Entrepreneur Club, Week 3 “Product Marketing”

July 14, 2014 § Leave a comment

Last week I had three major epiphanies about growth while preparing for our weekly meeting.  While largely inspired by my work at Kingsway Church, I’ve found these insights also very relevant for my professional and family lives.

I. Why We Grow

E-Myth Mastery by Michael E. Gerber

the marketing leader is the one in the organization who is most passionately committed to growth

Since I become Growth Pastor at Kingsway Church a few months ago, I’ve been wrestling with what “growth” means — particularly the tension between “intensive” growth (helping existing members grow deeper in Christ) and “extensive” group (bring more people into the church).

When I read the passage above, it hit me like a lightning bolt. I finally understood what I was supposed to be doing, and why God placed me in this role.

You see — in case you didn’t know —  I’ve spent the bulk of my professional career doing Product Marketing.  At my company, this covers both the inbound (product definition) and outbound (product advertising) aspects of Marketing.  In other words, one person makes sure we have the right product for the market AND makes sure the market knows about it.  I’ve never understood why many companies split those roles in to, as that makes it extremely difficult to close the loop.

From that perspective, intensive and extensive growth are really just two sides of the same coin.  My job is to define what it means to be a member of Kingsway Church, so that people inside know what they’re supposed to do and people outside know what we’re inviting them to become.  Easier said than done, of course, but at least I now have a clear vision what I must do (and a deep well of relevant experience and role models to draw upon).

II. Where We Grow

Creativity, Inc.: Overcoming the Unseen Forces That Stand in the Way of True Inspiration

What makes Pixar special is that we acknowledge we will always have problems, many of them hidden from our view; that we work hard to uncover these problems, even if doing so means making ourselves uncomfortable; and that, when we come across a problem, we marshal all of our energies to solve it.

Amen!  This was also a key message of Turn the Ship Around!: A True Story of Turning Followers into Leaders by David Marquet.  But while Captain Marquet’s book was a brilliant illustration of many key leadership themes, Ed Catmull’s history of Pixar makes it clear that he sees confronting uncomfortable truths as his primary job as President and CEO.

This was enormously validating for me, because of I often feel like a royal pain in the neck because I obsess over failure.  I hate failing — even though I consider it inevitable, given our finite minds and fallen nature.  I cope by trying to squeeze every last ounce of learning from each failure, so that I can fail better the next time around.  It seems the only rational response.

Alas, very few people seem to share that obsession.  In fact, I get the distinct impression that most people prefer to forget about failure, or attribute it to “bad luck”.  I’ve always wondered whether I was being unreasonable.

But no more.  I still need to work on being more compassionate, sensitive, and gracious.  But I will no longer feel ashamed of my desire to “marshall all our energies” to “work hard to uncover these problems”, because of Pixar’s evidence that confronting failure is surest route to sustaining creative excellence.

III. How We Grow

Romans 12:1-5

12 Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. 2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

3 For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you. 4 For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, 5 so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.

This all came together for me when I listened to the audio recording of Romans 12 on my YouVersion app.  I was focused on verse 2, where it talks about “renewing” our minds — the same Latin word as “innovate!”  I was stunned by the connection with verse 3 — that renewing our minds and approving God’s will is somehow connected to NOT thinking more highly of ourselves than we ought.  Which is intimately tied to accepting our places as just one of the members of Christ’s body.

This also shed light on a problem in information theory I was wrestling with at the time.  Our brains can only process a few concepts at a time, and even those are often based on incomplete facts or mistaken interpretations; the same is even true of the computers and robots we build!  The solution is not to ‘think more highly of ourselves’ by attempting to get a perfect picture of the world, but submit to our role as merely one of many.

Lessons Learned

  • We innovate by learning from others who see things differently.
  • We grow by confronting unpleasant truths that hinder creativity.
  • We inspire others to grow by showing them how (and why) we grow.

Easier to say than to do. But at least I’ve learned how to say it.

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