Archives for posts with tag: Heart


Over the years, quite a few people have asked me what it takes to be successful in the marketing/advertising world. And I always answered “curiosity”. You need to be curious to stay relevant, to understand what people really care about. You need to be curious to understand how humans change behavior. You have to have a basic understanding of anthropology, neuroscience, economics, politics – you name it. While that’s still true, I’ve changed my mind and believe now that being curious is not the most important trait to be successful in marketing/advertising.

The real answer is empathy

Data insights are important. And I’m not arguing against it. But our industry tends to forget about human insights. Data insights fit neatly in a spreadsheet, on a PowerPoint slide. Human insights are messier and harder to obtain. To gather human insights you need to do more than just hearing what people say, you have to feel it. You have to feel the complexities and issues that contribute to changing human behavior. You have to feel how the moment of attention that you grab from people can turn into something deeper and more meaningful. This doesn’t happen by segmenting people or hoarding them into data clusters.

Let me give you an example: There are many people that can tell you all the details about location-based marketing. They know everything there is to know about Gowalla, Foursquare and Facebook Places. They can give you tips how to market in this space, how to stand out. They will give you that tiny bit advantage that will be gone by next week. This incremental benefit that evaporates over night because once anything is successful, marketers will copy it. These people are good at the “What”.

And, there are others, that are good at the “Why”. They will explain to you why people are checking-in. Why people want to connect with others. Why this might be something your brand should consider. They are good at the “Why” because they are empathetic. They can help you make a powerful and interesting difference. And really connect with people.

We need more of them. As we learned during the financial crisis, humans are not very rational. A pure data insights approach will ultimately fail. You need both. Or you’re just talking to a head and not connecting with the heart.

John Wooden Quote

Whenever we hear about the illness of a giant like John Wooden, we get scared an era is ending. That is true for “The Greatest Generation”, any bad news about Vin Scully, Walter Cronkite’s death – you have your own list of people that you admire and their (possible) loss marks a point of no return in your mind.

While I’m very saddened to hear about John Wooden’s grave illness and hope for another 99 years of his wisdom, we should never forget that every day new heroes and new giants are born: Hard-working people. Decent human beings. Case in point: Jim Joyce and Armando Galarraga.

Now, most of you know the story already: Baseball umpire Jim Joyce made a bad call that cost Detroit Tigers pitcher Armando Galarraga a perfect game. (To put this in perspective: Almost 400,000 baseball games have been played in the history of the MLB. 20 were perfect games.) Two remarkable things happened: Unlike most umpires (and most human beings in the modern age), Jim Joyce took full responsibility and apologized. He said: “I’m sorry. I had a great angle and I missed the call.”

He received death threats, his Wikipedia page declared him dead and a webpage “Fire Jim Joyce” popped up almost immediately. And what did he do? He apologized in person to Galarraga, answered all media questions, went back to work the next day as the plate umpire and received the lineup card from Galarraga. By apologizing, by being upfront about the mistake, Joyce became a beloved umpire. Even the site says now: “You know after hearing all the talk from both the pitcher and umpire Jim Joyce today, I have only one thought: They are both classier than I am.”

Jim Joyce was only overshadowed by the other hero of the story: Armando Galarraga. And, frankly, without his initial reaction the story might have played out differently. When Joyce blew the call, Galarrage didn’t do the exepcted: He didn’t rant, he didn’t rave, he didn’t kick the dirt. Instead, he just smiled.

And that smile turned a possible game for the ages into a life lesson: Galarraga had all the right in the world to be selfish. He chose to be empathetic. He was perfect that day but he understood that nobody’s perfect. He said: “This happens every day. We’re only human. We make mistakes.”

Armando Galarraga, just brought up from the minors, could have been the 21st pitcher in Baseball history to pitch a perfect game. Now he’s just by himself as an example of forgiveness, kindness and human spirit. On that day, Armando Galarraga was perfect, both on the mound and in his human response to misfortune.

Success is peace of mind which is a direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you did your best to become the best you are capable of becoming. – John Wooden

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Oh, and a little note to BP: Buying media adjacent to the video of a real hero makes it even more apparent that you have no clue. How many millions of dollars have you spent on buying media, coming up with PR tactics to improve your image? Three small words would be a good start. You don’t need to have a big balance sheet, a PR department, an agency to say “We are sorry.” But you need heart.