Marketing Operations Management is something we neglect in the early stages of the business but when the things get traction and everything starts moving fast, we realize that our marketing is a mess of stressed team members, endless task lists and unrealistic schedules.
At this point we realize that we should have been investing more time in building our marketing processes and establishing an efficient and scalable marketing framework for our team.
I would like to share some online resources related to the state of Marketing Operations today and its importance for the future.
A Solid Marketing Operations Team Is Critical In 2021 – Here’s How To Build It
Here are 6 strategies to help set up and manage your marketing ops team. Read more >>
Five Reasons Marketing Will Be Very Different In 2021
Here are five marketing predictions for 2021 — with the caveat that our world seems less predictable than ever. Read more >>
Why Is Marketing Operations So In Right Now?
If you haven’t heard of marketing operations, sometimes affectionately referred to as “MOPs” you will soon. Since the inception of marketing, we have always viewed it as a soft skill, focused on brand building, creative ideas, and content hooks. However, the rise of complex marketing software has created a growing need for more technical skills among marketing professionals, and it’s not going away anytime soon. Read more >>
Marketing Operations: The Guide for 2021
Marketing Operations grew significantly with the rise of Marketing Automation Platforms such as Marketo, Pardot, Eloqua, HubSpot, etc. With new Marketing Automation (and its umbrella category “Marketing Technology”), there began a new list of responsibilities that needed to be accomplished within Marketing departments. Read more >>
Marketing Operations Trends and Planning for 2021
Now, more than ever, effective marketing is paramount if businesses want to be successful. Marketing operations stand central to the efficiency of a businesses marketing activities. It will therefore have to adapt to the changing marketing landscape in the wake of the pandemic. Read more >>
Marketing Operations – Fuel the future of operational excellence
Marketing operations leaders are a growing presence on successful marketing teams. As the complexity of marketing increases and budgets tighten, marketing leaders are placing a greater emphasis on marketing operations. Read more >>
Please, share your thoughts and experience with marketing operations in your organization.
The job of the marketer is one of the most stressful in the modern business world. Not to mention the mental state of entrepreneurs and managers. Practically all of us have to react to dynamic situations, to deal with short deadlines, dissatisfied customers, too much work, problems encountered, criticism and many more.
All this creates a huge amount of stress on us. And as we know it:
- Stress affects ill health.
- Stress badly affects judgment.
- Stress badly affects libido.
- Stress leads to fatigue.
- Stress dramatically reduces productivity.
Stress, when you allow it to be seen, presents us as weak, not confident, and unreliable to our colleagues, clients, and partners.
Stress affects all important areas of our lives and businesses. This makes it a top priority – to fight it and get rid of it.
I wish it was so easy.
There are numerous techniques, practices, methods that promise and help to conquer stress. But we are all stressed and do not have time to read long books and go for months of psychotherapy. So I decided to give a brief overview of the techniques that personally help me deal with stress on daily basis.
I’m not saying I use them all every day. Sometimes the situation is appropriate for one of them. Sometimes one doesn’t help and I have to use another one before I get a panic attack.
So, feel free to use them and experiment freely.
Technique 1: Dive Into the Present
A long time ago, I read about this technique in one of Dale Carnegie’s books. Maybe 20 years ago. But it helped me every time. Here it is:
When you have multiple problems that are bothering you all at once or are expected in the future.
Focus on the present – here and now, what you are doing now.
Think about it – what do you see as you do it? Look really at your hands, at your computer screen, at the person you’re talking to.
Think – what you hear, feel, smell at that moment. Immerse yourself in the situation.
Let there be only the present moment and what you are doing.
For a moment, forget about past anxieties and future worries.
Work and act focused and do not stop until you have completed your planned task.
This “isolation” gives you great comfort right now. There are no problems at this moment, no worries, no regrets. There is only what you do and yourself.
If you do it in focused manner, you will achieve a form of dynamic meditation, which is currently extremely popular under the name mindfulness.
Once you step out of the trance of the present, you will realize how cozy the place was while you were there. And you will remember that while you were in the magical present, you did not have any worries or stress.
Technique 2: The Worst Case Scenario
This is another popular technique found here and there in various books by personal development gurus. I personally learned it again from Dale Carnegie. Here’s what it is:
Look at the stressful situation from all sides, analyze it.
