My last five years summed up in four words: no change, no change.

Early in my career, I heard Andy Grove speak and he said something that stuck with me to this day – “no change, no change.”  I took this to heart early in my career jumping from one marketing discipline to the next trying to find my passion – and I take it to heart today having found my passion in product marketing. There’s one thing about product marketing –  just when we think we have it figured out – things change. 

Change is what fuels me. I’m not averse to change. I am one of those marketing leaders that is not afraid to tweak positioning and messaging – and tweak it early and often, admittedly driving my peers crazy, but change is inevitable and when you know something is not working – you change it. 

“Know the buyer more than anyone else.” That was the mantra, vision, purpose, rally-cry of my Product Marketing team when I joined Code42 in 2016. It was perfect at the time. We were entering new markets with new products. We need to first and foremost know our buyers. The more we learned about our buyers, the more we understood the market.  The more we learned about our market, the better we could segment it.  The more success we had targeting specific segments, the more we learned about our customers in those segments. Wash, rinse, repeat. 

If Product Marketing was to succeed selling new products in a new market, we had to change. We changed from Product Marketing to Portfolio Marketing. We rallied around a bigger purpose to “know our buyers, markets, segments and customers more than anyone else, so we could be the best product evangelists we can be.”  We hired, developed and grew into a talented team of trusted advisors for the company. We built sales and marketing playbooks, message maps, web pages, content and training. And to this day we are constantly redefining (i.e. changing) product launch. 

Most of the time change is quick, tactical, a tweak here or there. Then there are those times when change is disruptive. When it’s not a tweak, it’s transformational. I call them market waves and they come once every ten years –  if you’re lucky. If you don’t catch them at the right time, you’re out. 

That’s what I love about Portfolio Strategy and Product Marketing (yes – my team’s latest positioning).  When you know the buyers, markets, segments and customers more than anyone else – you see the waves. You see them way out in the ocean when they are forming long before they begin to crest and crash into shore.  You pick one and start plotting your strategy, your plan, your timing. Then you commit to disrupt, transform, change the very thinking of the buyers, markets, segments and customers you spent years figuring out.  You just defined a new market and it’s energizing as a product marketer because we know it’s probably going to change. 

My read write render epiphany – it’s always personal [growth]

In my last post, which feels like forever ago, I made the personal commitment to start a new routine: read, write, render.  Admittedly, that has been easier said than done, or so I thought.

One thing that is routine for me is the read part. I read everyday.  Just an hour of reading or listening (Podcast) in the morning starts my day.  From random articles coming across my social feeds, to subscribed research pushed to my inbox, to the recommended content from family, friends, peers and coworkers, I’m never short of reading material (probably why I love the Pocket app so much).

Making time for reading is not the issue. It’s the making time to write then render (visually) that I thought was my achilles heel. Take for instance how I started this post, “In my last post, which feels like forever ago…”  – those words alone imply I’m holding myself to some standard on the volume of writing and rendering I push out via this blog or other channels.  That’s not the point of the routine. Read write render is not about unselfish acts of sharing some insight or thoughts with the masses x number of times a week, month or quarter.  My read write render – at its core – is personal.

It’s Always Personal [Growth]

I read everyday to be a better father, husband, friend, coach, mentor, marketer. I write every morning to remind myself of what’s important. I render everyday to challenge myself to think outside the box and always approach things with creative thinking.

Writing is not about turning some new found knowledge into a blog post.  Rendering is not about turning every idea into pictures and pushing it out via social media.  For me, writing and rendering is not supposed to be work. It’s supposed to be routine and in hindsight, I’ve been sticking to a routine fairly well.

From my Focus Planner to my Field Notes to my Idea Reel in PowerPoint, I’ve been reading, writing and rendering constantly. It’s become routine for me. I haven’t felt the need to throw everything that I read, write and render at you.  Instead, focus on the times when what I read, write and render is worth sharing, perhaps worth your time.

Compelled to share

Take for instance this morning.  Combing through Pocket, I read five articles. Two were related to remote work routines. Two centered on strategic focus and one was about scheduling time for creative thinking.  What felt like random topics when I started began to blend and gel into an epiphany, so naturally, following my routine, read turned into write and write turned into render.   This is what I wrote in my Focus Planner for today 08.08.20 under Myndfuel:

  1. Write everything down (Ironic, I know)
  2. Focus on the 30 percent (Steve Jobs rule)
  3. Schedule the work  (Full Focus Planner)

My new routine – read | write | render

I’m trying to get in the habit of reading and writing on a daily basis. I’m also a visual thinker. I internalize the stuff I read and write better by putting it in pictures be it a powerpoint slide, flowchart, graph, illustration, or simply scribbling in a notebook. Hence a new habit or routine is starting to take hold:


Case is point, my most recent weekend read was The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz. I loved this book.  Maybe because the message was so simple. Maybe because in this day and age it’s so applicable.  Probably because it struck a personal chord and I felt compelled enough to render a visual reminder that sits on my desk at home.

The whats, hows and whys that matter most

The first quarter of 2020 has come to a close and needless to say, our world has been turned upside down.  I took the time this week to reflect on the first three months of 2020 as part of my normal routine assessing where I am so far this year relative to my three words, focus areas and goals – my whats, hows and whys.

The Whats
I’m a believer in Chris Brogan’s 3 Words – what are the guiding principles that center me for the year.  In past years, I had words like: Create,Move,Matter and Adventure, Celebrate,Remodel.  No matter what I set out to do, or what opportunities arise or spontaneous ideas I have – do they align to my whats? This year I landed on:

  • Build: Build a routine. Build opportunities. Build something new.
  • Brand: Compassion over fear. Simple over strict. Help over hype.
  • Balance: Time all the work versus work all the time. Dates matter.

