Six Pixels of Separation - The Blog
March 11, 200810:49 PM

Marketers - How Hard Do You Really Work?

At TED 2008, I had the pleasure of meeting Jenny Lam (Founder of Jackson Fish Market - they do "branded software experiences"). After a little email back-and-forth, I decided to check out the Jackson Fish Market Web experience, and came across an excellent Blog posting titled, Working Hard Or Hardly Working? VC-Backed Startups Vs. Bootstraps.

It seems there's been lots of discussion online about work, work ethics and dedication. Always an interesting (and difficult) topic to discuss, but I do have some thoughts.

First off, I know how easy it is to dismiss my forthcoming comments because I'm an Entrepreneur and I own Twist Image. That being said, feel free to contact any of my previous employers, and you'll learn that my work ethic was the same - from being a business owner to being an employee. I treated every position I had as if I owned the company, and its success (or failure) rested on my shoulders.

I think it all boils down to where you want to go in life, and what you're willing to do to make that happen? It may sound hokey or "motivational speaker"-like, but I wholeheartedly subscribe to it. When I do my public speaking events at the Power Within, I use this line: "most people I know are trying to make it to the weekend. I'm trying to make it." You can re-read that line and meditate on it, but I believe that is the difference between me and the masses. I'm also known for letting people know that I'm never looking for someone who needs a job, but I am constantly looking for people who are passionate about the work they have to do. There is a huge difference between a "job" and the "work you were meant to do."

When I was a Journalist, I once asked an Editor how many hours a day he wrote. I remember his response to this day: "creativity does not keep office hours." That Editor worked until the piece was perfect. Sometimes it happened very quickly, other times it took several sleepless nights to polish the words just right.

So here are my thoughts on what's acceptable (and what's not) in the workplace:

If you went through the interview process, and you feel like you negotiated a salary that works for you, and you're doing the work that you were meant to do, you should be willing, eager and happy to do whatever it takes to be successful. Should it be at the detriment to anything that scars your mind, body and spirit? Absolutely not (and, if that is the case, you may well be in the wrong workplace). But beyond that, you have to be willing to do what it takes to make it happen.

Life's not perfect. Clients are demanding. You may have to work late (after coming in early), and you may have to plug away on the weekends too. The big question (to me) is, ultimately: did you do everything in your power to accomplish whatever it is you set out to do with you life?

We're all given the same twenty-four hours in a day, the same seven days a week and the same three hundred and sixty five days a year. It's incumbent on you (as an individual) to make sure that you're spending your time getting ahead.

I sucked in school. Maybe it's that paranoia that drives me to read a book a week, or pushes me to constantly put in extra hours to learn more about the Digital Marketing industry. Maybe it's something else that drives me to get involved in the community (both my industry and in charitable organizations), or get up on stage and talk about our Marketing space (and where it's going) in the hopes that people will get motivated and push themselves further.

I do know this: I don't look at the clock (I guess some might consider Blogging work, and it's closing in on 11:00 pm). I don't harp on my paycheck. I don't complain about tough deadlines. I went through my own/personal interview process, decided on a salary and accepted everything because it is the work I am meant to do.

Would I ever do this by placing family and health second? Never.

Do I think that I am working at my full capacity, and that everyone else is unmotivated and lazy? Absolutely not.

The truth is, I think I could work harder, and be even more dedicated.

The only reason I think like this is because I know what I want from life, and that I am willing to do whatever it takes to make it happen (but not at the risk of my family and health).

So, in the dark of night, when the only person there is you and your reflection, how do you feel about what you're doing, and what you're willing to do to get there?

Thanks for the inspiration Jenny.

By Mitch Joel


Comments Comments Feed
  • Posted by Adam Dufresne
    Mitch Joel

    HI Mitch, this is an amazing post!!! Your passion has always seemed to rub off on me when I read or listen to the content you put out there! This post has really done the same, I completely agree with you. I feel I am very passionate about life and what I do in both life and my career, but have always felt I could be working much harder than I am, it is great to know I am not alone in that. Thanks a ton for this post it was really something great to read first thing in the morning before I tackled my work day!!!

    Adam Dufresne

    Reply
  • Posted by Duane Brown
    Mitch Joel

    I started at an ad agency about 10 months ago and I work long hours because of what I accepted about my job. Small team, big demands and only so many hours we've to get it done. Which often means we're working late and or coming in extra early.

    I think the big part of this post that hit the nail on the head for me was not complaining about it. If you are not happy, regardless of the reason why, you should move on. I know people I've worked with who should really move on if they are not that happy. Life is what you make it and if you love what you do, it should all work out. I love advertising and taking it further online... I wish everyone I knew could say that.

    Reply
  • Posted by Sulemaan
    Mitch Joel

    Excellent post. Easily one of your best.

    Reply
  • Posted by Allie Osmar
    Mitch Joel

    This is great! This is definitely a career field that you can never "turn off." Things change and come at us so quickly - it takes someone with a real interest, someone who finds personal enjoyment in digging in and discovering new tools and ideas.