Ask yourself the question
“What is the worst that can happen if my worries come true?”
Try to accept the idea that you can handle the worst, whatever it is.
Keep calm with confidence that your worst is in your pocket.
This technique is a little difficult to implement if you do not have a philosophical view of life. The problem is that most of the “worst” situations are related to:
Exposing in public or in front of important people (friends, boss, client).
Dismissal, expulsion, living alone / on the street / without work.
Injury, mutilation – of yourself or loved ones.
Death – ours or our loved ones.
These seem to be the main worst outcomes of most.
If you approach these outcomes philosophically, and find the strength to (theoretically) overcome such situation if it happens, you can completely deal with stress and anxiety.
Technique 3: The Narrator
When we are stuck in our problem pools, we are like brainwashed. We do not see or realize that there is an outside world that is much more interesting, free and gives us many opportunities.
Here is an example:
An employee at a large corporation is late for an “important” presentation and drives at 150 km/h, risking his life and that of others. Fast, trembling, sweating, in wild fear. Arrives sweaty and worried, breathing heavily, contracting under the frown of the boss.
Relax, dude! The corporation has washed your brain! The world will not end if the presentation fails. It won’t end if you get fired. No one will die if the company goes bankrupt.
However … Your world will turn over if:
You crash and take your life, rushing to the meeting. Prison is not pleasant.
You offend a colleague, friend, or loved one by acting in a hurry and important way.
You get a heart attack, stroke, autoimmune disease, gastritis as a result of stress.
So, here’s what the technique looks like:
Feeling stressed? Stop for a minute.
Try to look at yourself and the situation from the side. Imagine that you are looking at yourself from 3 meters away.
Press the imaginary Pause button and let your image you are watching stand still.
Now reach out to an imaginary audience and start telling them about the situation, commenting on it and talking about yourself in a third party.
If possible, try to instill a sense of humor or imitate a sports commentator. Or approach it any other way that is more fun for you. I guarantee you relief within minutes.
Technique 4: Universe Contrast
I learned this approach from a book on Buddhist meditation. It consists of the following:
Think about the situation you are in.
Get up and look at yourself and the situation from the ceiling level (imagine it, don’t get on the ladder). Look at yourself and the situation from the side.
Get up on the roof level and look at yourself and the situation. Stay a bit like this.
Rise to the level of the clouds and look again at yourself and your situation, below, in the distance. How do you feel?
Rise higher in orbit. Look at Earth. You and your situation are no longer in sight.
Step back into space and see the Earth disappear into the distance and the sun is just one bright spot.
Step back and see our galaxy. Where is your problem now? How do you feel about it?
A variant of this technique is the “Man without Shoes” method, which is summed up in a quote (I forgot from whom), which states:
“I was worried I had no shoes until I saw a man without legs!”
Our problems always seem bigger to us than they really are (compared to other, bigger problems). At the same time, reducing the stress of problems is crucial for us to free our minds and solve them.
As Vadim Zealand says:
“Reduce the importance.”
Technique 5: Smile and Sigh
I read this technique in a magazine maybe 30 years ago, but I still remember it. It is very simple, but it always works instantly. And it takes 3-4 seconds. Here she is:
Take deep and slow breath.
As you inhale, smile wider.
Exhale slowly, like a sigh.
During the exhalation, relax the whole body, but focus on the shoulders.
Just try it. You can do this several times if you do not achieve the desired effect the first time.
Technique 6: Virtual Reality
This technique is borrowed from NLP and requires a little more time (4-5 min or even 10 min) but is very effective. Here it is:
Close your eyes and relax.
Imagine the situation that stresses you and your involvement in it.
Stand apart – start looking at you and the situation from the side.
Make the picture black and white.
If there are sounds, imagine that they disappear and the situation is like a silent movie.
Make the picture of the situation small so that it and you can fit into one palm.
Zoom out so that it can hardly be seen in the distance.
Now think about the solution to the problem of calm.
Try it. You will like it.
Technique 7: The Power of Remembering
Technique 7 is also from NLP and serves to quickly manage the inner state.
