Craftsman with hammer and anvil to symbolize resiliency



In challenging times, how do some organizations manage to pull together and foster a supportive environment while others succumb to apathy, angst, or dysfunction? Author and theologian C.S. Lewis wrote,

Pain is God’s “megaphone to rouse a deaf world.”

We’ve endured a collective suffering over the last year like many of us have never experienced before in our lifetimes — and for some, it’s been a wake-up call. No one looks forward to difficult times, but Oprah Winfrey’s advice is solid: “Turn your wounds into wisdom.”  

There is no 3-step formula for success. Choosing how to respond to difficulty is what E. F Schumacher described as a divergent problem. The beauty of humanity is that we all arrive at our own solution. Nevertheless, here are some reflections that may help build resiliency and lead to healthy growth in the face of difficulty.

Strive for Transparency and Truth

Unfortunately, discovering truth is easier said than done. We’ve all experienced situations where truth seems uncertain. Or, we’ve been in conflicts where we felt were were unequivocally “right.” Almost certainly our opposition felt the same. What can we do? In a 2017 Psychology Today article, Marcia Reynolds, Psy.D writes, “To counteract your brain’s tendency to construct ‘truth’ out of comfort, convenience, and confusion, you can access your Reflective Intelligence to try to sort through your filters. This isn’t easy, but if you are courageous enough to accept a different reality, you might be able to see what else could be true.” She goes on to challenge readers to question the fears and assumptions that may lead us to accept unsubstantiated opinions.

Over the past year, I’ve found myself asking a lot of questions and questioning a lot of assumptions. I’m taking a hard look at choices I’ve made because they are comfortable, easy. or profitable. In these confusing times, let’s commit to choose truth even if it is difficult, costly, or inconvenient. When we face times of adversity, some good questions to ask might be:

  • What do we really want? What values do we hold dear?
  • How (and who) do we hope to serve? What are we helping them accomplish?
  • What things keep us from doing it well?
  • What things help us do it better?
  • What blind spots do we need to correct?

Be Humble

Answering hard questions together requires us to be humble and accept that we need other perspectives in order to see clearly and fully. Let’s avoid an attitude of “putting people in their place.” Instead favor of an environment where all are respected regardless of differences in title or background. Seek out environments where people can win together, not of at the expense of each other…where people share the burden of each others’ setbacks and the joy of each others’ successes. 

We all need a course correction from time to time. Importantly, we must be willing to surround ourselves with people who will call us out when we’re headed in the wrong direction and help us get back on track.

“There’s nothing about humility that makes it incompatible with strength and courage. Quite the opposite,” writes Jeff Hyman in a Forbes article entitled Why Humble Leaders Make the Best Leaders. Hyman goes on to say, “When things go wrong, humble leaders admit to their mistakes and take responsibility. When things go right, they shine the spotlight on others.”

Recognize the Good

In difficult times, many of us dwell on what’s wrong. It is important to face and fix our errors, but we are also wise to pay attention to what’s going right. Positive reinforcement is a powerful tool.

When we recognize the good around us, we remind ourselves of our values. Let’s also prioritize inclusion and celebrate how each of us contributes to a heathy whole. Let’s open our eyes to recognize what is good, appreciate it in others, and strive to emulate it ourselves.

Demand Less Banner



I’ve been wondering lately if marketing lingo has taken a wrong turn somewhere along the way. I’ve worked in B2B marketing for 15+ years. Lately, I’ve been looking differently at a lot of things. My sense of comfort and complacency is out the window. As the great Don Henley said, “The more I know, the less I understand. All the things I thought I knew, I’m learning again.” This includes the way I approach my job in the field of marketing.

One lesson I believe is valid: words matter.

This is a self-critique. I am looking hard at the words I use — personally and professionally. They matter. The apostle Luke wrote, “The mouth speaks what the heart is full of.” I want to have the kind of heart that leads me to speak truth and compassion. I have a long way to go, but I hope I’m getting closer, one day at a time.

Today, I am trying to reconcile some marketing terms that seem discordant and abrasive when I hold them up to goals of wholeness, transparency, and empathy.

If we agree that the words we choose are a reflection of our goals and priorities, maybe the terms below present some opportunities to choose differently.

For all of my sales and marketing friends out there, tell me if you can relate. Or, help me understand where our perspectives differ. For all of my non-marketing friends, here’s a peek behind the marketing curtain.

