Tomorrow, 5/7, I take another step forward in my career when I join LiveIntent as CMO. It’s humbling. It’s an honor. Like any big move I’m motivated and excited about the challenge. And like any normal human being, I’m acutely aware that I have as much power to make things go well as I do to muck things up.
As I enter my new role, excited to work with this amazing group of people who found some value in my experiences and my person enough to invite me to join them, I took some time to reflect on some of my guiding principles. An exercise that served me well in my decision to leave my last role in search of a new one, and a decision that made it right to choose LiveIntent among my several competitive (and equally humbling) offers.
- Progress to perfection must be a permanent exercise and should be a fruitless one. The world changes too much, and these days, also too quickly. If you’ve set yourself on the correct path, the final goal post should move farther out every time you look up to see how close you’ve gotten. When I look at what makes me happy, it’s clear that I find the permanence and pursuit of greater goals to be more motivating than I find the fruitless nature of them to be demotivating. Per James Thurber, I prefer to be the moth in pursuit of the star as opposed to the siblings in pursuit of a street lamp.
- Maintain perspective and context by balancing confidence with humility. There are no stupid clients and there are no arrogant teams. There is merely a commitment to a lack of context and introspection. In any situation it is important that you understand the role you play in the lives of the people you serve — whether it be your employees, your clients, your investors professionally, your family and friends personally, or the world and the environment around you as a citizen. Maintain context. Because inflating your own value in your own eyes will make you miss the bigger picture and the opportunities around you, while also making you come across as foolish when all is said and done.
- Be just as willing to act as you are to espouse. People are increasingly given platforms to share their thoughts. I believe this opportunity (from social media to document sharing to ill-timed meetings) has created a culture of conversation but not of action. As I look back at the people who have helped me and the people who I have enjoyed working with the most, it is not those who tell the greatest stories (stories can always change, stories can always extend — Hollywood has proven that with the sequel.) I find myself gravitating most toward those who work and deliver, and have committed myself to always being the one to bell-the-cat.
- If you’re given the option, choose being clear over being clever. There’s no fable here. These are the words of my Jivan Mama, one of the strongest mentors in my life. When I was young and we were at dinner together, I used to just listen to him talk about how he approached his life and his work. One of the best pieces of advice I received from him was his desire to always be perceived as clear. I don’t think I do this nearly well enough, but boy do I want to. The moral of the story here is about where you focus. If you focus on being clever, you’re playing a game. Your energy, and the energy of everyone around you, is then focused on the playing the game as well. But by being clear, and by eliminating noise, you shift your focus from day-to-day gamesmanship and instead, focus on the outcomes. When you’re clear, nobody has to worry about what you’re thinking, what your priorities are, or how things will be received — everyone can instead focus on the task itself and the desired outcome.
There is no shortage of morals or lessons learned to pull from as I start my new role at LiveIntent. I’ll be posting one more on lessons learned from the past. But on this Tuesday morning, less than 24 hours before I start, these four bullets are the ones I find myself settling on with the greatest conviction. Looking forward to starting my new job, and to continuing to get better.