A few years back, I got glasses for the first time. I spend a lot of my day in front of a wall of monitors and computer screens, as much as six screens of varying sizes. I was reading and writing and doing video calls all day, and I realized my short range of vision was beginning to get a bit blurry.
The eye doctor suggested I get glasses to help with my immediate field of vision. I filled the prescription, and now everything is much, much clearer within that field of vision. I can read better and see better on video calls.
It was miraculous. Of course, when I wear those glasses, my longer range of vision becomes obscured. Being farsighted means I need glasses to focus closely, but I need to take them off to see far away.
It sounds a lot like my view of the world right now.
Most of us are only able to focus on what is right in front of us, or what the long-term view looks like. It's extremely difficult, one might say impossible, to understand and accurately plan for both right now.
For those of you who are logic-minded, I do realize there are such things as progressive glasses, but when I wear those, they tend to make me a little bit nauseous. The same goes for my brain when I try to balance long-term and short-term plans -- especially in today’s economic and political climate
You can speak to all the quants you want, but no models have accurate data for the aftereffects of a global pandemic combined with high inflation, high consumer confidence in spite of supply chain issues, meager unemployment and major international conflict -- while an entire shadow economy in crypto moves forward like a roller coaster.
The best you can do is operate the same way I do while I’m at work. I tend to leave my glasses on most of the day, hours at a time, bouncing from screen to screen and getting work done while engaging with my coworkers. I build forecast models for marketing, then fill in the real data to see if the models panned out correctly or not. I read copy, write copy and brainstorm new ways of reaching the audience I am trying to target.
These are my short-term strategic initiatives, and I try to build them out in such a way as to understand the impact I can create in the short-term -- that is, the next three to six months. The shorter-term metrics are things like form fills, webinars, click through/visits and email opens. These are indicators of interest now.
Then, I take off my glasses and go for a walk.
During that time, I replay the initiatives and ideas I have, and try to examine them through the filter of macro-economic conditions, to determine whether the long-term view competes with, or supports, the short-term decisions we are making.
To do this correctly, I focus on key metrics such as reach, lift and engagement with a specific audience, because that specific audience will most likely translate to revenue and growth in the long term. I look at efficiency and the interplay of teams in marketing to make sure they are aligned and driving toward the same goals.
To continue the analogy, the ability to take my glasses off and put them back on again is almost a trigger to make me look at things from a different angle. The trick of getting up from my desk and walking around helps too, because it gets me out of a routine and makes me think more clearly.
It's super annoying, but every year I get a new eye exam and find out my eyes have changed a little bit more. My prescription gets updated, and I get some new glasses. My ability to see the short term keeps changing, and I must stay on top of it. If I don’t, my eyesight simply deteriorates, and I can't see what should literally be right in front of me.
Take what you will from that analogy. For me, it's about the diligence of staying on top of my situation, constantly evaluating if my ideas are still effective at driving success.
And for those of you with perfect eyesight: Cheers. You are the lucky ones, and I hope you never wake up one day with a need for glasses.