Marketing Doesn’t Matter THAT Much in the Grand Scheme


Like most people, I usually spend lunchtime eating lunch. Yesterday, though, I attended a funeral.

One of our friends lost her seven-year-old daughter last Friday. It was completely unexpected and what had started as any other ordinary day in their lives instead ended in tragedy.

As I sat through the service watching a slide show of images from this wonderful child’s life and seeing her father, mother and sister broken by their loss, I couldn’t help but think about how often I neglect those who mean the most to me in a race to get one more thing accomplished at work.

For example, I’ve eaten dinner during the week with my wife and two girls five or six times in the past three months. Last week, my three-year-old asked me why I don’t eat with her any more.

How many times can our presentations, press releases, emails, strategy POVs, and everything in between wait until tomorrow morning? In my experience, most of the time there is no difference between the majority of whimsically-proposed end-of-the-day deadlines and first-thing-in the morning – except a date on a time stamp.

Managers – What kind of work/life balance are you setting for the people you direct? Do you practice what you preach?

Those Being Managed – It is okay to make your family and friends a priority. Step away from the computer more. Set some boundaries and stick to them most of the time (urgent matters do come up after all).

It’s easy to put those closest to us off for work. They’ll understand, right? We’ll have more time to spend with them in a couple years when things will surely settle down a little.

What if we don’t have a couple years, though?

If something were to happen to one of my own children unexpectedly, I can’t imagine being glad I missed all those dinners with her so I could get a few more emails in the sent folder or a draft plan to my team a few hours earlier. Yesterday I decided I’m going to start making it home in time for dinner more often.

Is there anything you could do differently to put a little more focus on the people who matter most to you?

*Image by Travis Miller.

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32 responses to “Marketing Doesn’t Matter THAT Much in the Grand Scheme

  1. This is a heartbreaking reminder that there is nothing more important than our loved ones, David (and as the father of a 6-year old girl, I say that with the utmost deference and wishes to your friends).

    We’ve been brainwashed into thinking the materialistic matters, when without those that matter to share with, the materialistic is hollow.

    Like you say, do we really need to send that final email? Make that last phone call before calling it a night?

    There will always be jobs for those that want to work. It may not be the jobs that we want, but they will be there.

    Our family time is more fleeting than ever before – we need to make sure we’re spending the best times together in these moments. We can always work when our families are sleeping (which I often do).

    It;s a bittersweet thanks for the reminder, and my heart goes out to your friends.

  2. Thank you for this post – we need to be reminded of what is important.

    Last week I was walking my girls to school when a car slid on ice and mounted the curb, missing my 5 yr old by inches. It was horrific and shocking but ultimately ok – no one was hurt.

    It easy to get caught up in everything that needs to be done. This is a timely reminder. I hope your friends can support each other through what must be a terrible ordeal. They will need all their friends to get through it.

  3. David:

    Well said! Life is far too short to short sell yourself and your family. Go long, enjoy family! As my father used to say “nolo bastardo carborundum.”

  4. Hi David..I can truly empathise with the situation.Last week itself one of our colleague expired…And I was also drowned in the similar thougths..Work race makes us a complete stranger to our beloved ones…We fail to value them when they are alive and talk about good things when they are gone which is of no use…

  5. David — That’s heartbreaking. It sounds like the kind of nightmare every parent dreads.

    And you’re right (or should I say, your daughter is right), the people closest to us are more important than getting another email sent. My advice: Go home, and if you need to work more, log back on after the kids are in bed.

  6. Terribly heart breaking story but a wonderful reminder to take a second to slow down and enjoy what life has to offer.

  7. The death of a child is unimaginable, period. This experience has made you realize in the most profound way possible what’s truly important in your life – your family, and that work can wait. That is what you need to make a conscious effort with going forward.

    It’s so easy to get wrapped up work. We are all guilty of it. From my own experience, I have to tell myself constantly,”OK, stop what you’re doing and go play with your kids, NOW!”

