You need to be a sprinter and a marathoner


Many marketers pride themselves with how quickly the move, how chaotic their days are, how many fire drills they tackle in a given workday. Speed, agility, the ability and capacity to move quickly with the market – those are all valued attributes of a successful marketer.

But so is planning. Long-term planning. Knowing today what you should be doing six months from now. Thinking well in advance of a product launch, a seasonal opportunity, a big industry trade show or more. This is also a valued attribute of successful marketers.

Agility, speed of thinking and execution, and long-term thinking aren’t mutually exclusive skills. They don’t conflict. In fact, with the world’s most successful marketers, they work together.

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer deftly addressed this in a recent Business Week profile, using an athletic metaphor:

“They talk about fast twitch and slow twitch muscles, and I forget, long-distance runners have one and sprinters have the other. Well, on some senses all product teams kind of need a bit of fast twitch and a bit of slow twitch, because there are bigger innovations the take longer and there are other things that your an do in shorter periods of time.”

In sports, you can be a sprinter or a distance runner. In business, you need to be both.