October 29, 2008

Over the Long Run…

Filed under: Ed-isms, Personal Branding, Philosophy, Random — Robert John Ed @ 5:12 am

…this means nothing.

Over the long run, commitment is all that matters.  There’s a good reason we all do the things we do, but it’s obvious who’s in it for the right reasons after that first rejection.  They give up.  They go back to the drawing board and think of a new route to follow.

Those people who could care less whether one person, one company or one decision go against their ideas and vision, (even when it happens over and over again) those people change the world.  If you are truly dedicated to your cause, one set back such as not getting the job you had in mind or having your business idea fall flat after a few months just doesn’t matter.  If you really are trying to achieve something worthwhile, those setbacks can’t stop you.  Only you can stop you.

Talented individuals are often given to fits of extremely high performance.  That high performance translates into success in earlier stages of development (school and work) at a very high clip.  As those same individuals grow to embrace newer and more advanced challenges in the same institutions, the competition and likelihood of failure both grow.  It’s only natural.  And those same tendencies toward success work against these individuals.  Being so used to success early and often, they come to view a failure as an insurmountable obstacle and quickly investigate new areas of interest.  More is the pity.

Persistence is the truest of virtues.  Your current failures are but pebbles at the foot of your future monument.


October 28, 2008

The Rollercoaster

Filed under: School — Robert John Ed @ 3:14 am

Business school is a rollercoaster ride moving at high velocity with extreme ups and downs.  One day you feel absolutely fantastic with aspirations a mile high; the next you’re struggling to keep your head above water, incredibly tired and wondering just why you decided to do this in the first place.

It’s evident with everyone in class.  The 16 hour days add up and eventually you are just hoping to get a rest.  No one is immune to the occasional ups and downs.

The classes, the preparation for interviewing, the informational sessions, the industry and company research and the exhaustive amount of new learning all take their toll.  You really have to open your mind to learning many new subjects (of which may not be your cup of tea) in different ways.  It’s tough.

Yet what truly takes its toll is something much more intangible, the uncertainty.  Although I couldn’t lay claim to others’ thoughts on the matter, the uncertainty for what the future holds makes everything a little more tiresome.  When you don’t know where you’ll end up, what’s the best path and just exactly what you should be doing…well it’s almost as if everything seems like a decent possibility.  So you investigate every potential scenario seeming a good fit and end up with a choice paradox that boggles you a bit.  So attempting to sort out and deduct the best of all these choices is kind of where I’m at.  It’s exhausting.

(This seems like a good time to point out that I’m cognizant of how almost every post I write now is centered around some facet of school.  That’s not nearly so much fun for the people who read this blog for a more traditional marketing train of thought.  I apologize, but someday I plan on going back through this thing and reflecting on the experience…then openly weeping.  :-)  Maybe when my coursework is more marketing centric, it will turn the tide.)

October 25, 2008

Minneapolis Marketing Community + Elite 8

Filed under: Meeting Marketers, School — Robert John Ed @ 4:58 pm

Last night, while volunteering for the Elite 8 Competition me and a friend were welcoming the judges for the competition before they were debriefed.  I’m continually impressed with the caliber of marketers in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area, the breadth of knowledge and ability here must rival that of any city in the nation.  Everyone you meet is not only intellectually stimulating, but indelibly nice.

What really resounds, though, is the fact that near everyone is connected.  Although not everyone has actually met, almost everyone from major corporations has met someone (or many) they work with now.  The community is very tight here and for good reason.  It’s a major MSA populated with some extremely large companies in the CPG, Med Device, Healthcare, Retail spaces, with not only one monolith but many competitors in similar categories, which equates to transferability over the long term for career paths.  It’s a wonderful place to work, with fantastic employers and opportunity for growth.  You see it every day.

There are some other implications of this tight knit community.  Everyone knows everyone, so word travels fast about a particular employee, their work ethic and responsibility or lack thereof.  That is a very good thing from my perspective, and it’s exciting to be part of such a productive marketing community.  I can’t wait to get out into the real world again.  :-)

If you see anyone from Thrivent Financial, please thank them for sponsoring the Elite 8.  If you run into Ryan Backer, Steve Meinz, Dorothy Cravens, Stephanie Lay or Jenna (Zhenya) Melnick please congratulate them on the case and their representation of our school.  Finally, make sure to go see them present at 4pm today!

October 23, 2008


Filed under: Human Relations, Personal Branding, School — Robert John Ed @ 1:43 am

Most anyone who knows me well enough can tell you that I’m a little eccentric.  It can be great sometimes, but it’s a double edged sword.

A recent example, I just had an informational interview with a decent sized company in Minneapolis that has interested me for some time.  I went in and spoke with a person in the position that I’d be applying for and the company continued to impress me.  After leaving, I sent a note of gratitude for the time they took to help me out.  Unfortunately, I sent a thank you note that had a kitten on the front of it (which made me laugh when I opened the bundle of cards).  Looking back, it was pretty silly.  But hey, I’m a little silly.

