Do you have what it takes to think like the CEO of a hyper-growth business?

If you’re a marketing director, running your department as though it were a hyper-growth business requires a new set of personal skills. You can’t rely on the slower, older skills that went with chameleon marketing. You need the rapid-fire, agile skill set of a cuttlefish. Here are the 5 personal qualities that are essential to every cuttlefish marketer:

  1. Flexibility. You can’t run an agile marketing department if you personally aren’t adaptable and flexible enough to change directions quickly. You have to quickly adjust—emotionally and intellectually—to new situations as they arise. You’ll need to quickly let go of plans that don’t work and be willing to try something new.
  2. Humility. There’s no room for a big ego in today’s marketing director. If you’re thinking like the CEO of a hyper-growth business, then you care more about what works than you do about looking good. You’re comfortable letting the marketplace drive your decision-making—and you let go of your ego’s need to be right.
  3. Objectivity. You can’t allow yourself to fall in love with certain ideas or strategies. Instead, you have to be data-driven, depending on continuous feedback that lets you know what’s actually working and what isn’t.
  4. Energy. Having the rapid-response agility of a Cuttlefish Marketer can get tiring. You have to be continually thinking and rethinking, constantly tinkering, continuously fine-tuning—and that takes emotional, intellectual, and physical energy. You can never put things on autopilot. Every day is a new battle. The good thing about that is that your job is never boring. The instant feedback as to what works and what doesn’t keeps your work exciting.
  5. Paranoia. We don’t usually think of paranoia as a good trait, but when it comes to hyper-growth businesses, only the paranoid will survive. You have to always be aware that your competitors are out there trying to pull ahead of you. As a marketing director, a little paranoia will keep you energized and focused on improving every day.
  6. Courage and commitment. I’ve put those two traits together because I think they’re two sides of the same coin. Recently, a friend of mine, Cameron Herold, a business coach and author who has built three $100-million businesses, said to me, “You know, Scott, a lot of times when you come into a curve, most people’s immediate reaction is to slow down. But when you talk to racecar drivers, they’ll tell you that the curve is the time when they speed up because they’ve got to power through it. Navigating a small company around the curve into hyper-growth is a lot like that. You can’t get scared and slow down. You have to put your foot on the gas and go even faster.” Putting your foot on the gas—as a marketing executive who’s thinking like the CEO of a hyper-growth business—takes a combination of courage and commitment. It means being willing to give it everything you’ve got, even when—ESPECIALLY WHENthe going gets challenging.

So what do you think? Do you have what it takes to be a Cuttlefish Marketer?