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Cover art for podcast episode The Strategic Edge: Elevating Marketing’s Value to the C-Suite

The Strategic Edge: Elevating Marketing’s Value to the C-Suite

Welcome to the Health Marketing Collective, where strong leadership meets marketing excellence.

In today’s episode, we have a thought-provoking conversation with Mary Rapaport, a strategic thinking coach who specializes in B2B marketing transformation.She is here to share her insights on the importance of strategic thinking in marketing, especially in challenging times, and how it plays a crucial role in achieving long-term organizational goals.

Mary discusses the common misconception that companies can operate without strategic roles during tough economic periods and explains why it is critical for leaders and teams to prioritize strategic thinking. She shares insights on how marketing teams can develop credibility with the executive suite by cultivating strategic skills, and how this can turn the marketing department into trusted advisers.

Additionally, Mary offers valuable advice for women in marketing, stressing the importance of strategic thinking to be taken seriously and advance into leadership roles. We also discuss the profound impact of AI on the workforce and job satisfaction, and why organizations need to empower employees to think strategically.

Join us as we explore practical ways to foster a strategic mindset at every organizational level, the necessity of intentional development, and how to coach strategic thinking within teams.

Mary also shares her top professional development tips and book recommendations that have influenced her career, making this episode a must-listen for those looking to hone their strategic thinking abilities.

Thank you for listening to the Health Marketing Collective, where strong leadership meets marketing excellence. The future of healthcare depends on it.

Key Takeaways:

1. The Importance of Strategic Thinking: Mary Rapaport emphasizes that strategic thinking is vital, especially during tough times. Organizations often fall into the trap of believing they can do without strategic roles during recessions. However, strategic thinking provides the necessary innovation and long-term planning that can lead organizations through challenging periods successfully.

2. Cultivating Credibility: Developing strategic thinking within marketing teams ensures credibility with the executive suite. This allows marketing departments to be seen as integral partners in achieving organizational goals, effectively turning them into trusted advisers to leadership.

3. Empowering Women in Marketing: Strategic thinking is essential for women in marketing roles to be viewed seriously and to pave their way into leadership positions. Mary outlines how cultivating strategic skills can make a significant impact on career advancement.

4. Strategic Thinking in the AI Era: As AI continues to reshape the workforce, the ability to think strategically becomes ever more critical. Mary and Sara discuss how organizations can leverage AI to maximize strengths and minimize weaknesses while ensuring employees remain engaged and satisfied.

5. Practical Development Tips: Mary shares practical ways for marketing leaders to foster strategic thinking, including stretch assignments, modeling strategic behavior, debriefing sessions, and coaching the strategic muscle. She also recommends the books “Think like a Freak” and “Think and Grow Rich” for further professional development.

Join us next week as we continue to explore the intersection of strong leadership and marketing excellence in the healthcare industry. Don’t forget to subscribe to the Health Marketing Collective to stay updated on future episodes.

About Mary Rapaport

Chief Xceleration Officer, Xcelerate LLC

As a seasoned Learning Strategist and Strategic Thinking Coach and Trainer, Mary Rapaport has over 25 years of experience in B2B marketing transformation, encompassing brand strategy, launch strategy, and organizational design. With a proven track record in architecting transformative learning experiences, Mary empowers individuals and teams to navigate complexity with clarity and creativity and is on a mission to democratize strategic thinking at every level.

www.xceleratebiz.com

www.xceleratebiz.com/strategicplayground

Transcript

Sara Payne [00:00:10]:

Hello, everyone, and welcome to the Health Marketing Collective, where strong leadership meets marketing excellence. I'm your host, Sara Payne, a health marketing strategist at Inprela Communications, and I'm bringing you fascinating conversations with some of the industry's top marketing minds. On today's episode, we're diving into the number 1 skill that separates the good from the great, strategic thinking. Strategic thinking is the ability to see the big picture while anticipating market shifts and crafting long term plans. To innovate, we all must think strategically. But it's not just about having the vision, but having the courage and the discipline to execute it. It's about turning those big bold ideas into reality and cultivating a team that's prepared for the future. Today, I'm honored to have a true expert in the house, a strategic thinking coach who's helped countless leaders sharpen their own strategic minds and empower their teams.

