My favorite memories in marketing are when I realize that I’m thinking like a total idiot.

There have been so many times where I, as a junior marketer, would be sitting in a room with a senior marketer. We’d be looking at the same data, or be talking about the same topic … but their conclusions were completely different. Or their way of looking at things was something I never would’ve even considered!

Here are a series of “mindset shifts” I’ve learned as a junior marketer, and a handful of cases where I was the senior marketer:


Looking at slides reviewing performance:

Junior Marketer: “Wow, this is a great looking chart. Up and to the right!”

Senior Marketer: “Hmm, where did you get this data?” * squints to read axes on chart *

On Sales & marketing alignment:

Junior Marketer: “The sales team is complaining about leads.”

Senior Marketer: “Sales reps will never be happy, and they will always complain about leads. You should view this as a good sign; you want a sales team that is never satisfied and always wants to win. But it is not a productive use of energy to try to get them to not complain.”

On getting PR:

Junior Marketer: “We should get more PR, why aren’t we in the press?”

Senior Marketer: “Getting PR is time consuming. Is PR the #1 or #2 thing stopping us from achieving our goals? Because it’s not like you just get a few write ups and that will change the game for us. We should only go after PR if we have a really good strategic reason.”

On getting feedback:

Junior Marketer: “I’m gonna ask my network for advice / to sign up / to tell me what they think of our product.”

Senior Marketer: “Unless they’re in my target audience, I don’t really care what my friends think of what we’re doing. Potentially misleading feedback from the wrong audience is worse than no feedback at all.”

Thinking about traction:

Junior Marketer: “Oh man, nobody’s buying our stuff. We should start trying out cold emails and be more aggressive. Let’s look into buying email lists. We can spend more money on Facebook ads.”

Senior Marketer: “We need to understand what’s happening. Are we going after the right people? Are we confident we have reasonable product market fit? If so, where are the inefficiencies in our funnel? “

Working across teams and departments:

Junior Marketer: “Other_department_X is so hard to work with, they’re being political / dragging their feet / some other complaint …”

Senior Marketer: “When companies get to a certain size, misalignment is inevitable and it’s not a good use of time whining about it. Consider this: if you were them, in their shoes, you’d probably act the same way. Sure, we can try to escalate to higher ups and to get a clearer mandate. But first, let’s think about the incentive structures of that team and how can I work with those, not against those. We might find that it’s not a fight worth fighting.”

Setting up a marketing strategy:

Junior Marketer: “We need to be everywhere, otherwise we’ll miss out on opportunities. We should have a youtube channel, a FB page, TikTok …”

Senior Marketer: “Which channels do our customers spend the most time on? Of those, which are the ones where we have to dominate relative to our competition?”

On personal task management:

Junior Marketer: “Ugh, today was so frustrating. I got stuck in a rabbit hole of getting WordPress to work properly – next thing I know, I’m editing CSS, updating plugins, and looking things up on stackoverflow…”

Senior Marketer: “This task is outside my circle of competence. Should I do this myself, knowing it’ll take me a long time? Is there a way I can delegate this to someone else, or maybe even get a freelancer or agency? Is this even worth doing in the first place?”

Marketing results affecting emotions:

Junior Marketer: “Arghhh it’s so hard to set up partnerships! People aren’t responding to my emails, life sucks, I suck, I’m terrible …”

Senior Marketer: “Just analyze the funnel. People are opening the emails, but not everyone is going to reply. Let’s put ourselves in their shoes. Why would they reply? We aren’t hitting the right notes. Every email is a lesson learned. What have we learned so far? What can we test?”

Public speaking / industry visibility

Junior Marketer: “I feel like I deserve to speak at a conference … ugh, that guy is speaking? He’s terrible! Why aren’t they choosing other people instead of me?:

Senior Marketer: “How many conference organizers are in your network? Speaking at conferences is just as much about being in the event organizers’ network as it is about being recognized in your industry. Don’t wait for them to choose you. Do something awesome, but also make sure you’re putting yourself on their radar. Can you connect with previous speakers also?”

On perfectionism

Junior Marketer: “This piece of content took me forever, but it’s worth it, because everything is exactly as how I would want it.”

Senior Marketer: “Everything has an opportunity cost. Was it worth it for you to bring that content from 90% to 100%? How are you balancing that with your other priorities?”

On Mentorship

Junior Marketer: “My career isn’t developing as quickly as I want, because I just haven’t found the right mentor. And there’s nobody in my network who can help me. Sigh.”

Senior Marketer: “There’s no such thing as one magical mentor who can help you across the board. And you need to take more ownership over your own career direction. Something weird happens. When you put your head down and do the work, mentors will appear.”


The weird thing is that “junior” and “senior” have nothing to do with age or years of experience. Senior marketers just have a mental model of the world that more accurately maps to how it actually works.