The ABCs of What We've Learned So Far at &Marketing

The near two-year journey of starting &Marketing has been the highlight of my professional career. From a vague idea that I could take my ‘big company’ background and apply it to small and medium-sized businesses going through the digital transformation to a real ‘company’ has really been … well, everything. Fun. Exhilarating. Frustrating. Interesting. Insomnia-inducing. And last, amazing.

One thing we’ve never done is stop and reflect on the lessons learned or the ups and downs of the our experience. As Gary Vee would say - “document the journey.”

Inspired by former colleague Mohamed El-Demerdash’s series on LinkedIn “The ABCs of Human Leadership” (check it out, it’s worth it), we’re going to try and do the “ABCs of what we’ve learned so far at &Marketing” - For every letter, we will choose one word or phrase and discuss its significance in our journey. Entries will vary, but generally be about starting a new company, working with a multigenerational and remote workforce, and helping companies through the digital transformation of their businesses. We’re excited to share it with you, and look forward to any comments!

B - Bureaucracy

B is for Bureaucracy, with a giant B. What we’ve learned so far is that in today’s fast-paced business world, bureaucracy is the death knell for poorly run businesses. The single biggest reason is that companies are losing in the modern economy because of the lack of focus on customers and their needs. Call it internal focus, call it navel-gazing, call it what you want.

One example: Several years ago when I worked for a large company, I worked on a project where I was asked to prepare a PPT slide that was to be presented to our CMO and CEO for a major internal review.  I was not given much notice, and it was described as urgent, so I dedicated an entire day to presenting the information about our project in a clear, concise, and compelling way (with nice pictures, and of course on only one PPT slide). I moved other meetings to make this happen.  After 2-3 revisions with my team, at about 4:30 in the afternoon, I texted my friend Ryan Oliver, who worked directly with the CMO to ask a question about the task. He simply replied. “I am working on the slides, can you just send me a quick bullet about that project - it’s not a big part of the presentation.”  So, I spent an entire day on a page for an internal meeting that was not even used. Productivity wasted. Morale spent.

This sort of thing happens in corporate America every day.

Leaders who don’t listen will eventually be surrounded by people who have nothing to say.
— Andy Stanley

But don’t think that bureaucracy happens in large companies only.  Many small companies have all decisions go through the management team because they “know better” or implicitly don’t trust their teams.  In a recent project for a much smaller client, the sales leader, frustrated at his management team’s inability to let the team make even the tiniest decision, referenced this quote from Andy Stanley.  

In rapidly changing markets full of uncertainty, which most of us are a part of, we have learned that organizations that can speed up and clarify decision making [Want an amazing book about decision making? Principles, by Ray Dalio.] by answering some basic questions: Whose decision is this? How do they get the right information?  Who do they need to consult? These companies will win in the long run.

A - Attitude

To me, A is not only the first letter, but Attitude is one of the most important values to express. As I wrote in the &Marketing culture blog, my all time favorite quote is about Attitude (from Charles Swindoll).

In my 2 decade professional career, I have found that you can separate people based on how they see the world. An individual’s success, and therefore a startup’s success, is based largely on attitude. Managing the ups and downs of day to day life can be difficult. So, success depends largely on the optimism of the team doing the work. And it’s tangible. Prospects and clients can feel it. Teammates can feel it. It’s a vetting criteria for those we hire, those with whom I choose to spend my personal time, and everyone in between.

The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life. Attitude, to me, is more important than facts. It is more important than the past, than education, than money, than circumstances, than failure, than successes, than what other people think or say or do. It is more important than appearance, giftedness or skill. It will make or break a company... a church... a home. The remarkable thing is we have a choice everyday regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day. We cannot change our past... we cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude. I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it. And so it is with you... we are in charge of our Attitudes.
— Charles Swindoll

About &Marketing: In today’s fast paced world, many small and medium-sized businesses are struggling to modernize their marketing approaches because either they don’t have the expertise or the bandwidth to do it themselves. &Marketing provides seasoned marketing professionals and a nimble execution team to help our clients achieve their goals.

Our unique “smart and scrappy” approach allows us to launch or augment our client’s existing teams in an affordable, flexible, and transparent way (use what you need, when you need it): marketing strategy, branding, messaging, creative, web development, social media, email marketing, influencer marketing, SEO & Google Ads, digital advertising, analytics and reporting, copywriting and copy editing, and traditional advertising.

About The Author: As the Founder and Managing Director of &Marketing (, Rajat “Raj” Kapur strives to provide SMBs (small & medium sized businesses) unparalleled marketing strategy and execution services. Raj brings nearly 2 decades of ‘tried and true’ professional experience in marketing, sales, & strategy development spanning Fortune 50, mid-sized, & startups to meet the dynamic needs of smaller companies. Raj lives in the Philadelphia area with his wife, Melissa, their three sons, & two dogs!