The Hows
Nearly everything I set out to do in living my three words, I broke down into three focus areas.  Since starting the Full Focus Planner 3 years ago, these are probably the most fluid. Originally, I had five: family, finish, fitness, fame, finance. Five was too many, so I went to four: health, home, wonder, work.  Year 3, I consolidated down to three:

  • Heart & Home: How I am present.
  • Mynd & Body: How I am healthy.
  • Work & Wonder: How I am growing.

The Whys
The whys are my goals – the evidence, the why I am present, healthy and growing. Why do I believe that? My whys were everything from the normal end of year weight goal to miles on the bike, miles walked, books read, acts of charity, volunteer hours, etc. to the new family experiences, new connections, resurrecting connections with old friends. 2020 was the year I felt like I finally found full focus. I had built the perfect system and was establishing the ideal routine to make the most out of every day, week, month.

Then our world turned upside down.  What feels like overnight – probably because it was literally overnight, my routine broke down.  For one, like most of us, I now work from home full-time. Sure, I WFH’d every once in awhile, but not always and the clear lines between being present@work and being present@home got really blurry.  I must have read dozens of articles with all kinds of advice on WFH. Everything from carving out a dedicated space (mine is in my basement), to changing scenery (aka seeing the sun), to making sure I get up and go for a walk (stand, move, reboot the brain), but something was still missing – granted, it’s only been three weeks, I should give myself some latitude.

Upon my Q1 reflection, it hit me.  It’s all about the whys.  As Simon Sinek would say, “start with why.” So I did.  Part of the journey that was March 2020 involved a lot of reading and one piece that still resonates with me is an article written by McKinsey consulting. – “The path to the next normal” – that talks about the process nearly every business will go through over the course of the next year. They break the process down into five phases: Resolve, Resilience, Return, Re-imagination, and Reform (I probably like it because of the alliteration, and I’m a sucker for phases, pillars, frameworks, structures).

I started thinking about how these five phases relate to my own journey and my 2020 goals. Looking back, January really started with re-imagination – a new year, a fresh start, new words, focus areas, goals. Then COVID-19 and in a day, I was thrust backwards into resolve mode. What do I need to do to keep my family safe, myself, my team. What about my parents who are in there 70s?  I had to find the resolve to adjust to something that has not happened in over a hundred years.

Today, there is so much uncertainty, fear, anxiety, I find myself focused on resilience.  Resilience came in changes to my routine –  family walks, meals, together-time. Like many families, we started going through bins and boxes of stuff in the basement and in the process of “minimalizing,” we took trips down memory lane – those family experiences I talked about earlier. The girls’ artwork from kindergarten to high-school, old greeting cards from loved ones, pictures, postcards, sports memorabilia.

Then an epiphany.  “My” became “Our” – my 3 words became our 3 words. My focus areas became our focus areas.  My personal goals were shifting to our shared goals. From this experience, we started setting new goals – new Whys.  Go on a trip down memory lane every week (we have a lot of bins and boxes to go through). Finish painting the room we haven’t touched since my older daughter went to college.  Exercise everyday albeit at the same time, but different forms – my wife runs and I prefer the bike.

Like many of you, we are still figuring it out.  We are taking the time to figure out our the new normal and reimagining what McKinsey calls the “next normal” just might look like. Perhaps at the end of this shared journey, we will have been reformed in some small ways, some big ways and have become focused on the whats, hows and whys that matters most.

At least, that’s our goal.

A lot less hype and a lot more humanity-please.


Three principles that are just good practice when it comes to the buyer experience:
Be compassionate, be succinct, be helpful. This have never been more true, more relevant, more needed.

Compassion not Fear:

Buyers no matter the industry don’t need more fear – especially security buyers (the industry we operate in). Think about the security industry and the security buyer. Their work is rooted in risk, threat and vulnerability, so by nature, they operate in fear 24 x 7 x 365.  Today, arguably this is true for all buyers.  Security leaders often say say they are “always on”  and feel personally responsible when something goes awry. So, why in the heck would messaging rooted in fear ever work with these buyers? Until we as marketers walk in their shoes, we have no right fear mongering.  Show some damn compassion for what they are dealing with on a daily, hourly, minute by minute basis.  In the end, they really don’t have time for us which brings we to our second principle.

Succinct not Sermon:

This is nothing new, yet we in marketing are guilty of this all of the time.  We have all sent those 3 to 4 paragraph emails and pushed the 1500 word blog posts and content pieces that we are so proud of and want to believe buyers have the time to read ( guilty as charged – I promise to keep this post to less than 500 words). Cut to the chase people – please. Stop spending 2 paragraphs (or 2  minutes) selling the problem and loading buyers up with shocking stats and another 2 paragraphs (or minutes) on the pitch. Buyers are thinking “why are you calling” me and “what can you do to help me right now?” This brings me to our third point.

Help not Hype:

This one is should be a no brainer.  Stop the marketing hype and just talk about what you are doing to help your buyer.  It doesn’t even have to be rooted in the product or service you deliver.  Simple tweaks to the buying process and the customer experience are helpful.  It’s less about how great we feel about ourselves and more about how our buyers feel about themselves. Be compassionate about where they need help, be succinct in how we can help them, and then just help them.  There’s no hype in that.  It’s called humanity.