Zag Ed. 18 – The Biggest Takeaway from 20 CMO Interviews, Three Challengers in Action, and Walmart’s Massive Ad Tech Business

📻 We’ve recorded 20 episodes of Scratch (12 of which have been released). We’ve learned the mindset and models of the CMOs from some of the biggest brands in the world, as well as those trying to disrupt them. At some point, we’ll need to do a proper round up of the learnings, but there’s one theme that has been mentioned by almost every guest – we just had to call it out here.

Curiosity. These leaders and innovators, almost to a man and woman, have each called out the importance of curiosity in their growth as professionals and their ability to challenge themselves and others around them to do great things. It sounds obvious, almost cliche, on face value, but when you dig deeper into what they’re saying there’s a systemic approach to how they cultivate consistent curiosity in themselves and their teams.

We wanted to share a few of the tips and tricks we’ve learned from these challengers over the last few months.

  • Raja Rajamannar of Mastercard books learning time in his calendar every day. No meetings, no “work”, just reading, listening, connecting, and testing new and different things. He also has a personal advisory board that he meets with once a month to keep him accountable to his learning and growth. Check out his book to learn more on how he’s preparing himself for a “quantum marketing” future.
  • Soyoung Kang of eos says the thing that has mattered most to getting her to where she is today is her willingness to say yes to things. Even when the opportunity isn’t obvious, even when you’re busy (we’re all always busy), she has said yes to trying new things, taking on new responsibilities, and just in general putting herself out there. She also sets aside part of her marketing budget specifically to test and learn. Spending money on learning new things will certainly get the job done, but more importantly it ensures her team is not just delivering on what’s needed now, but also exploring what’s new and next. It’s this approach that led to eos being a hugely successful first-mover on TikTok.
  • Abba Newbury of Habito encourages her internal and agency teams to push past the line of discomfort to find those “batshit crazy ideas” (as she calls them) based on unique customer insights. In a similar vein, Dean Aragon asks his agencies to bring him at least one idea that makes him uncomfortable in every creative review.
  • Gary Vaynerchuk…well, he’s Gary Vaynerchuk :). You certainly can’t accuse him of sitting still! The man is a machine, in executing his visions, but also in throwing himself into the deep end of new opportunities he believes in. He talks about how he spent months exploring the NFT space and engaging with the early leaders within it before he made his move to launch VeeFriends and other NFT projects since.

All of those are great tips that anyone can adopt. But the specific way to cultivate consistent curiosity isn’t actually all that important. What is important is that you recognize a few things:

  1. Every challenger, by definition, believes in doing something in a new and different way.
  2. You don’t find those new and different beliefs in the here and now – you need to push yourself to get out there. You need to be curious to be a challenger.
  3. Curiosity is a skill that you can develop in yourself and in your team. And skills are developed by creating habits and routines around the thing you want to get better at. Find your hack, find your system, but make sure you are proactively investing in curiosity.

Additional reading and resources on this topic that we love

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