happens to you. But you can choose how to react. Your new launch doesn’t work as expected, budget has been reduced, it gets tough to align marketing leaders of key markets, you name it…

It is your call whether you want to be a player in the game or a victim. Players focus on the stuff they can impact; victims focus on the variables that are out of their control and live in “complain-land”. The invitation here is to play as protagonist, making the most of the cards you are dealt.

Have an “apprentice attitude”

An old Zen story tells how a famous scientist visited a very old Zen Monk and ironically asked the Monk to teach him. The Monk offers tea, the scientist accepts and the Monk pours tea into the cup until the tea starts spilling over. The scientist asks to the Monk to stop. The Monk answers that until the scientist empties his mind of old knowledge and arrogance, he won’t be able to teach him anything.

“Controllers” claim to know how things are and what needs to be done, giving loads of order and asking very few questions. Learners are curious, humble, inquisitive and direct. They consider other peoples’ perspectives not because they are nice, but because they want a broader perspective. And their world view is much richer as a result.

Specifically in very senior positions, leaders often seem to believe they have the absolute truth. “What can as I learn from a brand new planner, a 21 year old digital agency exec or even a consumer?” they might ask. But unless we are able to “empty our cup” we are able to receive new knowledge and enrich our world.

First things first

This is an idea taken from Stephen Covey’s famous book “The 7 habits of highly effective people”, that we posted on brandgym blog 7 habits of highly effective people here. Most of the 7 habits are fully applicable to your growth agenda, including “start with the first thing first”. Focus on the key, big, core areas which are critical to grow instead of chasing after too many little initiatives. Obvious as it sounds, the fewer the objectives, initiatives, and topics on your agenda, the more resources, time and energy you will be able to allocate to them.

Be a resonator not a squeezer

I heard once that there are two types of people: resonators and squeezers. Resonators amplify your ideas, criticise constructively by offering also solutions, inspire and energise you. On the opposite side, squeezers squeeze your energy, de-motivate you, criticise destructively never reveal their themselves and rarely propose ideas. My tip: develop your own team of resonators, keep them very close to you, and leave out the squeezers!

In summary, in this hectic time we live in, it is even more important to focus on the personal foundations of being both successful and honourable: build unbreakable trust, be a player not a victim, be a humble learner, focus on first things first and surround yourself with resonators.