#39 – How to Grow

A new strategy to evolve your story

Growth is on my mind a lot. Usually, it’s in the capitalistic sense of growing your business year over year and the role of marketing in that process. How I help my clients grow. Some places I’ve worked have even called their core marketing function “growth” because that’s often what matters most to large corporations.

But the kind of growth on my mind lately is the one that comes with personal evolution. The one that comes on the other side of challenges and strife. The lesson that comes from the mess is how I like to think of it. For me, I’m on the hunt for the lesson in my burnout—still working on it, but I think in the process I’m growing without even trying too hard. Which I find fascinating because it is counter to everything I know to be true about growth in my work as a marketer.

Originally this post was supposed to be about the need for a plan, specifically a strategy, in order to grow in the marketing sense; Your brand, your business, your career—they all need a plan if they’re going to grow. I still feel pretty strongly about that and will dive into it another day in detail. Coles notes version: strategies are essential; identify your objective, figure out the best way to get there given your context, and begin to execute knowing that things aren’t going to go exactly to plan, but where you land will be better for the initial thinking time you put into creating one. Strategy is how you get to effective storytelling.

What I’m learning about the personal kind of growth is that it’s great to have a plan and, just like a business or brand strategy, nothing will go according to it. But there is a really great kind of magic that comes from just diving in and seeing where the process takes you. I’m embracing the Japanese concept of wabi-sabi—the beauty of things imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete—as I grow in new ways. I’m excited to see how it impacts my strategic approach.

Growth is often hard and painful and yet there’s a certain kind of wonder to it that I find irresistible. And this kind of growth is the kind that is and should be exponential because it will do you and the world around you good. It’s the most sustainable kind of growth there is. But it is also the kind that requires attention and tending. It’s a lot of work and sometimes even butts up against capitalism, but it is powerful heady stuff let me tell you.

So, I think what I’m saying is, despite everything I know to be true professionally, when it comes to your inner growth, don’t be afraid to let go of your plans and see where that takes you. Also don’t be afraid of the dark because moving through it is often how you find the light. And the lesson. Be open to it. The new perspective that comes with it will make your personal story that much more compelling—and that’s the one that matters most in the end (despite how much I love a brand story).

A Story Well Told

I’ve loved Nigella Lawson since I was a teenager who loved to bake but had no clue where to begin with it—my parents were not bakers. Read any of her cookbooks and you’ll start to understand why she was the perfect person to introduce an enthusiastic but lost wannabe baker/cook into the world of food. The woman turns cooking into a story of epic proportions. She has a new cookbook coming out, which I cannot wait to devour. This New Yorker interview with her is a thoughtful and introspective introduction to her and her career. It’s also just flows beautifully—I aspire to this natural back and forth when I do interviews.

Thanks for reading and I’ll “see” you next week. Whatever the world may bring, there will always be important stories that need you to tell them. I’ll be here to help.

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Also, if you’re enjoying this or if there’s something you’d like me to cover in a future letter—an element of your storytelling you may be struggling with, please let me know by leaving a comment below. I’m here to help.

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