When I was in middle school, our teacher asked us to come up with a name for the magazine we were to publish. A bunch of us pitched in our ideas, and the teacher wrote them down on the blackboard. She then asked us which ones we liked. Everyone converged on about five of them. Mine was ignored. She told us that she would officially take our votes after a short break. During the break, I went up to the blackboard and neatly redrew mine to how I would design it. When she took the votes, mine won by a wide margin. This incident taught me the power of presentation and foreshadowed my career.
I love existing in between things: areas of expertise, cultures, domains of knowledge, etc.. Given that our culture is organized by specialties, I’ve always felt that there are more opportunities to be creative in between them. For instance, I’ve always put equal emphasis on art and engineering, working as a designer as well as a programmer. I’m not happy when I focus too much on one side or the other; it feels alienating to think that I’m only about my taste or logical competence. I believe that, to be human, we have to be able to embrace ambivalence. I find marketing to have a great balance between art and engineering.
Marketing is not a field most people respect, but everyone has to market themselves in one way or another. At the core, marketing is about saying, “I’m here.” If you let others know who you are, you are marketing. I would challenge any critics of marketing to choose the best product in any category based purely on merits without relying on any marketing materials. If perfect meritocracy were possible, we wouldn’t need online dating sites. We wouldn’t need to go out and meet people. Mr. or Ms. Perfect would suddenly show up at our doors. But we don’t live in such a world. Whether we like it or not, we have to market ourselves. If we have to do it, we should do it well.
I’m not a charming person, so, throughout my life, I’ve had to figure out how to create things to communicate who I am. That is, inadvertently I’ve trained myself to be a marketer instead of a salesperson. Couple that with my interest in psychology, it just makes sense for me to be in marketing.