So, for most of my adult life, I’ve been the young guy. I’ve been on the bottom of the ladder. Those above me have always gotten to know me really well because I ask a lot of questions.
In college, I learned quickly the magic of office hours. You could ask any and every question and soak up the answers. Suffice it to say I was a fixture. 🙂
Now I’m a little bit older and have the distinct privilege of managing an incredible team of marketers. So, now I’m the guy who gets the questions and I love it.
Something that I’m trying to blot of existence is someone saying “can I ask a stupid question?”
You should never be ashamed to ask for help or inquire about something. It’s when you don’t ask questions or assume the answer that you’re so much more prone to make mistakes.
I usually say back that “the only stupid questions are the ones that don’t get asked.”
Now when the actual question inevitably gets asked, I may not give you the answer you’re looking for. I may just point you in the direction of where to look. But you always need to feel comfortable to ask the question.
We live in an era where you ALWAYS have to be learning. That means you always need to feel comfortable asking questions.
One of the big lessons I’ve learned in my adult life is learning to take feedback. When someone tells you how they feel about you or what you do, it’s easy to get emotional and snap back. As you can imagine that’s not a productive experience for either side.
One of my first jobs out of college was at a startup Clearspring. We were small and I was on the front lines of every inbound communication. A lot of people wanted to share feedback. At first, I had to hold back from responding emotionally.
At some point, I realized that if someone cares enough to take the time to share feedback that it means that they care. Sure the feedback can be hard but it’s HUGELY important and you want more of it. Feedback is how you learn to move forward.
Now, it’s important to say that feedback is just ONE data point. You have to learn how to evaluate the feedback but you also don’t want to live in a bubble, which too many people do.
When someone says “you suck,” say “thanks” and “how can I suck less?” That’s the attitude. You need to be grateful for the opportunity.
At Clearspring, my boss set the amount of product feedback I was able to pull in as one of my performance goals (KPIs), which I think is kind of brilliant.
All in all, I think it’s so important to learn to embrace feedback. It’s big part of how to grow and learn. And it’s all about learning.
Don’t be defensive. Be grateful.
I love new technology. I remember the day that iPhone came out. I stood in line for 3 hours at the Apple Store in Arlington, VA. Most of my friends thought I was CRAZY for spending $700 on a mobile phone. But I knew I was seeing the start of a revolution that would change the world.
Everyone wants to know… what’s the next iPhone gonna be? We all waited with baited breath. The iPad was a relative hit. Then came them Apple Watch, Apple TV updates, Apple Airpods, which were all fine but nothing of iPhone caliber.
What if the next computing revolution isn’t a device like the iPhone? Ubiquitous computing is the next revolution. Everything is a computer. Your watch is a computer. Your ear buds are a computer. Your house is a computer. Your car is a computer. All of these are platforms that you can build apps on on top of.
Apple, Google, Microsoft start creating systems that allow us stitch all of these systems together into something even smarter and more useful.
It makes the Apple Watch seem like less of a disappointment in the shadow of the iPhone and more like a piece of the puzzle.
With a house, wife, kids, and a job that’s getting increasingly more complex, I have to be productive. I have to know what I need to get done and then get it done.
There are so many inputs. I have email. I have a text messages. I have instant messages. I have social media. I have work group messaging. Everyone is vying for my attention. Everyone is asking me to do something.
For work, we especially love email and group chat. It’s far too easy for it all to fly back ‘n forth. You lift your head and find that you haven’t actually gotten anything done for multiple hours.
I work very hard to not use email as my to do list. I use Apple Reminders as my to do list. I work off of what’s in Reminders. I’ll regularly check what’s in my email, evaluate it, decide how it compares to what else is on my list, and add accordingly. If needed, I’ll re-prioritize.
I’ll do something similar with a number of different inputs. I go through my meeting notes, look for action items, and put them in Apple Reminders. I go through my project planning in Trello and put my to do’s in Apple Reminders.
My goal is that I have ONE LIST that I use to manage what I want to get accomplished during the work day.
Apple Reminders has been really great for my family too. You can share your lists with others. That way my wife and I have common lists for joint projects, things I need to do, shopping lists, etc.
Net net — It’s important to find and be disciplined about a system that works for you, where you can prioritize what you need to do and be in control.
Sometimes some of the biggest and deepest truths are the simplest. I’ve had one on my mind lately… important things are hard.
We all have those things that we want to do. We want to be successful entrepreneurs, we want to be thinner, or we want to be richer… you get the idea.
I was on Facebook and friend posted something to the extent of “Do you want to be thinner without putting in all the work?” And instantly everyone said YES, YES, YES. Well it’s all a lie. Losing weight and being thinner isn’t something that you can do without making sacrifices. It may mean not eating that ice cream that everyone else is.
I want to have more time to read by myself in the quiet. That meant I had to get up earlier and forgo sleep. There are days that it’s REALLY hard. I have force myself out of bed but I’m always glad that I do.
I want to get back into writing more often. That means I’m going to have to set aside time to write more often. That means I’m going to have to not do something else.
It’s almost like we’re trained to try and look for shortcuts. We want to be lazy. By cheating the process, you’re gonna not get where you want.
All too often, I think people really overthink their marketing strategies and tactics. They come up with these really complex marketing plans that feel too clinical or transactional that don’t think about real life. It ends up feeling awkward and inevitably ineffective.
Great marketing is about building a great relationship between a brand/business/org and the customers. Prior to the digital age, this was done offline. Growing up my dad and I would go grocery shopping together. We got to know one of the sample ladies really well. That relationship helped her sell a lot of product.
Fast forward twenty years. The principals till hold true. Great marketing is still about building great relationships. You have to really care about your customers.
What’s different? The Web enables you to build relationships with audiences at scale. You can have meaningful interactions with A LOT of people that are mediated by social networks.
When I wake up in the mornings and page through Facebook and Twitter, I’m looking with the eye of how I can affirm, serve or add value to the people that are in my network. This may be a simple as a fist bump emoji or something more complex. They’re all meaningful interactions.
In the age of social media, you can interact with your audience early and often… like a normal relationship. I talk to my wife, family, and close friends more than once a month. Yet, too often brands who want a relationship feel comfortable emailing their audience more than once a month.
When people think about marketing, they get all nervous and anxious and forget that in the end it’s just about building relationships. They start doing things online that’d feel really uncomfortable in an offline relationship. STOP! A relationship is a relationship regardless of whether it’s online or offline. Start marketing like it.
Four or five years ago, I owned the domain name JustinThorp.com. I was an idiot and let the domain name lapse. This is why my blog for the longest time has been Oatmeal Stout on DrinkingOatmealStout.com.
About three or four months ago, JustinThorp.com became available again and I jumped on it. I plan on keeping Oatmeal Stout alive with all of its content. All new posts will be here.
I’ve started to organize my essays & posts from here, Oatmeal Stout, and Medium.
The world is constantly changing. To survive in our current economy, you have to love learning. Join me on my journey to process the world around me.