3 Song Lyrics and Why CMOs Should Relate To Them

For the un-indoctrinated as to the ways and means of The CMO Whisperer, I am VERY prone to infusing pop culture into pretty much my entire existence. This article is just the latest, and surely not the last, to incorporate popular culture into my world of marketing, advertising, branding, leadership, coffee, and so on.

And no, I will not stop calling you Shirley.

Today I give you a collection of 3 song lyrics along with the reason why CMOs should relate to them. NOTE: These lyrics are from 3 of my favorite songs so you will get a very small glimpse into the eclectic taste I have in music.

Lyric #1:

Lean on me
When you’re not strong
And I’ll be your friend
I’ll help you carry on…
For it won’t be long
Till I’m gonna need somebody to lean on.

Why CMOs Should Relate To It:

This is a two-part answer. First, and this should be obvious, you want your team to know they can, in fact, lean on you; that you will help them “carry on.” You can never assume they know this, you need to convey this and not just once but over and over. As a leader, it is vitally important that you let your team know they can count on you.

The second part of the answer lies in the last two lines above. You need to check your pride and admit that there will be times when you need to lean on them. By doing this, you will show your human side to your team; that you are not above asking for help. The best leaders are those who are not afraid to be vulnerable.

By the way, you can AND should apply the same thinking to the rest of the C-suite. Let your fellow C-suiters know you are there for them and that you will need to lean on them as well.

The Song: Lean On Me by Bill Withers


Lyric #2:

You’ve got to learn to live with what you can’t rise above. 

Why CMOs Should Relate To It: 

Not that this is breaking news, but there are things you cannot control, which translates into learning to live what you can’t rise above. For example, when the obligatory latest research comes out regarding the average tenure of the CMO.

We all know what I mean. Last year, as just one of MANY examples, was this piece in the Wall Street Journal with the ominous title of Average CMO Tenure Holds Steady at Lowest Level in Decade. In pretty much every one of these types of research and studies, you will see verbiage like this (from the WSJ piece):

“CMOs are grappling with intense pressure to drive profitable growth, meet changing demands for business transformation and keep up with increasing complexity in the broader marketing landscape.”

I swear if I went back in the archives, I would find very similar language, if not verbatim in some cases. The point being any CMO who has been in their role for more than 30 seconds knows that their role can be tenuous. The best CMOs learn to rise above the noise.

The Song: Tunnel of Love by Bruce Springsteen


Lyric #3:

Regrets, I’ve had a few.
But then again, too few to mention.
I did what I had to do.
And saw it through without exemption.

Why CMOs Should Relate To It: 

This is as direct as I can make this. Have. No. Regrets. When your time as CMO at Brand X comes up, be it your call or otherwise, never leave anything on the proverbial table. Yes, I am telling you to Do It Your Way.

You will face varying levels of judgment during your time as CMO. From your CEO, from others in the C-suite to countless others – many of which will have no clue what marketing is really all about. Oh, opinions will be aplenty. They just won’t be learned opinions.

At the end of the day, walk away saying, or singing if you’re game: I did it my way.

The Song: My Way by Frank Sinatra

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