Mark Wilson on The Art of The Pivot

August 24, 2021

Take a minute to imagine you’re a senior in high school, getting ready to go off to college. You have to say goodbye to old friends, but you’re excited to meet new ones. BlackBerry is like the best friend you lose touch with during the transition. Soon enough, you realize you didn’t know how good you had it until it’s gone. When BlackBerry and their products got the rug pulled out from under them by Apple and other providers in the early 2010’s, there were always die-hards.  People loved…llloooovvvveeeed their BlackBerry phones and you had to pry them from their white-knuckled hands. 

On the latest episode of Connect the Dots, I talked to BlackBerry CMO Mark Wilson. We get into the nitty gritty of how the company has pivoted after their great decline. The best part? They leaned into their strengths and added fresh life to their customer relationships. Mark and I also chatted about the BlackBerry message and how they added “thought” with a capital “T” to their thought leadership program. There’s more, I promise you. 

Top three takeaways from my conversation with Mark Wilson

When it comes to sales, BlackBerry focuses on the disruptive story and what it means to the end consumer. Mark remembered a definition someone told him that still hits home. “Marketing is customer stories well told. Selling isn’t talking about the features or the functionality of a product. If you can speak in the context of outcomes and why it matters to customers, now, that’s something quite interesting. For Mark and BlackBerry, the focus is on the “why” for customers and not the “what” or “how” of the product.

Like me, Mark majored in History in college. He chalks part of his success at BlackBerry to history helping him look at the bigger picture and understanding how trends connect to one another. “History is such a great discipline because you look over such a long arc of time, which means you are looking at trends. Whether it’s economic trends, social trends, religious trends, governmental trends, you’re looking at all of these trends in terms of how they’re interacting with each other.” 

To wrap things up, we got into how our hobbies make us better creators, marketers, and goal-setters. As an avid sailor and outdoorsman, Mark’s no stranger to rocky waves and bad storms. By taking deep breaths, clearing his head, and keeping an eye on the bigger picture, he’s become a better sailor and a better CMO. “You don’t sweat the small things as long as you’re focused on the end state and you’re moving towards that. Will there be disruption along the way? Absolutely. The key is to figure out how you efficiently handle disruption, and then keep focusing on what you’re trying to deliver.”

Watch our full conversation to learn more about why marketers need to learn to get better at pivoting, especially when times get tough.

     About Carla


Carla is a world-renowned storyteller, an entertaining speaker, and a prolific author. Having lived, worked, and studied on five continents, she's partnered with top brands and conferences to train thousands of people how to rethink the work that they do and the impact they can have. Her visionary expertise has inspired and equipped leaders at all levels to embrace change, welcome new ideas, and transform their business.

Her work with Fortune 500 brands served as the foundation for many of her books. Her tenth, RE:Think Innovation, is a #1 new release that busts the myth that innovation is something that requires a specific degree or special training. In fact, Carla explains why, to be a successful company in today's hyper-competitive, customer-driven world, innovation must be everyone's business. Her goal is to teach one million people how to become innovators by 2025.

Consistently named one of the top influencers in B2B, digital and content marketing, Carla regularly challenges conventional thinking. Today, she travels the world teaching anyone (and everyone) how to cultivate idea-driven teams that breed unstoppable creativity and game-changing innovation.