Let’s recognize that age has little to do with ability. You’re never too young or too old if you've got talent. In the marketing world, Advertising Age and Direct Marketing News have their 40 under 40 lists. Forbes has their 30 under 30. This blog post counterbalances with 50 who are over 50 because to my knowledge a list of this nature has never been published.
Now, before I present my list let me provide some background details and key learning’s. Yes, in case you are wondering, I am over 50, and this group was mainly pulled together through my personal Twitter followers. I’m currently ranked as the 3rd most followed Chief Marketing Officer on Twitter by Social Media Marketing Magazine. Since I have nearly 60 thousand followers I was confident there would be at least 50 profiles representing marketing leaders over 50 years of age that are street smart, innovative and still doing remarkable work. I just needed to identify them, and hope they would admit to being over 50! I also wanted to ask them two questions:
1. How and where do you find innovative ideas?
2. What’s the best way to keep your eye on the future?
It has been an interesting and fun process to assemble this list because I've learned some things about my Twitter connections that I didn’t know, and I’ll be a better marketer for it. I’ve also gained a greater appreciation for my network in the 40-50 age range who reached out to help me with profile suggestions. They are not yet old enough to make my list and they are too old for the others, but they were still ready to help. Isn't it annoying when your demographic is ignored? We’ll have to fix that in the future!
This project has taken longer than I expected. In fact, you’ll find there are currently only 32 names on this list. What I learned is that this group is very busy as many of them run their own companies. That means their focus is on growing their business and not on wasteful distractions like lists! I also confirmed that some were not eager to anticipate follow-up tweets and contact from the AARP! OK, what I really mean is that they didn't want to be branded as old. During my correspondences it was not uncommon for a candidate to say “I love the idea behind your list, but hesitate to participate because I don’t want to be thought of as old.” Age is a funny thing. We think about it differently at various points in time as it relates to our career. Wouldn’t it be great if we truly recognized that you’re never too young or too old if you've got talent? In the meantime, here are the first 32 (in no particular order) on my list of senior marketing connections on Twitter who still have talent:
Twitter Followers: 12,893
Title: President and Founder
Company: JILL KONRATH
1. I’m an idea junkie. I love learning about fresh strategies both inside & outside my profession and industry. The best ideas come from the mash-ups.
2. Look to the younger people! Their perspectives and approaches help me see things differently. And, when combined with your hard-earned wisdom, it virtually assures that you stay a game-changer.
Twitter Followers: 227
Title: President and Founder
1. I've become a student of understanding how the idea in the corner will impact the trends in the big booth. I look toward people and companies trying to leverage converging rails of technology. I've applied what I see to our business model and software development.
2. I listen to and try to understand the challenges businesses are confronted with and why. I find that by tacking the technologies corporations are investing in and understanding why they are successful or perhaps more importantly, not as successful as hoped, gives me a window into the talent and services which will be in demand.
Twitter Followers: 2,206
Title: President and Founder
Company: Schneider Associates
1. Go to museums, lectures at Harvard Business School and travel the US and the world—preferably on a motorcycle.
2. Don’t sit in your office, get out and talk to people of all different stripes, stay up on the news (TV, newspapers, online, Twitter), take a university class and hire lots of interns.
Twitter Followers: 2,858
Company: Insight Cubed
1. I watch consumers and pay close attention to their buying habits and then match those needs/wants/desires to our client's products or services; creating visuals and text that matches the consumer.
2. Read...nearly everything. We also use Twitter to scan various key-words, Facebook to catch a sense, YouTube to see what's hot and follow other leaders in the industries we touch.
Twitter Followers: 993
Company: Inbox Group - Indiemark
1. I listen! To most everyone I can in my industry (Email Marketing) and read a lot. I read blog posts, whitepapers, listen on twitter and books. I also talk a lot to those much younger that me that might have a better pulse on “what’s new” and what the cool kids are doing.
2. Again I listen! There always seems to be new companies coming up with new tools or integration that give benefit to the email marketing industry. I try to be open about new options to be more effective with data, testing, and creative. Again I keep the younger crowd close. It seems as we get older we get a little set in our ways, we become less open to outside influence, I try to be open as possible to hearing about and understanding how people connect with businesses. Whether it be with email, social, mobile, etc. I’m open to learning from others.