    Your post is a great wake-up call to us all to focus on the important things in life FIRST. Thank you David.

  8. David,

    Your post highlights something I’ve been struggling with lately as I begin embarking a career. How much work is too much? How do I be successful in the workforce, but also have a good life balance? I’m finding that having that balance is very difficult, especially now. I’m doing my best to find that equilibrium between work and family/friends and your post certainly helps me put things in perspective. Thank you for posting this.

  9. A hearty amen to that David. I know the focus of your blog is marketing/pr, but truthfully it should be more like “Jobs Don’t…”. Yes there are jobs that are vital, but balance is equally important. Even if we never suffer the tragedy that the family at our church did, it’s not that much less of a loss to have no relationship with your child when they’re all grown up because you weren’t there.

  10. David, my condolences to you and your friends. It’s a very sad tragedy.

    Thank you for this reminder. Having just lost a family member last week, it was indeed a wake up call that I spend WAY too much time “working.”

    I’m afraid Danny is totally right…we have been brainwashed both as consumers and as business owners/employees. I wonder if the current economic situation will change that.

    I am sure your wife/girls will love seeing you at the dinner table more! 😉

  11. @worldofhiglet – that must have been scary! i’m really glad you guys were okay.

    @mark – agreed on logging back in after everyone is in bed. That definitely helps.

    @tom – it is especially hard right now given the economy. We’re all having to do more with less and it puts added strain to a reasonable balance. But you have to identify ways to step away and still get the work done.

    @scott – how absolutely right you are! I don’t want to sit back and marvel at my professional success some day and realize it was at the cost of personal failure. Great point.

  12. David, my heart goes out to your friends. Thanks for sharing this powerful reminder to focus hardest on what matters most.

  13. @beth – i think the current economic situation is putting more strain on it and making it more difficult to strike a balance. We have to do more with less and everyone is worried about losing their jobs so they keep their heads down and work away. It’s a hard spot…

    Julie is excited about me being home for dinner more often going forward. I’m sure she’ll believe it when she sees it, but she was very encouraging. 🙂

  14. So sad to hear about this. I wish you and your friends’ family endurance through their grief.

    Often businesses mistake time with achievement. I think successful people are successful because they’re spiritually healthy individuals who view their business as an extension of an earnest life.

    Constantly working on your business narrows your focus, and thus your creativity. In the end, not paying attention to your life is neglecting the true promise of your enterprise.

    Thanks for sharing David. Let us know if you need anything.

  15. David,

    Thanks for sharing this story. My heart breaks for your friends… I am Mom to 3 kids, 14, 6 and 4, with another on the way soon. I started working from home several years ago to spend more time with them, but really, at times its worse – because I tended to think “I’m home, if anything happens… they’ll come get me in the office.” I ended up less connected than I was when I worked outside the home and made a conscious effort to connect with the family every day. It’s so hard to balance, and so critically important to make those small steps, like being home for dinner more often. I have done the same… end the work day at 5, have several hours of sacred family time, and then work some more in the evenings if need be. Life is better… and yours will be, too. I find I’m more focused during work hours, because I know I will be leaving the computer.

  16. Outstanding post. My girlfriend needs to constantly remind me to turn off the laptop, put my phone on silent and step away from social media and marketing endeavours for a second. Could I potentially “get ahead” by spending more time on my projects? I suppose so, but in the end family and friends are more important than a business scheme, or earning a few more points on Reddit.

  17. Thank you for the post. It is an important reminder especially as Web 2.0 changes the way we work and live. I’ve spent many weekends typing blog posts or nights emersed in Twitterberry. It is important to turn those things off and focus on communicating with the people right next to you.

  18. I’m sorry to hear about your friends, David. A colleague of mine lost a child recently, as well. Unbelievably heartbreaking.

    Making time for loved ones is a priority for me. I don’t have children, so maybe it’s a bit easier for me. It’s one of the reasons I went in to business for myself 4.5 years ago.

