Sunday, July 29, 2012

American Marketing Association

A plug for the AMA - St. Louis Chapter

The AMA is a professional association for individuals and organizations leading the practice, teaching and development of marketing knowledge worldwide. Our principle role is to serve as a forum to connect like-minded individuals and foster knowledge sharing, provide resources, tools and training and support marketing practice and thought leadership around the globe.

The American Marketing Association (AMA) was established in 1937 by visionaries in marketing and academia. Today, the AMA has grown to be one of the largest marketing associations in the world, with over 30,000 members who work, teach and study in the field of marketing across the globe. As the leading organization for marketers, AMA is the trusted go-to resource for marketers and academics. We are counted on as the most credible marketing resource where our members can stay relevant with knowledge, training and tools to enhance lifelong learning and obtain valuable information and connections. The AMA is constantly innovating and evolving, helping to shape the field as well as keep abreast of the changing global marketplace to help our members excel in their careers. No other organization provides more ways for marketers and academics to connect with the people and resources they need to be successful.

Membership entitles you to active participation The St. Louis chapter events and savings on a full calendar of programs. AMA St. Louis offers a variety of ways to get connected, learn about best practices and advance by becoming a better marketer. More information on AMA membership offerings and benefits can be found on our our local chapter website in St. Louis at or the AMA International Headquarters website at or better yet ask a chapter board members. If you want to be a better marketer, we want to help you. 

Monday, July 16, 2012

Oh Father of Mine

Cartoons are a part of my consciousness. Like a lot of others who grew up with Looney Tunes, Hanna-Barbera, Rocky & Bullwinkle, I can’t help recalling the recurring themes, the sound effects and the characters I got to know from hours in front of the TV set watching. Often a given premise is played out in a variety of predictable scenarios. One of my favorite characters is Sylvester the Cat who first appeared in the mid 1940s.  Perhaps Sylvester's most developed role is in a series of Robert McKimson-directed shorts, in which the character is a hapless mouse-catching instructor to his dubious son, Sylvester Junior. The "mouse" is actually a powerful baby kangaroo he constantly mistakes for a "king-size mouse." He wants to show that confidence but is repeatedly bewildered. He brings his son to shame, so much so that the son feels compelled to wear a bag over his head to hide the resemblance to his dad. Sylvester himself is reduced to a nervous breakdown. He is defeated. It’s funny because it is real. Sylvester wants to be a role model and a hero, instead he fails publicly.

What a great bit. I love the father-son dynamic. In spite of his best efforts and his determination Sylvester cannot succeed. He is dealing with circumstances beyond his control.  He comes up lacking in the eyes of his son which makes matters worse. Of course, cartoon characters never grow up. If they did, I bet Sylvester Jr. would one day realize that his father loved him and did the very best he could, given the circumstances. The real lesson he will take from his old man is how to keep trying and understand that you won’t always win. And Sylvester, don’t worry, in time your son will put your efforts in the context of his own adult experience and realize that you are not such a bad cat after all.   

Monday, July 9, 2012

The Phone Screen

“We received your resume in response to our ad online and would like to get to know you better. Are you available for a telephone interview Thursday or Friday next week?”
“Great. How about 9:00 a.m. on Thursday.”
“9:00 doesn’t work. We will schedule a call for 11:00 a.m.”
“Okay, I can do that.”

That’s how it started with innocuous e-mails. The good news is that my resume managed to rise to the top of the pile of what I know must have been overwhelming response. The marketing job, as described, is not a perfect fit. I know it. But now I have a week to think about it. A week to stew about the category, the job description and the responsibilities. I also had a week to develop answers to questions that might come up. I have a week to research the company. I have more than enough time to over-think it too.

A week passes. The call comes and I am ready - I think.

“So, tell me why you think you might be a good fit for this position?”
“Well, I am passionate about marketing. I have held top marketing and communications positions for three significant companies in St. Louis. I don’t know everything about the company but I have been successful in new category/market segments since my early career in advertising where I worked on a broad range of businesses such as toys, consumer electronics and even  quick service restaurants to name a few.”
“Hmmm. Can you give me an example of something you did in which you are particularly proud.”
 “Sure, I was instrumental in re-positioning plasma cutting equipment at a previous company. The program included message strategy, distributor communication, packaging, point-of-sale and trade show activity. We managed to reverse a declining market share trend for a brand that represented nearly 15% of our sales.”
“Interesting. Can you share some examples of how you work?”
“Well I try to be collaborative and get the right resources lined up. I believe in working as a team. Sometimes you want to work with in-house resources and other times you want to selectively outsource the best people you can find. Am I answering your question?“
“Tell me about an area where you show strength and an area you think you would like to improve as a manager.”

I hate this format. I can only guess about that information for which this HR screener might be fishing. I can tell she’s taking notes. I can also tell she is leaving pregnant pauses in the dialogue as a technique. (Leave a little silence in a conversation and I will almost always fill that gap with something I wish I hadn’t said. I know it is a trap but I always fall for it.) Long answers are bad answers, but if you are getting little or no feedback it is only natural to try to explain – maybe even over-explain. And that can be very revealing or catastrophic to further consideration.

“How did it go?” my wife wants to know.
“Terrible. I didn’t say what I wanted to say and I am sure I didn’t say what they wanted me to say. Now, I am at the mercy of notes based on a 20 minute contrived and in some ways intensely personal dialogue with a perfect stranger on the phone."  

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

If you can dream and not make dreams your master...

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too:
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or, being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or being hated don't give way to hating,
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise;

If you can dream---and not make dreams your master;
If you can think---and not make thoughts your aim,
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same:.
If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build'em up with worn-out tools;

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings,
And never breathe a word about your loss:
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: "Hold on!"

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings---nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much:
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And---which is more---you'll be a Man, my son!
Rudyard Kipling