I have the privilege of being a professor at Tufts University where I've been teaching marketing for eight years now. Like everyone in business, my schedule is pretty scrunched between running our consulting firm, teaching at Tufts (and MIT every fall) and being a partner at Converge Venture Partners. As a result, I'm always juggling schedules, and every day I end up taking 10 to 15 minutes just to re-balance meetings and squeeze in another couple of calls. Since I do spend a lot of time with my students both on coursework and figuring out their careers, the question gets asked of me all the time... "Why do you teach?"
Part of the reason is getting to meet "too-cool-for-school" speakers like David Meerman Scott who come to class to lecture, but my standard response is....
Simple question, simple answer...
"Without teaching, there's nothing that would be pushing me to learn."
Michelangelo, at the age of 87, noted... "I'm still learning", and my personal belief is that unless we commit to something similar in our hectic/have-no-time/squeezed-to-the-inch/lives that forces us to continually learn...and hopefully teach...then we not only stop learning, as far as I'm concerned, we stop living. If you need convincing, just look at the ugly stats of early deaths among men who retire without an avocation that keeps them stimulated...and learning.
This weekend spend that 30 minutes early Saturday morning that I wrote about a couple of weeks ago, and think through what it would take to take just one step to move this personal learning process ahead. Then, it's time to do the same for your sales team including the succession planning process that you've been putting off for way too long.
Here's a Hint on how to begin...
Try something easy to start: develop a summer reading list of just two work or personal development related books to start. That's just two books over the 12 week summer; clearly something that should be very achievable.
- If you're new to the rapidly changing world of Marketing and you want a primer, read David Meerman Scott's book, The New Rules of PR & Marketing . It's an absolute "must read" for my students before they start each semester, and a grounding point for our customers who are just now opening the door to peek into this brave new world of Inbound Marketing. The book is an easy read, and it sets a foundation of basics from which you can quickly move into a wide variety of directions and depths. What no company leader can any longer afford to do is to stand still and not learn about this rapidly evolving science of analytics, technologies, tools and processes.
- Get recommendations on what to read from the experts in the new world of marketing...and of Sales. Ask around and find out who the better marketing practitioners are in your industry and ask them for their reading recommendations. In Boston tech, there are large numbers of experts with people like Mike Volpe and Robin Saitz, Brainshark CMO at the top of the list. In accounting services, June Landry, head of marketing for KLR, is in a class of excellence all by herself, while Chris Geerhan, EVP of Marketing at Associated Industries of Massachusetts, has done a remarkable job at rebranding this 100 year old business association with a strong social media and blogging presence proving that you can not only teach an old dog new tricks, but that that old dog can also become the leader of the pack.
Every industry has its marketing nuances, and each has its own experts. Just ask around, and then ask those individuals you chose to connect with for their recommendations for books and, most importantly, for their choices of must-read blogs.
- Clearly, we believe that the best marketing blogs to sign up for are Hubspot's, but then we're Hubspot junkies. Tons of blogs, hundreds of down-to-earth practical hints and a library chock full of easy-to-search answers from a myriad of experts who live in the real world on online marketing. Go to their site today and just sign up for their blogs.
If you want recommendations of other blogs or other solid sources of reading materials for either Sales or for Marketing, just email me at email@example.com.
- A strong recommendation is to sign up for daily blogs from Harvard Business Review. Helpful hints, practical insights, and thoughtful questions that stimulate you to think...even if, for only a minute. It was after reading one of their blogs last week, which is excerpted below, that I began thinking through this idea of "live to learn; learn to teach".
If you want to keep growing, you need to make learning a habit. To get started, be specific about what you’re asking yourself to do. Resolutions like “read more” or “learn new things” are too vague. Your goals need to be concrete and measurable: “Spend two hours every Thursday afternoon reading all the articles I saved during the week.” Schedule the time on your calendar, and resist the temptation to do other work during that window. Monitor your behavior closely to push yourself in the right direction. If you know that some of your coworkers make on-the-job learning a habit, go out of your way to spend time with them. Studies show that we tend to pick up habits from the people around us. And the most important thing to remember? We must shape our habits to suit ourselves — our own nature, our own interests, our own strengths.
All of these thoughts about learning and about teaching also bring me to the point of kicking off my semi-annual hunt for six new marketing projects for my fall Tufts students.
Each semester the marketing content of my marketing class is wrapped around six real-life projects provided by a variety of companies who are looking for research and solutions for new products or extended markets. Each team consists or four or five juniors and seniors who spend the entire semester focused on learning about marketing and then applying those principles and tactics to develop full marketing plans and research reports for their customers. Just as examples, some of this semester's projects consist of...
- a large supplier of corrosive resistant products looking to enter new markets
- a North Carolina telemedicine business wanting to expand its market
- a national company wanting to enter the auto cybersecurity market
- an advanced robotics company entering a new market with a new product
- A restaurant/convenience store rewards company launching a new product
If you're interested, just email me at Jack@derbymanagement.com, and I will send you an instruction sheet which outlines the requirements and the logistics for the fall semester.
This spring we had 18 companies apply for the six slots that we have available. For this coming fall's semester, the decisions need to made by June 15th at which time I will send the students the first draft of the fall syllabus and the projects since they will need to do research and form their teams over the summer. If you choose to participate, I absolutely guarantee that you will find this an exciting, stimulating and very rewarding process for your company and one that will certainly become part of your own learning experience.
Good Selling ! during the final days of this critical quarter.
Also, as you're now winding up this quarter, you just may want to put aside a day during the first two weeks of April to refine and update your 2016 business plan, or at least your sales and marketing plan To get you started, you may want to click on here and receive a downloaded copy of our Writing the Winning Business Plan, 2016 edition.
Another opportunity for kicking off the quarter in the right spirit is to do the same type of "relook" at the basics of your 2016 Marketing Plan after reviewing our ebook on "How to Write a Marketing Plan". Mostly basics and structure stuff which just might be the correct view to take as we move into Q2.
Derby Management...for 25 years
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Box 171322, Boston, MA 02117
Jack's Cell: 617-504-4222