Google Serves Up Wise Words In and About Chicago

Every once in a while, that crossover moment occurs when our professional and personal lives bleed together into simply – a life.

This past week, I had the pleasure of seeing Jim Lecinski, VP Americas at Google give our audience at Business Marketing Association in Chicago one of the finest and most practical keynote sessions I have experienced in a long time.

While Jim is a clear leader in arguably the the most mind-bending brand on the planet, Jim is also a friend of mine in our neighborhood. He referenced his daughter a few times in his framing of his approach at Google. I have seen his daughter grow from toddler to a responsible and a wonderful teenager, someone who my daughter really likes. As a 15 years old, that is a big deal. Jim and his wife Annette have done a fantastic job as parents, a more important role than any professional position, which in Jim’s case is especially considerable.

Jim delivered his keynote in three acts.

ActOne: Google in Chicago

Jim answered the question asked but not completely answered for me until then; why and how Google expanded its Chicago footprint. Google’s move to the West Loop is arguably the most authentic display of corporate citizenship I have seen by a big brand in this city in years. And Google’s strategy serendipitously ties to Jim’s grandmother. Remarkable.

ActTwo: Marketing

The second act was decidedly focused on marketing at virtually any enterprise.

Marketing: Jim outlined five elements of every marketing plan – most all of which the deadlines are yesterday for addressing them.

  • How am I digitizing my offering?  A new normal in the activation of analog solutions to digital is well down the road and BtoB organizations especially have work to do to catch up.
  • Mobile first. 82% of the traffic during SuperBowl 50 was on mobile devices. He asked the BtoB marketers if just half of our traffic was mobile, would we be ready? Most BtoB organizations are not ready if we are honest with ourselves. Those which are ready will be well positioned to take marketshare from those who are not.
  • Virtual Reality: VR technology is in its infancy and it has not gained mass adoption yet (so was an iPhone 80 months ago). An intelligent smart-phone solution for VR makes the most sense today in Jim’s view
  • Disruptive, or better said by Jim, orthogonal competition. Jim reminded us of the fact that the first one into a category typically gets half of the market – and it splits in halves from there, with late comers fighting over the scraps. Jim has a pretty solid direct reference point given his current gig. While Jim did not reference Google in this regard, all we can really do is admire the position Google has taken in its marketplace.
  • Martech and Adtech:  Smart application of technology and integration of data is closing the gap not just between marketing and advertising, but almost all the gaps, including sales tech and even customer support.

ActThree: Personal Brand

What we all should be doing to market our most important brands, ourselves:

  • Network, network and network: Easier for some than others, but as much as social media seems to cover it, face-to-face networking is a necessary component of your individual brand development.
  • Take an hour a day to learn something. Meet with people outside of the industry you serve. Easy to say. Hard to do on a regular basis. Jim has balanced and informed views on Jazz and other areas which are decidedly not about Google – here.
  • Be kind. Life is too short to be in the middle of profanity, or any other downside activity in our professional lives. It simply isn’t necessary.
  • Give yourself a break. Our jobs are hard. Life is a series of ups and downs. Accept the swings down and move on to make it better next time. Move past the upswings humbly, knowing upswings provide an environment to be even better with the next success.
  • The right question to ask: Jim credits Lou Holtz, The question is not, “Do you want to be great?” Everyone reading this post fall into that category at some level, whether we want to admit it or not. Rather, the question really is, “Are you prepared to do what it takes to be great?

Jim closed with a series of answers to questions from the audience. Of several insights he provided, I will close on a golden rule for marketers, Walk a mile in their shoes. Jim starts with observations of his family and friends, and every other encounter in his walk through life. T-Mobile users at Aldi are where you see what’s coming; not necessarily users of $695.00 iPhones.

Thanks for these insights Jim.

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