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Clear philosophies help marketers & agency execs succeed

Clear philosophies help marketers & agency execs succeed

Clear Philosophies

A clear set of beliefs is paramount to leaders, their people, and organization.

Earlier in my career when I was in Brand Management at Procter & Gamble, the company’s philosophies were crystal clear. People development was the starting point to long term success. The consumer was our North Star. Products that met consumer needs were essential. Advertising needed to connect with target audiences and make an impact. And brand was made up of all these elements and more. Brand market share growth was the measure of success. Within a few years of joining, these philosophies were core to P&G marketers and how they operated.

What do you believe and how can you ensure that your peers, broader organization and partners understand you and your beliefs?

Your beliefs and philosophies need to be yours – genuine, authentic and consistent. Strong leaders develop a clearly articulated set of beliefs over time that guide their own behaviors and in so doing, provide their organizations with a set of shared expectations. Here are a handful of examples of philosophies for senior marketers and agency execs to consider as you develop their own belief system.

Customer Centricity

Every organization has customers, and without customers there is no organization. But what does it mean to be customer centric?

When I was a young brand marketer at Procter & Gamble, word spread around the company that CEO John Smale would listen to tapes of consumer calls every day in his car on his drive home in the evening. The. CEO. Listening to consumer calls.

That was astounding!

Soon after, many Brand Managers were mimicking Mr. Smale’s behaviors. We found out that we could request specially curated collections of the calls regarding our specific brand or brands.

In a more recent example, every week on social media I see a photo of Ulta Beauty CEO Dave Kimbell in one of Ulta Beauty’s stores. The message is clear! The stores, the people, and the customers matter to Dave and to Ulta Beauty.

What is your belief system about your customers? How do you bring that philosophy to life for all to see?


Sargento’s Chip Schuman says “Our philosophy at Sargento is to hire good people and treat them like family.” Yahoo’s Jen Whelan believes “humanity needs to be top of mind and people need to be our first priority. Customers are important, but without rockstar employees you won’t have any customers.”

The belief system at P&G about people development was so clear it seemed to be in the DNA of key execs. Development of your team was an important contributor to your own prospects of success. And the “what” – what was important to people development – was clearly defined. We discussed the guidelines here in our article about the “What Counts” factors.

Another example of commitment to your organization’s people is how you support diversity, such as LGBTQ+ inclusion at work. As our friend Alan Brown says, inclusion begins with having someone who has your back – who will listen, guide, mentor and advise. Read about the Project 47 Pledge here (and sign it here!).

Show your people how important they are! Develop and clearly live your own belief system.


What does it mean to be a leader? What behaviors should you role model and suggest to our people? The P&G ten commandments of leadership captured the essence of great leadership – see the story here. Principles like “set priorities”, “be willing to become personally involved in tough problems” and “have fun at what you’re doing” speak volumes!

Are you a proponent of service leadership? Cheryl Bachelder knows a thing or two about leadership. She started her career at P&G, served as CEO of Popeyes® Louisiana Kitchen and serves as a director on the boards of US Foods Holding Corp. (USFD), and Chick-Fil-A, Inc. She says “A simple way to explain servant leadership is simply to “think of others as more significant than yourself.” You can see her interview here.

What are your beliefs about leadership?

Looking Ahead

This article just skims the surface of one of the most important leadership journeys you’ll ever take: developing your own philosophies. Your actions matter! What you do as leaders is noticed. And copied.

Steve Boehler, founder, and partner at Mercer Island Group has led consulting teams on behalf of clients as diverse as Zillow Group, Microsoft, UScellular, Nintendo, Ulta Beauty, Stop & Shop, Qualcomm, Brooks Running, and numerous others. He founded MIG after serving as a division president in a Fortune 100 when he was only 32. Earlier in his career, Steve Boehler cut his teeth with a decade in Brand Management at Procter & Gamble, leading brands like Tide, Pringles, and Jif.