Being successful in any business is tough work. Always has been, always will be...and that's what makes it both an exciting career and very rewarding. Once in a while, we get lucky, but rarely, and then only for short periods of calm in a turbulent ocean of constant change.
It all comes down to this..
- The 13 week sales cycle ends a day like today
- Final Tufts management presentations today and next Wednesday
- Close the deals today and next week successfully, and everyone goes home with high marks
When I first started teaching Marketing at Tufts 10 years ago, I knew that I had to do something different because there was no way that I would hold the attention of 30 bright Millennials, who were not majoring in marketing, past one class, let alone 13. So, I took best practices that I had learned from Professor Jung-Hoon Chun at MIT, and, at that time, my 10 years of teaching business planning and marketing in his mechanical engineering course, where I continue to lecture. Those best practices provide...
My first real job out of BC, after returning from three years in the Peace Corps, was as a Purchasing Expediter working for Honeywell's new minicomputer group. In a work-hard, work-harder, baptism-by-fire-environment in which you either performed or were fired, I quickly learned the realities of purchasing, inventory control and production. A great education and a great company...even though they missed the whole mini-computer thing..which prepared me well for a long career at Becton Dickinson Medical Systems-another great company with solid management development programs allowing me to eventually rise through the ranks.
But, all through that development process with more and more training, and more and more education programs, the complexities of P&L's and balance sheets always eluded me, but since I had by then become president of various companies, I had the luxury of hiring the best CFOs at Datamedix (Bob Badavas, currently CEO of Plum Tree, is a superb example) who were much better in Finance than I would ever be.
Those experiences led me to adopt a simple axiom that I use today with all of the managers in all of our customers:
"Your job is to hire people who are much better than you in their own skills"
Today, although I believe I'm now pretty fluent in everything Finance, my three simple Finance rules that always guide me to success are...
So, what does it mean to be a leader?
Countless books and blogs consume oceans of silicon in attempting to define sales leadership, giving point-by-point tactics and hundreds of how-to's, and yet the issue of leadership often comes down to, "I know it when I see it".
My Marketing Course at Tufts is quickly winding down with the first of the exam days yesterday afternoon. For the last 13 weeks, six teams of five very talented students have labored, learned, questioned, and, most importantly, collaborated on very complex marketing projects given to them by six companies at the beginning of July.
Presentations were made to the senior management of three of the companies yesterday, and the same will happen next Wednesday with the last three companies. Basically, every piece of marketing content, strategy and tactic that was taught over the semester has been incorporated into these marketing plans complete with market and competitive research, primary inbound and outbound strategies and a host of carefully planned and budgeted tactical recommendations.
Lots of very hard work, a number of speed bumps and surprises, like the unplanned acquisition of one of the companies mid-semester, but overall, very successful both for the companies in that they've received marketing deliverables that would have cost them thousands, and for the students, who have been paid both in real world experience and in grades.
Every time I actually think about the fact that I'm a Professor of the Practice at Tufts, where I teach Marketing and Sales, I need to stop, take a breath and realize that I have the best of all possible jobs.