I got some feedback from our school recruiting department that this is not representative of Carlson.  After thinking it over, it’s pretty obvious they’re correct.  Here’s why: a company can’t afford eccentricity.

It’s not that they don’t want people to be themselves.  It’s the simple fact that what their employees say and do is a direct reflection of the products and services they provide.  That means that the professionalism of a major corporation is directly judged through the correspondence of their employees.  Same goes for a school and the students that attend.  One thing that concerns me regarding moving on to a larger corporate structure is picking up the unsaid mores; hopefully situations like this will help me to learn a little faster.  It’s important to attribute these situations to mistakes along the learning curve, but more importantly, not make them again.

Excitement Generates Excitement

Filed under: Marketing Philosophy — Robert John Ed @ 1:25 am

I’ve been thinking A LOT lately about what marketing really is.  Obviously it exists in multiple forms, after all, marketing is just the ultimate buzzword from which all other marketing buzzwords are derived.  But it is also a very real phenomenon.  Working with some of the smaller groups on campus has been opening my eyes to a lot of things in terms of momentum lately.  I still haven’t read Tribes yet, but for some reason I get the feeling that the book will really coinside with what I’m seeing lately.

Here’s the basic premise of my thought process:  people are cooperative creatures and to really generate momentum they need to get excited about something.  You’ll find that near all marketing initiatives require getting excited about something enough to take action.  The majority of times this means getting excited about a product or service, but it can mean a lot of other things too.  Getting excited about a local marathon or creating public service are all marketing too.

The real momentum gets going when people are excited enough to do something and tell someone else about it.  All of the stories match up and the value is really delivered.  Ahh, the value chain: learn it, live it, love it.  Anyway, this idea permeates through all aspects of society.  People have to get excited about something before they spread the idea; critical mass is achieved.

Those are great concepts for the world, but how can we apply it intrinsically?

The answer is that we have to be excited about what we do and the things we market.  I’m starting to think this is something smarter marketers have figured out eons ago and I’m just catching the trolley.    In order to build momentum in the organization you work in (or for the cause you dedicate time to) you have to be excited and passionate about it.  There’s no faking it either.  The next important aspect of this idea is effort.  I have to get back to studying tonight, so I’ll touch on this soon, but effort is absolutely critical as well.

A younger me was too self conscious to be effusive about the things I worked on.  The older me understands that that excitement is as important as the actual work.  Excitement begets excitement in others.  Leading others and working Metcalfe’s Law in terms of human capital is crucial in our new marketing world.  Oh brave new world, such that your beauty may never dim.

So what if you can’t get excited about what you are working on?  Honestly?

You shouldn’t be marketing it.  Find something you can.

October 20, 2008

Microfinance Alliance

Filed under: Projects, School — Robert John Ed @ 2:23 am

I’m undertaking a project with some really incredible people at Carlson who run the Microfinance Alliance.  It’s exciting to get behind a project for an organization that is centered around altruistic intentions. MA is a relatively new club at Carlson and they are centered around promoting microfinance holistically at the local and international level.

Do you know what microfinance is?  I didn’t until about two years ago when I started to read about peer to peer loan websites.  My feeling is that the term “microfinance” is a barrier for most people.  They probably don’t know what it means and there are some negative connotations.  Micro = microeconomics (nothing more fun than that) and finance = finance.  You have to get people to understand what something is very quickly nowadays.  There’s no time for anything else, and the name of something is the first place they look.  So we are looking at changing the website (which is extremely aesthetically appealing, to me) and one of my thoughts is that a better and faster way to explain what it is could add value.  If you want someone to get interested in a subject, it’s important not to scare them off.  I am on the website and communications team, so hopefully we’ll be able to pull some strings and create a bit of groundswell.

What’s really amazing to me about this idea is that I can donate $25 or $50 and completely alter someone else’s life for the better.  That’s a beautiful thing.  My feeling is that this kind of idea is incredibly appealing to people from all sectors and creating awareness and understanding of how you can take action will really get this off the ground.  Tons of people would love to do this!  So our job is to make sure people know about it first.

If you have any thoughts on the website or MA at all, please drop me a line.  Updates to come.

October 18, 2008

Rebrand and Site Improvement…18 Months Away!

Filed under: Blog Explanations, Projects — Robert John Ed @ 11:57 pm

My long term objective for this website and blog is to build a really robust informational repository for marketing and business information.  This is going to be my slice of the internet until eternity calls my name and that excites me quite a bit.  It also perplexes me because I look at what it is right now and think that it’s not really where I want yet.  I only built it (with Mikey and Taj) about six months ago, but I’m already looking at rebranding and streamlining information in different ways.

