Dr. Spontaneous or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Vermont

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This week, I decided to budget time for randomness. Specifically, or, more dangerously, on Valentine’s Day. My girlfriend, Ciera, and I had vague plans for the day, but truth be told, I’m exhausted by constant structure and planning.

My week looks horrible on paper.

Monday is work from nine to five, followed by homework.

Tuesday and Wednesday, I sleep in, do more homework, then go to class at noon and work until nine.

Thursday is classes front-to-back. I don’t like to talk about that one.

Friday is one class at noon, followed by managing financials, sending resumés and calling apartments.

The weekends used to be a time of relaxation, but now, I work and work and catch up on all the homework I may have overlooked.

This is a very transitional time in life, and to alleviate fears I have about my future, I must meticulously schedule and save. Having a few days free until noon is nice, but I’m a night person, despite my best efforts to fight it.

Anyway, Valentine’s day was planned. I had the flowers, chocolates, a lovely necklace, a restaurant picked out and midday plans. At the last minute, I scrapped schedule. Crazy as it may seem, life and love are about making decisions in the moment, and I don’t want to lose sight of that. I did the gifts, cooked breakfast, and simply asked, “What do you want to do now?”

The spontaneity took us to a hole-in-the-wall restaurant, vastly different from the upscale one I had selected. I had mac and cheese for dinner for the first time in years. I had a lavender cocktail that tasted like potpourri. I felt connected with Ciera. It was one of the best days I had ever had, and it was exactly nothing like I had pictured it.

Sometimes, planning is beneficial. Getting set up for the future, travel plans, and meeting times – all great examples. But life isn’t a plan. I’m not into the nine to five ’til sixty thing. I want to experience things I never would have if I hadn’t gone with the flow rather than damming up all of the water.

I let life take the leash and I had a great time. I felt free from responsibility, if only for a short while, and hadn’t a care in the world. The point is, control over your life limits its potential. You have to relinquish that control, let go at the right times and see where it takes you. It made me feel like I can trust the world, that I can trust life to be good to me when I don’t throttle it. How will it make you feel?

Also, it was -10° outside, and I thought I was going to die.

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“It’s Toasted”

The world of marketing is ever-changing. I know that sounds cliché, so, to be more specific, it is changing exponentially. As technology advances, we are finding more and more ways to reach out to customers, and the platforms we use to do so are expanding rapidly.

With this in mind, there is a particular way of thinking that I am seeing quite often in professional environments, and it is troubling. I will refer to this as the “Mad Men Mindset”.

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The “Mad Men Mindset” is the idea that creativity and charisma is all that is necessary to succeed in the marketing world. People who subscribe to the school of thought believe that money can be gained with the utterance of a simple phrase in a moment of inspiration, as Don Draper did when he said “It’s Toasted”.

It’s a romantic idea, one that, unfortunately, doesn’t work in the real world. I mentioned above the idea that marketing is undergoing exponential change. As it integrates more and more into the digital landscape, a greater amount of technical skill is necessary to reach out to a target market. SEO and analytical tools may be relatively new, but it’s imperative for the new generation of marketers to understand them in order to be successful given the digitalization of the industry.

I understand the desire to be a “Mad Man”. It’s sleek, sexy, and dramatic, but it is no longer representative of what it means to be an advertiser. Sure, charisma and creativity are still useful, but with such a competitive job pool, specialization is necessary.

There are a handful of SEO tools I can vouch for. These are great introductory programs to understand your website’s performance, and the competition you face:

  • Moz
  • SEMrush
  • Google Analytics

In addition, Adwords are critical to understand if you want to be involved in the digital marketing plan. If digital marketing isn’t your thing, find a focus. Maybe you want to conduct market research and integrate your findings. Maybe you can coordinate events with venues and planners. Maybe you’ll participate in negotiations and conduct the sales of ad-space.

No matter what you do, GET HARD SKILLS. That is what makes you valuable.