In the last post, we discussed two ways to asses yourself to become a more innovative and inventive marketer. The moral of the story was to become comfortable with being uncomfortable, to listen a lot, and keep a competitive edge. In this post, we’re going to dig into how to achieve exactly the two things we set out to identify.

#1: How to Cultivate Mad People Skills

Diplomacy – There was a saying that diplomacy is kicking someone in the shin and then offering to have them lean on you. That’s one way of putting it. But real diplomacy is navigating complex territory without being hated. In that regard, marketing is just as cut-throat as say Capitol Hill. It’s important to be able to shoot down bad ideas from respected individuals while enriching great ideas from minions and other peons. You can read a book, or you can do something even better: watch people who already excel at this and then practice…a lot. If you have absolutely no one to inspire you, there are great shows that show you the art of being slick: Yes Minister, The West Wing, Mad Men, House of Cards.

Know Your Script. This is from my own little life lesson. As a writer, I’m always more comfortable with the written word, but life doesn’t work like that. Life has me meeting people at inopportune times and has them asking me questions I’m unprepared for. My solution to terrible timing is to always be prepared with a script. This means knowing how to best introduce myself in one sentence or five, how to communicate my value and help me stand out, how to say no to requests (which are often made), and how to buy myself time for decision that are demanded on the stop. These four skills will give you mad people skills that have others thinking you’re the epitome of poised and polished. But what you really are is great at identifying the situations you’ll be placed in that might compromise relationships and then learning how to navigate round that.

#2 How to Get Lightening Fast at Ideation

Brush up on Culture. The best way to get great at thinking about new things is to expose yourself to different things. This means talk to a lot of different types of people, immerse yourself in varied environments, try something new, take on a challenge, and expose yourself to art and culture. One of the lesser appreciated forms of culture are trends and memes. These are just as important as visiting a museum. Memes are an immense source of social currency that helps you under stand how people think and communicate. It’s also a well of inspiration for ideation.

Know your Impact. Also from my personal archive of life experiences, the best way to get great at ideation is not to just come up with ideas. Anyone can come up with ideas. I can come up with 20 ideas in 5 minutes. The trick is knowing how to filter ideas for impact and then get great at coming up with impactful ideas.

Being impactful means not just doing something, but doing something with purpose and with a driving end-result. Here’s where a lot of people fail: they’ll be super excited about their out-of-the-box ideas but it’s more for the sake of ideation than for the sake of creating value. Every idea needs to have value because that’s how you can drive impact.