Demand Generation

This is the process of manipulating people to entice them to want something they didn’t want before. If we need to “generate demand” for something, should we really be selling it?

For me, “Communicate Value” is a more helpful phraseDone well, marketing messages can create awareness and communicate value. But let’s refrain from using manipulation to generate demand – even if we can.

Click Bait

As in, “7 Reasons You Absolutely Shouldn’t Click This Link. #4 will blow your mind.” The goal is to get you to click; we don’t really care if you read what’s on the next page. Good marketing delivers content in an interesting way to someone who can benefit from it. But too often, we settle for a poor user experience because the goal is to snare a certain number of visitors. If the usefulness of the experience is an afterthought or even irrelevant, it’s not good marketing.

What if marketers used our skills to create true and meaningful content? Let’s create content that adds value to people’s lives, and deliver it in a respectful way.


AKA if you express interest in my product or service, I am going to put you through some tests to determine if you are worth my time. If you pass the test, congratulations, you are qualified.

This should be a mutual process of finding out if there is a fit. Customer and provider both want to know if a partnership is beneficial. A bad fit isn’t good for my customer or me. A good fit is good for us both.


This is a term for someone who has passed my tests (see qualification) and we have deemed you worthy of follow-up. Does this label make our prospective customers feel valued and respected?

In my utopia maybe we call this a “seed.” We hope that something wonderful might grow out of this possibility. There’s reason to think working together could benefit all involved – Let’s find out together.


If you filled out my form on my website, you’ve converted. We use a term related to spiritual experiences because we cannot find our souls.

Sometimes these are referred to as “Goal Completions.” It feels a little better to me; especially if, when you’ve completed the goal, there was actually a benefit to you and not just me.


 In marketing lingo, we scramble about trying to “acquire” more and more leads and customers. We forget that these are people, and people are not something to be acquired. When we describe it to your face we call it “partnering.”

Let’s work to be genuine partners and teammates with our customers and prospective customers.

Competitive Analysis

 This is the process of spying on our competitors so we can steal their ideas and customers.

How about “Cooperative Learning?” Ideally each provider offers value in a unique way or to a unique group. We can learn from each other to hone our skills and improve our value. To my fellow providers: if I cannot provide the right fit, maybe you can, and vice versa.


This is a term we use for an amalgamation of characteristics that make up our target market (see targeting below). Since we don’t want to communicate with actual people (who has that kind of time?), we lump you all together into some kind of Frankenstein persona that looks a little like you so that we can try to “craft our language” into a message we think you’d like to hear.

Trying to understand our customers and potential customers is a good and valid goal. Let’s make sure we do it with the intention of working to build authentic and helpful relationships with real humans.


 When we decide you match our ICP (maybe this term will make it into a future post), we target you. Scary right? We use terms like spears and nets to describe how we get you in our funnel (see below), and we give our salespeople awards and recognition for hitting a “bullseye.”

Again, it’s helpful for me to think about “fit.” Good marketing works to help people find the right fit for their needs. Finding the right fit can be a “bullseye” as long as it’s a win for us and the customer, and ideally, the world as a whole.

Sales Funnel

 Once you convert (see conversion above), we put you in our sales funnel. I imagine it like some esoteric toilet where you swirl down through Dante’s circles of hell, starting at the TOFU (AKA Top of Funnel), progressing to the MOFU (Middle of Funnel) and finally arriving where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth.

Side note: When I asked my wonderfully objective husband to review this article, he informed me that this is where I have officially devolved into ranting. Guilty as charged.

Maybe we could borrow an engineering term, like “Workflow.” We partner with people in a workflow. At the end of the process, we achieve a shared goal.


Velocity is how fast we can shove you through the funnel (see sales funnel). We have a quota to meet by the end of the month. Hustle up, partner.

Let’s refer back to workflow. If there are spots in our workflow where people are getting lost or not finding value, let’s fix it. If someone needs time to consider, let’s respect it.

Lifetime Customer Value

this is where we decide how much you are worth to us and then enter a line item into a spreadsheet while demons shriek with glee. (Again, with the ranting.)

Are we as keenly interested in the value we provide to our customers? Do we consider the value to humankind and the planet that comes from this partnership. If so, I have no beef with “lifetime customer value.”


This is the term we use for you when you’ve decided not to do business with us anymore. Like, “We’re so sorry to see you churn.” If we use the term churn with you, maybe you were right to go.

