Let’s recognize that age has little to do with ability. You’re never too young or too old if you’ve got talent. In the marketing world, Advertising Age and Direct Marketing News have their 40 Under 40 lists. Forbes has their 30 Under 30. This blog post counterbalances with 50 who are over 50 because to my knowledge a list of this nature has never been published.
Now, before I present my 50 let me provide some background details. Yes, in case you are wondering, I am over 50, and this group was mainly pulled together through my personal Twitter followers. I’m currently ranked as the 3rd most followed Chief Marketing Officer on Twitter by Social Media Marketing Magazine. Since I have nearly 60K followers I was confident there would be at least 50 profiles representing marketing leaders over 50 years of age that are innovative and still doing remarkable work. I just needed to identify them, and well … get them to admit they were over 50! I also wanted to ask them two questions:
1. How and where do you find innovative ideas?
2. What’s the best way to keep your eye on the future?
It has been an interesting and fun process to put together these names because I’ve learned some things about my Twitter network that I didn’t know, and I’ll be a better marketer for it. An additional side benefit I’ve gained is an appreciation for my contacts in the 40-50 age range who’ve reached out to help me with profile suggestions. They are not old enough to make my list and they are too old for the others, but they were still ready to help. It’s tough being in no man’s land, so thanks gang!
This project has taken longer than I expected as this group is very busy, and not all were eager to anticipate follow-up tweets and contact from the AARP! In order to make the list a little easier to digest I’ll be breaking in down into several posts so stay tuned for the complete group. In the meantime, here is the first batch in no particular order.
Twitter Followers: 2,206
Title: President and Founder
Company: Schneider Associates
1. Go to museums, lectures at Harvard Business School and travel the US and the world—preferably on a motorcycle.
2. Don’t sit in your office, get out and talk to people of all different stripes, stay up on the news (TV, newspapers, online, Twitter), take a university class and hire lots of interns.
Twitter Followers: 2,858
Company: Insight Cubed
1. I watch consumers and pay close attention to their buying habits and then match those needs/wants/desires to our client’s products or services; creating visuals and text that matches the consumer.
2. Read…nearly everything. We also use Twitter to scan various key-words, Facebook to catch a sense, YouTube to see what’s hot and follow other leaders in the industries we touch.
Twitter Followers: 993
Company: Inbox Group – Indiemark
1. I listen! To most everyone I can in my industry (Email Marketing) and read a lot. I read blog posts, whitepapers, listen on twitter and books. I also talk a lot to those much younger that me that might have a better pulse on “what’s new” and what the cool kids are doing.
2. Again I listen! There always seems to be new companies coming up with new tools or integration that give benefit to the email marketing industry. I try to be open about new options to be more effective with data, testing, and creative. Again I keep the younger crowd close. It seems as we get older we get a little set in our ways, we become less open to outside influence, I try to be open as possible to hearing about and understanding how people connect with businesses. Whether it be with email, social, mobile, etc. I’m open to learning from others.
Twitter Followers: 1,141
Title: Community Director
Company: GetResponse Email Marketing
1. Everyone has their own social media poison I think. Some folks are naturals for Facebook, others are more visual and prefer Pinterest and some like me, are Twitter oriented. Twitter reminds me of my old days with CB Radio, but it has the added advantage of allowing for better filtering and curating of content. As well, it’s a great “now” surveillance medium just like CB was. It begs the question: What are you thinking or doing right now?
2. Boomers have an advantage when it comes to “seeing the future” because (to paraphrase Tom Chapin) we can see where we are and we know where we’ve been. Having perspective gives you foresight. If you are over 50 and you can put digital into an analog frame of reference, you are ahead of the game. If you realize that people make the digital world and not the other way around then you are miles ahead. We aren’t so much exploring new territory as we are exploring old territory (ourselves) in new ways. So, knowing where we’ve been gives one an advantage in being able to see where we are going. Because social is not about the technology, but about how we use it and human nature doesn’t change as fast as technology does.
Twitter Followers: 221
Company: SJI, Inc
1. In this business of developing ideas and campaigns, finding places where my mind is open to create and observe is important. Driving is one of them. The other is at retail – among products and purchasers (malls, grocery, etc.). And, of course, being aware of what’s trending on relevant social platforms.
2. I speak regularly at universities, so being around a younger generation is key. College students and 20-somethings have their own ideas about purchasing and are just coming into their own as influencers. To me, these are the thought leaders of the future, so it’s worth keeping an eye on who / what they perceive as the trends, brands and innovators of tomorrow.
Twitter Followers: 2,812
Title: Managing Director
Company: Quadriga Consulting Ltd
1. I firmly believe the best way to get ideas is to go out and chat with people. I recommend just ‘getting out’ to my client and organise ‘meet and drinks’ chats with customers, partners and start-ups.
2. It’s impossible to predict the future. Trying is pointless. But meet people who might just create the products of the future is a great way to get a sense of what’s possible.