We assume that you are currently stressed, worried, anxious. Yes, we know that there is certainly a real problem that needs to be solved and that bothers you. But we also know that when you are anxious and stressed, you are much more likely to fail to solve the problem in the best way.
So, for now, we forget about the real problem and our goal is to feel calm, confident and creative.
How can we do that that? Very easy, simple and fast:
Close your eyes.
Relax (seated straight back in a comfortable chair).
Allow your mind to wander for a few seconds or as needed.
Recall a situation from your past when you felt great – calm, confident, creative – as if the world were yours and you were on the crest of a wave.
First, remember as much detail as you can about the situation – where you were, how you were dressed, who was with you, what you were seeing at that moment.
Next, remember the sounds of who was talking and what, was there music, wave noise or something else? Remember them clearly.
Now, try to recall the smells, if any, the touch – what did you touch, sit, shake? Think of it as if it were happening now. Feel everything as if you were there.
Notice what you are experiencing at the moment? Still worried, or has the great memory of memory already conquered you?
Open your eyes and act, remembering the condition.
Great technique. Simple and effective. It looks like stopping and recharging your internal resources (inexhaustible)‚ and it works like charm.
Technique 8: “Direct Solution Outlining”
This technique is very simple. My observations show that if I have a problem, half of the stress is generated when you don’t know how to solve it.
So, do the following:
Analyze the problem.
Find out briefly how it can be solved.
Outline 1-3-5-10 specific steps on how to solve it.
Indicate in your plan when each step will be completed.
How did you feel? It seems like the problem is half solved, right? Yes, because that’s exactly what you did – you solved half of the equation.
Technique 9: The Magic of Action
As one author says:
“The shortest answer is action!”
or as a colleague of mine once said to me:
“When finding a solution of a problem is being postponed, the problem doesn’t get smaller and it doesn’t solve itself!”
The technique is very simple:
Do something specific to solve the problem. That is. First step. Then one more, etc. The first step is the most important one.
The steps can include any concrete actions that help you move towards the solution of the problem:
Solve the problem with your hands (if something physical needs to be done).
Write an email.
Call for help from a friend.
Whatever else is needed.
You will notice that as you begin to take specific actions, you have a double effect:
You’re diving in the moment (Technique No. 1).
The problem is moving to a solution (because you are doing something about it).
I will not come to long conclusions regarding the techniques mentioned. The important takeaway is that if we don’t beat the stress, it will beat us. The latter is not a desired outcome.
Workers on the corporate front have been dreaming about having a home office days for years. In large and modern companies, this is already a standard practice. In the “not-so-advanced” ones, the prevailing mentality is “if you are not at my fingertips, and I do not see you, then you are doing nothing.” In both cases, working from home is considered a privilege.
I have always been a huge fan of working from home or from anywhere else, as long as it has no fixed working hours or location. With a few interruptions, I spent many years working the way I dreamed.
In all these years, “working-without-a-fixed-location” turned out to have not only advantages but also some disadvantages. For me, the benefits outweigh the cons. Still, I must acknowledge that the latter has given me several invaluable and painful lessons.
Here’s what I’ve learned from many years of “working from home”:
Lesson # 1: If You Work From Only One Place, It Becomes “The Office”
For me, the great advantage of “freelance work” is that I can “work on my computer” in a variety of places and a wide range of work environments. I tried to work in co-working spaces, from home, from selected cafes. What I notice every time, however, is that if I use the same location several times in a row, it runs out of “fun” potential for me. I start to feel it like an ordinary office. I begin to have an overwhelming desire to find a new place to work.
In this sense, the isolation imposed by the COVID-19 crisis transforms work from home into the new ‘standard office’ and, unfortunately, removes much of the charm of this approach to work.
Lesson # 2: Working without a fixed location does not eliminate the need for work discipline
In the beginning, working from home is great – you can get up whenever you want, you can work in your pajamas, you can visit the fridge 36 times a day. Soon you find that the work is unfinished, and the stress levels increase exponentially with deadlines approaching.
The same applies to the work at coffee shops, the so-called “cofficing”. It’s fun at first – you drink coffee, you eat cakes, you check tasks. At one point, however, it turns out that you spend 60-70% of your time queuing (or waiting for waiters), putting milk in coffee, eating cake(s), trying to connect to the café’s wireless network, looking for a power plug for your laptop’s, etc.