Let’s call it what it is: a customer stopped doing business with us. The question is why. Did we screw up? Does someone else serve them better? Or maybe we served their need and completed the job (a good thing)! We can learn from failure and from success.


This is a term for an automated or semi-automated set of messages that we send you based on which bucket you fell into. As in, “Oh, I see you’re not ready to sign a deal tomorrow…let’s have marketing put you into a cadence so we don’t have to talk to you anymore.” Consistency can be good, but let’s be discerning about when to use automation and when to be human.


This is actually one of my favorite marketing words. It means to help someone grow and develop in a healthy way (see “seeds” above). Let’s try to partner with people to provide value and achieve shared goals. Let’s ask, how can we deliver a helpful message at the right time?

An Alternate Vision for Marketing

Most of the sales and marketing professionals I have worked with in my career are thoughtful and compassionate. They genuinely want to do what’s right for their customers. I deeply admire and respect their work. Mentors in the field have taught me to ask these 3 questions when I’m working on marketing strategies:

Is it good?

Is it true?

Is it helpful?

Marketing can be (and often is) a process of learning about people’s real needs, working with others to create something that meets the needs, and communicating value in a beautiful and meaningful way. Sales can be (and often is) a process of working with people to implement solutions that meet people’s needs in a good and useful way.

In a podcast on how marketers can contribute to a circular economy, Alena Kuzniatsova said, “I realized that marketing is just an instrument. Take the hammer, for example. You can kill or you build a house with a hammer. The same with marketing. And I realized that I should use my marketing expertise as an instrument for companies which foster sustainability and a clean future.”

Many of our marketing terms stem from the need to scale. To scale, we have to look at numbers. Unfortunately, sometimes we look at numbers and forget people. Data can be very helpful. It guides us and helps us judge whether we are on the right track. We just need to make sure we’ve chosen the right track. We are wise to use numbers to inform decisions that positively impact people, rather than making choices that use people to hit our numbers.

Let’s Make Profit a Tool, Not a Goal

I believe part of solving the “marketing lingo” problem is to look at the right “bottom line.” Is the bottom line “more profit, faster?” Profit can be a useful tool, but in my opinion, it makes a lousy goal. It is important to understand our goals and metrics; and there’s nothing wrong with deciding we need X% more revenue next year so that we can…(fill in the blank). Let’s remember to finish the sentence. What is the revenue for? The revenue itself is just a tool.

Mahatma Gandhi said: “The world has enough for everyone’s needs, but not everyone’s greed.”

What if we choose a different bottom line? What if we choose to work toward wholeness for people and the planet? What different decisions would we make concerning our funnel, our conversion process, our nurturing campaigns, how we respond to churn, and how we use our profit?

There are rarely simple answers, but maybe we could start with better language. The good news is that there are lots of marketers out there that are skilled at crafting messages. Let’s craft messages that help us achieve something great together.

We get to do this wrist band



Several years ago, I attended a training event at Gateway Church for volunteers. As we filed into the room to learn about our responsibilities, each of us was handed a blue silicon wristband with the words “We GET To Do This” printed on it.

We had all signed up to be volunteers because we believed in the mission of the group.

We saw potential for something positive; and we wanted to be a part of it.

There were a couple hundred of us in the room, and we each had different volunteer roles. Some had more visible positions – hospitality crew or musicians. Some of us had more behind-the-scenes roles. Some were coffee makers, some of us chair-setter-uppers. There was a parking crew, a cleanliness crew, and a data entry crew, along with a zillion other roles that were needed to make this sizable volunteer organization run.

Not all of the roles might be considered glorious, but they were all necessary.

Before we dispersed into our teams of chair-setter-uppers and parking gurus, we met as a group. The head of the organization thanked us for our dedication and reminded us:

“We are all in this together. We don’t have to do this; we GET to do this.”

There is so much talk about what leaders can/should do to engage their teams. And if you’re a leader, we certainly don’t want to understate the importance of appreciating, encouraging, and empowering your teams in order to help them reach their potential.

But for those of us who are the behind-the-scenes heavy-lifters, we’re not off the hook.

In whatever we choose to dedicate our personal efforts, we control our own personal level of engagement.

We can choose to slide by doing the minimum. Or we can choose to give it our all. We can appreciate the opportunities we have been given, and we can choose to find ways to make a difference. We can choose to say, “I get to do this.”