Interview twenty-seven award-winning CMOs like Drew did in Q4 and you'd discover a number of commonalities, even though their businesses and responsibilities are often wildly different. Collectively curious, ambitious and passionate, they also strive for improvement, perhaps best exemplified by GE's Beth Comstock, who provided the inspiration for the following 5 resolutions.
Ignore the "I" in Team

The pressure on CMOs to generate game-changing ideas is well documented and is often the reason that many swap out agencies or, more dangerously, rely too heavily on their personal creativity. Comstock offers many lessons here, acknowledging that her own ideas "actually weren't that good" and more importantly, that "ideating is better when it's a team sport."

Seek the "Out" Part of Out-of-the-Box

Comstock spends roughly a quarter of her time on the road accessing what GE calls "the global brain." "I think part of my job and just who I am, is to immerse myself externally outside of GE for ideas and look for themes and trends," she adds. And even though GE has a remarkable 90-year relationship with their ad agency BBDO, they also work with a number of smaller firms who help GE break fresh ground, especially in the digital and social sphere.

Embrace the "No" in Innovate

Even with a great idea, intrepid CMOs must be prepared for a few “no’s” before earning CEO buy-in. Comstock explains how, for six years, she’s “had this passion for digital health and what it could mean to GE [but has] had a hard time articulating it.” Proud of her perseverance, Comstock admits that, “it’s only really been this year that we’ve been able to bring the right forces together as a great team and venture into it.”

Depart from the Marketing Department

There's a reason most marketing campaigns feel shallow: they are! Truly innovative marketing is the synthesis of an entire company's activities, not just one department's. Comstock offers Ecomagination (having generated $180 billion in business to-date) as a prime example and "one that I still think stands the test of time." "Our customers wanted more energy efficient technology, and we recognized the need for partnerships that supported that mission," she adds.

Have a Social Life

With so many responsibilities, it can be tempting for CMOs to delegate just about everything. Recognizing that "there have been many, many times where [our approach] hasn't worked so well," Comstock is always in learning mode, which leads her to scour Twitter and LinkedIn, among other information sources. Speaking about Twitter, Comstock notes, "I love it as my daily newsfeed, and I love it as way to connect with people and ideas."

You can find Drew’s complete interview with Comstock here and here as well as a more detailed article on As always, if you find yourself in need of some Renegade thinking for your business, give us a shout.