Therefore, it is essential to clarify for ourselves – do we want to work and achieve results, or do we want to lie down, eat pastries, and drink coffee after coffee? If the former, unfortunately, we have to follow the same work discipline as in the office – defining tasks, writing emails, deep work, reports, backups, and everything else that is part of the workflow.
Lesson # 3: Remote Working Looks Different in Promotional Videos and in Reality
If you look at advertisements for courses and books on home business and freelancing, for example, you’ll notice happy young people working on shiny laptops on hammocks, in cafes, laying on puffs, sitting on the kitchen table, resting on sofas, beds, and the like.
When you start working remotely and try to do the same for 6 hours straight, you find that your waist becomes a pancake, and then you can’t stand, walking like a robot. If you try to work on the beach, you notice that your keyboard is filling with sand, and your impressive glossy screen reflects every sun, and you cannot see anything.
Important conclusion: Find a comfortable chair. Adjust it so that your elbows are at the level of the tabletop. Put it all in a quiet place or put on a soundproof headset. Otherwise, you will not do anything, but at the same time, you will get diseases of the musculoskeletal system.
Lesson # 4: If there are kids around, there is no way to get things done, don’t even try
Believe me, I’ve been through it all, I’m going through it now. There is no way you can do any meaningful work if you have shouting, rolling, fighting, and dragging children around.
Do not try to work while they are in the same room or being conscious. It just doesn’t work.
What can you do? Only work when the children are sleeping. If you have a grandmother or a caretaker, then consider yourself lucky – send her with the kids outside and then get to work.
How to proceed under the conditions of COVID-19 home insulation? There is a way I call “transferring to an alternate space-time continuum”. In simpler words, it means – go to another room, lock it, put on your headphones, and play the music loud.
Lesson # 5: If you do not take care of your equipment and it will not take care of you
When working remotely, the most important thing for your success, apart from your professional skills and contacts, are your technological tools – computer, Internet connection, storage devices, mobile devices, etc.
For good or for worse, teleworking (and online businesses in particular) require us to be a little more technically literate than usual.
If you are a soldier and you don’t keep your weapon clean and loaded, then go into a battle, no good news is waiting for you. The same goes for the “battle” on the online front.
Get to know your computer. Keep it clean. Do not fill it with coffee and water. Do not eat over it, spitting crumbs on the keyboard. Do not hit it or kick it. Provide space around its fans for cooling.
Get to know your operating system, no matter what it is. How to back up files? Is your hard disk full? How can you clean it? How to protect yourself from viruses? How to connect to Bluetooth devices?
Familiarize yourself with the software products you use. What office suite do you have, and how to use it most efficiently? What online applications do you need to work with, what is the access data for them?
Dive into cybersecurity. Learn how to protect your computer and your main online accounts from a breakthrough. Store your passwords in a safe place, preferably with the help of a password manager. Use complex passwords different for each application. Run two-factor authentication, if not for all, at least for critical accounts like Gmail, Dropbox, Facebook, and the like.
As the saying goes (or at least I believe so):
“The good samurai knows how to take care of his sword.”
Lesson # 6: Being far away does not mean you have no problem
When working remotely, you can observe the effect of “soft communication.” The boss or client is not right next to us, and they do not call us, they do not quarrel, they do not resent us. We get emails and messages, but they don’t have the same strong effect as if someone were “chewing your ass” live.
This effect is somewhat pleasant and reduces stress, but on the other hand, it can mislead us. There are tasks and problems whose importance and urgency you can underestimate because we learn about them through “non-shouting” channels.
Therefore, beware of online communication. It’s not an “unreal” world. It just doesn’t bang with its fist on your desk. However, if you ignore your messages (because you can stop notifications, for example), the real problem will hit you just as much.
Lesson # 7: Freedom and responsibility go hand in hand
Most people do not like to work in an office, but it is much easier than working at home. There are rules in the office – when to come, when to go, how to dress, in what room what is being done, when what task to perform, etc. Someone else has invented and defined everything for you. It’s annoying, but – in most cases – pretty easy to follow.
When working from home, you have absolute freedom. Still, also you have the total responsibility to mobilize, get the job done, take care of your health, and manage your time well.
