I don’t know the origin of this quote – it was said to me in passing during a workshop – and there seems to be no accurate attribution online. To those of us in the digital advertising and marketing business it may be the best anonymous gift we’ll ever receive. It’s also a cautionary tale.
“You get delegated to those you sound like.” I’m in my 20th year in this space and have watched as generation after generation of digital executives end up in frustratingly narrow conversations that lack vision and curiosity. They come into this world filled with enthusiasm and perspective only to be met with a pervasive incrementalism. Ironman, meet Dilbert. But perhaps it’s just a case of us being sent off to those we sound like.
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The Futurists. We love the future so much that we think and talk about it constantly. Obsessed with the next version, the next feature, the next paradigm, we’re delegated to talk to those in the lab, the think-tank, a world of “pilot programs” and “learning.”
The Geeks. Instead of simply stating the time, we go on and on about how the clock was built. The customer with the big problem and the big check can’t keep up. So we’re delegated to the ops team or the CIO.
The Savants. Our knowledge of the technology, the space, the principles is so impressive that mere mortals can only sit slack-jawed in the light of our brilliance. So we’re delegated to whatever “specialist” (with no budget or authority) who seems like they’d know what the hell we’re talking about.
The Accountants. A penny saved is a one-way ticket to the bottom. Talk enough about making it cheaper and find yourself locked in a room with the person whose only job is to make it cheaper.
The Direct Marketers. I’m sure that somewhere, someday, someone gets rich talking about last-click-attribution. But to those of us in the other 99%, there’s only the suffocation of the DR model. And we don’t even really end up talking to anybody. There is only the spreadsheet.
Read your emails, tape your phone calls, examine your pitch decks and listen to your own voice during your sales call or business meeting. You just might hear the sound of the customer you’ll be spending the rest of your career with.