April 26, 2018
by Carla Johnson
From the theme of the Marketo Summit next week to calls I’ve gotten in the last few days from CMOs about how to amp up their teams, I’ve been thinking a lot about what it takes to create a team of fearless marketers.
“Fearless” isn’t something you do, it’s someone you become. There are a few people who seem to be fearless by nature. But I guarantee you that they all have the same nagging voices inside their heads that we all do. The ones that talk them out of stepping forward or speaking up. But what makes them fearless is how they respond to those inside voices.
When I think of the most fearless marketers I’ve known, they all share these seven characteristics:
Courage is when we feel our fear but we act anyway. There’s a proverb that says, “fear and courage are brothers.” If we’re going to overcome fear and become a fearless marketer, then we have to have courage. Courage is when we deal with the emotional side of fear and then we act from our heart.
A risk-taker is someone who’s willing to explore new ideas and innovative strategies, challenge their way of thinking and go out on a limb. In contrast to courage, risk-taking is when we’re calculated, measuring the pros and cons of a situation, and act from our brain.
When marketers accept responsibility for our actions, we become accountable. I hear marketers time and again say they aren’t able to move forward because they’re waiting for someone else to…fill in the blank with any number of excuses. But it all boils down to waiting for someone else to give them permission. Accepting accountability for our role gives us immediate posture. We’re more willing to dig in and ask questions, push for what we know to be the right thing to do and try things to improve what we produce.
When we approach our work with a hunger to know, then we become unstoppable. We’re constantly exposed to new ideas and don’t set limits on where and from whom we learn. We become eager to learn about…everything. And that leads us open to new ways of thinking and how we approach our work.
When we come to situations with judgment already in hand, we make assumptions about what we think outcomes should be and jump to conclusions without considering a broader view. Fearless marketers put judgment aside, which helps us become more objective and less emotional. It lets us reflect on our work and focus on what we produce. It gives us permission to be vulnerable. And it keeps us from being defensive about our role in the bigger picture.
The ability to regroup and recover when plans fail and falter is how we’re able to stay in marketing for the long-haul. And let’s face it, with all that’s changing in marketing, and how much effort marketers need to put forward to pave the way for the rest of our organizations to become customer-centric, resilience is huge. Fearless marketers develop resilience by banning negativity and looking at what’s possible in the work that we do. We’re willing to weather small setbacks because we have our eyes on the bigger, long-term outcome.
Being coachable may be one of life’s most important skills and attitudes. If you want to grow professionally, or even personally, you need to care about your ability to take feedback from others and change how you approach your work. The best athletes in the world are only that way because they are coachable – that means being humble, clear about our purpose and willing to surrender control of the situation.
And back to Marketo’s Summit, will you be there? I’ll be there to speak Monday at the Executive Experience and Tuesday at 10:15 to talk about how teams can get fearless with innovation and build a culture that fosters new ideas. Come by and see me, I’d love to hear about what’s going on in your organization!
Photo credit: Canva
About Carla Johnson
Carla Johnson is a world-renowned storyteller, an entertaining speaker, and a prolific author.
Over the last two decades, Carla has helped architects and actuaries, executives and volunteers, innovators and visionaries leverage the art of storytelling to inspire action. Her work with Fortune 500 brands hasn’t gone unnoticed and the latest of her seven books, Experiences: The 7th Era of Marketing, sets the benchmark for a new era in marketing. Named one of the top 50 women in marketing and the chair of the ANA’s Business Marketing Association, Carla regularly challenges conventional thinking.
Today, Carla travels the world teaching anyone (and everyone) how to cultivate idea-driven teams that breed unstoppable creativity and game-changing innovation.