    You brought something similar up before about being online while visiting family and friends. This a painful reminder that you have to enjoy your loved ones as often as you can. They won’t always be there.

  19. Thanks for this endearing post. I agree wholeheartedly! In the deadline oriented world we choose to work in we have to make sure and pay attention to those that matter the most. It IS very easy to think that they will wait, but our kids are growing up FAST and we don’t ever get this time back. I work from a virtual office at home and am like Mandy, try to make sure and connect with my three kids when they get home. The hours that they are gone I am VERY dedicated to my job to ensure those deadlines are met, press releases are drafted, key messages finalized, etc…. Thanks for sharing and helping us keep on track with the most important things in our lives!

  20. David – very sad to hear such a tragedy to such a young soul.

    It’s a sharp reminder to all of us that remain glued to our technology that we sometimes do miss the finer things in life.

    I was reminded of this recently as well with my young cousin and his diagnosis with brain cancer. It brings light to what sometimes seems a hectic, non-stop world we live in. Business matters and sometimes we stay engulfed in our own little bubble – but your loved ones and others who are close to you shouldn’t be forgotten either.

    Thanks for this.

  21. We never know how much time we have with our loved ones. All we can be certain of: it is never enough

  22. this is so true, mr. mullen. as a fellow account person on your team, i know exactly where you are coming from– tethered to a computer, just one more night late and then…but there isn’t always an end in sight for those late nights, and at some point we have to draw a line. consider me motivated and drawing the line TODAY. 🙂

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  24. David – this is beautiful and more relevant than you know.

    I struggle with this constantly … the broken promises, the missed moments, the hundreds of dinners, bedtime stories, good night kisses I have missed – or worse– the times I lose patience with my daughter because I am stressed out and constantly thinking “I should be working, I have so much to do, blah, blah.”

    The problem occurs when we see our jobs as vital to our family’s survival … “if I don’t have my job my family … fill in the blank …. won’t have a home, won’t have the things they need, won’t have health insurance, etc … ”

    So we soothe our guilty conscience and fill that nagging empty place in our hearts by thinking that the best place for us is at work and pray that one day they will understand — or forgive — our perpetual absence from their lives.

    At least that’s what I do.

  25. I really connected with your post David–I was also attending a funeral Thurs. and it provided me with the same perspective it seems like it did for you.

    And, David, so sorry to hear about your friends. As you know, I have two little ones–can’t even imagine life without them. I would be a completely broken man.

    For me, though, this post is as much about work-life balance as anything. Do client needs and demands matter? Absolutely. Do they trump our family lives and time we spend with friends and colleagues outside of work? No way. It’s all about balance. We need our work to fulfill a part of our soul that needs that challenge, that engagement. But, just as importantly, we need that friend and family time to nourish our souls and connect in a completely different way.

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  27. ahh, David, another thought-provoking post. You really should write for the New York Times!

    thank you for using this terrible tragedy to make us think.

    I have admitted to myself that I am a work-aholic, and it is not something to be proud of. How can we do the things that really matter and are most effective, instead of all the hamster in a wheel stuff that comes our way?

    Thanks again, you are such a gifted writer!!

  28. Hey Dave,

    I completely agree. About a little over a week ago I had an epiphany that I too was focusing a bit too much on work. When I wasn’t at work I would be at home glued to my computer. It became too much. I realized I was spending too much time away from my family and friends.

    It’s a shame that it takes a tragedy to show us what is most important in this world.

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  30. David – just came to your post through Danny Brown’s blog and it couldn’t have resonated more with me and how my life has been. Thank you for writing this and reminding me that it’s okay to turn the computer off and spend more time with both those that I love and myself. I’m going to post something about this on my blog as well. 🙂 Thank you for the inspiration and I can’t wait to see what I’ve been missing on your blog!

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  32. Sorry and regards to you and your friend’s families. I couldn’t agree more with your post. Sometimes we find ourselves so focused on our job and our future we forget about the stuff that really matters.

    A balance between work and pleasure is the key to a healthy and successful life.

    Best regards,

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