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Mark Twain may not have been an exemplary businessman, but he had an uncanny eye for what drives people and what separates the ordinary from the extraordinary. Today’s marketing leaders are extraordinary people, often melding traits like intelligence and toughness with “softer” skills like self-awareness and empathy. The most dynamic, influential leaders wed an analytic intelligence with emotional intelligence.

Some of those authorities are going to speak at VentureBeat’s upcoming Marketing.FWD Summit, and though none of them might tell a tale quite like Mark Twain, all of them can hold their own on the topic of leadership and how leadership drives performance. We’ll use a couple of Twain’s quotes to illustrate some of the leadership topics that will be on the table.

Here’s our leadership lineup:

  • John Costello, President, Marketing Innovation Dunkin Brands, Chairman of the Board, Mobile Marketing Association
  • Phil Bienert, CMO, GoDaddy
  • Michael Burgess, President, Hudson’s Bay Digital
  • Barbara Messing, CMO, TripAdvisor
  • Kieran Hannon, CMO, Belkin International

When in doubt, tell the truth.

Communication—honest, two-way communication—exemplifies modern marketing leadership. Employees reflect the behavior and work ethics of their leaders, who must have the strength and trust to clearly communicate their vision. Strong leaders seek employee perspective, they delegate, they listen, and they give praise when it’s due. (And pose motivational challenges when praise isn’t what’s due.)

The secret of getting ahead is getting started. The secret of getting started is breaking your complex, overwhelming tasks into small manageable tasks, and then starting on the first one.

Leaders are confident problem-solvers. They use productivity systems that are results-oriented, building complementary processes that focus on larger goals. Flexible efficiency is as natural to them as eating lunch (though sometimes an inspiration might make them forget lunch).

Noise proves nothing. Often a hen who has merely laid an egg cackles as if she had laid an asteroid.

Assured marketing leaders don’t rest on their laurels. Hitting internal numbers is never cause to sit back and rest, but a reason to engage further. In times of collaborative leadership, everyone shares the praise, and everyone shares the sense that performance can be improved and that everyone can get more engaged. And marketing principals today don’t merely engage—with energy, enthusiasm and commitment—with their employees, but with their customers as well.

Anyone who stops learning is old, whether twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young.

No matter their age, marketing leaders are young thinkers. They embrace new technology that delivers on its promise and explore innovative ways to push that technology further. They are sincerely interested in idea exchange, and know that they develop as their employees develop. They have the situational fluidity to change approaches if one path is blocked. As Twain would say, “Supposing is good, but finding out is better.”

A banker is a fellow who lends you his umbrella when the sun is shining, but wants it back the minute it begins to rain.

Leaders know that business setbacks will occur and that companies can falter. The expression of their vision keeps employees focused on the larger goal. They know how to express what needs doing and show commitment to keep doing it. They fulfill promises, and don’t always choose the easiest routes. They know, as Twain did, that “Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear—not absence of fear.”

We all know that Tom Sawyer was quite a marketer—just look how he tricked those kids into whitewashing that fence. Our marketing leaders will talk their best Twainian tricks at the Summit—come and sit a spell.

Want to join them? Register now for Marketing.FWD Summit to meet and strategize with dynamic, influential marketing leaders.


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