Wednesday, March 9, 2011

The second biggest challenge in life is...

Last summer, I was asked to speak at the Penn Club in Manhattan and gladly accepted. It is the alumni club for the University of Pennsylvania, one of the eight Ivy League colleges located in Northeastern United States. As time went on and the committee that was in charge of such things shared my book “Pull”, they decided to expand the event to include all Ivy League college clubs. As a graduate of Arizona State University whose heritage and prestige pale by comparison, I was rightfully flattered.

As the time to appear approached, I decided that the speech I have been giving was solid but wanted to add more power to it to increase its perceived significance. To do so, I created four of what I refer to as bold statements. Each was designed to stimulate thinking and lead into a marketing distinction that I would further detail for the audience. In retrospect, I felt they all worked well and am working to strengthen them further. One, however seemed to have a great deal of impact and I share it here.

I was cruising along about half way through the seventy minutes I had allocated for the session when I said,” It may well be that the second biggest challenge in life, staying alive being the first, is staying relevant. It was easy to see that the audience was waiting for me to explain this one. In retrospect, I think this statement is not only accurate; I think it is also critically important to the well-being of you and your business.

Earlier in the speech I had recommended that there is extraordinary value in treating your Selling Proposition (sales message) as if it is a personal conversation between you and your customer. It is in fact so, and the “second biggest challenge” statement I made was designed to apply to their products or services. The analogy worked and they got it easily.

In life we watch people get old and assume that age, over time, has made them irrelevant. Nothing could be more inaccurate. Inactivity, not age, is what makes them irrelevant to those around them. Activity that is aimed at creating “what’s next” has worked for my hero, Hugh Hefner and he is well into his eighties. Many may argue the significance of his influence but few would argue his relevance. There are others of course. It is clearly a matter of choice and growing old has nothing to do with it.

Your product or service in your category is no different. If you are constantly looking at and creating “what’s next” for your category, others will be at the effect of what you have done. If you sit and admire your success, others will create “what’s next” and you will be at the effect of what they have done. That I can promise is painful compared to the joy and success of being the one doing the creating.

The issue here is that most marketers’ sit on the success they create. Inherent in that inaction is that everything is somehow just fine until it no longer is. My experience is that it is very difficult to get a successful marketer to create what’s next in the face of success. Can you see that this guarantees failure?

The more I think of this, I am going to remove the “It may well be” from this statement. It hereafter will be, “The second biggest challenge in life, staying alive being the first, is staying relevant.” Feel free to pass it on.

The learning here is, when you are successful, sit down light up a cigar, pop open a bottle of champagne and take the day off. Its perfectly okay to come in to work the following day, around 11:00 will do. At 2:00, after a self-indulgent lunch, you have two choices. You can continue admiring your success or you can begin working on “what’s next.” I strongly recommend the latter as the former will insure failure in your future.


Keith Chambers

Keynote Marketing Speaker
Creative Marketing Consultant
(310) 473-0010

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