I’ve been hearing a lot about “growth mindset” from my kid’s school, and the expectation that through hard work and the right guidance, they can tackle just about anything. It’s not a new idea in the education space, but its extension into business and professional development is well timed, given the emergence of new channels, AI and audiences who don’t behave like those who came before them.
The growth mindset is the one that says “Sure—let’s figure this thing out.” “Let’s take a look from a different angle.” “Let’s try.”
Just what is a growth mindset?
It may be just as easy to define a growth mindset by what it isn’t. Compare it to a fixed mindset—the idea that what’s worked in the past will always work, there’s no need to adapt and “back in my day” is a great way to attack a problem.
About 1,000 years ago, we were tasked with writing the first-ever Coca-Cola website. I didn’t even know what a website was, as the internet was brand-spanking-new (who owns it? who runs it? what is it?) But whatever. We were game to figure it out. Some of the biggest hurdles we encountered along the way were senior folk who were intent on molding it into something they already knew. One suggested the home page should be a print ad. Another wanted it to be a TV spot (albeit a very slow-loading one; at 14.4Kbps, we were getting 1/5000th of the download speeds you expect today).
The growth mindset doesn’t try to stretch an old solution to fit a new problem. It’s the one that says “Sure—let’s figure this thing out.” “Let’s take a look from a different angle.” “Let’s try.” The growth mindset welcomes feedback, asks for different perspectives and listens. The growth mindset finds the fun in stepping outside the comfort zone.
Where we need a growth mindset right now.
Channels: Once upon a time, it was print, TV and radio. Easy. But channels have exploded, with younger audiences picking up and discarding apps and social media platforms as soon as their parents catch on to them. As marketers, we can’t just stop at Facebook and Instagram, and eschew Discord and TikTok and whatever comes next if that’s where our audiences are.
Technology: You can try to ignore new tech, but the only way to win is to play. We’ve heard about business owners who are still holding out against CRM systems, because they grew up on handshakes. And, of course, there’s a lot of fear around Chat GPT taking people’s jobs. But these won’t be the last disruptive ideas to come down the pike, and putting your head in the sand isn’t the answer. You’ve got to learn, grow and make it work for you.
Audiences: Consumers are changing in important ways, and not just the younger cohorts (although they look nothing like their parents). The shift from owning to using. The need to align with customers’ values. The demand for personalized, integrated experiences. If you think you know people because you used to know people, it’s time to acquaint yourself, and then do it again tomorrow.
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