Three Principles for Living In Today's Marketplace

In today's world we all own a little piece of this thing we call e-mail. E-mail is a difficult channel because in any business, it belongs to the consumer, the business, the customer service team, the marketing team, the IT team, the Web team and the sales team. Thus, gaining cross-business collaboration or aligning a governance of this channel is virtually impossible. And it's getting even further blurred with the entry of alternative channels that are all called "digital." So, you're in this group we call marketing or sales, and you happen to be quite good at e-mail and think everyone else does it wrong.

How do you create change in your organization? How do you figure out all the call center problems or the Web site-triggered mailings or product mailing values?  How, in light of all the negative press and complexity around this channel, do you exert your influence?

These are three principles that I feel will keep you balanced and realistic as you evangelize, and try to create change in your organization.



Principle 1: Focus on your "sphere of influence." As well-known author Stephen Covey wrote in Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, you should have passion for all that you do, yet spend the bulk of your energy on those things you can influence and change rather than on the things over which you have no control. My translation:  Only way you'll influence others is by example and excellence. Be good at what you can control and you'll become viral.

Principle 2: Life is about negotiating dependencies. "No man is an island," wrote John Donne. In business, too, there are interdependencies among people, resources and assets. When taking on challenges, we must be clear and realistic about what we need from others. Our ability to co-exist lies in our ability to negotiate among these dependencies, and find a middle ground where empowerment and decision-making align. If you are good at what you do and stay focused, you will have leverage in these negotiations as long as you realize these are negotiations.

Principle 3: Follow the Golden Rule. Not the one you're thinking of, but "the ONE with the GOLD ... rules." This is just reality. In life there are the haves and the have-nots; if you are to gain momentum you will have to find ways to align with wherever the returns are valued or where the budgets are made.

These three principles are simple and to the point, yet if taken to heart can be the best dose of reality in hard times. If you are in a weak negotiating position or you have your hands in other programs where you have little influence, I would deduce that you are probably not in a good "budgetary" position to get what you want or need.

As my grandfather used to say when I'd talk about all the wonderful things I wanted to accomplish in this world and about the potential I had: "Do you know what potential means? It just means you haven't done anything yet!" With that said, build your own equity position in your company, and your influence will be felt company-wide.

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