Twitter Followers: 1,141
Title: Community Director
Company: GetResponse Email Marketing
1. Everyone has their own social media poison I think. Some folks are naturals for Facebook, others are more visual and prefer Pinterest and some like me, are Twitter oriented. Twitter reminds me of my old days with CB Radio, but it has the added advantage of allowing for better filtering and curating of content. As well, it's a great "now" surveillance medium just like CB was. It begs the question: What are you thinking or doing right now?
2. Boomers have an advantage when it comes to "seeing the future" because (to paraphrase Tom Chapin) we can see where we are and we know where we've been. Having perspective gives you foresight. If you are over 50 and you can put digital into an analog frame of reference, you are ahead of the game. If you realize that people make the digital world and not the other way around then you are miles ahead. We aren't so much exploring new territory as we are exploring old territory (ourselves) in new ways. So, knowing where we've been gives one an advantage in being able to see where we are going. Because social is not about the technology, but about how we use it and human nature doesn't change as fast as technology does.
Twitter Followers: 221
Company: SJI, Inc
1. In this business of developing ideas and campaigns, finding places where my mind is open to create and observe is important. Driving is one of them. The other is at retail - among products and purchasers (malls, grocery, etc.). And, of course, being aware of what's trending on relevant social platforms.
2. I speak regularly at universities, so being around a younger generation is key. College students and 20-somethings have their own ideas about purchasing and are just coming into their own as influencers. To me, these are the thought leaders of the future, so it's worth keeping an eye on who / what they perceive as the trends, brands and innovators of tomorrow.
Twitter Followers: 2,812
Title: Managing Director
Company: Quadriga Consulting Ltd
1. I firmly believe the best way to get ideas is to go out and chat with people. I recommend just 'getting out' to my client and organise 'meet and drinks' chats with customers, partners and start-ups.
2. It's impossible to predict the future. Trying is pointless. But meet people who might just create the products of the future is a great way to get a sense of what's possible.
Twitter Followers: 4,985
Company: Find New Customers
1. That's a slam dunk, Alan. I created and host the popular show Marketing Made Simple TV, so I find the most interesting guests. Case in point, when I was offered a chance to present a TED-like talk to a big meeting, I used the ideas I learned from the lady on my show Robbin Phillips, Courageous CEO of Brains on Fire.
2. Network like crazy, Meet cool people, like you, Alan. Read a lot. Write blog posts. Go to meetings. Social media opens a huge world of contacts.
Emily R. Coleman, Ph.D.
Twitter Followers: 771
Company: CAM, Inc.
1. I find ideas all over the place. I think the key is to keep your mind open and not be overawed by the common wisdom. Basically, it is not that hard to innovate if you don't feel a need to follow the crowd. The purpose of marketing, after all, is to get your company/product/service/ideas noticed. You can't do that if you stand firmly in the middle of what everyone else is doing. And the purpose of innovating is to increase revenues, let's not forget that.
2. Trends are the consequence of millions of people making personal decisions for their own reasons. The key to understanding the future is to understand why people are acting the way they do. Marketers can influence fads, but they have to follow and anticipate - and understand the underlying reasons for - trends.
Twitter Followers: 9,117
Title: Director of B2B Marketing
Company: Straight North
1. I don't consider myself especially creative, but I'm good at recognizing great ideas in conversation or through reading (blog posts mainly, these days), and then adapting them to my business. It takes a fair amount of work though. In order to appreciate great ideas, you have to sift through all of the many bad ones as well.
2. Same answer as number 1: talk to people and read. The struggle I have is getting out of my comfort zone and talking to people who are younger, older, and who have radically different outlooks from mine. This is where blogs have been so helpful. Engaging with bloggers has connected me with very smart people I never would have interacted with otherwise.
