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I do a lot of coaching and teaching. With all the changes going on in technology, there is no shortage of people hungry to learn. Over the years, I’ve begun to realize that I can tell which students are going to adapt to the changes, and which one will have a much harder time. It’s a simple question that you can ask yourself: Do you want to be something or do something?

It might seem like an odd question to ask you about your motivation for learning digital marketing, but I have found that it really matters. For example, if your motivation is that you want to be an analytics person for a big company, or you want to be the CMO, or you want to be the top-rated marketer where you work, that is actually a red flag. If, on the other hand, you want to improve your company’s conversion rate, or you want to raise your traffic from Google, or you want to increase web sales, that’s a good sign.

Why the difference?

For some reason, those motivated by being something tend to be more risk averse (“I don’t want to run any risks that screws up my chance at CMO”) and less likely to experiment. They want to do it right and right away. They are more focused on their reputation than on their results. This makes them less likely to take the very chances that will allow them to learn and to improve.

Conversely, those motivated by doing something seem to fare better. They are focused on the world and how it is changing, rather than fixated on their own appearance. They learn by doing and they keep learning every day. They are focused on measuring what they did so they can tell what actually worked. They are unafraid of being wrong. They accept it as part of the learning process.

Now, there is nothing wrong with wanting to be the CMO, but if that is the sum total of what you want, you probably won’t take the real chances needed to actually succeed in a big enough way so that someone might consider you for the job. You’re so busy worried about how you look that you fail to actually accomplish anything.

Instead of worrying about how others perceive you, instead use your own internal barometer to improve every day. You’ll not only adapt to digital marketing, but to everything else that changes down the road.


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Mike Moran

About Mike Moran

Mike Moran has a unique blend of marketing and technology skills that he applies to raise return on investment for large marketing programs. Mike is a former IBM Distinguished Engineer and a senior strategist at Converseon, Revealed Context, and SoloSegment. Mike is the author of three books on digital marketing and is an instructor at Rutgers Business School. He is a member of the Board of Directors of SEMPO, a Senior Fellow at the Society for New Communications Research, and a Certified Speaking Professional.

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3 replies to this post
  1. Mike you just blew my mind with this simple but most important question. But still its looks a same things to me, don’t you think a person who wants to be a marketer will be doing marketing? So it does not matter whether a person wants to be marketer or want to do marketing, as he will be doing marketing at the end of the day.

    • To me it is the motivation that is important. From the outside, you might see both types engaging in marketing activities, but the one motivated to “be” something will hang back from taking the chances required to adapt to the changes we all are exposed to.

  2. Great post! I love this sentence; “You’re so busy worried about how you look that you fail to actually accomplish anything.” That I think can hold true for many things and not just marketing work. Thanks!

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