When I was 28 years old I said “I want to be one of the best marketers in the province.” I actually spoke those words out loud. It was brash and probably unachievable (what makes a good marketer, anyways?). But whether that was actually achieved or not doesn’t really matter.
What does matter is this: I followed that statement with three years of reading marketing, communications and branding books, and listening to Terry O’Reilly podcasts. I read all of Marshall McLuhan’s books (The Gutenberg Galaxy nearly killed me but I finally made it). I tore through John Gerzema. I dipped into Allen Adamson. I read David Ogilvy. Adam Morgan’s Eating the Big Fish and Howard Gossage’s Book of Gossage are still the best two books I’ve ever read.
I applied everything I learned to my work and brought a lot of value to the organization I was working for at the time. I would stay up late and wake up early just to get a few more pages in. I filled notebooks and margins of books. I was energized. I spent a lot of time in a state of flow.
Along the way, I would sit in on meetings with people who either said or implied that marketing was easy and could be done by anybody. Over time those comments weighed on me. I became frustrated to the point that I finally gave in.
I stopped reading.
I stopped putting my ideas forward.
I put the podcasts away.
I forgot what I enjoyed.
I forgot where my value was created.
Over the past month I’ve had four people who I respect tell me “you’re very good at what you do.” I had a couple long conversations with my girlfriend, who I can tell ideas to.
The truth is, I had completely forgotten what it is that I do and these people helped me remember. So yesterday I put my mind to remembering what I’m good at. I filled a few pages of a notebook. I even pulled out Adam Morgan’s book, which I’m going to read again. I listened to Terry O’Reilly on my walk to work this morning.
What I’m good at is marketing. I’m good at finding an audience, figuring out what they need and communicating the solution.
Sure, maybe that’s something that anyone can do. But what I’m finally remembering is that I’m the one actually doing it, and it has value.