Fighting complexity in marketing and kicking the butt of impostor syndrome

“What if the audience think my messages are too simple?”

This thought came crashing into my mind as I sat in aeroplane thirty-five thousand feet above the Alps.

Beyond the oval window, I could see the clear blue sky, snow-tipped mountains and lakes glistening in the sunlight. I was on my way to a marketing conference in Montenegro to give a speech on fighting complexity in marketing. The organisers invited me because they saw a video of my performance at CMA Live last summer in Edinburgh. So, I should have felt confident, motivated and ready to rock that stage.

Instead, when the cabin crew lady handed me my coffee, I felt a sinking feeling and a rush of nerves.

Fighting complexity in marketing and kicking the butt of impostor syndrome

I thought, “What the hell are you doing?”

“In two days’ time, you’ll on a stage in front of an audience of 150 people for whom English is not their first language. And they’re marketing directors of big companies or marketing agency people.”

“Can I really teach them anything?”

“Will they be remotely interested in keeping things simple?”

I wondered what the odds were the plane would develop a technical fault and we’d divert to Austria. I guess a heavy dose of imposter syndrome came and hit me right between the eyes.

But here’s the reality.

I ran up the stairs to the stage in Podgorica top the heavy beat sound of UK hardcore techno-music (a link to my side hustle as a Body Combat instructor). Imposter syndrome defeated by the atmosphere of the event and the warm welcome given by the conference organisers and the other speakers and guests.

The speech went off without a hitch, delivered in my usual upbeat, motivational style.

Fighting complexity in marketing and kicking the butt of impostor syndrome

And do you know what? They loved the speech. I’d adapted it to compensate for the language difference. For example, they wouldn’t know what “muppetry” meant in the context of big companies doing stupid things. But mainly, it was the same “fighting complexity” speech I’d done in Edinburgh and many times since.

They applauded the simple messages. They wanted to talk afterwards about how simple marketing strategy could be.

My fear the audience would think my messages were too simple was unfounded. They positively embraced the simplicity. They were crying out for it.

After, I was somewhat embarrassed, but humbled some of the guests wanted to take selfies with me.

Fighting complexity in marketing and kicking the butt of impostor syndrome

I felt reassured my wish to help people keep marketing simple is the right direction for my consultancy business and for my future speaking engagements.

Companies the world over make marketing, especially the strategy part, far too complicated.

Young people shy away from it because it sucks the energy and creativity out of them. The veterans resign themselves to it because they lack the will to fight against it. Strategy sucked the energy and creativity out of them long ago.


Can I really teach them anything? Yes!

Will they be remotely interested in keeping things simple? Damn right!

Over the last 2 years as I’ve refocused on my speaking career after a short break. I’ve invested in some top-notch training and coaching. The World Class Communication course with Marcus Sheridan helped me become a better teacher.

Now I want to get out there more and help others find the simplicity they crave.

Now it’s your turn:

I’m taking bookings for 2018. If you want me to give my “Fighting Complexity” speech at your event please visit my speaker page to find out more about what I can do for you.

And if you want to see a little more of the beautiful country of Montenegro please watch my VLOG.