Twitter Followers: 611
Title: Northeast Managing Partner, CMO
Company: Chief Outsiders
1. I get up early every day-up by 5-and for 2 hours or so, I read. I have the best blogs in my google reader and get so many innovative ideas there. From Strategy-Business, to SEOMoz to Kissmetrics, Fast Company to the HBR, reading gives me the most insight into new and different ideas. (If you need links, I have them)
2. Be open to it. I hate it when people say that as you get older, you get more set in your ways. I think you can, but do not have to. I like to explore new ideas, listen to people who are completely opposed to how I think and imagine, "What life experiences, what teaching, what made them have those opinions? I believe in "Assume the best intentions of other, Seek first to understand their point of view " and that keeps my eye on the future.
Twitter Followers: 394
Title: Director of Marketing
Company: OnProcess Technology
1. Depends on what kinds of ideas you’re referring to - marketing technology/tools/processes – blogs, twitter, inbound emails from vendors, etc. For creative concepts – everywhere!
2. Keep both eyes open – don’t depend on any one source, medium, channel, process, concept – and always be willing to challenge your own beliefs, preconceptions, SOPs.
Twitter Followers: 1,431
Title: Chief Marketing Officer
Company: Courion Corporation
1. Innovation is a state of mind, not a place or a process. I find innovative ideas all around me by observing life and imagining the art of the possible.
2. It sounds trite, but the best way to keep your eye on the future is by imagining it, looking through the windshield and not the rear view mirror.
Twitter Followers: 1,707
Company: Adrea Rubin Media, Inc.
1. I consume a variety of content (industry events/trade shows, industry newsletters, social media feeds, etc.) to learn about current issues/challenges facing my current and prospective clients. I tie that information back to my nearly 40 years of experience in insurance/financial services marketing and, from that, generate ideas.
2. By embracing technology and its influence on industry trends. Also, by staying current with legislative changes that impact how insurance/financial services marketers acquire new customers, especially in the boomers/age 50+ space.
Twitter Followers: 534
Title: Managing Director
Company: Inspired Health Strategies, LLC
Website - www.patientadherence.com
1. I get my innovative ideas through much research, participating in conversations and discussions on LinkedIn and Twitter as well as face-to-face meetings and events. I match this input with my personal experience- basically understanding the problems I have identified and developing solutions based on what I have learned.
2. The best way to keep my eye on the future is the same use of social media and networking but also watching industries other than mine to see what is working there and anticipating the use of process and systems in my industry. So, a lot of benchmarking through every way possible!
Twitter Followers: 168
Title: Group Marketing Officer
Company: Pitney Bowes Software
1. Innovation is supported by diversity and collaboration. A few tips:
• Give vendors 5 minutes of your time. It is likely that their company has a number of innovative ideas which underpin their value proposition.
• Encourage your teams to focus on outcomes rather than activities and therefore provide them with an environment where they can think out of the box.
• Collaborate across departments and geographies so many more diverse viewpoints are captured and considered.
2. Spend more time with clients on better understanding what is keeping them up at night.
Form strong relationships with a small number of the peer companies who are conveying leading-edge thinking and best practice. Network and network, you can never listen enough or have too many viewpoints or ideas.
Twitter Followers: 3,800
Title: Marketing consultant & coach, editor and copywriter.
Company: Kay Ross Marketing
1. I read voraciously about a wide variety of topics: marketing, philosophy, psychology, neuroscience, design, social media, theatre, healing, language, travel, fiction, trends in business and society... And I perform comedy improvisation, which builds my skill at spotting unlikely connections between unexpected things.
2. There is no future; there's only NOW. Keep your eye on what's happening now.
Twitter Followers: 600
Title: Go to Market Thought Leader
Company: KJR Associates, Inc
1. Insight from and through my clients and their challenges.
2. Always think how you can make your customer’s lives and businesses better.
Twitter Followers: 333
Title: Senior Vice President, Strategy and Services
1. Create mindspace (for me, it's working out and/or listening to music) so that my unconscious mind is free to solve problems while my conscious mind recharges and regenerates the unconscious with stimulating life.
a. Voraciously snack on great "content" i.e., read a lot
b. Ask tough questions of really smart people; where:
i. My social community (mostly smart, snarky people)
ii. Diverse connections -- young, old, and mostly not in my industry
2. Make sense of the past in the proper context of what I'm trying to do in the future.
a. Ask great questions / interrogate the world
b. Create a list of signposts and signals that might be indicators of true future vs. flashes -- being active in this way typically enables me to filter signal from noise.
