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In digital marketing, yesterday and tomorrow mean nothing

I read a post recently from Seth Godin. He is an interesting fellow in that many times he has great ideas if you can just get past his arrogance, but I digress. The post was referring to looking at the past and what you had done in the face of the crazy times that existed in whatever era you wanted to choose. To sum it up, there is never a perfect situation with economies, world peace and other things being taken care of or eliminated completely. In light of that, what will you do today that will help you revolutionize your life or someone else’s?

Seth’s post began:

A friend asked me the other day, “…given the sorry state of so much in the world, what’s possible to look forward to?”

The state isn’t sorry. It’s wide open.

Interest rates are super low, violence is close to an all time low, industries are being remade and there’s more leverage for the insurgent outsider than ever before in history.

The status quo is taking a beating, there’s no question about it. That’s what makes it a revolution.

I thought about that and realized that he is right. He even pointed to something he wrote nine years ago that could have been read as if it were written today. That proves that the more things change the more they stay the same. As a result I have concluded that the silly practice I have of constantly trying to understand the past is a colossal waste of time. In fact, I have wasted so much wondering why this or that did or did not happen then trying to avoid making the same mistakes that I have stalled a bit. It’s not a great revelation to come to but it is good to get there and then do something about it and the first place to apply this line of thinking is in the Internet and social media marketing realm.

I see now that we are constantly trying to determine what works by looking at patterns. There is value in that, but I see that I am placing far too much value on it, because trying to recreate the past is a dumb thing to do. Why? Because the present is different than the past, even if it’s a few short days or months in the past. Circumstances change so rapidly in the online space that basing today’s actions on yesterday’s success or failure is a limiting practice. Sure, you want to find repeatable actions that will create success, but if you find something that is repeatable, what is the guarantee that it will stay successful tomorrow or even today? There is none. What we do is try to limit risk, but what we really do is limit creativity and our willingness to be different. That’s the biggest mistake, because to rise above the noise of the marketplace today, you better be different . You better be flexible. You better be able to change quickly. You better be present.

I have not fully sussed out this idea, but I think I am onto something. I have become obsessed with trying to find things that will work today based on everything being said about the past and even worse, about predicting the future. Both practices are poison for me. I know what I do well. I just have to do it well every day. Where it happens will change with the fickle state of the Internet space, but what I do will be determined by where I am that day, not by something that happened in the past or something I think will happen in the future.

I do a few things well. I write, I inform, I educate, I present and I sell. If I try to do all of those based on the past or my thoughts about the future they will suffer. One part of me says that this whole thing doesn’t make any sense, while another (growing) part of me says I am onto something, for me at least.

I am beginning to realize, however, that trying to understand the past is a complete waste of time. The only way anything of any value happens is by using the current moment, the present, to its utmost. If we are paying attention, we know what the Internet offers today, so why spend so much time figuring out the past and trying to predict the future? They are two things you have absolutely no control over, so it seems kind of silly doesn’t it?

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