We ask a lot of questions here. And sometimes we throw them out on to the internet. And sometimes we use Twitter as the catapult.
This time, we asked people what was wrong with marketing. Then we asked them what was right with marketing.
What’s wrong with marketing?
Ok, back on track with a day of recovery after a 3-post extravaganza on Tuesday. I apologize for the late posting today – everyone’s full tilt rockin’ client’s worlds and all.
In the introductory post for this series we linked you to the Pivot Conference agenda and asked if there were any sessions of particular interest. For responses we received, we said that we would attend the session of interest and devote a post to the topic. This post is for Tracy McAbe, who was interested in the session titled “A Case for Reverse Mentorship.” Here is Tracy’s question:
[Why I'm interested in] reverse mentorship:Â Two reasons.Â Reason 1: it’s a beautiful, simple, elegant idea. Reason 2: We should do this here at The City. Reason 3: Okay, I said there were 2 reasons, but really there’s 3. Â Because I’m writing a piece about the parallels between the immigrant experience in Canada and being a digital native (or not). I think there’s ageism and elitism at play here and it would be good to learn more. I’m a digital immigrant and the natives do not always treat me well. Their loss. Still, a fascinating dynamic.
We like the way you think, Tracy. I’m going to start out with a few bulleted highlights from our notes and then Robbin and I will offer a few thoughts on the subject from our perspectives. If you’re interested in a certain aspect of reverse mentorship that we don’t cover, just let us know in the comments and we’ll address it.
Notes – “A Case for Reverse Mentorship” – Reverse mentorship pairs “experienced” senior marketers with digital natives who bring a different “experience” to the job. Speaker: Alexa Scordato, Community Manager, 2tor
On the subject of ageism and elitism: it comes from both sides of the fence. I have seen young people roll eyes at the oldest in the room and old people roll eyes at the young among us.
So WOW. Big hairy beast of a subject. I honestly have lots to say about it. And I feel in this rapid fire age of technical progress and change, it has to disappear. Somehow, someway.
I am lucky. At Brains on Fire we hire based on determination and talent and a sense of shared passion. That same tribe thing. NOT age. Or skin color or country of origin. I often remark that part of what I see as the secret sauce of our organization is admiration and respect for each others talents and differing points of view. Regardless of age or experience. But we live in a bubble sheltered by our size. In larger organizations, that same opportunity might not be possible as folks vie for better jobs and a longing to have their voice heard. Professional competition can be beautiful or ugly. Strange, huh?
Marketing by it’s very nature is a bit of a young people’s business. The hours are long. You have to constantly be learning. I can’t say that enough. I will roll my eyes at you no matter your age if you say “That is how it’s done. Or “social media is stupid.” Or “I don’t get it.”
I won’t lie. Eric gets frustrated with me and me with him. Largely because of differing styles of communications.Â Not our ages. But we always come back to respect and a shared desire to learn and grow from each other’s life experiences. Still can’t get him to let me go hiking with him and his friends tho’. (smiling).
I agree with Robbin – it’s a big, hairy beast of a subject, and a crucially important one at that.
I think the tension between older, seasoned marketers and millennial digital natives arises because of several things (not an exhaustive list, just thoughts from experience):
Many in generation Y have grown up with technology – it’s a part of who we are. Quite literally, it is hard for millennials to imagine life without modern technology and the internet. Many have never written a research paper without the aid of online resources. Further, as the web has progressed it has affected our lives in increasing and deeper ways.
Now pair that with a generation who has seen the internet and technology change business in mind-bending ways and who can sometimes have a longer learning curve because they didn’t grow up with technology, but for whom the internet is also affecting their lives in increasing and deeper ways.
Now put the two in a conference room, mix in a few communication issues, lots of creativity, maybe a little sense of entitlement from the millennial and a dash of resistance to change from the executive, and you’ve got a pretty interesting situation on your hands.
Reverse mentorship has worked (not perfectly, mind you) at Brains on Fire precisely because of what Robbin said: “we always come back to respect and a shared desire to learn and grow from each other’s life experiences.” At Brains on Fire, I have always been told that my perspective is valued and encouraged to share it. By the same token, I have always held in my heart a deep respect (and admiration) for the brilliant minds in this place – that they would invite my thoughts is humbling.
I agree with Robbin that our experience is somewhat sheltered by our size, but I think Alexa hit the nail on the head when she suggested simply carving out time to spend together. No matter the size of the company, you have to start at the same place: an open dialogue, an extended hand, a genuine interest to learn. And, as a millennial, if the executives initiate the conversation, it means a lot more than you might think.
Tracy, it is very disappointing to hear that the digital natives have treated you badly, and I agree that it is their loss. Our bent towards entitlement and know-it-all-ism can be an ugly thing. But, as Robbin says, love is a circular transaction, and I’m excited to see how reverse mentorship plays out in your work place.
The word of the day… octopus
I have been thinking a lot lately. Maybe it’s the weather.
I’ve been thinking about my life. My family. And how I choose to spend my time.
I have been thinking about Brains on Fire and what success really looks like for us.
About how on earth can you fairly compensate such a wildly talented group of people who see Brains on Fire as a passionate cause and not a job.
I have been thinking about the work we do and the big opportunities in front of us.
It’s all sort of been running together for some reason.
So, yesterday I had an interview. (Yes, we have are considering a new hire and that feels good.) And when I asked this smart, bright lady if she had anything she wanted to ask me she replied, “What do you expect of me? What are your expectations?”
I told her we are all in grad school now. Exploring new ideas. And the learning you choose to do every single day of your life is completely self directed. You’re driving the ship and collecting ideas and inspiration every single day. Read. A lot. Write. A lot. Think out loud and share with others. Even when you aren’t sure you’re right.
Let yourself experience life with your eyes and heart and mind wide open.
I know I am lucky and rare. I love what I do everyday. Especially the work we have found ourselves doing now. Connecting people. Lifting people up. Inspiring. Helping them fall in love with what they do again. Helping them find the shared passions that connect the dots.
Cordell has this great story about this lady he met in a bar many, many years ago. (I promise I’ll get him to tell it to you some day, he does a much better job than me…) Anyway he was well, intoxicated (Jagermeister was involved). And he was having a hard time hearing her. She asked him what did. And he said, “Advertising.” Then she looked at him and said, “Pretty trash.” So he said, “No. I am okay. I’m not trashed.” And then she said “You make pretty trash.”
Learn something new today.
You can’t measure love on a 10-point scale.