No longer enough

It is no longer enough to tell that you work in marketing, that you are a great communicator, that you are an expert in corporate finance, that you have decades of experience in consulting.

That is the same thing thousands of other professionals can say at any given time, in any geography, with any type of degree and certification backing that up.

If you want to really stand out tell about the time you have leveraged your knowledge of customers to deliver unexpected growth; about the time you have changed the culture of a company who was struggling to engage employees; about the time you found a nasty mistake in the accounts of a potential acquisition, saving the buyer money and time; about the time you have turned around a stagnating start-up by suggesting they exploit an unexplored market opportunity.

We are not looking for marketers, communicators, accountants, or consultants.

We are looking for stories.

Your story.


Imagine approaching your team with the suggestion that this year, for Black Friday, you could dedicate your site’s home page to a message of social responsibility.

Imagine suggesting that the headline could stick to the version your team crafted after months of customer research, rather than make space for the latest look-at-me PR sensation.

Imagine recommending to continue with something that has been planned for months, rather than replacing it all with some shiny hack that will boost one of the vanity metrics.

They would look at you and think you are crazy.

Unless you work at Patagonia.

Cause and effect

Not every cause leads to an effect. Not every effect can be immediately linked to a cause.

The fact is, we are not rational beings and we merely use reason to find an explanation to things that have already happened, to decisions that have already been made.

That’s why brands and stories have so much power. They don’t engage with reason and they leverage the most tribal and innate of our insticts.


If your company wants to measure brands and stories, if they want to find the thread that links brands and stories to material results, they are probably missing the whole point. And the opportunity to establish relationships with employees, customers, stakeholders that can determine long-term competitive advantage.

You got to have faith not to miss this opportunity.


There are two ways organizations promote employees.

One is by tenure. The employee has been in one role for long enough that they kind of outgrew it. The promotion is often formal and comes at the end of a process. It is about dues and achievement.

The other is by stretch. The employee is given enough space that they can grow into it. The promotion is often informal and comes at the beginning of a process. It is about responsibility and potential.

The way your organization does this has much to do with whether the general belief is that trust should be earned or that trust should be given. And it says a lot about many other aspects of the culture.