Twitter Followers: 451
Title: Creative Director, copywriter
Company: Ari Sherman, advertising, formerly of Frankfurt Gips Balkind
1. My favorite ideas come from letting the problem solving process play out. Quickly eliminating the obvious solutions allows real fresh thinking to percolate into ideas. The ones that excite me are the ones I run with.
2. I think an eye to the future means realizing it's already here. So engage voraciously with the now. Look at what's out there that's cutting edge, figure out what makes it distinct, and always remember you're as much a part of it as anyone.
Twitter Followers: 69
Company: Management, Marketing, Media
1. Observation, Listening, Brainstorming: Taking a careful, thoughtful and active interest in the question that needs to be answered. Learning: After 25 years in broadcast communications management, I decided to return to university and complete the degree uncompleted years earlier. I found it invigorating being surrounded by many bright young people who were eager to tell me that this or that is not how things are looked at today. I have tried to glean the best of the best from the experience. Read and watch movies for knowledge, stimulation and inspiration.
2. Nurture Optimism: Always believe there are hope and a future that can be better than today or yesterday. Embrace Discontentment: Revel in successes briefly and move on knowing today’s innovation can be improved. Foster an environment of forgiveness: Innovation can only occur where stumbling, falling and periodic misdirection is accepted as part and parcel to trying new things. Keep trying. Refer back to the 1st point.
Twitter Followers: 1,812
Company: Red Pill Email
1. I try to pay attention to the world around me. My oldest son at 27 is an Internet native, and a lot of ideas come from he and his friends. My youngest son at 2 provides inspiration as he adapts his world to his special needs. One of my best resources is my wife, the consummate (an over-used but appropriate word) shopper; what she buys, what she doesn't, and why is always an enigma. Oh, and reality TV....
2. By understanding the past and the present; learning from our own and other's mistakes; and not being distracted by the little things that are easily distracting. Watching and listening to people of all ages while keeping watch for innovative ideas that improve people's quality of life at different stages throughout life.
Twitter Followers: 33
Title: Public Information Officer/Communications Manager
Company: Gwinnett, Newton & Rockdale County Health Departments
1. I find innovative ideas by doing things that help stop and empty my mind. If my mind is busy and filled, there is no time or room for innovation. Walking outside, meditating, playing the piano, reading - all of those give me pause and help my mind make room for innovation. Where is in nature, music and solitude.
2. The best way to keep your eye on the future is to engage it. Talk to the future - the younger generation. "Kids" in their 20s are bright. They are tech savvy. They totally embrace new. Always wonder . . . always learn . . . and always - as a three-year old would do - ask WHY?
Andrew (Andy) Rudin
Twitter Followers: 1,774
Title: Managing Principal
Company: Outside Technologies, Inc.
1. I find innovation by questioning the status quo. When I hear "that's the way it's always been done," or "here are the rules for X, Y, or Z," I get hot and bothered.
2. Be constantly curious. Focus on lifelong learning. Read. Seek the company of people who are smart, worldly and talented. Take online courses. Go back to school. Write about something you want to know more about. Become fluent in another language. Travel.
Twitter Followers: 6,196
Title: CEO and Founder
Company: Renegade, LLC
1. How and where do you find innovative ideas? For me, it starts with a voracious curiosity about random facts, relevant trends and personal passions pursued via all available media. From there, it's a matter of tricking the brain to connect seemingly disparate dots into something fresh.
2. What's the best way to keep your eye on the future? Talking with forward-thinking people and then forcing you to turn these conversations into cogent if not prescient articles.
Twitter Followers: 2,871
Company: JLA (formerly HP, Lyra Research)
1. I have always been a big consumer of news - national, world, local, sports, entertainment, business, technology - and now find Social Media, especially Twitter, to be a great source of inspiration (to where it leads me, actually). Recently, I heard Ira Glass talk, and directed advice to aspiring journalists and writers, but it holds for all of us, at any stage. He said, you need to spend half your time poking around ("turning over rocks" is my favorite way to put it) so the other half of the time you have something to write about!
