I feel especially lucky to have worked with so many intelligent, data-centric people. My proximity to these people and my embedded role in helping craft the landscape of data-driven marketing has given me a virtual MBA when it comes to data.
I was lucky enough to have helped develop the methodologies that many marketers have been using to better understand how data can be leveraged for targeting and campaign performance. Understanding those strategies has put me in the company of some excellent marketing executives, enabling me to have good, hard conversations about the future of marketing.
I feel my understanding of data, AI and technology has become crucial to my own personal performance, helping me to shape the world around me -- hopefully for the better.
To be lucky, you gotta put in the effort. To be lucky, you gotta get uncomfortable. I remember half of the meetings I went to, I left feeling completely confused and overloaded. The other half of the time I felt like I knew what was going on.
That first 50% was where my growth came from. The second was where leadership emerged. I could not have had the latter without the former. You need to push into uncomfortable areas to acquire knowledge, and you have to be willing to listen and learn.
On the topic of AI, I remember sitting with people far more skilled and knowledgeable than I was and feeling free to ask what I would call “the stupid questions.” Those questions would help me level-set and establish the baseline I needed to get smarter.
I still find myself in a percentage of meetings where I feel confused, because I never want to stop putting in the work. I never want to stop learning. Unlike an MBA, which is a focused period of time, my learning continues to grow and never stagnates.
Of course, to be this lucky you have to surround yourself with the right kinds of people: those who are smarter than you, and maybe even a little more patient than you. I have worked with people who were even willing to literally give me the very shirt off their back for a last-minute meeting. Those people are special and are the benchmark for people I look to work with.
Luck is a tangible thing. It can be influenced. You are not born with luck. You create it.
I get asked by young people whether they should get an MBA or not. My answer has changed over the years. I used to say a flat-out “no.” These days, I say it would be a valuable experience to strengthen your baseline, but don’t rely solely on an MBA to get you where you want to be. Look at the whole picture and how you can always grow and evolve. Look at how you can become more and more experienced over time.
And, most important, take classes on data, AI and technology. Get the insight that a professor and a curriculum can provide, then supplement with knowledge in the field. Put in the work and keep growing as time moves forward.
The more you know about these areas, the more you are set up for success going forward. This work will help you be even luckier, for sure.