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The Marketer as Philosopher: by Flint McGlaughlin

"Asking 'how' leads to information; asking 'why' leads to wisdom." This is the essence of Dr. Flint McGlaughlin's book, The Marketer as Philosopher.

After twenty five years of asking "why" to a single question and testing his hypotheses using the web as a living laboratory, McGlaughlin has released a collection of his findings. These 40 brief reflections unfold in a series of layers that suggest a new framework and theory of messaging.

For more information, you can visit www.meclabs.com/mapbook

Latest Observations

On the Importance of Embarrassment

Posted on:Nov 12, 2018
Captured by:Flint M

The problem with growth is that by its very nature, it creates sharp, painful contrast between "what was" and "what is"; the work/life of the past seems weak, even embarrassing. However, this embarrassment factor can be the surest indicator of progress. There is an inverse relationship between pain and growth. 

A Deep Elemental Force: What (truly) is marketing?

Posted on:Nov 5, 2018
Captured by:Flint M

A Deep Elemental ForceWhat (truly) is Marketing?

The great words of our society have been destroyed by the power of connotation over denotation. The speed of this demise has accelerated with the advent of mass media. Hence, great spiritual words and great social words have been irreparably marred.

"Marketing" is such a word.

Its very mention connotes trickery, subterfuge, propaganda and ultimately deception. Worse, it is considered the cunning accomplice of another blighted (often for good reason) term: sales.

Can the word "marketing" be redeemed (another damaged term)? Should one just start with a new word?

While at the universal level it can be difficult to "purify" the word, at the personal level this task is relatively simple.

But what does it matter? Why should you care? Redeemed or not, the whole concept seems boring ...

"Seems" is a dangerous word. Be careful. Be very careful. Consider three challenging, if not outrageous, statements:

  1. Marketing is the foundation of your being (ontology). Existence is predication is expression is communication; existence, in the social dynamic, is marketed.
  2. Marketing is at the height of the world's power structure. The power behind the gun is the power of the word; brutal force is subservient to elegant force.
  3. Thus, marketing is a wisdom-skill with which to transform yourself and impact your world. Its nine-letter container is hiding a rich treasure in plain sight.

That the word is so deeply misunderstood and patently undervalued can be a profound opportunity. And it is not necessary to prove the above three statements to justify deeper exploration; the very possibility of their truth is enough.

Which leads back to the original question: How then do we define this word?

First, a caution: It is more harmful than useful to engage in the militancy of once-and-for-all, fight-to-the-scholarly-death definitions. Definitions cannot be exact replicas, but they can be fairly accurate images.

With this in mind, we may (provisionally) define marketing as that collection of activities and outcomes engaged in the effort to influence choice. And when these activities and outcomes are truly effective, they become a genuine power … a deep, rich elemental force.

My Five Greatest Mistakes as A Leader

Posted on:Oct 25, 2018
Captured by:Flint M

My Five Greatest Mistakes as A Leader36 Years of Painful Data (that might help you)

In my field, we often speak of "data-driven decisions." But for the leader, sometimes the most important data is derived from a source that evades our metrics platforms. Indeed, such data can only be gleaned through brutal self-confrontation.


The philosopher Kierkegaard reflected that "… the artist goes forward by going backward." It is a paradoxical concept and yet an apt observation.

If the leader wants a different outcome than the one he is currently achieving, he may do better to look backward rather than forward.

For me, this means doing the hard work of reflecting on my most significant failures, and in particular, the root causes of these failures. This is especially painful because the "root cause" of the "root causes" of my organization's failures lies within ME.

Looking back over 30+ years of (my) leadership data, I can see patterns … negative patterns. This observation leads to an inevitable question: What can I do to prevent their recurrence?

There is a complex answer; there is a concise answer. Here is the latter.


I have interpreted the patterns into negative actions and then translated those actions into five positive counters (old-fashioned admonitions). They are personal, NOT profound, essential, not clever, but each day, I reflect on each point (they are posted on the top of my schedule).

  1. Make war on self-deception. Your greatest enemy is not your competitor; your greatest enemy is your blind spot. Leaders must learn to manage "what they don't know" (before it's too late).
  2. Start with the ego question. "From" precedes "to"; we work "from" identity not "to" it. Before every decision (and sometimes before opening your mouth), you must ask, What would I do if my ego did not matter?
  3. Burn your "also(s)." The irony of busy leaders is that they are "highly focused"— but on too many good to-dos. Right is better than good. Courage can produce more than stamina. Be brave, take the tradeoffs.
  4. "Densify" your moments. All is now. Actualize aggressive reflection with relentless (present tense) action. Continually ask this question: What is the most productive way to invest this moment?
  5. Amplify your X-factor. Being good at ten things will produce less than being best at (the right) one. You are the average of your team. You only pull everyone's average up by doing what you do best. The greater the personal alignment, the greater the corporate achievement.

This "way" of looking backward is more important than the correctives themselves. The macro lesson is this: My past can make my "now" better — but only if I use it to motivate new and better behavior.

On the True Purpose of Leadership

Posted on:Oct 23, 2018
Captured by:Flint M

Leaders must make an existential choice: they can either be the “perfect” leader or a real leader, but they cannot be both. The purpose of leadership is not to "be a great leader"; the purpose of leadership is to accomplish the mission. 

On the Connection Between Well-being and Enduring Success

Posted on:Oct 22, 2018
Captured by:Flint M

The customer's well-being is the epicenter of the company's well-being. Winning at the expense of well-being is just losing at a deeper level. 

On the Difference Between Strategy, Purpose and Passion

Posted on:Oct 19, 2018
Captured by:Flint M

Strategy consumes the attention of boardrooms around the world, but under certain conditions, passion fully aligned behind purpose will trump the carefully crafted strategy. Indeed, strategy should not set purpose; purpose (what) should lead strategy (how), and passion (why) should power it. Winning at the expense of well-being is just losing at a deeper level.

On the Difference Between Doing the Right Thing and Doing the Thing Right

Posted on:Oct 18, 2018
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:Flint M

Doing the right thing is more important than doing the thing right. The marketer must deliver the right message to the right prospect at the right time - or it is no longer the right message.

On the Essential Triad of Relevance, Importance, and Nature

Posted on:Oct 17, 2018
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:Flint M

If the message is relevant, then it concerns them. If the message is important, then it concerns them deeply. If the message is urgent, then it concerns them deeply, now.

On the Importance of Clarity

Posted on:Oct 16, 2018
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:Flint M

The marketer’s art is not persuasion; it is clarity. Indeed, when the marketer represents an authentic value proposition, clarity is persuasion.

On the Difference between “How Many” and “How So”

Posted on:Oct 12, 2018
Method:Previous Writings

We 'listen' to customer data in order to 'hear' customer insights. Metrics are not about 'how many'; metrics are about 'why so.