2. I have always been an early adopter (at least in many categories) - nothing like hands-on experiences to ascertain something's impact on the future.
Twitter Followers: 1,392
Company: Only Influencers, LLC
1. Innovative ideas come to me most often when I'm doing something not related to business. Soaking in a tub, driving, walking. It could be anywhere, anytime but it is important to be open to ideas when they come. Another great source of ideas is listening to your customers. I had one company that I started in 2000 and one of my clients mentioned that they were looking for a technology that didn't exist. I listened to what they were looking for, and created a new product to fit their needs. As a result, I launched a new company based on that one conversation in 2003: eDataSource.com.
2. Every morning I read a series of newspapers, blogs, and journals to keep up on what is going on but my best source of information is my network of peers that I communicate with on a daily basis. Being part of a community that is focused on my industry has been the greatest, easiest, and most dynamic method of staying in touch with issues that affect the digital marketing industry.
Twitter Followers: 43
Title: Acting President NJ Chapter The CMO Club
Company: The CMO Club
1. I have found that innovation occurs thought-out the organization and not just in a top down hierarchical manner thus as CMO my role was to spin a web across employees, partners and customers both in and out of my industry to find examples of innovation that could be adopted in whole or radically modified to meet a different set of challenges. The key is to keep an open mind and align with those not afraid of change especially those out of your normal ecosystems. In my 'blue ocean' strategic workshops I encouraged my team at Avaya who were tasked with supporting third party consultants to hold briefings where the agenda was NOT on solving a current problems (those were addressed separately) buy to look at where technology has gone and to imagine the art of the possible. By proactively approaching clients with solutions to problem they did not know they had we thus established a more strategic relationship with them. I also believe Innovation can be both incremental and radical. It’s not always about inventing the new but reinventing the old.
2. What's the best way to keep your eye on the future? In my case it was about staying on top of business challenges that our clients and markets struggled with, learning from the past but being open to chart a new course. It may involve redefining a market or a new set of non-traditional competitors. A great example of what is happening today is the product development that is originating in emerging markets and being brought back to address the long tail of our mature markets versus the traditional approach to innovating centrally and pushing to out across the globe irrespective of local market needs. New advances in collaboration technologies has fundamentally changed the way groups innovate around the world.
Twitter followers: 10,199
Title: CEO and B2B Marketing Strategist
Company: Marketing Interactions, Inc.
1. In my opinion, 1 & 2 go together: Brainstorming calls with peers, an annual retreat I attend, looking outside my network, reading/absorbing a variety of different perspectives to look for unique crossovers and pushing my work farther with each new project. Feedback from speaking and publishing that makes me think differently about my work.
Twitter Followers: 1,010
Title: President and Founder
Company: VisionEdge Marketing, Inc.
1. Ideas are everywhere! I spend a great deal of time on the road and often use this time to meet with and list to people both inside and outside the discipline, people in the trenches and on the front line and people who have a view at 50,000 feet. I'm especially interested in learning about their current challenges, where they see the bright spots, what trends they are noticing, what they are reading and why, and what is something they recently learned or wish they knew. A good glass of wine during these conversations can be very helpful. I try to make it a point to monitor major publications both industry and academic to look for trends and see what people are talking and thinking about. If it resonates with me perhaps it will with others. And I find mental energy and ideas come more easily when my mind is free to roam, like during a long run, or lap after lap in the pool, or working in the garden.
And the author …
Twitter Followers: 56,400
Title: Chief Marketing Officer
Company: Alan See CMO Temps, LLC
1. How and where do you find innovative ideas? Answer: I can express my personal story on this topic in six words: “Old dog, new tricks, no problem!” I love the idea of lifelong learning, so I read and network to tease out new ideas wherever I can.
2. What's the best way to keep your eye on the future? Answer: To remember this formula; Legacy Mindset = Creativity Killer.
Remember, there are only two kinds of managers; the growing and the obsolete. Be a lifelong learner.