Doing Something Is Smarter Than Reading This Article

I am a great believer in learning by doing. While I place much value on book education, I believe hands-on experience is critically important to gain true understanding of a subject.

I was reminded of this when I read last week’s MediaPost column by George Simpson, which made me think about why I chose the technical devices I use.

Like George, I am no Apple Kool-Aid drinker, but neither am I an Apple hater. My mobile phone journey has included many a Nokia, a few Treos, assorted BlackBerrys, and now iPhones (starting with the 4S, followed by a 5S and, last month, a 6).

With regards to tablets, I won an Apple iPad series 1 way back when (yes, I actually won something!) but when Target last year offered generous trade-in credits I got myself a Samsung tablet. My desktop and laptop computers are all Windows. Add to this my wife’s Kindle Fire and Samsung Galaxy 5 phone and my son’s Windows phone, and I have the key platforms, brands and ecosystems pretty much covered.



I even have Google Glass, though I have literally only used it to demonstrate it to others. Not once in the past 12 months has there been an instance where I wished I had Glass on my nose instead of my iPhone in my hand. Glass is an amazing piece of technology desperately in search of useful applications. I think these will ultimately be found in various industries where people need their hands free while accessing information at the same time. Think medical profession, service industry (Virgin Atlantic is trying them out), engineers on location, etc. 

Some people wonder how all my devices can work in harmony, but with today’s cloud storage I have everything at my fingertips across all devices at all times.

The same is true for my online presence. I always joke that you can find me on everything -- not much of an exaggeration, and I am always game to try out new offerings.

I do all this “experiencing” because of my learning-by-doing belief. How could I tell anybody that Google Glass is impressive technology with very little practical application if I hadn’t tried it myself? How could I explain or understand Pinterest, Android, iTunes, Ello, Kik, Snapchat or even (Bing’s answer to Google Plus, which explains why you have never heard of it) if all I know about any of these has come from reading about it rather than experiencing it myself? How could I argue for or against inclusion of any of these options in a marketing plan if I have no firsthand understanding?

I always recommend others with corporate budget responsibility do the same. If you are going to run an Instagram ad campaign, set up a YouTube channel or hold court on Weibo, it makes sense to set up a personal account, create a profile and try posting something as if you’re a regular consumer.

I’m not telling you to spend all your waking hours doing all of these things, but it makes sense to do them at least once. Access the stuff you create as a brand or as a business as any consumer would. Search for it on Google and see what turns up. Ask a loved one or relative to do so as well, and report back to you. I can promise you this experiment will be eye-opening.

1 comment about "Doing Something Is Smarter Than Reading This Article".
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  1. Terry Heaton from Reinvent21, December 8, 2014 at 12:15 p.m.

    Good piece, Maarten. I've been saying this for over a decade, but nobody wants to do it. A lot of fear, I think, and the idea that it might make them feel (or look) foolish. Many of the managers I know prefer to let their "digital guy" handle it and write a report for them. Not the same. Sadly.

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