The Surprising Advantages Of Mixing Mindfulness And Marketing

Co-founder and CEO of ZOOM Marketing, one of Silicon Valley’s premier positioning agencies with hundreds of successful clients.

When I began my career, introducing mindfulness or any kind of contemplative practice in the workplace was seen as completely taboo. Today, it’s becoming almost commonplace.

Illustratively, one of our clients, a fast-growing technology company, convened its top 25 leaders for our brand positioning brainstorm. We met at a century-old Japanese garden set among koi ponds and bamboo gardens. The CEO initiated the session with a meditation where we all breathed together and set our intention to listen and bring our best possible mindset. This set the tone for a productive session with one positive idea sparking another.

My initial exposure to mindfulness occurred when I was a kid, long before the concept gained widespread recognition. Amid the tennis boom in the 1970s, Timothy Gallwey wrote The Inner Game of Tennis: The Classic Guide to the Mental Side of Peak Performance, where he introduced the notion of self 1: your critical self and self 2: your subconscious self. This was the first time I realized there was a voice and dialog inside my head. Being aware of this voice is the basic concept behind mindfulness.

As I’ve seen the benefits of mindfulness in my personal life, I’ve also introduced it to my agency. Our leadership team completed a nine-month program focused on how to integrate mindfulness and business. And our entire company completed a six-week Positive Intelligence course. We continue with weekly meetings to discuss how we can bring mindfulness into our client work and better support each other.

We’re a small business based in the heart of Silicon Valley, so we can try new ideas more easily, but I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the team’s enthusiastic adoption of mindfulness practices and the tangible advancements they’ve brought to our overall success.

Here are some of the surprising advantages.

Mindfulness Boosts Creativity

In his work Stillness Speaks, Eckhart Tolle wrote, “Stillness is where creativity and solutions to problems are found.” While our human tendency is to think harder to solve problems, Tolle highlights the importance of releasing control instead. The practice of mindfulness is one way to achieve stillness, creating creative” aria-label=”an environment for ideas to flow”>an environment for ideas to flow, often unexpectedly, in moments that may surprise us.

Not too long ago, we faced a dilemma while positioning a client’s technology. It felt like every conceivable promise had already been made. Heading out for a run, I set an intention to open myself up to ideas. Inspiration struck: an entire campaign concept set to an MC Hammer song that offered a memorable way to differentiate our client from competitors and highlight their strengths. It laid down the gauntlet. When we tested the idea with the market, it was embraced as catchy and unique. This idea also served as a thought leadership program that the client has since translated into white papers and webinars.

In a creative business, gridlock is the adversary. But what do you do when you hit a wall, and that elusive creative breakthrough seems out of reach? The usual reaction is one of frustration and exasperation.

Mindfulness invites you to notice this frustration, and this awareness can help stop the downward spiral. Allow yourself to pause and acknowledge that you’re stuck, and consider alternatives. Sometimes you can pause and take some deep breaths, other times you can open yourself up to inspiration from new angles, and sometimes you can take a break and get outside. When your mind is clear, ideas can flow.

Mindful Brainstorms Are More Successful

We kick off our brand positioning projects by convening a brainstorming session involving our client’s entire leadership team. Having encountered numerous pitfalls in traditional creative brainstorms, such as sabotaging dynamics, getting bogged down in the weeds or stumbling upon contentious issues, we’ve adopted a fresh approach through mindfulness training. Now, we guide clients through what we call a “mindful brainstorm.”

This method begins with embracing a “yes and” mindset. When someone proposes an idea, the next participant responds with, “What I appreciate about that idea is …” and “What that sparks for me is …” This fosters active listening and encourages participants to build upon each other’s ideas rather than merely waiting to interject or disagree.

Now, it’s not uncommon for our clients to remark at the end of our session that this is the best leadership meeting they’ve had as a team in the company’s history.

Mindfulness Encourages Better Teamwork

Mindfulness fosters enhanced teamwork, a lesson increasingly recognized by today’s top-tier sports teams.

In our business, applying mindfulness has enabled us to forge deeper connections and gain insights into how to effectively motivate one another. We’ve come to understand that within each of us exists both a sage and a saboteur. The sage part of ourselves wants us to explore, innovate, navigate and activate. The saboteur wants to control, avoid, please or play the victim.

See if you can recognize when your sage or saboteur is at play. To diminish the influence of your saboteur and empower your sage, personify them with names. For instance, I’ve named my saboteur Cruella due to her nasty and heartless barbs. Simply identifying and acknowledging these inner voices lessens their impact, and it also encourages open dialogue about your saboteur. My team has discovered that once brought into the light, their saboteurs’ influence wanes.

One of the sage qualities we all possess is the ability to explore and remain curious. Rather than reacting impulsively or assigning blame, try to prioritize understanding. Maximizing a team’s collective potential isn’t about engaging in more intelligent arguments; it’s about cultivating a deeper understanding of one another.

Key Takeaways

Mindfulness is a crucial asset within the toolkit of marketing leaders and agencies. At the heart of marketing lies the capacity to empathize and step into another’s shoes. Mindfulness enhances this skill by helping you extend it to yourself. Being intentionally aware of both internal and external dynamics can pave the way for creative inspiration, enhanced teamwork and elevated performance.

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