February 27, 2009

Experience, Perseverance and Building

Filed under: Human Relations, Marketing Philosophy, Personal Branding — Robert John Ed @ 2:06 pm

When you first get out of school, you just don’t get it.  As sad as that sounds (I hate when people say, “you just don’t get it” or “she gets it,” it’s an easy way out, another inclusion group to reference yourself with; if I don’t get it, you need to explain to me what I don’t get and why, not just write me off), it’s true.  There’s a bravado about young 22-24 year old people just getting out of their undergraduate programs.  I know.  I was one, maybe still am.

What I mean is that people at that age are ready to go out and conquer the world, problem is, the world doesn’t want to be conquered.  Additionally, people at that stage have largely no experience regarding their respective industry (if “their” is worth merit here).  I’ll speak to business, as that’s my trade (actually, it’s everyone’s trade, I just acknowledge my hands are no longer pristine out of some illogical idealist rationale).  Developing an understanding in business takes some time.  It also takes some teaching and hard lessons.  It’s a pool filled with intellectual sharks.  So realizing that everyone is out to take share, dollars, ideas and run with them is a tough thing to grasp out of college.  On a base level, I think students understand this, but really “getting it” takes time and experience.  A few good bosses will help a lot too.  My first real boss knows his trade, knows numbers and respects marketing, which is why he respected me.  I learned a ridiculous amount about business from him and how life as an entrepreneur is.  Hopefully that relationship will continue for years and years.  Respect your bosses. There is a good reason they’re where they are, even if it feels like a poor experience at the time.

Experience allows you to understand that the pitfalls, the messups, the office politics, the failed roll outs, production delays and let downs are all part of the game.  There is nothing you can do to completely stop issues from arising.  You can’t let snafus get in the way of building something over the long run.  It’s a long term game.  Perseverance trumps everything in life.  Dedicate yourself completely and you simply cannot lose.

From a marketing perspective, it never ceases to surprise me how long it takes to really build good programs.  You can build tactical initiatives quickly, but you can’t fake a company strategy or paradigm for marketing well.  It just takes a solid amount of time to understand the core values of a company, product or office and establish the programs needed to sustain a vision of excellence.  Companies need quality leaders who can develop and maintain visionary ideas for themselves and their staffs.  If you find yourself working under for someone who you can see strength and ability in, do two things:

1. Thank the heavens for your blessings, because a lot of ’em there ain’t.
2. Get close to this person if you can.  Work your ass off to help her build her vision.  Ask for extra responsibility and do anything you can to work with her on a consistent basis.  You will learn more from her and her excellence than any book would ever teach.  Real experience is worth 10x reading about it.

Building something worthwhile will take time and valuable people.  You simply “don’t get it” before having worked through the scenarios at a young age.  It’s a shame, because the eagerness and alacrity shown by kids out of school is exemplary of what a company wants, in fact, this gets new people by in some situations before they have the know how to get on without.  So don’t lose that excitement either.  Last thing, get all the experience you can.  Take a part time job in the industry or doing the type of work you want while in school.  READ ABOUT YOUR TRADE.  Practice your trade every chance you get and build your skill set, push the envelope on what you are good at.  Talk to people in the industry, go to trade shows, exhibitions, networking events, see and be seen.  These things can make the difference between you and the next guy.

This advice may seem odd coming from a 25 year old in school.  Yep, I know that a lot of these things apply to me still.  But at least I know what I don’t know.  And I think I get it.


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