Deep in lock down, our resident business development rock star Keith Smith, offers us a pep talk. Although personally difficult, the role of sales and marketing is to bring change and to get the crowd to dance to a different tune. Well, a new tune has dropped, time to get on the dance floor.


Hosting a podcast is a wonderful opportunity to pretend you know more than you do.

Having lots of very intelligent guests on the show allows me to adopt some or all of their opinions and recycle them as my own.

I see this as an advantage over my previous approach to life of thinking that my opinion was the only one that mattered and everyone else could go to hell.

So now, when I am asked to provide a comment or two in the media on a variety of subjects, I can fall back on a growing archive of knowledge accumulated through all my interviews. When called upon, I can retrieve the audio file and repeat said nugget verbatim, knowing full well that I am not alone in having this opinion.

I consider myself a synthesizer of others’ wisdom, dispensing my own interpretation of the last 90-odd days’ worth of input.

And I’ve come to the conclusion that for a bunch of trailblazers whose crack cocaine is disruption, we’re actually an awfully reticent bunch when it comes to change. We all talk of upsetting the paradigm, flipping the board, pushing the envelope, cutting the cheese. Whatever. But where the rubber hits the road, we tend to want our lives to have as little disruption as possible.

I got mad when my home security system changed the app on my tablet without my permission. You should have heard the outcry when my local supermarket re-merchandised everything and us poor wee shopping mice got all bent out of shape because the coffee had been moved to where the bread was and my cheese puffs were now rubbing shoulders with healthy corn snacks – urgh!

So why does it surprise me that were all talking about ‘getting back to normal’ with our work? Because for the last three months, it has felt like the entire planet has been part of a global experiment, the likes of which could never have been imagined previously. We all had to stay indoors. We all had to stop socializing in person. Our whole world was turned on its head and really…. we all kind of coped with it quite well on the whole.

To a man and to a woman, guests on my podcast and people I have spoken to on the phone have been marveling at the magnificent way humanity has been dealing with the disruption caused by the virus whose name shall not be mentioned.

Technological inventions have arrived at just the right time in our evolution like an Uber in the rain. While we were forced to stay indoors, we seamlessly began broadcasting from our living rooms. When there were no teachers, we became substitutes. When we couldn’t go down the pub, we organized online socials. We handled it superbly.

In the last two months, we have witnessed CO2-choked skies clearing. We have seen wildlife encroaching back into our spaces. Frigging prides of lions laying down on traffic-free roads in South Africa! The world beginning to look like it offered us a different alternative.

What’s going to stop this from becoming a permanent thing is our own inability to drive change. Our own lack of moral courage to strive for this new normal that we’ve been bleating about for the last 60 days.

I have formed a view that some may feel is a little contentious. But don’t worry, I also realize that it’s not going to happen and I’m literally living in dreamland. Most of these big companies that wasted no time at all lining up for more than their fair share of the gruel should be left to wither on the vine. You think that if Boeing goes kaput, there won’t be another challenger airline and engineering firm stepping in to take its place? The way they go on they’d rather have us believe that the entire future of air travel and airplane manufacturing depended on their survival. Well that’s a bunch of bollocks and deep down, they know it.

Change hurts. It’s not meaningful if it doesn’t hurt. We’re all afraid of the pain. Staying in for another two months, or even until the end of the year will herald a new era of business. A new paradigm. Same personalities, different rules. Lots of changes and lots and lots of new opportunities.

I think that the only ones forcing us to go back to the old gas-guzzling, mass commuting, risk-adverse, climate-change denying ways are those who are afraid. Afraid to even consider the thought that their little world is not under their control anymore.

The marketing and sales business – yours and mine – is 100 per cent driven by desire to change things. To make things better, faster, stronger, leaner, more efficient, lovelier, more fragrant, more natural and frankly, we’ve never had a better chance to make those changes.

I’m not talking about wholesale changes but step changes. To paraphrase Bill Murray in What about Bob? remote connect to work, Baby Steps. Cook for my family, Baby Steps. Do my own gardening, Baby Steps. Be more present as a parent, Baby Steps. Shop online, Baby Steps.

Just don’t, please don’t, drink the Kool Aid they’re trying to force on us. There’s a better drink full of electrolytes and if we only had the courage to pick it and take a big swig, we’d show them that we’re not afraid of change and indeed that change is going to bring a whole new bunch of opportunities that will make us blaze new trails and be the pioneers we all crave to be.


Find out more about Keith, his podcast. and his advice for moving forward in a crisis in this episode of Rockstar CMO FM.


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