I have been working in the marketing field for a long time. Having worked in marketing since I graduated from college, I think I know the difference between “people who grow” and “people who don’t grow,” although I don’t know much about it. I have also had periods of overwhelming growth and periods of stagnation, and the difference in the way I approached my work during those periods also influenced my basic approach to my work.
The characteristic of people who do not grow is “other-blame thinking.
If I were to conclude at the outset, I would say that the characteristic of people who do not grow is “blaming others. The other-blame mentality is a way of thinking that makes others take responsibility, rather than taking responsibility for oneself. Why do we not grow when we have this thinking? Many of you may have some idea. When you have an other-blame mindset, you no longer take responsibility for your work, so your feelings about your work will inevitably be low. Even in meetings with clients, we end up doing only what we are told to do in response to decisions made by our bosses.
Essentially, as a member of society who is still immature, you need to learn how to think from what your boss says in meetings, and then go through the trial-and-error process of actually thinking about the issues. However, if you are thinking in the other-blame mindset, you believe somewhere in your mind that the responsibility for the work lies with the boss and not with yourself, so you do not think that much about the meaning of the boss’s comments or how to prepare materials. This leads to a vicious cycle of basically waiting and doing only what you are told.
The job of a marketing consultant is greatly influenced by personal ability.
You can see what happens when that happens. You cannot develop your marketing thinking by doing only what you are told to do. It is also difficult to present in front of clients and propose marketing strategies. This is because the fundamental value of the job of marketing depends on one’s own thinking and knowledge. The job of proposing marketing strategies ultimately depends greatly on how much the individual in charge has thought about the client and how much thought and knowledge he or she has accumulated in previous jobs.
Often misunderstood is the notion that if you learn a marketing framework and use it as a template for your thinking, you should be able to standardize your marketing work. Of course, we don’t deny that. It is possible. However, it is first of all impossible to create value by standardizing such consulting work. Standardization makes it possible to provide services at low cost, but standardization basically makes it impossible to make proposals tailored to the client’s situation. As a result, the client is left in a situation where he or she says, “Nothing has improved. The result is that the client is left with a situation in which nothing has improved. It is clear that there is no future for companies that provide this type of marketing consulting service. Sometimes you get lucky and standardization falls into place, but whether or not it falls into place depends on luck.
Ultimately, what I am trying to say is that consulting is an industry that is greatly influenced by the skills, experience, and knowledge of individuals. Therefore, the individual’s ability to think is the key. You must understand the client’s situation and think about how you can solve the problem by fully utilizing your knowledge and experience. Only by doing so will you be able to solve your client’s marketing problems.
How can we acquire the “power to think”?
So, how do we acquire the “power to think”? To put it bluntly, you can only acquire it by thinking. I am very sorry, but that is all. I mentioned above that there was a period during which I grew the most, but this was a period during which I thought anyway. I did not read any books or textbooks on how to think. I just thought about what the issues were and how to solve them within various constraints.
I believe that the ability to think is not something that can be acquired by being taught. There are certainly books on logical thinking, but my view is that while knowledge is necessary, the ability to think cannot be acquired by memorizing it as knowledge. The ability to think is a skill. Just as learning how to ride a bicycle as knowledge is meaningless, the ability to think cannot be acquired through knowledge alone, no matter how hard you try. Therefore, after reading a book on basic logical thinking, it is important to practice thinking anyway.
Thinking is painful. Very painful.
Many people are disappointed when I say this. Especially those who want to acquire the ability to think easily. This is because thinking is very painful and hard. No matter how hard anyone tries to think, they cannot figure out the exact task. It is because we fall into a situation where we know the issue, but we do not know the method to solve it. Only those who have thought about it can understand this pain, but everyone wants to escape from this pain, so they try to gain knowledge instead of thinking. So when I tell them that the only way is to think, they are disappointed. They think they have to go through that suffering again.
You can’t acquire the ability to think if you blame others for your suffering.
I would like to return to the topic of blaming others. When we think in the other-blame mindset, our sense of responsibility for our work diminishes. It also allows you to escape the pain of thinking. It is the boss who thinks, and as a result of that thinking, what needs to be done comes down from above, and all you have to do is to do it. There is no “thinking” involved, so it is easy. Blaming others may be an important way of thinking in order to continue working, but unfortunately, it does not help us develop the ability to think instead. In other-blame thinking, you are not the cause of the problem. It is a state in which you have basically given up thinking because the cause is someone else. However, the ability to think can only be acquired by facing such issues without running away from them, and then painstakingly working out what needs to be done to solve them.
You may say to new employees, “It can’t be helped if they don’t know anything about it. That is true. There is no way they can do anything. However, it is only natural that there will be a big difference in their subsequent growth depending on whether or not they have an attitude of trying to solve issues and problems without running away from them. Knowledge, skills, and work will not be brought to you by your boss if you wait with your mouth open. To think that an employee can be trained to be an asset to the company is to say that the foundation for growth has not been laid. The most important thing for growth is to think.
Without a strong sense of ownership over one’s work, the “ability to think” will not develop.
As mentioned above, thinking is very hard and painful. Therefore, you will never be able to think it through if you approach your work in a half-hearted manner. If you give up thinking somewhere and think that the client is bad, the environment within the company is bad, or the boss is bad, it is the same as giving up the opportunity to train your ability to think. Instead, you must have a “strong feeling” that you will do whatever it takes to solve this client’s problem. Therefore, there is only a disadvantage to passively approaching work. You will never acquire the ability to think without taking the initiative, thinking of the project as your own (even if you are just a new graduate), and working on it with a strong sense of responsibility.
When you approach your work with this sense of ownership, you will speak differently. You will go from just doing what you are told to offering a different perspective to your boss, “Isn’t it possible to think this way?” You will be able to offer a different point of view to your supervisor. Bosses prefer to think while talking rather than agonizing alone. This is because having someone to talk to is very important for thinking. Therefore, if you can convince your boss that you are thinking and can think, you will be invited to meetings for strategic planning and be a partner for wall-to-wall discussions. Then you will be able to get various stories of knowledge and experience from your boss. You will gain knowledge that you would never have gained if you had simply waited to be told what to do, and you will also gradually be given more responsibility for your work, gaining experience in thinking and growing.
Please don’t run away from thinking. Don’t give up thinking. Don’t leave thinking to others. To that end, please take strong ownership of your work.