Think like an outsider

I grew up on Long Island until I was 12, when my family moved to Southern California. That was just the first, although most formative, of many moves I’ve made – 10 moves in 15 years, to be exact. That, on top of multiple job and career changes, left me feeling like I didn’t quite belong anywhere.

Although I used to view this rootlessness as a negative, I now know it’s the underpinning of On Target Marketing. Allow me to explain.

When you’re 12, have no friends, and dress and talk differently from the kids in your school, you have a choice: continue as if nothing has changed or adapt. I chose the latter. I quickly figured out where I fit in. I dropped the LI accent in 3 months. I adopted new mannerisms. I changed my hairstyle.

Yet, while my exterior had changed, I did not change who I was as a person. My core values remained intact. The result: I gained a new group of friends and became active in school.

In essence, being an outsider made me skilled at understanding my target audience. I learned how to get myself out of the way and focus on the habits, values and motivations of others.

Since then, I’ve translated that ability to understand others into a career in marketing communications. I’ve been successful partly because I can truly place myself in others’ shoes. It’s helped me define target audiences, shape messages that motivate and write copy that resonates. And I counsel my clients about how to communicate with their own customers, clients and prospects in a way that they will be heard and without compromising their values.

By the way, I’ve lived in my current home on Long Island for 17 years. It’s 2 miles from my childhood home.