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The Marketer as Philosopher: by Flint McGlaughlin

"Asking 'how' leads to information; asking 'why' leads to wisdom." This is the essence of Dr. Flint McGlaughlin's book, The Marketer as Philosopher.

After twenty five years of asking "why" to a single question and testing his hypotheses using the web as a living laboratory, McGlaughlin has released a collection of his findings. These 40 brief reflections unfold in a series of layers that suggest a new framework and theory of messaging.

For more information, you can visit www.meclabs.com/mapbook

Latest Observations

On Leadership and the Danger of Math

Topic:Leadership
Posted on:Jul 13, 2017
Method:Dictation
Captured by:Flint M

The leader must be careful of making decisions via the comfort of math. Indeed, any leader can conclude that (3 – 4 = -1); calculating is not the hardest part. The hardest part is estimating, as in estimating the quantities with which you are doing your basic calculation. This is particularly true about decisions regarding strategy and people. We make the wrong decision not because we add or subtract incorrectly, but because we quantify incorrectly.

On Leadership and Becoming our “Yes-es”

Topic:Leadership Topic:Philosophy
Posted on:Jul 6, 2017
Method:Dictation
Captured by:Flint M

Each time we say “yes,” we are engaged in the predication of our subject (being). “Yes” indicates something about our ontology, in that it actualizes a potential. The further we follow this logic, the easier it is to realize, we become our “yes-es.” As I have said before, “Our ‘no-s’ shape our person, but our ‘yes-es’ form our core.”

On Leadership and the Agenda as Hypothesis

Topic:Leadership Topic:Management
Posted on:Jun 29, 2017
Method:Dictation
Captured by:Flint M

The artful leader approaches meetings with a unique construct. An agenda should not be “a list of things to talk about”; an agenda forms a hypothesis for how the leader will accomplish the objective of the meeting. The leader should ask two essential questions: (1) What is the best objective for this meeting? (2) What is the best hypothesis (agenda) for achieving this objective?

On the Difference between Reason and Excuse

Topic:Leadership Topic:Personal Topic:Philosophy
Posted on:Jun 28, 2017
Method:Dictation
Captured by:Flint M

The leader must understand the difference between a reason and an excuse. You can use a reason to explain why you behaved in a certain way without implying that this reason justifies the behavior. A reason is not necessarily a (legitimate) excuse. Sometimes the other side needs to understand the reason, but we need to must be cautious about implying that this reason is an excuse. Never render your apology impotent by confusing a reason with an excuse.

On Leadership and the Practice of “Yes And”

Topic:Leadership
Posted on:Jun 27, 2017
Method:Dictation
Captured by:Flint M

One of the most important tools for the leader is the phrase “yes and.” It is natural for the leader to say “however” or “but”; yet, this pointer word should only be used when necessary, and most of all, with yourself. The phrase “yes and” acknowledges the other party and adds additional thought. “Yes and” can influence your team to work from inspiration rather than perspiration. 

On Leadership and Assessing Risk in New Hires

Topic:Interviews Topic:Leadership
Posted on:Jun 20, 2017
Method:Dictation
Captured by:Flint M

When the leader places someone in a strategic position, the first question they should ask is not the standard question: is this the right hire? But rather a more nuanced question: will this new hire do harm? This second question helps us assess risk. Here is the challenge: those who can do really well are those who can also cause serious harm. So, the leader needs to determine how big a change is needed (and change is always needed, even if it is just improvement) before they determine who they should empower to make that change. There is an inverse relationship between risk and reward with every hire.

On Love and the Three-Word Promise that Preserves Relationships

Topic:Personal
Posted on:Jun 19, 2017
Method:Dictation
Captured by:Flint M

The three-word promise, “I love you” can start a relationship, but only the three-word promise, “in spite of” preserves a relationship. Transcendent love moves from proclamation, through explanation, to a point where it can only achieve description. It moves beyond reason, it defies explanation. At its height, all that is possible is an inadequate, but beautiful description.

On Leadership and the Essential Elements of a Good Strategy

Topic:Leadership
Posted on:Jun 9, 2017
Method:Dictation
Captured by:Flint M

The artful leader develops strategy with four key insights in mind:

1. A good strategy mitigates its downside. Great leaders don’t take enormous risks unless they must. They instinctually work with a cognitive heuristic: X/Y, wherein "X" equals achievement and "Y" equals risk.

2. A good strategy works across an adjustable timeframe. Most strategic plans are developed with a static mindset but executed within a dynamic context.

3. A good strategy allows the leader to “test their way in.” One of the most important ways to mitigate risk is to discipline it with increments.

4. A good strategy is dependent upon a good strategist. Don’t build your work around your plan; build your work around the man (or the woman). A quality strategist is more important than an accurate strategy. 

On The Illusion of Optionality

Topic:Leadership
Posted on:Jun 7, 2017
Method:Dictation
Captured by:Flint M

The artful leader does not mistakenly equate the number of options with freedom. The inverse is true; the number of options can produce restrictions on freedom. Sometimes the limited quantity of time and the limited quantity of information mean that the more choice, the less freedom. Decision nodes square complexity.

On Leadership and the Viscosity of Candor

Topic:Leadership
Posted on:May 31, 2017
Method:Dictation
Captured by:Flint M

As a leader, I am fascinated by the notion of viscosity. We create giant machines built of strong materials (steel, titanium), and yet, these machines for all their strength, will cease to function if not properly lubricated. Oil has no tensile strength, and yet, our great engines depend upon it. This is an important observation for the leader. It is dangerous to build great organizations, great productivity machines, without carefully ensuring they are “well lubricated.” The viscosity of candor is necessary, or the powerful “engines” of our enterprise may “seize” up.