No Shortcuts - Winners Win

I remember my mom told me way back in the day that business is business.  Whether you are selling cool Nike shoes or laundry detergent or computers.....the challenges are similar.  I was so enthralled with needing to work at the coolest company possible and everything else was boring and lame.  I held the belief that I needed to work at the cool place through when I went to business school.  I am now realizing that is incredibly limiting. 

What I have seen is that winners win.  They actually don't care what the product is.....they just want to win.  Period.  They love the challenge.  They love the battle.  They love the strategic thinking needed.  They love executing on the vision to win.  I came to P&G to learn the skills needed to win in battle.  I planned to take those skills to an industry that was perceived to be cooler.  What I have found is that I love to win no matter the product.  

I think when you are flexible enough to drop into any challenge and figure it out you have found the sweet spot.  Options totally open up for you.  You can be happy in WAY more places.  You don't HAVE to work at Nike to be happy.  You don't HAVE to work at a hot startup.  You love the game. 

I talk with a lot of younger people that feel like they need to work at X company to achieve their long term goal.  That's just not true.  You need to work where you will get the skill you need to achieve your long term goal.  For example, where could you work that would broaden your creativity?  You could work at a huge agency in New York.  You could also work at a local agency.  Both are solving creative challenges.....just at different scales.  I argue that you will probably learn more at the small agency where you have more flexibility and will likely be exposed to more clients.  

If you are a true winner you will go into situations and win.  Any situation.  Don't limit yourself to where you need to go.  That mindset is likely driven by external factors like your parents, classmates, peers.  Where do THEY think is the RIGHT place to work?  Nonsense.  Go to where you will get the skill.  Win there.  You will continue to grow until you are a beast that can take on any challenge in any arena.  

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No Shortcuts - How Do You Know Thyself?

"To know thyself is the beginning of wisdom" - Socrates 

The older I get the more I appreciate and respect how important it is to know thyself.  Another term would be self awareness.  The better you know yourself the easier it is to navigate through life.  You make friend choices, activity choices, school choices, career choices, partner choices, etc WAY better.  These choices are all made based on knowing what makes YOU happy.  

That sounds like a no brainer, but it's actually very interesting how few people truly know themselves.  I have just recently dug in to understand who I am and what I am really good at.  Going through this process blew my mind because it allowed me to realize why I was not happy doing to many things in my past and also why I was super happy doing certain things.  If I had known myself more at a younger age I think I could have saved myself a lot of frustration and pain!

The path that I've taken to know myself isn't too deep and it's not difficult at all.  I have taken a lot of self evaluation tools that add up to give you a good understanding of myself.  Here they are.  

Meyers Briggs - broad level personality assessment 

Enneagram - what motivates me deep down 

Strength Finder - Self explanatory.  Finds you top strengths....and also some opportunity areas. 

Kolbe - Breaks down what type of work lights a fire under you.  

Basadur - What type of innovative thinker you are.  

In taking all these my high level evaluation of myself is I love thinking about the future, am a generator of ideas who likes to execute them, am very optimistic about life and enjoy being around people.  I should be working in a more innovation focused role where I can lead thinking versus managing day to day data.  

I have been beating myself up for decades because I haven't been as strong analytically as many of my peers.  All these evaluations show that is NOT my strength, so don't worry about it and find something that takes advantage of your strengths.  

I have been able to wind my way through my career to find roles and projects that allow me to use my strengths, which is why I am very energized with the work I do.  I consider myself lucky I didn't get stuck in work I don't like and am not good at.  I have shifted to eventually find what I'm good at, but likely could've gotten here sooner with more self awareness earlier in my life. 

These little tests are all short and easy to take.  I suggest taking them and reflecting on what you find.  Do they make sense?  Are there things that are shocking?  Do they make you think about your path differently? 

The Kolbe test literally said that I should be spending at least half of my working time thinking about the future.  That's some great insight that really made me think about what I was doing at the time.  I was NOT spending at least 50% of my time thinking about the future.....and I was NOT happy. 

These tests don't work miracles, but they do allow you to reflect and become more self aware.   






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No Shortcuts - Playing to Win vs Playing Not to Lose

I saw a post on LinkedIn the other day that talked about the difference between playing to win and playing not to lose.  It resonated with me because sometimes when you are THINKING you're playing to're actually not.  You're playing not to lose.  And if you keep doing that you will never reach your full potential.  