The one extreme is continuously going to the fridge, watching movies, and lying on the sofa, while the deadlines are coming closer and closer.
On the other extreme, you work up to 18 hours a day, forgetting to eat and going to the toilet, answering emails at 3 o’clock in the morning.
I cannot believe I am saying this, but the ideal option is to set yourself a “work time”. Divide your day into blocks like you go to work in an office. Set aside time for work, rest, eating, sports. Don’t mix them up and focus on just one activity at a time.
I’m sure there are many more than seven things we can learn from remote working. I will be glad if you share your impressions, lessons, and how you tackle the challenges of the home office.
We all have problems and issues in our lives. Usually, our issues always look more prominent and scarier than those of others. We don’t like problems and difficulties. We even hate them. They are kind of things in our lives we want to avoid at all cost.
Can we live without any problems and issues? Is it possible to have none of them?
When I was very young, one of my biggest problems was that the kids in kindergarten took my toy and broke it. When I started school, I had a problem writing homework and learning Maths. Then I grew older, and I had a problem with my belly and my fat lower-back-part.
Have you noticed that even the physical size of the issues increases with age?
At the end of high school, my problems revolved around some love affairs. I started my first business at university, and it failed.
Problems. Problems. Let me not continue that things are getting even dirtier and messed up. However, I’m here, writing this post and feeling better and more alive than ever.
Also, I look at other people. My happiest looking friends are having problems of some kind. Take the wealthiest people on the planet, for example. They seem carefree, but in fact, they deal with issues – on daily basis – that are even beyond the common man’s understanding.
Observing the problems all of us have, I summarized my observations by presenting some lessons that I learned over the course of my long and not-so-easy life:
1: Whenever you “have” a problem, both the power and the opportunities to deal with it come to you. You have to watch and listen carefully, act at the right time, and not give up, despite the difficulties.
2: As we grow older, we get more and more problems because our ability to cope with them grows proportionally.
3: The growing number and size of our problems is a sign that we are progressing and developing.
4: Lack of problems is a sign of stagnation, but since boredom is, in essence, a problem, there is clearly no situation where we have no issues at all.
5: It is better to think of problems as “challenges” and “lessons”. It is more practical and easier to understand and tackle them.
6: A good strategy is to outgrow the problem, grow bigger than it. We are no longer the “little scared kid”.
7: The problems are the lessons we need to learn and exams to pass. If they are keep repeating, this means we haven’t learned them yet. And if we do not learn the lesson, the repetition is always of greater magnitude and strength.
8: You can fear the problems, but it is always better to choose the fight, not the escape. Every problem is weaker than you. Its purpose is to make you find that power – the power to defeat it – in yourself and bring it into the light.
9: Every problem has a solution. If there is no solution, then it is not a problem.
What kind of problems and issues do you have in your life and work?
I am not a fortune teller, but I can tell you right now how much time you have available to live from no on. Don’t call your doctor; there’s no time for that. You have only one moment to live. And this moment is all yours.
If you live it entirely, you can:
- Fulfill your dreams.
- Achieve your goals.
- Feel happy and satisfied.
- Secure your life.
- Make others happy and take care of them.
As you can see, this moment is very powerful, and it can change your life – how to say – in a moment!
I am sure you can guess which is this moment. Of course, it is the present moment. Now! Why “now”?
Why not “the next 60 years”? No, forget about them. There’s no future and no past. You cannot live in them.
The future is just the sum of other “now” moments. When they come, they become “now.” So the future can be considered as an illusion.
The past is a collection of your memories about “now”-moments you’ve already lived. This way, you can tell that the past is just a relic.
The present is the time in which you are living. You are here and now. At least your body is. If your mind is somewhere else, get it back immediately, because you will need it.
Now is the moment to:
- Do things.
- Say your words.
- Finish that project.
- Meet your friends.
- Love your spouse.
- Play with your children.
- Quit the job you hate.
- Start learning Italian.
- Go to the gym and do some exercise.
- Pick up the phone and call your parents.
The present moment is the moment to change your destiny. If you miss it, it will not come back. “Carpe Diem, Baby” – that’s Metallica, and they are damn right.
“NOW Is the Time of Winners! Tomorrow is for Losers!”
So, just do it and make sure you are doing it now!