I was at a crossroads last Dec 31, having realised I didn’t want to be a solo marketer any longer but with the alternative (being an outsourced marketing department and recruiting a team) not looking any better.
A month in the desert the previous summer had reconnected me with the planet, but Q3/4 were horrendous as a result. A single full month away in five years had decimated a great roster. I spent Dec 31, 2006 wondering what I’d be in a year’s time. Off adventuring for the last time? Working overseas again? Dead drunk on the London streets?
What I never thought, though, was that it’d involve becoming a University student.
But here I am: living on campus at Warwick University a few minutes from the gleaming white geometry of the business school. And just three months outside the madness of London has made everything clear again. I now know what I want to do next.
Here are my goals for 2008:
To rejoin a team. Being solo works when you have no commitments, but when you’re selling your time it’s hard to make year-on-year upticks to your bottom line, and I’m not getting any younger. So I want fresh resources to leverage: people, technology, capital, in order to make a bigger difference. And that only happens in organisations. So the lone wolf has to rejoin a pack.
To get international again. It’s seven years since my work took me outside Europe; side trips to Asia and Africa and America have been just that: holidays. However pleasant having clients in Paris / London / Madrid may be, I miss the business travel that marked my calendar for my first working decade. So whatever I work on next, it’ll have to be something that works across borders.
To reconnect with technology. Working with consultancies is great, but to really see how business and markets interact you’ve got to understand the technologies: why Ajax is exciting (hint: it enables Web 2.0) why UDWDM is a p-shift (hint: it steps up to mass broadband) and why the iPod has nothing to do with selling hardware (hint: it’s about control of media distribution.) So I need to re-involve myself in TMT, which in the last year – without a single digital agency as a client – I’ve missed.
To play strategically. I’m sick of clients whining about my day rate; whatever I earn in my next role will be related to what I do for the business, not what I can squeeze out of their marketing budget. If I want six figures and an option on 1%, I’d better be able to demonstrate additional turnover attributable to my actions. And with the stuff I’m learning on the Warwick MBA, I’ll be able to do it.
And of course, sluicing into all that is a more basic goal: to be a better person. To be less cynical. To network with people more, even useless ones. To tolerate fools more gladly. To gather points of view before taking one. To chase material success less. To listen and understand rather than dismiss and judge.
It’ll be hard. But – with five new course folders on the shelf, with titles from Corporate Finance to Modelling & Analysis – I’m in the best place to start from.
Happy New Year!