3 Marketing Lessons from Benjamin Zander

Filed as Features on May 16, 2008 5:01 am

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“Waiter,” Boston Philharmonic Orchestra conductor Ben Zander exclaimed, “I have a perfect life, but I don’t have a knife.” He was having breakfast in a restaurant with a friend at the time. As he uttered those words, he heard a girl nearby giggling. They made eye contact, smiled together, and he went back to his conversation.

The next day, he happened to cross paths with the young lady again, this time they exchanged words.

“Good morning, how are you today?”

“Perfect,” she said.

As she left the room accompanied by her parents, he called out to her “Have a perfect day!”

“I will,” she replied, as if it were the easiest, most obvious choice she could make.

I paraphrased the opening of Roz and Ben Zander, The Art of Possibility. The book, is about turning life’s obstacles into possibilities. It is also about marketing – what is becoming the future of marketing.

Lesson # 1 – It’s All Invented

A person looking to start a blog on social media today may feel overwhelmed. There are so many blogs on social media, one for every flavor, literally. She may think: it’s hopeless, I could never break through. No one will read yet another blog on social media.

Another person may take stock of the situation and think: this is fantastic, there are so many people writing about social media that I will find an instant community. Then I can specialize in social media for engineers, or for lawyers, or for plumbers. Take your pick. In other words, she sees opportunity galore.

Whenever you are faced with an issue that seems to be a problem, use this simple advice. Remember that it’s all invented. Then you will have the opportunity to dismantle your own assumptions that prevent you from seeing possibilities. Instead, think how else can I look at things? What other choices does that give me?

Lesson #2 – Stop Measuring Everything

When you go down the route of constantly checking how many readers, comments, and page views you have, you find yourself stuck with thoughts and actions that reflect survival and scarcity, comparison and competition, attachment and anxiety. You stop the creative flow in favor of the judgement and evaluation. There is a place for goal setting and tracking towards your objectives.

Yet, when you constantly box yourself inside what others have established as success metrics, you forego your potential, where you could grow. Ask yourself: how are my thoughts and actions, in this moment, a reflection of the measurement world?

Over the long haul, you are more likely to create abundance in your business and life by having the attitude that there are always new readers, there are many more customers out there to engage with. When you express your skill with passion and joy, people will be attracted to you – and when your life does not depend on hitting the jackpot all the time, you will be more open to connections, which in turn create success.

Lesson #3 – Be a Contribution

When you stop obsessing constantly about progress, you lift the veil on contribution. What is it that you bring to the table that nobody else does? What project, form and shape can your ideas take? Any that you decide. The issue with best practices and following standard advice, is that everyone ends up looking and sounding the same.

Nothing could be further from your truth – you are capable of contributing and you can let anyone contribute to your success. If you let your ambition drive you, then anyone who does not think like you, who is not on your side or is on the same list with you, is a competitor.

With the thought of contribution, everything changes. All of a sudden, you can learn from anyone and be a teacher to anyone – even the most experienced blogger. How much you can make and where you stand in the business ecosystem do not disappear. Yet, it’s your attitude that changes, from how can I win, to how can I serve. Watch all sorts of good things happening to you because of that.
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Bottom line, no matter where you stand in the conventional totem pole, remember that it’s all invented, when you stop measuring all the time, you start thinking about projects as potential you can fulfill. You can make a difference, even if sometimes you may not fully appreciate how and why.

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