    Reply
  • Posted by Mark Dykeman
    Mitch Joel

    Mitch:

    I'm not a marketer, but I'll contribute the following thought anyway.

    A minor quibble: the use of the phrase "getting ahead". There's a generally accepted meaning of getting ahead which I think translates more accurately to "moving forward" or improving.

    At the same time, when someone talks about "getting ahead", they do mean that they are trying to be recognized as THE leader or go-to resource in their field.

    Who are you trying to get ahead of? Your clients? Your competitors? Or yourself?

    Reply
  • Mitch Joel

    hi Mitch--

    Thanks for this.

    In my 24 years of full time work, I notice people wishing their lives away, as they yearn for the end of the shift, or end of the week, as you say.

    Yet this attitude is responsible for gossip, unproductive hours, back-stabbing and the like.

    No matter where you are, you take yourself with you.

    May as well In-Joy it all, because it ends far too soon, whether it be preparing for retirement, retirement itself, and yes, this precious life--Itself.

    Reply
  • Posted by Cherie Payne
    Mitch Joel

    I agree with this philosophy/approach to work and life. As the range of opportunities to be creative entrpreneurs increases and the market to trade in intellectual capital continues to grow, it will become even more important for individuals to embrace the attitude and discipline you've described in order to achieve their own versions of success.

    Reply
  • Posted by Jon Husband
    Mitch Joel

    In your tweet you asked "what do you think" ?

    I think your perspective is a correct one, and also almost a bit old-fashioned, hearkening back to a time when many more people took pride in their work, and worked for companies or organizations they could actually feel proud of, and so on.

    And you and Twist Image are in a space where you can make a difference. People everywhere are tired of spin, lying, corporate-speak, and want to know "what's real".

    Your approach to work and life is "real", and that is something I think people everywhere can relate to easily and strongly, even if it is not something necessarily so easy to do .. asking the best of yourself, that is.

    Reply
  • @ Mark - when I say "getting ahead," I know what I mean - it's my self-imposed limitations. Going well beyond what I ever imagined possible.

    I know, lofty goals :)

    Reply
  • Posted by Todd Jordan
    Mitch Joel

    I like the idea of 'getting ahead', but not sure that even remotely means the same thing to even a small group of people.

    What I figure is this. What I can contribute to the organization I'm in is most limited by that organization, and I do everything I can not to be the limiting factor. That said, my current organization would be just as happy if I was working 80 hour weeks with no work life balance. - I'd get more done from Monday to Monday but not likely to get more done in a given block of hours.

    Most of us nonmarketers have little control of our work environment. The only option being to quit. Tough thing? It's one dang tight economy and there aren't enough folks willing to help others jump ship.

    Yes, the online world offers more opportunities, but there's a sad bit of elitism out there. Few companies are willing to take folks just because they are hard workers without some magic resume juice.

    Perhaps we could all do better at helping our fellow strugglers out with a foot in the door, or an arm to support them. I do my best to do that.

    Reply
  • Posted by Vee
    Mitch Joel

    So, in the dark of night, when the only person there is you and your reflection, how do you feel about what you're doing, and what you're willing to do to get there?

    - Brilliant! Absolutely brilliant! I blog too (or used to) and in the dark of the night, I'd felt validated by just the flow of my thoughts and the lean of my imagination. Conviction. It starts with "want" and is buoyed by "try". Conviction is where adventures begin.

    Heading for an interview in a few hours and reading up. So so so glad I stumbled upon your words. Thanks, Mitch! What a lovely wee lift before I make my presentation.

    Reply
  • Posted by janine
    janine

    You knows whats funny. I tend to work alot of weekends. As Im sure everyone does. I have just worked the last 11 days straight. But to me its no big deal. Heres the funny thing, I tell my mother and she goes nuts and says "You should be getting in lieu time for working weekends, you need to tell you boss. There are labour laws you know" She actually said this.

    Picture me saying this to my boss.

    Me: Good morning Boss, just so you know I will be taking tomorrow off because I worked 11 days straight without getting payed above my salary. And 1 days notice is all your getting!

    Me 1 day later: Anyone hiring!

    In summary, I agree with all your comments. Weekends are great but it feels good to get back to work on Monday.

    Reply
  • Posted by janine
    janine

    You knows whats funny. I tend to work alot of weekends. As Im sure everyone does. I just worked the last 11 days straight but to me its no big deal. Heres the funny thing, I tell my mother and she goes nuts and says "You should be getting in lieu time for working weekends, you need to tell you boss. There are labour laws you know" She actually said this.

    Picture me saying this to my boss.

    Me: Good morning Boss, just so you know I will be taking tomorrow off because I worked 11 days straight without getting payed above my salary. And 1 days notice is all your getting!

    Me 1 day later: Anyone hiring!

    In summary, I agree with all your comments. Weekends are great but it feels good to get back to work on Monday.

    Reply
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