Finishing up dinner at a Chinese food place, I reached for the fortune cookie, broke it open and read my fortune. It instantly applied to working in advertising and marketing. “Attitude is more important that facts.”
It is a reminder that we’re in the selling business. Marketing is about chemistry. It is about dealing with people. It is about inspiring people. It is about taking a seed of an idea and making it into a movement. It is about seeing the potential.
To be clear, this fortune cookie doesn’t mean that facts are irrelevant or to be ignored. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. Facts influence your attitude. CEOs and CMOs can take facts and draw any conclusion they want. All of your facts could be pointing them to go left. In the end, they may go right, despite every fact you put in front of them.
There are four ways in which attitude is more important than facts.
1. Believe. You have to be able to see the possibilities in anything. It isn’t easy. Any creative brief or agency brief lays out a problem that needs to be solved by marketing. The best briefs/assignments are meant to clearly show you just how hard it is going to be to come up with a solution. Sometimes, the challenge can be so daunting that it almost seems futile.
This is where attitude is needed most. You have to be able to believe that not only can a solution be found, but that your team is going to find the answer. Where others have failed, your team will succeed. Once you’ve received the assignment, you’re going to be looking down at a blank piece of paper or a blinking cursor. You have to believe.
2. Inspire. Being a downer, wet blanket, naysayer or devil’s advocate is the quickest way to kill any great idea. With the right attitude, you can inspire ideas to be better than they originally are. It is a matter of perspective. How do you approach the beginnings of an idea? Is it with skepticism? Is it with the desire to inspire?
This is true for internal and client-facing meetings. For clients, your meeting with them may likely be the best meeting of their day. And if it isn’t, you’ll have to make it that way. The attitude you have when you walk into a room will dictate the mood of the meeting, and likely the outcome.
3. Sell. To bring an idea to life, you have to sell. Often you have to sell against the facts. You have to be able to make people believe in the power of your idea. If you’re not personally convinced of the idea (if you don’t have the right attitude about it), why should anyone else be convinced?
Can you rely on facts over attitude? You can’t logic someone into a decision. At some point they have to believe it. They have to want it. Your audience will draw from your attitude. If you’re passionate, determined and positive, you have a much better chance of selling your idea.
4. Don’t fake it. People will know. Nobody likes to be lied to. Business is too hard and relationships are too delicate. If you fake it, you lose. Having the right attitude isn’t about being blindly optimistic; it’s about being a realist. Your attitude is personal. It shows you care. It is a reflection of your integrity. And integrity is always better kept than regained.
I’ve kept the fortune cookie. The piece of paper is now in my phone case so I can see it every day.