Sara Payne [00:01:03]:

We'll uncover the secrets to fostering a culture of strategic thinking within your own marketing team. Our guest is Mary Rapaport, a strategic thinking coach and trainer with over 25 years of experience in b to b marketing transformation, encompassing brand strategy, launch strategy, and organizational design. With a proven track record in building transformative learning experiences, Mary empowers teams to navigate complexity with clarity, and she's on a mission to democratize strategic thinking at every level. I'm honored to have you with me for this episode today, Mary. Welcome.

Mary Rapaport [00:01:36]:

Thank you so much. This is exciting.

Sara Payne [00:01:39]:

It is exciting. This is an important topic, I believe, for leaders and all organizations and all departments, but, marketing for sure. So let's start there. Let's start by defining strategic thinking and what it means in the context of marketing.

Mary Rapaport [00:01:57]:

Well, strategic thinking is a term that's often used in a lot of different ways, and I'll say that I've heard it used in a lot of unusual ways. And when I talk about strategic thinking, the very first thing I do is I ground it. I what are we talking about here? What really is it? And I would say there's some key characteristics that a strategic mindset or strategic thinking has. First of all, it it's future focused. So there is some aspect of not thinking only about the present, not being focused on what's in front of you, but looking at that longer range horizon. In context with that, it's really developing a holistic perspective on where you are. So it's looking at the interdependencies, the interconnectedness, kind of a systems approach to thinking so that you know that by impacting 1 thing somewhere, you're gonna have an impact somewhere else. Great strategic thinking also is, a perspective where you're bringing in external data.

Mary Rapaport [00:03:07]:

So it's not an insular view of where you are or what the organization thinks or what the team thinks. It's knowing enough to know that you don't know everything and that there's some point of view, data, information, the landscape of things that's external to what you're thinking about that has has that in it. And then finally, it's adaptable. You can't come to the most brilliant conclusion and then see conditions change and continue to think it's strategic view if something's changed there too. You really have to be able to adapt and plan for that. So that's I guess that's how I really like to define strategic thinking, in that way.

Sara Payne [00:03:53]:

That's a it's a great definition, and I'm glad we started there because to your point, it is used in so many ways and probably Payne misused or misinterpreted in terms of what it actually is. I loved your point about, bringing in the external data and perspective, because I think particularly as leaders, we may think that we do strategic thinking really well, and maybe we do, but we could all benefit from that external perspective to really push us and get us to see what we might be overlooking or challenge us and how we need to be thinking differently.

Mary Rapaport [00:04:29]:

Oh, yeah. For sure. And how easy is it to say, hey. We've seen this problem before. We know how to solve it. Oh, I've done this already. Or, oh, this reminds me of something that I've encountered in the past. Let me just jump in and solve it.

Mary Rapaport [00:04:42]:

And so being able to say, let's just take a pause and challenge our own perspectives and get some external view, that really generally helps elevate the quality of conversation and and generally the output.

Sara Payne [00:04:57]:

So very important. What's your view, Mary, on the current state of strategic thinking in the workplace, just in general? Do we, as a culture and a society, have sort of that workplace environment that encourages strategic thinking? And what are the factors that have contributed to the current state?

