Earlier this week, I had a great conversation with an old CBS colleague turned life-long friend of mine. We talked about our personal lives, about our professional lives, and about the upcoming Anchorman sequel of course (it’s kind of a big deal).
It was awesome to catch up and compare notes on life, because he’s a few years younger than me and provides a youthful perspective that helps energize me as enter the peak of my “thirty-something” years.
But perhaps most importantly, he helped to confirm a suspicion I have about what often separates the good from the great in this digital marketing thing of ours:
What you do in your spare time.
While he’s admittedly not as obsessed with his stream of twitter and Google+ updates as I am, he did outline some of the changes he’s made in terms of what he does with his spare time. And much like was the case in my own personal life, there appears to be a direct correlation between the type of activities he engages in during his spare time and the degree of professional success he enjoys. And while the anecdotal stories of two individuals does not qualify as a rigorous exercise of the scientific method of inquiry, I do believe that this is a phenomenon worth investigating.
And what kind of behavior modification am I referring to? Here are a few examples:
- Cutting back on TV time
- Cutting back on video game time
- Cutting back on party-at-the-bar/club time
- Cutting back on unproductive social media interaction (e.g. “check out what I ate for lunch today” posts)
By cutting back on these activities and replacing with more product professional pursuits (e.g. educating yourself on a marketing channel you’re not as familiar with, starting up and maintaining that personal website you’ve always dreamed of starting, learning about cross-functional skills like Powerpoint presentation, learning how to code, learning how to manage people, etc.) you can make an appreciable impact on your marketing skills as well as your ability to influence peers, supervisors, clients, etc.
And that can, in turn, have a very noticeable impact on your career, your business, and perhaps even the quality of your personal life and relationships.
Mind you. I’m not saying that you should spend all of your time talking shop on Twitter, burning the midnight oil at the office, or reading each and every marketing guru book or white paper that makes the rounds. Disconnecting, physical exercise, and generally mindless fun can be an important part of the life mix and balance is certainly key.
However, I’ve seen too many up-and-coming marketing professionals self -sabotage their careers due to an overabundance of time spent on the fun stuff and not enough time spent refining their craft beyond the bounds of their 9-5 work schedule.
So by all means, enjoy the upcoming memorial day weekend if you’re here in the US. But when you get back into work mode next week take some time to seriously take stock of how you spend your personal time. You might just find that a few extra hours devoted to perfecting your craft could pay huge dividends both in terms of measurable marketing ROI as well as personal career growth
P.S. I believe this applies to personal life as well. Always wanted to learn to play the guitar, or draw portraits, or develop a sweet round-house kick? No problem. Just cut a couple of hours of TV, video games, shots, etc. from your regular rotation, reallocate those hours to developing the skills related to your life’s dreams, then watch those dreams become reality.