seth godin

Leave This Trail Behind

I've worked in sales. Not the car sales type gig, but the media sales type gig. At times, this position was as lowly, petty, predatory, and even humiliating as one who's never done sales, can imagine. Then there were other sales roles (I got to be a sales 'director' at one point :)), which I found satisfying, engaging and confidence-building. These were better.

Fast forward to now, and in the last two weeks I've had not only been approached by my previous employer for a role in sales but by another media agency, today. 

And it felt terrible. The offer was introduced vaguely in an email. The writer is someone I've known in the field for a few years and I think we've grown to respect one another. In writing, she didn't initially state the type of job, just suggested I might be interested in some work.

Then I made an assumption. I assumed she'd done a little digging. At least looked at my profiles online; seen I was fully engaged with my current work. I think so far my content demonstrates that I'm not only happy but that I'm employed in marketing. 

In my head I began creating all types of scenarios: her media company could contract with me. We would work out a retainer deal. I'd get to execute my big ideas with their big clients. I'd add so much and in turn learn and grow!

Aw, so sweet.

Then. We met. For a whopping 20 minutes. She asked about my work. I told her. She asked if I was happy. I responded with a resounding yes. She frowned in disappointment and the meeting fell flat. Sure, I pitched my latest work. My skill set. Delivered what I love doing and why.

And then she asked me why I don't want to be in sales anymore.

And let's be clear. I use sales almost every day. I used sales with my neighbor as we exchanged plants. I use sales with my landlord to get off-street parking. I use sales every single time I log on to social media and tell my followers what I'm up to. 

I actually really like sales. 

So I told her: To be honest, there are so many other things that...I'm better at...that make me happy. At the end of the say, I was never proud to say I was in sales.

She nodded. Gave me a tour of their new office.

Maybe she'll keep me in mind. Maybe. I left and felt defeated because the wild scenarios in my head (albeit, totally realistic) couldn't have been further from her goals.

So I came home and debated a run. But a client call pulled me back into work-mode and suddenly I was doing research again and came across this: two of my favorite business leaders, sharing an interview. 

Seth Godin explains to Marie Forleo:

there is no perfect scenario; your fate or your purpose is ultimately a decision about commitment. The opportunities are like a carousel. They're going by you every single day. They were going by when you were 15, they were going by when you were 26. But if you didn't hop on that damn horse and ride, then they just passed by.  

So to hell with someone who doesn't want to leverage what I love. Moving on. I've hopped on and I keep moving. 

"...If you leave this trail behind of thoughtful examination of your world, you can't help but get better at what you seek to do." - seth godin.

 

What Stealing Looks Like

This 4th of July holiday I made a new friend who works for Hearst communications. She's hustled hard to get her place as editor for a bike and running publication, and when we began following each other on Instagram, passing one of the many phases of the 21st-century friendship, I commented in faux (but secretly real) jealousy of her 2k+ followers.

 

In her profession, companies like Nike, Lulu Lemon, and Oakley not only send her **free** items but at events, press photographers take her stellar photo which she can, in turn, can post to her account. As you can imagine, the photos look pro (plus, she doesn't sell out for free stuff!) and the Instagram-presentation is what you're familiar with if you've spent even 5 minutes on the app.

 

What's important here, is I found this new friend to be a real, down to earth, modest person. She's a killer athlete, sure, but doesn't arrive with ego or self-importance.

 

Somehow we got to talking about her discovery and acceptance of the immediate reaction she began to receive from her followers each time she posted photos of...herself. The numbers were and remain, greater. Then she said something along the lines of: "People like the pictures, so I post them." This light observation can seem obvious but my marketing mind can't stop but thinking about it.  

 

What Molly experienced is what Seth Godin writes about'Nobody says, "That Yo Yo Ma, he’s so self-promotional," or, "can you believe what a self-promoter the Dalai Lama is?" That’s because they’re not promoting themselves. They’re promoting useful ideas. They’re promoting tactics or products that actually benefit the person they’re reaching out to.'

 

Ok, ok. I'm not comparing my friend to the Dalai Lama! And photos of her aren't necessarily helping others, but those photos certainly aren't hurting anyone. More importantly, she's posting not to self-promote, but rather because her audience responds with affirmation. 

 

"Give the people what they want" comes to mind.

 

I can't get this simple and obvious lesson out of my marketing mind. In my past and previous clients, I find an incessant fear. The fear stems from not 'getting' social media, and then grows powerfully out towards ideas that self-promotion is selfish and more commonly narcissistic (admittedly, I relate).

 

But what the hell are we waiting for? We want a bigger business, we want more people to know about us, and we want our audience to like what we sell.

 

I can't articulate this final point as well as Marie Forleo, a killer-instinct-businesswoman who you need to check out if you've not already. Repeatedly, she teaches her business approach along these lines: "If your audience doesn't know what you offer, you're essentially robbing them of your experience."