Mary Rapaport [00:05:17]:

Well, the good news is that, universally, everyone believes it's important, and everyone talks about it being something that is really important to be successful. So that's that's the good news. The more disappointing news is that we are in an execution culture. Mhmm. Our business environment, it does anything except enable us to step into a strategic mindset or, frankly, even pause to think. We're rewarded by cranking out our task list. We're rewarded by systems that are inherent in the business, things like things that have historically really driven us to see the workplace as an assembly line. There are so many historic business movements that have moved the economy forward, moved technology forward, moved business forward that have caused us to adopt things that maybe were meant for the manufacturing floor, but bringing those into the office and working and thinking in segments and in tasks and in discrete events and very future not future focused, but very present focused on what do we have to do today, that that has really just sucked the life out of people's ability to even remember that what they're there to do is to think better, and their contributions that come through thinking really help emphasize business performance.

Mary Rapaport [00:06:50]:

In particular, marketing, I think marketing has has suffered quite a bit from this sort of treadmill transactional mindset. I don't think we ever intended this to happen, but when we began to really advance digital marketing, it was great for so many reasons, and it just blew the doors off of what was possible. But at the same time, the discipline around doing that really well required a very specific and focused view on a discrete set of activities and the analysis that comes from that and the optimization of a particular small, very focused initiative. And I think what I've observed is that organizations have tended to elevate that, prioritize that, and have, in some ways, lost a little of the connection around the biggest picture and the thinking that comes from, okay, what are we trying to do here? What's the business need from us? And how do we really contribute in multiple ways. And so I think there's a lot of reasons in the in the recent history that that marketing is especially challenged to remember to step into that strategic mindset.

Sara Payne [00:08:13]:

Yeah. I think you're really spot on with that, Mary. I think we've been given a gift to be able to have more data finally, right, to be able to see attribution and, you know, see ROI, but at the detriment right of this longer. View or bigger picture, where we tend to be looking more at the 30 day or even 90 day cycle versus that sort of what does this mean and how is this going to drive us? What what are the decisions we need to make and the considerations we need to have in the longer view to make sure that what we're doing today is still going to make sense for the organization? All great to have, but in the right balance.

Mary Rapaport [00:08:57]:

Yeah. It's a little bit like be careful what you wish for. Like, there was a big pressure to produce data, produce evidence, produce metrics. Now we have that. The question is, what kind of questions are we asking about, from that data or with that data? And how is that pushing our understanding of marketing as a system, of the business as a holistic system, and the role that marketing plays in helping it achieve its goal. The other thing that that's really happened is I've seen over the last decade or so, in particular with publicly held organizations that need to make shareholder promises on a regular basis, you tend to start focusing on that quarter. You tend to start doing whatever you promised. It's a checklist.

Mary Rapaport [00:09:45]:

It's a we gotta get this done. And, and so that leaves that longer range view sort of to sit when I as a luxury versus bringing that to the forefront and know, you know, that's your role in the organization is to be the thinkers. The other thing that that's really compounded this issue is that I've seen marketing because of these shareholder short term commitments. When companies don't make that commitment and they're missing their mark, what can happen is marketing's kind of like an ATM. Like, oh, there's some budget. Oh, we cannot spend this. Oh, we can reduce staff there. Yes.

Mary Rapaport [00:10:26]:

Was and we saw that decades ago, during the great recession, and all the marketing teams and many other functions were just decimated. And organizations saw, like, hey. You know what? We didn't die. You know? This didn't kill us, so we now can do this whenever we feel like we need to. And what happens is that they take the most strategic, most senior people, typically out of the organization first because they're they're also the most expensive. And what you're left with is a team that's really awesome at keeping the wheels on the bus, keeping things moving, keeping things going. And then they look around and say, well, why isn't there more from this? Where's the big thinking? Where's the innovation? Where's the big ideas? So there's been a long if you're feeling like you're not using your mind, if you're feeling like you're not able to step into a strategic mindset, there are plenty of reasons why it's not your fault and why there's a lot of pressure that you really have to resist and overcome to be able to deliver the gifts you've got.

