Happy Hundred-versary To Us!

We’re celebrating with a list of 100 things we’ve learned over 100 newsletters.

  1. First, taking a moment to pause and reflect is something we’re still very happy to stand for.
  2. So much so that we’re going to start this list with a pause for some deep breathing.
  3. So go ahead and breathe in nice and deep.
  4. Now hold it for a few seconds.
  5. Now breathe out.💨
  6. Now breathe in again.
  7. Hold again.
  8. And now … a nice slow exhale.
  9. Wasn’t that nice?
  10. Speaking of pauses, we have also learned that emails feel more welcoming when text is interspersed with images.
  11. We like it best when these images make us laugh. Because we like laughter. And joy. And combining these things with work.
  12. Speaking of funny images, we’ve also learned that the Marketoonist has a relevant cartoon for pretty much anything. You should probably buy his excellent book.
  13. We’ve also learned that even though the marketing press still tends to focus on tactics, there are still some big thinkers out there.
  14. So much so that there’s always something new that’s worth learning and sharing and thinking about.
  15. We may not agree with everything these big thinkers say, but we’re still glad they’re saying it.
  16. They don’t agree with each other all that much, either. Though they all seem to agree that they don’t like Gary Vee.
  17. This makes us more glad that Gary Vee is still doing his thing, not less. You do you, Gary. You do you.
  18. The point is, reading a thought-provoking point-of-view on the work you do is always worth the time—no matter how busy you are.
  19. But … reading these points of view is getting harder as paywalls take hold everywhere.
  20. Paywalls may help the ailing media industry, but they don’t help free and open discourse very much.
  21. And free and open discourse really matters (like taking a moment to pause and reflect every once in a while).
  22. We’re rooting for a blogging renaissance to address this problem, at least in the marketing world.
  23. On the topic of media, we’ve also noticed that the UK marketing press is generally more thoughtful and more focused on strategy.
  24. This doesn’t make them more right. Just more interesting. And unselfconsciously cerebral. 🧠
  25. They are, however, definitely right about some important things (for example, the importance of research into what really works vs. what’s cool).
  26. Over time we’ve grown more interested in ideas from outside the marketing sphere.
  27. That’s because many of the most pressing problems faced by marketers are not unique to marketing.
  28. This seems obvious, but the marketing world is honestly kind of a monoculture.
  29. And to be clear, we’re no more immune to this kind of myopia than anyone. It took us a while to widen our net.
  30. These interesting bigger-than-marketing problems include … getting people to buy into your beautiful strategy.
  31. And then figuring out how to actually execute the thing without it falling apart.
  32. In other words, making real change stick.
  33. They also include the joys and challenges of leading people.
  34. And collaborating with people.
  35. And being led by people.
  36. And hiring good people.
  37. And retaining them.
  38. Plus building healthy teams.
  39. Fostering true diversity.
  40. Creating psychological safety.
  41. Building a culture that’s healthy and helps you get where you need to go.
  42. Figuring out how to structure teams.
  43. And optimize processes.
  44. And bridge silos between departments.
  45. Figuring out what to measure and how to measure it.
  46. Taking care of your team’s mental health.
  47. And your own mental health, too.
  48. Keeping cool in a crisis.
  49. Avoiding burnout.
  50. We’re sorry if this is starting to feel stressful. Let’s pause again for a few deep breaths.
  51. Breathe in nice and slow.
  52. Hold it for a second.
  53. Now breathe out.
  54. Now breathe in again.
  55. And … breathe out nice and slow.
  56. It’s still nice, isn’t it?
  57. We called this newsletter Pause + Reflect because those two things go together. The pausing and the reflection.
  58. Merriam-Webster describes reflection as “a thought, idea, or opinion formed as a result of meditation”.
  59. So the meditation comes first, then the thoughts and opinions are formed. The first thing leads to the second.
  60. This feels especially important in the marketing world.
  61. The reason for this goes back to the myopia we mentioned earlier. Ours is a somewhat insular profession.
  62. We shared a handy chart to this effect in the last newsletter (good old #99, last of the double digits).
  63. Monocultures tend not to reflect very often. They’re up inside their own …stuff. 😀
  64. But being really good at marketing actually requires zooming out.
  65. Thinking about how we fit into the rest of the organization.
  66. And how we deliver value to it.
  67. Thinking about the humans on the other end of the work we do.
  68. And how we deliver value to them.
  69. Thinking about conventional wisdom and whether all of it is actually wise.
  70. Thinking about old habits and whether it might be time for new ones.
  71. Thinking about the balance between the short and long term.
  72. About the methods we use and the effect they have on society at large.
  73. About the power we all have and how we want to use it.
  74. Okay, that got a little heavy. It’s time for another cartoon.
  75. And … why not … time for a few more deep breaths.
  76. Breathe in, nice and deep this time. Fill that tank.
  77. Now hold it for a few seconds.
  78. Now breathe out. Imagine you’re a balloon slowly deflating the day after a birthday party.
  79. Now breathe in again, one last time.
  80. Hold again. Just sit with it.
  81. And now … a nice slow and easy exhale.
  82. (satisfied sigh)
  83. Quick point of clarity: we are not claiming the moral high ground here. We get just as caught up in the minutiae as the next person.
  84. In fact, this newsletter just as much for us as it is for you. It forces us—every two weeks—to pause and reflect ourselves.
  85. Some weeks that comes easy. Others, less so.
  86. So yeah, no judgement from us. Our goal is not to scold.
  87. Quite the opposite. Our goal is to support you. Maybe occasionally inspire you. Make you laugh once in a while.
  88. We appreciate it every time you open this up and read it.
  89. And every time you share it with a friend.
  90. (Speaking of which, if you want to get us a present for our hundredversary, consider sharing this with a few folks now).
  91. We love it when clients or friends mention something they read here. Or give us feedback (positive or negative).
  92. We love the way this simple email newsletter makes us feel connected to something bigger. A community.
  93. Basically we’ve learned how much we love and care about our people.
  94. AKA the collection of humans commonly knowns as “marketers”.
  95. We ain’t perfect, but we’re always interesting.
  96. Always curious.
  97. Always excited about something new.
  98. And almost always the snappiest dressers in the building.
  99. Thank you, friends.
  100. You’re the best. ❤️
Issue #100
May 9, 2020

Further Reading