Twitter Followers: 4,985
Company: Find New Customers
1. That’s a slam dunk, Alan. I created and host the popular show Marketing Made Simple TV, so I find the most interesting guests. Case in point, when I was offered a chance to present a TED-like talk to a big meeting, I used the ideas I learned from the lady on my show Robbin Phillips, Courageous CEO of Brains on Fire.
2. Network like crazy, Meet cool people, like you, Alan. Read a lot. Write blog posts. Go to meetings. Social media opens a huge world of contacts.
Emily R. Coleman, Ph.D.
Twitter Followers: 771
Company: CAM, Inc.
1. I find ideas all over the place. I think the key is to keep your mind open and not be overawed by the common wisdom. Basically, it is not that hard to innovate if you don’t feel a need to follow the crowd. The purpose of marketing, after all, is to get your company/product/service/ideas noticed. You can’t do that if you stand firmly in the middle of what everyone else is doing. And the purpose of innovating is to increase revenues, let’s not forget that.
2. Trends are the consequence of millions of people making personal decisions for their own reasons. The key to understanding the future is to understand why people are acting the way they do. Marketers can influence fads, but they have to follow and anticipate – and understand the underlying reasons for – trends.
Twitter Followers: 9,117
Title: Director of B2B Marketing
Company: Straight North
1. I don’t consider myself especially creative, but I’m good at recognizing great ideas in conversation or through reading (blog posts mainly, these days), and then adapting them to my business. It takes a fair amount of work though. In order to appreciate great ideas, you have to sift through all of the many bad ones as well.
2. Same answer as number 1: talk to people and read. The struggle I have is getting out of my comfort zone and talking to people who are younger, older, and who have radically different outlooks from mine. This is where blogs have been so helpful. Engaging with bloggers has connected me with very smart people I never would have interacted with otherwise.
Twitter Followers: 611
Title: Northeast Managing Partner, CMO
Company: Chief Outsiders
1. I get up early every day-up by 5-and for 2 hours or so, I read. I have the best blogs in my google reader and get so many innovative ideas there. From Strategy-Business, to SEOMoz to Kissmetrics, Fast Company to the HBR, reading gives me the most insight into new and different ideas. (If you need links, I have them)
2. Be open to it. I hate it when people say that as you get older, you get more set in your ways. I think you can, but do not have to. I like to explore new ideas, listen to people who are completely opposed to how I think and imagine, “What life experiences, what teaching, what made them have those opinions? I believe in “Assume the best intentions of other, Seek first to understand their point of view ” and that keeps my eye on the future.
Twitter Followers: 394
Title: Director of Marketing
Company: OnProcess Technology
1. Depends on what kinds of ideas you’re referring to – marketing technology/tools/processes – blogs, twitter, inbound emails from vendors, etc. For creative concepts – everywhere!
2. Keep both eyes open – don’t depend on any one source, medium, channel, process, concept – and always be willing to challenge your own beliefs, preconceptions, SOPs.
Twitter Followers: 1,431
Title: Chief Marketing Officer
Company: Courion Corporation
1. Innovation is a state of mind, not a place or a process. I find innovative ideas all around me by observing life and imagining the art of the possible.
2. It sounds trite, but the best way to keep your eye on the future is by imagining it, looking through the windshield and not the rear view mirror.
Twitter Followers: 1,707
Company: Adrea Rubin Media, Inc.
1. I consume a variety of content (industry events/trade shows, industry newsletters, social media feeds, etc.) to learn about current issues/challenges facing my current and prospective clients. I tie that information back to my nearly 40 years of experience in insurance/financial services marketing and, from that, generate ideas.
2. By embracing technology and its influence on industry trends. Also, by staying current with legislative changes that impact how insurance/financial services marketers acquire new customers, especially in the boomers/age 50+ space.
Twitter Followers: 534
Title: Managing Director
Company: Inspired Health Strategies, LLC
Website – www.patientadherence.com
1. I get my innovative ideas through much research, participating in conversations and discussions on LinkedIn and Twitter as well as face-to-face meetings and events. I match this input with my personal experience- basically understanding the problems I have identified and developing solutions based on what I have learned.
2. The best way to keep my eye on the future is the same use of social media and networking but also watching industries other than mine to see what is working there and anticipating the use of process and systems in my industry. So, a lot of benchmarking through every way possible!
Twitter Followers: 168
Title: Group Marketing Officer
Company: Pitney Bowes Software
1. Innovation is supported by diversity and collaboration. A few tips:
• Give vendors 5 minutes of your time. It is likely that their company has a number of innovative ideas which underpin their value proposition.
• Encourage your teams to focus on outcomes rather than activities and therefore provide them with an environment where they can think out of the box.
• Collaborate across departments and geographies so many more diverse viewpoints are captured and considered.
2. Spend more time with clients on better understanding what is keeping them up at night.
Form strong relationships with a small number of the peer companies who are conveying leading-edge thinking and best practice. Network and network, you can never listen enough or have too many viewpoints or ideas.
