Here's something that confused me for a really long time:
How some marketers I worked with had average "technical" skills, yet kept getting promoted or kept getting great opportunities.
Conversely, I've known so many people who are technically great at what they do, yet keep getting stuck in career or business plateaus.
How could the marketers from the first group consistently beat the second group? It didn't seem fair.
I eventually realized that the first group does the right things wrong, and the second does the wrong things right.
The second group is full of people who have faithfully executed the "T-shaped marketer" career development plan. They're brilliant copywriters, masterful SEOs, excellent PR managers. The problem is kind of like that old saying – when you have a hammer, everything looks like a nail.
As a result, they often become masters of doing the wrong things right. Yes, they can optimize a landing page faster and better than anyone out there. But was optimizing the landing page the best, highest-leverage use of their time and resources? They spent a lot of time "nailing" the PR coverage for a new product launch. But should they have been spending their time on something else?
In contrast, the first group thinks about what deserves investment. If we think about this using the T-shaped marketing framework – their skill might not be landing page optimization or knowing how to write a perfect pitch to a journalist.
It's knowing what to work on in the first place:
Marketers and business leaders whose thinking is trained on Question 1 end up having way more impact. They think at the systems level. Doing this means they usually end up with the best strategy and making the correct bets.
Question 2 is still important, but it's unquestionably subordinate to Question 1.