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Cumulative Advantage: How to Build Momentum for Your Ideas, Business, and Life Against All Odds (Episode 55)

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Mark W. Schaefer is a globally recognized author, speaker, podcaster, business consultant, and blogger. In fact, he runs one of the top five marketing blogs in the world. He teaches graduate marketing classes at Rutgers University and has written eight best-selling books. Mark’s new book Cumulative Advantage: How to Build Momentum for Your Ideas, Business and Life Against All Odds is an essential new path to being seen and heard in a busy world.

His many global clients include Pfizer, Cisco, Dell, Adidas, and the US Air Force. He has been a keynote speaker at prestigious events all over the world including SXSW, Marketing Summit Tokyo, and the Institute for International and European Affairs. He has appeared as a guest on media channels such as CNN, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, and CBS News.

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Bet on your ideas

Before all of this, Mark worked in the corporate world, stuck in a marketing job. The internet was just starting, and Mark very quickly believed there were business applications for the internet. He asked his boss if he could get an AOL account and put it on his expense account, and after a long debate over why he thought it was a waste of money, he agreed. Mark’s ideas started taking off, and a few years later, the fortune 100 company woke up, saw the need for a  larger investment in their internet ventures, with Mark at the helm.

That was where his career in the e-business digital space began. He eventually quit and started his own project centered around social media. He started a blog and it took off, which led to books, which led to speaking and eventually to his position at the university.

Play the long game

He didn’t write his first book until age 50 and his first blog post was published at 48 years old. He has been on a constant journey of reinvention, morphing into the opportunities that are presented. This is part of most people’s reality: oftentimes, you don’t follow a dream, the dream follows you.

Originally, none of this was his dream. He could have been the CEO, probably of a big company, and he realized he just didn’t want that lifestyle. Now, he continues to make choices for the lifestyle he actually wants.

His latest book is about getting to the heart of being human. As we all grow a little bit older, we start to reflect a little more.

Discover your cumulative advantage

The number one issue for any person or business in this world today is this:

How can I be heard?

Mark explores the nuances of becoming known in the world, becoming heard in the world, and how things really catch on. The key? Telling a full, quality story.

The hero’s journey story arc can be a simple, step-by-step narrative and still be incredibly powerful. Stories connect to the essence of being human, and it resonates with every one of us as humans are constantly trying to make sense of what they don’t understand.

Over the last 10 years, Mark has learned how to become the signal instead of the noise, and through his books and blog, he’s helping others to do the same. He’s been writing about influencer marketing, content shock, and developing your personal brand, and now through Cumulative Advantage, he’s sharing how to build momentum. Even if you’re great, you’re being buried. You might not ever be heard or seen. You need the momentum.

Adapt to the changing landscape

Social media is going to be really upended in the next few years. In many cases, these platforms are based in America, and marketing professionals are starting to rethink these monopolies. Are they good, or are they bad? How do we co-exist with this power that they have? How does this impact free speech? How does it impact politics? To what extent should it be regulated?

This has become even more evident in the last couple of years, and in response, there are going to be new opportunities. People are isolated, people are lonely, they want to connect, they want to have conversations, and a lot of people have more time on their hands than before.

There are going to be lots of fractures in the status quo around social media, especially involving marketing. Mark believes we won’t even recognize what marketing looks like two years from now.

While questions bring changes, and changes bring disruption, in the end, these are questions we’ve got to ask, because if we don’t, social media and big tech might begin to dehumanize us. There are some real issues regarding anxiety and depression that are rooted in the power that we’ve given social media. This anxiety and depression, mixed with fear and grief over loss, has become a dangerous cocktail. There’s so much pressure on image, perfection, competition, FOMO, and imposter syndrome. We have to start asking ourselves, what have we created? And what can we do to change it?

Leave your mark

The goal of Cumulative Advantage is to help people gain some insights into what it means to be human, to seize their calling, and make a difference. At the end of the day, it’s about having a cumulative advantage and changing the world in some way, whether it’s large or small.

To learn more about Mark Schaefer’s other books and resources, check out his work at Businesses Grow. For more of my thoughts and conversations, tune into more episodes of The Jeff Bullas Show.

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