Twitter Followers: 3,800
Title: Marketing consultant & coach, editor and copywriter.
Company: Kay Ross Marketing
1. I read voraciously about a wide variety of topics: marketing, philosophy, psychology, neuroscience, design, social media, theatre, healing, language, travel, fiction, trends in business and society… And I perform comedy improvisation, which builds my skill at spotting unlikely connections between unexpected things.
2. There is no future; there’s only NOW. Keep your eye on what’s happening now.
Twitter Followers: 600
Title: Go to Market Thought Leader
Company: KJR Associates, Inc
1. Insight from and through my clients and their challenges.
2. Always think how you can make your customer’s lives and businesses better.
Twitter Followers: 333
Title: Senior Vice President, Strategy and Services
1. Create mindspace (for me, it’s working out and/or listening to music) so that my unconscious mind is free to solve problems while my conscious mind recharges and regenerates the unconscious with stimulating life.
a. Voraciously snack on great “content” i.e., read a lot
b. Ask tough questions of really smart people; where:
i. My social community (mostly smart, snarky people)
ii. Diverse connections — young, old, and mostly not in my industry
2. Make sense of the past in the proper context of what I’m trying to do in the future.
a. Ask great questions / interrogate the world
b. Create a list of signposts and signals that might be indicators of true future vs. flashes — being active in this way typically enables me to filter signal from noise.
Twitter Followers: 451
Title: Creative Director, copywriter
Company: Ari Sherman, advertising, formerly of Frankfurt Gips Balkind
1. My favorite ideas come from letting the problem solving process play out. Quickly eliminating the obvious solutions allows real fresh thinking to percolate into ideas. The ones that excite me are the ones I run with.
2. I think an eye to the future means realizing it’s already here. So engage voraciously with the now. Look at what’s out there that’s cutting edge, figure out what makes it distinct, and always remember you’re as much a part of it as anyone.
Twitter Followers: 69
Company: Management, Marketing, Media
1. Observation, Listening, Brainstorming: Taking a careful, thoughtful and active interest in the question that needs to be answered. Learning: After 25 years in broadcast communications management, I decided to return to university and complete the degree uncompleted years earlier. I found it invigorating being surrounded by many bright young people who were eager to tell me that this or that is not how things are looked at today. I have tried to glean the best of the best from the experience. Read and watch movies for knowledge, stimulation and inspiration.
2. Nurture Optimism: Always believe there are hope and a future that can be better than today or yesterday. Embrace Discontentment: Revel in successes briefly and move on knowing today’s innovation can be improved. Foster an environment of forgiveness: Innovation can only occur where stumbling, falling and periodic misdirection is accepted as part and parcel to trying new things. Keep trying. Refer back to the 1st point.
Twitter Followers: 1,812
Company: Red Pill Email
1. I try to pay attention to the world around me. My oldest son at 27 is an Internet native, and a lot of ideas come from he and his friends. My youngest son at 2 provides inspiration as he adapts his world to his special needs. One of my best resources is my wife, the consummate (an over-used but appropriate word) shopper; what she buys, what she doesn’t, and why is always an enigma. Oh, and reality TV….
2. By understanding the past and the present; learning from our own and other’s mistakes; and not being distracted by the little things that are easily distracting. Watching and listening to people of all ages while keeping watch for innovative ideas that improve people’s quality of life at different stages throughout life.
And the author …
Twitter Followers: 56,400
Title: Chief Marketing Officer
Company: Alan See CMO Temps, LLC
1. How and where do you find innovative ideas? Answer: I can express my personal story on this topic in six words: “Old dog, new tricks, no problem!” I love the idea of lifelong learning, so I read and network to tease out new ideas wherever I can.
2. What’s the best way to keep your eye on the future? Answer: To remember this formula; Legacy Mindset = Creativity Killer.
Remember, there are only two kinds of managers; the growing and the obsolete. Be a lifelong learner.
I am on board with most of your observations, and salute the concept of promoting the concept.
Sorry, but Twitter is nothing but a shoutfest filled with URL retweets. I find little value for the time spent on Twitter, so posting the number of Twitter followers doesn’t tell me anything positive about the thought leadership of each person promoted here.
Thanks for the note @custexperguru It has been an interesting project. We would probably need to agree to disagree concerning the marketing / customer experience value of Twitter. On a personal level I’ve recently had 1-to-1 conversations with both Toyota customer service and Adobe. Also, I would not have met the fine individuals on this list if it weren’t for that platform. As a result of the initial exchange on Twitter I am now connected to many of them on LinkedIn. However; your point is taken, not all craftsman have the same favorite tools.
Alan: thanks for posting this. I’ll admit that I had to re-read the title before clicking. A product management saying fits here: “if you don’t have it, feature it.” In marketing and sales, there is plenty of advantage in not being a digital native. The ability to see in perspective comes to mind. I aspire to make next year’s list!
Great idea, Alan, and a great way to promote some mature and experienced marketing experts who are often overlooked. Bunch of great men and women on your list and I’m honored to be featured with them.