One of my pet peeves is category experience. In the marketing and advertising businesses, it’s everything. Recently, I lost a consulting opportunity because of not having enough financial experience. It was true. Hiring lore suggests: When you come to a position with your head filled with numbers, trends and category milestones, you are a quick study. This approach creates comfortable hiring. (An aside: Do you know how many people take credit for MasterCard’s “Priceless” campaign?)
Personally, I am most energized when in a new category — being scared, facing a blank piece of paper. Tabula rasa. No preconceptions. Childlike discovery moments all around. Surrounded by fresh language, sights and sounds. Like being in a new country.
One of today’s marketing heavyweights, Joe Tripodi, is a category surfer. That’s why he is so strong. His career trail meanders: IBM, MasterCard, Mobil Oil, Bank of NY, Seagrams Wine and Spirits, All-State, and currently the CMO of Coca-Cola. Whoever hired Mr. Tipodi recognized that his light shines in the area of marketing not technology or banking.
Good brand and account planners achieve because they see things through fresh eyes. Great hiring agents approach hiring similarly. Be great when hiring. Peace.