Keeping Skills Current

Riding the Bus is Making Me a Better Marketer

Do you ever find yourself wishing you had more time to invest in training or learning new things? I do – it seems like a constant balancing act to do the stuff that needs to be done now and prepare for the stuff I am going to need to do tomorrow (or six months or a year from now).

I stumbled unwittingly on a simple solution: ride the bus to client meetings.

Until the last few weeks, I had ridden public transportation maybe two or three times in the past four years. I am now the hardened veteran of four bus rides in three weeks.

I used to think that the bus was too slow and that I would find being at the mercy of the bus schedule too restrictive. Then I found myself with a series of client meetings in Pioneer Square, where parking is $3/hour minimum ($3.50/hour on the street). I hunted fruitlessly for cheaper lots, then ran the math on parking, Car2Go, and the bus. The bus was the winner by a whopping 40% over the closest alternative, and Car2Go was a nice discovery: you mean I can park it anywhere with a parking meter and just walk away? Unbelievably awesome.

I hopped on the bus only to find 1.) it doesn’t take that much longer than driving, 2.) there are three or four routes I can take, and 3.) the time away from the office is invaluable. If I’m in my office, I feel the need to “get stuff done.” I’ll work on client presentations. I’ll craft proposals. I’ll check out articles people are recommending on Twitter. I’ll write a blog post (*ahem*).

I could certainly do some of these same things via smart phone while riding the bus, but the extra hassle is just enough of a barrier to dissuade me. So it gives me some quiet time; and in that quiet time, I do something amazing: I read. Right now, I’m running through Lawrence Friedman’s “Go To Market Strategy.” It’s an interesting book – well written, well reviewed, priced like a college textbook, but with the look and feel of a series of 1980’s photocopies stitched into hardcover. I like his approach to the discipline, and the examples he cites are really insightful. It makes me want to spend even more time on the bus so I can get through the whole thing.

For now, though, I need to go finish writing a proposal. 🙂