What If?


(By Bob McCurdy) Last week’s blog post, “In Search of Better,” took a big-picture approach to self-improvement. This week’s gets more granular, putting forth a few thoughts for consideration in our search for “better,” by asking “What if?”

A “What if” question requires us to fill in the blanks on a hypothetical scenario or situation — top performers ask themselves this question often as they tend to be in perpetual conflict with the status quo.

“What if” is a thought-provoking, circumstance-challenging question that requires some kind of subsequent action, otherwise it will forever disappear into the “what might have been but never was” graveyard. It requires us to view our role and responsibilities through a more expansive lens — a lens that challenges us to reconsider doing what we know we should be doing, while considering doing what we’re not currently doing. Asking this question frequently and acting upon our answers will keep us fresh, engaged, and growing professionally. So what if we:

– Got into the office 15 minutes earlier than usual and devoted that time to professional development? This would equate to 62 hours per year, or a week and half of personal “training” annually.

– Contacted our Nielsen rep to request additional Tapscan training? Wouldn’t enhanced Tapscan proficiency enable us to find more and better stories faster?

– Approached an auto dealership or some other client requesting the opportunity to shadow one of their salespeople or to spend a day at their one of their locations to better understand their business? Think doing this would separate us from the pack?

– Made a commitment to read a marketing/sales book or two every month.

– Subscribed to Automotive News or some other client trade magazine to enhance our knowledge of a key advertising vertical.

– Did a deep dive with an agency planner or creative director to better understand how they go about their jobs and how we might enhance their appreciation of radio? These positions do influence media selection.

– Began to maximize the utility of Zoom.us to our competitive advantage. Don’t know what it is. Check it out.

– Conducted more client workshops to creatively address client marketing pain points.

– Volunteered to conduct a monthly sales meeting, which would enhance our presentation skills.

– Became Google certified.

– Reached out weekly to key economic decision-makers with whom we’d like to develop a deeper relationship.

– Listened to a marketing/business podcast on the way to or from work.

– Took better advantage of all the helpful resources that the RAB provides.

– Attended an industry conference — on our own dime, if necessary.

– Committed to conduct “lunch and learns” with clients/prospects to elevate their knowledge of our assets and medium.

– Cut the morning coffee small talk in half.

– Used the handwritten note more frequently.

– Prepared more effectively the night before.

– Took full advantage of our company’s third-party digital vendor’s training.

– Made time management a fine art. Maximizing each of the 1,440 minutes given to each of us daily.

– Employed “strategic selling” and “large account management” principles with key accounts — both are titles of excellent books by Miller Heiman. I highly recommend them.

– Volunteered to mentor newer salespeople, putting ourselves in a position where we have to teach, which forces us to refresh or learn.

– Relied on the phone more and email less.

– Mastered our business as thoroughly as those experts on PBS Antiques Road Show.

– Committed to doing all that is expected… and then some.

– Used the weekend to connect with difficult-to-reach decision-makers as they are less rushed, subject to fewer emails, and often more relaxed.

What if we decided to do most of the above, some of the above, a small portion of the above? Think we’d be more successful?

Katherine Hepburn once said, “As one goes through life, one learns that if you don’t paddle your own canoe, you don’t move.” Asking ourselves “What if” and then taking action is a good way to navigate any career upstream.


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