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Operating with a Full Stack.

Like most 20-somethings, life terrifies me.  Everywhere I turn there is an article, news story or octogenarian telling me that the decisions I make today are the most important I will ever make. Career path, wealth and life direction are defined now – I’m told.

I haven’t always been a risk taker. Growing up, I was the kid that always reached for his helmet, showed up early for practice or rehearsal (yeah, rehearsal), and I ALWAYS waited a full 30 minutes after eating to swim. So, you’d think that dropping everything and working on a start-up would scare the crap out of me.

It did and it does.

Rather than a life of predictable goals and milestones, I work at an evolving, early-stage start-up. I’m the ‘Marketing Guy’- formal title, Director of Marketing.  I switch from Illustrator to Excel to Photoshop to WordPress to Word… all before grabbing lunch. My existence is defined by unique and fluid challenges that, quite frankly, blow my parent’s minds.

As fun and challenging as my job is, not a day goes by where I don’t think about the opportunity costs associated with how I spend my time. Am I sacrificing future career opportunities by not becoming a ‘specialist’? Am I setting myself up to be un-hirable with a track record of making my own hours (usually 50+) and getting things done by just ‘figuring it out’?


But, in the long run, that’s exactly what the world needs. A friend recently forwarded an article to me on “Full Stack” Marketing. Borrowing from a coding/web development term for someone that can execute every stage of development, a ‘full stack’ marketer is someone that can handle the whole marketing component – design, coding, media planning, copywriting, strategy, etc.

The post points out that “1,214 job for developers and 144 for Marketing at startups.” The reason why startups don’t look for marketers? Because we have pigeonholed ourselves in our early twenties. There are account folks that are afraid of the Creative Suite, media planners that have never worked on a commercial shoot, and web developers that can’t interface with a client. Marketing folks, more often than not, only add short-term value to a start up or small company, yet these are the jobs that have the most potential, long-term growth.

The solution? Let’s add more tools to our toolbox. Pick up a side project for extra cash and learn a skill. Take the time to attend some workshops that your programming team gives over lunch. Quit your day job and ‘figure it out’ while doing something you love. Whatever your tolerance of risk, find ways to learn.

For the sake of our field, we need to be better. Let’s be the versatile, smart, valuable people we know we are.

I enjoy a challenge, I’m confident in Thread’s future success, and, most importantly, we have a company mission that I’m passionate about. Pretty awesome combo, if you ask me. It makes risk-taking a bit easier.

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