James Altucher: 15 Essential Skills They Don’t Teach You In College


I came across this via James Altucher’s blog on Medium. This is particularly timely for me on multiple levels:

  • I’m currently at a point in my life where I have the opportunity to reboot certain parts of my life
  • I’ve been thinking about this as my kids get older and are preparing themselves for higher education
  • I have been thinking about how to continually level up as my responsibilities as a leader at work grow

(I don’t subscribe to the growing sentiment that college is unnecessary (James’ argument, Forbes story), but I do understand it. My thoughts lean more towards pursuing a college degree, but that’s a blog post for another day.)

For now, though, a lot of what James has outlined in the infographic rings true and is applicable not just during one’s “college years” but throughout life.

So, thanks James! I’m leaving this here as a reminder of the things I need to think about while pursuing lifelong learning.

Read James’ full blog on this here.

Infographic: Should I Hold This Meeting?

There are few things more soul sucking in corporate life than the bane of wasteful meetings.

It’s the kind of meeting where there are just too many participants; many of whom were invited in the name of “engagement” because they were deemed as necessary stakeholders with interests. Or the kind where people show up and provide updates rather than discuss decisions that drive an agenda forward (which makes the meeting extremely vulnerable to folks who feel they need to talk to be heard, rather than having something to say).

This infographic by Elizabeth Grace Saunders, by way of Harvard Business Review, is a helpful tool that I’m going to start sending out as a response to meeting invitations I receive where I’m highly doubtful of its value.

Should I Hold This Meeting


Here are the steps in more detail:

  • Have I thought through this situation? When you don’t have clarity about what you’re doing on a project, it’s tempting to schedule a meeting to give you the feeling of progress. But unless the meeting’s intent is to structure the project, at this point, scheduling a meeting is an inefficient use of your time — and your colleagues’. Instead, set aside some time with yourself to do some strategic thinking. During that time you can evaluate the scope of the project, the current status, the potential milestones, and lay out a plan of action for making meaningful progress. Once you’ve completed your own strategic thinking prep work, then you can move onto the next step of considering whether to hold a meeting.
  • Do I need outside input to make progress? You may be in the situation where you know what needs to be done, and you simply need to do the work. If you find yourself in this place, don’t schedule a meeting; update your to-do list and take action instead. However, if after clarifying what needs to be done to the best of your ability, you need outside input to answer questions or give feedback before you feel comfortable jumping into action, continue on.
    Does moving forward require a real-time conversation? If you need some answers to questions, but they don’t require a two-way conversation, e-mail can be an excellent option in lieu of a meeting. This is particularly true when you’re looking for feedback on your written plans or documents. It’s much more efficient for everyone involved if you send over items that they can look at on their own (while you’re not awkwardly watching them read during an in-person meeting) and then shoot you back feedback. If you feel your situation does require a real-time conversation, then examine different communication channels.
  • Does this necessitate a face-to-face meeting? When you need two-way communication but don’t necessarily need to see the person, you have a variety of options. An online chat can help you answer questions quickly, or for more in-depth conversations, scheduling a phone call or video conference can work well. This not only saves you transition time of going to and from a meeting place, but you will more easily able to get stuff done if someone is late, instead of having to sit and wait for them to show up.
  • If in the end, you decide that you need face-to-face, in-person communication, then schedule a meeting, and think through in advance how you can make it as efficient and effective as possible. That means considering your intent for the meeting, establishing your desired outcomes, and preparing any materials that you should review or send out in advance.


Infographic: Marketing Technology Landscape Supergraphic (2014)


Via the Chief Marketing Technologist Blog by Scott Brinker comes the latest iteration of his marketing technology landscape “supergraphic” (no mere infographic is this!) – and my god, what a blindingly painful thing to look at!

You can click for a high-res version here (2600×1950, 4.7MB) or for a high-resolution PDF version (14.3MB). A huge kudos and thanks to Scott for producing it as well as for making it free to copy, repost, distribute, and use this graphic “as is” in any context.