Sara Payne [00:11:33]:

Yeah. And I I think you're right. So, you know, strategic Payne point there being strategic thinking is 1 of those things that will help provide some insurance or help make you as a leader and your team much more bulletproof when times get tough, when there's a recession, or when, right, when we're not meeting numbers, to be able to to lead the organization with that innovation and those bigger ideas. What I'm hearing from you is that's why it's so important for leaders and for their teams to prioritize strategic thinking. And I did want to spend some time talking about the benefits of really cultivating these skill sets within your team, because I think, you know, we it it it might again, to your earlier point, everyone believes it's important. Right? Everyone thinks we should be doing it, but are we actually prioritizing it from a development standpoint? And we do we see it as something that needs to transcend the leaders within the organization and, you know, theoretically go through the entire marketing department. Right? That everyone on that team should be empowered to think strategically and have the training and the skill sets in order to do it, to know how to ask themselves, to your earlier point, the right questions to be focused on the right thing. So let's talk a little bit more about some of the benefits, around prioritizing this.

Sara Payne [00:12:59]:

We've talked about, you know, the point I just made around, you know, helping to provide some insurance for when things get tough, and to be able to, be more resilient through those times of change. What else do you see as some of the benefits?

Mary Rapaport [00:13:14]:

Well, I think, traditionally, real industry has looked to marketing to be that that guidance, that strategic view? So first of all, if you're not, you know, what are you what are you doing? Do you understand the role that marketing really essentially needs to play to help enable the organization to achieve its goals? So, primarily, understanding how marketing fits into the grand scheme of of of goal attainment and, you know, what is the what's the function what's the contribution it needs to have? Practically speaking, every leadership, competency list will list strategic thinking, every single 1. I've never seen an executive profile that does not require strategic thinking. And yet, if you look, there are so nobody knows how to do with this. Right? They don't know, well, how do I get that? Where does that come from? Do I do I have to go get an MBA? Like, what does that mean? And so first of all, it's it's really important to prioritize because it doesn't just happen. It doesn't just happen. It's critical to build your bench. I knew as a marketing leader, I really needed to know who I could tap on, especially if I had a small team at the time. I had to go and say, okay.

Mary Rapaport [00:14:39]:

Who let me bring my thinkers in and help me think. Let's have a thinking session. Let's let's really challenge ourselves to make sure we're contributing that. So building strategic thinking gives you that team approach, gives you better minds, gives you more perspective. If you can build a team that thinks strategically, you've got much more credibility with the executive suite. They're gonna listen to you. They're gonna come and ask you for help. Your, your gravitas, your influence, and your contribution as a function and as leaders, as a marketing leader, is really gonna elevate.

Mary Rapaport [00:15:18]:

You're gonna have better business acumen, and you're gonna see be seen as a partner and a consultant internally to help the organization achieve their your their goals, because that's critical to strategic thinking, critical to the organization. You also from a real practical perspective, you get to free up time. I never wanted to be as a marketing leader, I never wanted to be the only person who could think. I was like, come on. Let's Right. Let's all contribute. Right? I have my list of things to do. I cannot think for every single person on my team.

Mary Rapaport [00:15:53]:

So if I can have a team of people who see the whole picture, they get the long range business goals, they understand how to challenge and scope the impact of what they're working on to deliver the maximum amount of benefit, then I have a really powerhouse, in my hands, and I can really aim that. And I think that leaders who develop their bench and develop their teams have so many more smart hands to go ahead and do that work. And, you know, you, as a leader, need to constantly assess and reassess what does the team need to have? What are the core capabilities that are gonna allow marketing to serve a really critical role in the organization's future? And how do I make sure I'm thinking ahead so that we are building bench, we are building talent, we are building skills, and we're building thinking that enables us to adapt and address future. Because it's not about now. It's really about that systems thinking to prepare for what's coming.