I can’t do this now because of the costs and time it takes to pull all those things together.  Yet I’m planning on doing this well (IE paying someone with real skill) so that it is a little more professional.  One thing that is eternally frustrating is that I can’t input imagery into my posts, which makes them much more boring than they could be.  But to do this the CSS has to be altered with respect to WordPress software and those are abilities I just don’t have.  There are a few other things I’m considering, like a marketer’s manifesto and some more in depth downloadable files that go over major aspects of marketing (PDF’s probably).  I want to build.  It seems that building things that have long term value is really what drives me.

There is a vision behind this and once I’m out of school, I’ll probably get everything started.

October 17, 2008

Done, Da-Done Done, Done

Filed under: School — Robert John Ed @ 6:01 pm

Our last final for the mid-semester is finished!  Woot!  I’m tired.  It’s been a long two months, with an even larger two months creeping over the horizon.  There is homework in place already, and though tonight will be a celebration of things past and future both, it’s tough to have a good time when you know how much you have yet to do.  There is class, but my bigger priorities are oriented around researching, informational interviewing and figuring out the best fit for an internship.  There is a great amount of work to be done.

I miss work.  I miss being a part of something bigger and contributing every day.  I won’t lie, I miss the income too!  :-)  Hopefully, my next experience will be as valuable as my last.  School is still a great experience, but there’s something missing compared to being part of real marketing department.  It should only be another 18 months I suppose…

October 15, 2008

The Catcher In The Rye

Filed under: Book Reviews — Robert John Ed @ 11:09 pm

I’ve been using the time before bed to get in some recreational reading, which usually causes me to be extremely tired when class starts in the morning.  I began J.D. Salinger‘s Catcher In The Rye about a week ago, and though I was more enamored with the prose at civil twilight than dawn, the hours melted away just the same.

The story is a first person perspective of Holden Caulfield, a troubled youth around 17.  His life is in disarray, as many of ours are at that time.  He doesn’t care for school or most of his peers and his thought processes are usually oriented around his dislike of people and things happening around him.  He’s not angry so much as tired.  The story is a walkabout of his four day departure from Pencey, the school he attends.

What makes Salinger’s writing so enjoyable here is the idiosyncratic precision of the character.  Holden is always reinforcing his thought process with assertions (“I really do.”  “I mean it.” etc.) that show the callow insecurity he lives with.  Holden is also quite intelligent, but speaks by cursing and alleging other people to be “phony” and using a gruff exterior to cover up his vulnerability.  It’s very well done in that anyone could see that this young man has not found his meaning in the world and sees others to be living fraudulent existences.  It’s a very simple…and very complex simultaneously.  It’s also well worth the time.

Tacit Knowledge

Filed under: Human Relations, Philosophy — Robert John Ed @ 2:29 am

The idea of tacit knowledge is becoming ever more important to me as I study (partly because it was explicitly covered in strategy) and grow over the course of my career.  This happens to everyone, of course.

My father (who I admire as much as anyone on this planet) has worked at a steel and iron processing plant in Alexandria since I can remember.  He works harder than anyone I’ve ever met in my life, literally 60 hour weeks and he’s been doing it for quite some time.  The company he works for, Standard Iron, creates the large industrial beams of metal that are used in construction of football stadiums, universities and buildings all over the world.

In Alexandria, they have an older crane that has suffered from many years of use.  It’s a cranky piece of machinery that swings hundreds of thousands of pounds through the air amidst hundreds of workers in the yard.  It’s very dangerous.  It’s also very costly.  Dropping a load of beams could have a huge impact on the business in terms of raw materials or slowing down production.  The problem is that the crane costs a great amount of money, so getting one that works as it’s supposed to is tough.  Yet the company can’t risk letting anyone drive it.  John Robert Ed is the only person there to do it.  He grew along with the crane and is now the only person who understands how to operate it effectively.

This is tacit knowledge at its most obvious.  What about the situations that aren’t so easily observable?  Knowledge workers must deal with this throughout their careers.  They must become teachers in order to transplant their value to an organization that pays them.  Doing and teaching, it turns out, are quite different things.  Of course, the idea that teachers can’t do is ridiculous.  Everyone knows many things that they can’t put into words.  I have a feeling that knowledge workers, are as cognizant of this as anyone.  As I grow older, it seems like I know a lot more, but am ever more pressed to actualize it into words.  Codifying the information, or making it tangible, just doesn’t seem feasible.  I wonder if this is due to the complexity of the information (it’s incrementally decreasing in size while increasing in importance) or some other phenomenon.

This all leads me to consider the ideas of tacit knowledge we are unaware of.  There are certainly things we know and know well that are simply beyond our cognition.  I began to look into this idea online, but couldn’t find a lot of substantial definition and description (if you have anything let me know).  So I’ll label it unknown tacit knowledge for now.  In my search, I came across consciousness, sapience and awareness.

Time to get back to studying.

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