Smarter than Me

Originally uploaded by danielsoh.

Writing with Ann Handley’s MarketingProfs Daily Fix has been a fantastic opportunity. It has allowed me to participate in some excellent discussions, cause others, and importantly, to meet and become friends with some of the brightest minds in marketing anywhere in the world.

There are a couple of people, in particular, who have had a deep impact on my thinking about marketing — Lewis Green and Michael Wagner. They are both very principled people and whether they know it or not, they have provided me with inspiration and guidance in many areas — from the way that I think and craft ideas to how I express them or demonstrate concepts. They have also helped me understand what it means to "own my own brand" (though I continue to work on that one).

What I love about Mike is his unrelenting focus on narrative. I am inspired by the way he highlights the way that brands can have an impact on our everyday lives. He is able to reach deep inside a brand experience and draw out, and humanise, the effect that a brand can have on a person’s life. This is more than simple storytelling and much more than an understanding of brand experience. As Mike tells it, the story or slice of life becomes enmeshed with a sense of personal history — making the brands that we love or the brands that deeply affect us, part of the fabric of the way we live.

And the best thing about Mike is that he also demonstrates this in everything he touches. When I first commented on his blog he sent me an e-mail. He was "owning his own brand" and following up a comment with a "thank you" e-mail. But it wasn’t a form letter … it was a thoughtful, well crafted e-mail that prompted a conversation and it kicked off a series of e-mails between us. Mike provided me with suggestions and was a great sounding board for some of my thinking … always surprising me with his generosity and his personal openness.

Lewis also is a master storyteller. His stories come from a deep personal history and self knowledge … and he is able to clearly articulate his stories in an entertaining way. His strong social conscience manifests in all his posts and is backed up with a great business mind. I love the way that Lewis asks the hard questions of us all … why blog?, what about those gadgets?, and why we should believe in marketing. He reminds us to ask questions of the work that we do and the way that we write. He constantly pushes us to remember the human aspect of our work and creativity — that there is a need to focus on people, not money.

If you are new to the blogs of Mike and Lewis, there is great insight locked away in the archives on their sites. Spend some small amount of time to investigate the categories and posts they have on their sites. Read the posts AND the comments — and also check out MarketingProfs.


4 thoughts on “Smarter than Me

  1. What a nice belated valentine to Lewis and Mike… and I agree: they are principled, inspiring souls. What I love about Mike is his ability to humanize even the smallest thing… like his emails, his comments, his asides and quick notes. He sees everything as opportunity — but not in a smarmy way. Rather, as a chance to connect with another individual or business, and thus deepen a relationship.
    Lewis is similar to Mike in that approach. He is also very generous with his time and his skills. An amazing thing about Lewis — something I’ve taken to heart — is that he’s never afraid to admit when he doesn’t understand, and/or when he thinks someone is incorrect. He stands up for what he believes, but at the same time, he’s willing to stand corrected. He’s open-minded and able to look vulnerable.
    Thanks for this post, Gavin. I could gush about you, too, as well as many of the great minds I’m grateful are part of the MarketingProfs blog. But I appreciate the chance right here and now to say a few words about these two guys.
    Excellent post!

  2. And in yet another case of B.S.P. I was speaking to Mike Wagner on the phone last night. Totally unplanned and now here’s your post.
    Speaking of speaking Gavin—I think we are due for a phone conversation….

  3. I have been playing with this post for the last couple of weeks. I don’t normally take that long for my posts, but I was thinking about principles in business — and both Mike and Lewis came to my mind. Then I was watching “The Secret” and decided to finish this post off as one of my “gratitude rocks”.
    DA — I think you are right. It’s about time we hooked up. Long overdue!

  4. A terrific tribute Gavin – fortunate I am also to be exposed to LG and Michael. Each time I hear from them – and ALWAYS after a comment on their blog – it feels as if I am the most important person in their world. That is genuine people focus. You have it, too – best wishes on your weekend presentation!

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