In my opinion, great marketers are lifelong students of human behaviour. Whether communicating though advertising, face-to-face client meetings or managing team members, the field of human behaviour is critical in our industry. I have been actively learning about this subject for over 15 years and I enjoy that it makes up a large part of what I practice on a daily basis.
Looking back, I can see my interest in human behaviour started early in my school years. I attribute this to two really tough teachers: Ms. Little in English and Ms. Kear in French. I recall them both being particularly mean and hard on me. They seemed quite unreasonable and unfair; At the time, I'm sure I went as far as to call them unfair, harsh and evil.
Looking back though, I can see that this was probably not quite the case...
I was always a fortunate student as I found school fairly easy. Like any good teacher, they could spot that right away. They saw that I coasted and could get good and often great grades with little to no effort. They pushed me to achieve more despite the fact that I passed and even exceeded the norm at my current pace; they taught me that achieving the minimum, despite my good grades, wasn't good enough. To truly succeed, I needed a new grade system based on my own potential.
Their ethos involved setting the height of the bar on an individual basis. They did this despite system norms or complaints from upset students and, in turn, their parents. In my opinion, it worked.
Lately, I've been thinking about, and most interested in, how their approach to teaching must have led to interesting conversations for the school principal when defending those teachers. I applaud him/her for picking and defending these controversial teachers and for his/her ability to manage the students and parents who visited him on a regular basis with objections. I know because I was there on a regular basis. While I was a student that got grades, I was also one who questioned things and pushed norms. This led me to the principal's office on a fairly regular basis.
On a day-to-day basis, people regularly ask me for my title. I'm not a huge fan of titles. I often reply that I am the President or that I am the Managing Principal or just Principal. The irony is that although I often found myself protesting in the principal's office, I now find myself in the principal's chair dealing with my industry's equivalent of parents, teachers and students.
After some soul-searching, I find myself leaning toward the challenging and enviable title of Principal. While my high school principal was responsible for his students' education, I am responsible for the creative output of our team. This is a role that I respect, accept in full and cherish greatly. And, when I look back in another 15 years, I hope that I will be proud to have done it justice. Because of my interest in pushing norms and because my teachers taught me to reach for the sky, I fully expect to get a few calls from a few students and their parents.