The playing not to lose scenario that I see (and is also very sad) is the really smart person who did amazing in school, has the opportunity to do something that could impact a lot of people and then just chooses every "safe" option for college and career.  They never actually push outside the box to reach their full potential.  The individual choices for this person as they go through life feel like they are challenging themselves, but they really aren't allowing them to fulfill their full potential. 


They choose the highest rated and most prestigious college even though another school might actually be better to prepare them for what they are meant to do.  Hard to fault a person for choosing a prestigious school though!

First Job Out of College:

They choose the bank or consulting firm that is challenging to get into, but pays really well.  That high salary can help them pay off their loans faster!  Again, hard to fault a person for choosing a prestigious company that pays well.  The problem here is that these jobs often require long hours and are grueling.  They're also easy to get sucked into for more years than you expect because the pay is so high.  

Your 20's:

You work at a prestigious company, the pay is good, you have a sweet apartment, take great vacations, have a nice car and love hanging with your friends on the weekend.  Nice life, right?  What has happened to your work to REALLY change the world for the better.  You are advising big companies now on how to make even more money.  Is this the path you saw yourself on in high school?  Very hard to fault this trajectory though!  

Your 30's:

You are either at your prestigious job you took out of college or have moved to another prestigious job.  You now meet the person of your dreams.  You're in love.  You are excited to settle down and move away from the wild single life.  With this comes obligations though.  You can't move to the place where you had originally thought you can make that big impact.  Your money is now tied up in buying a house, nanny for the kid, etc.  Again, this isn't a bad situation.....but did you reach the place where you feel like you are able to make the most impact?  

This is a purely hypothetical situation, but shows how easy it is to play not to lose.  You made all the "right" decisions, but you NEVER took that risk to be a breakout winner.  Your school was safe.  Your classes were safe.  Your job out of college was safe.  Your next job was safe.  You're then married with a kid and taking that risk becomes WAY more difficult.  

It's never too late.  I just think it's important to keep that mentality to play to WIN.  Start that business.  Start that itch you have to get into politics.  Make that bold move at work.  Life happens quick.  Play to win.  


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No Shortcuts - Are You Paying Attention?

I read the book Biggest Bluff by Maria Konnikova.  She was a journalist and entered the world of power to see how good she could get.  She worked with several stars in the field.  The biggest piece of advice given to her about the game was: PAY ATTENTION. 

Poker is a game of odds and understanding of people.  It's a good parallel to business, which is why I thought the piece of advice as being so good.  The advice was more so about the need to pay attention to EVERYTHING.  Not just your hand.  It's about the competition.  It's about what you have done to prepare.  It's about the dynamics of the situation.  It's about how you physically feel.  It's everything.  

I think self awareness is a key to success.  This piece of advice broadens that to being aware of everything around you.  I think it's spot on and a great reminder for people.  I see a lot of people with their head down working away.  They're working hard and thinking their going in the right direction, but are they paying attention to what's around them.  Are others doing the work better?  Is there a big industry change coming that could impact them?  Is their team happy? 

You need to make sure you are aware of everything around you and adjust.  Here are a few things I see coming that people in my industry need to be preparing for. 

AI & Machine Learning:  This capability is already here and will only get better.  Many professions (including marketing) will be impacted.  Are you educating yourself on this and putting yourself in a position to lead? 

First Party Data:  This is a big topic and I am trying to upskill myself in it right now.  So much data is able to be collected and analyzed.  It can be called Big Data.  This data can help you learn on your consumer and be more targeted with your advertising.  That will increase effectiveness and result in more sales.  If you think traditional linear TV has the same power as it did 10 and 20 years ago, then you could be in for a wakeup call coming up.  I like TV, but it has to be part of a broader plan that is led by first party data.  

eCommerce:  COVID has accelerated eCommerce penetration by 10 years.  50% of sales in China are done via eComm.  We are in the low 20% range in the US, but it is growing rapidly.  If consumer won't be coming into stores as much, then brand blocks and # of facing won't be as critical.  Physical distribution was where brands are made.  You see an ad and then go to the store and pick up the product.  That is now getting totally changed.  You will now be ordering your groceries online and either getting them delivered or picking them up.  You will not be walking into stores like you did before.  Skills in eComm are going to be very critical and table stakes to keep up.  

There is a lot going on, which is very exciting.  With change comes opportunity.  You have to pay attention to see where that opportunity will be though.  Don't let the coming wave crush you.  Ride it to success.  

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