Scott has also blogged about it and there are several things that he pointed out that gave me reason to pause.

Firstly, while the supergraphic represents a whopping 947 different companies that provide software for marketers, organized into 43 categories across 6 major classes; this graphic is not comprehensive! According to Scott: “It is just a sample, albeit a large one, of the many different kinds of software available to marketers today. There are many more companies — indeed, entire categories — that were not included, merely due to the constraints of time and space. And by the time you read this, it will inevitably be out of date due to new launches, re-launches, expansions, exits, and mergers. The pace of change in this field is breathtaking.”

Secondly, I also liked how he was able to categorize these technologies into six classes of marketing technology AND posit them in what he called “a semblance of meaningful structure”. The six classes were:

  1. Internet services such as Facebook, Google, and Twitter that underlie today’s marketing environment.
  2. Infrastructure such as databases, big data management, cloud computing, and software development tools.
  3. Marketing Backbone Platforms such as CRM, marketing automation, WCM, and e-commerce engines.
  4. Marketing Middleware such as DMPs, CDPs, tag management, cloud connectors, user management, and API services.
  5. Marketing Experiences — more specialized technologies that directly affect prospects and customers across their lifecycle, such as advertising, email, social media, SEO, content marketing, A/B testing, marketing apps — the “front-office” of modern marketing.
  6. Marketing Operations — the tools and data for managing the “back-office” of marketing, such as analytics, MRM, DAM, and agile marketing management.


and they all fit together like this:


Scott goes on to blog in greater detail about the implications and takeaways that impact both technologists as well as marketers – which I do recommend you spend some time on.

However, here are my takeaways:

1) Marketers are also technologists. The growing interplay between marketing and technology can no longer be ignored. On one hand, much of marketing today (analysis, tracking, delivery) is heavily reliant on technology, while technology departments are starting to see their budgets being shared/controlled by marketing departments. If you haven’t wrapped your head around technology yet, you should start. We are way past TVCs, print ads and even traditional public relations here. Heck, we’re even past just having a website, leveraging Google/SEO/SEM and having a Facebook/Twitter presence! A good place to start would be to look into what some are calling “The 4 IT Megatrends“.

2) Marketing technology brings hyper-engagement. Scott also mentioned this in his blog and I heartily agree. There is a “seismic shift of marketing away from advertising to experience-driven marketing”. Through efforts such as content marketing, social media marketing, interactive experiences, along with the analytical capabilities, marketers have an unprecedented (and, I might add, an extremely challenging) opportunity to deliver a brand’s promise in a real, engaging way to a hyper-targeted audience. Imagine that.

3) Integration is important! Surprisingly (or am I just naïve?), marketing is sometimes still executed in a silo manner. Territorial fiefdoms sometimes exist among product/business owners, IT and marketing operations or they can even exist amongst marketers themselves – i.e. among advertising, digital/social media, PR/communications, etc. Hence, when it comes to the end-to-end strategic goals of marketing – from targeting and insight/analysis, to delivery/execution – a good marketers must have a keen strategic overview to ensure integration and alignment. With the proliferation of tools that are easy to access and designed for DIY, marketing integration and alignment has never been more important.

Infographic: Knowledge Vs. Experience


I saw this making its rounds on various social media timelines – and I thought it was pretty much spot-on.

Although, I would also use “data” and “information” almost interchangeably with knowledge as well. Besides “experience”, I think the image on the right can also represent “wisdom”, “analysis” and/or “insight”… you get my drift.

My point is this: there is more than enough data/knowledge readily available at one’s fingertips today. For the ordinary person, between your favorite search engine and Wikipedia, there’s more than enough knowledge to inundate you for a lifetime. From there, the scale just grows exponentially to incorporate all sorts of data/knowledge/information.

It’s what you do with that data/knowledge on the other hand is where the real money is.

Hence trends like Big Data (aside: I like this easy definition of Big Data, i.e. “The Three V’s of Big Data: Volume, Variety and Velocity”), social media tracking, and the like.