Sara Payne [00:17:02]:

Yeah. A couple of the, the benefits that really jumped out at me, Mary, were more ideas and better thinking, from the entire department, right, not just resting on 1 person's shoulders and, strategic thinking being the key to marketing marketing leadership, but also the entire department becoming a trusted adviser to the c suite. And let's not let's not overlook the fact that many women are in these marketing roles. And so perhaps it is the strategic thinking skill set that is the key to getting more women, into the c suite as well. Any thoughts on that?

Mary Rapaport [00:17:35]:

Oh, absolutely. I I have I have a great, I don't know, a great friend and and and, mentor who really inspired my passion around this a long time ago, Susan Kolanantu. She made a, a TED Talk really talking about, women in particular, how women, when they're coached, are coached to be confident, they're coached to have presence, and and they're coached in a very different way than male counterparts who are coached and taught the business. Right? And so the they show up consequently very differently. And strategic thinking is just it's it's a it's table stakes. It's an assumption. And unless you, as a woman, really take charge of developing yourself, My experience personally and what I've read out there in the research is that that's something that's often overlooked. It's not gonna get there.

Mary Rapaport [00:18:39]:

It's not gonna just Payne, and people are not necessarily gonna do this for you. So it's really important to take charge. It's really important to invest in yourself and be and, you know, you might not you might be new to an organization, but by the questions that you ask and the challenges you pose and the the the quality of the discussion that you offer, that's really a great way to define yourself, as as a as a contributor that that really needs to be noticed.

Sara Payne [00:19:13]:

Let's talk about another really important factor that everyone's talking about right now, which is AI. Right? And what impact is AI gonna have on on marketing and and many jobs? What role does strategic thinking play in the, you know, era of of AI?

Mary Rapaport [00:19:32]:

Yeah. It's been really, interesting to watch how much concern there is around that topic. And I think that it is no different than the invention of the cotton gin or the printing press. So, you know, all of those really transformational historically transformational disruptions in technology. And people ask themselves the same question back there. Right? Back then, they were like, what what's that gonna mean for me? I think, I think the differentiation is really the ability to bring your whole brain. It's how do you use these tools, and when are these tools gonna solve a problem, and when do they fall short? I happen to love to use those tools. I think they really have to they've taken time from me doing, a, things I'm not great at, b, things that don't add a a an incredible amount of value, and it allowed me to spend the time on the things that I excel at and the things that only I can do.

Mary Rapaport [00:20:38]:

And I think if people can think about how do you leverage AI to maximize their superpowers and to minimize the things that they don't wanna do or don't do well, I think that is the the best way to embrace it. And so that for strategic thinking, that means, hey. You better work on this. Right? Because your contribution if you're if you're a doer or if you're you're feeling threatened by the what AI is is doing and the fact that it may displace or take something away from you, chances are you need to up your game and be more thoughtful and bring your intelligence and bring your experience and your point of view to your work. And so I think it's I think it's actually great. I think it's only gonna make us better thinkers, and it's gonna mean that the, you know, the task task y stuff, that'll go away. The sort of checklist kind of thinking, you don't need to do that. It really gives for me, it gives me the space to do my best thinking.

Mary Rapaport [00:21:44]:

I don't worry about it. I don't worry about that at all.

Sara Payne [00:21:47]:

Yeah. No. I think that's good advice, for sure that, you know, as we continue to adopt AI, strategic thinking will only become more important. Right? That's going to be the level of thinking that AI isn't always going to be able to do. We're gonna maybe have access to more information, more data, but to your earlier point about digital marketing, what are we gonna do with that? Right? AI isn't going to know the right decision for that organization in that right moment, and that's going to be upon those that have that possess those strategic, you know, really good strategic thinking skillsets. What about job satisfaction, Sara? When we when we when we talk about cultivating, fostering, fostering, developing strategic thinking skill sets within your team, not just for you as a leader, but within your marketing organization. Have you seen in your work, coaching and training other organizations, any impact on job satisfaction relative to that?

Mary Rapaport [00:22:45]:

Totally. I talk to so many leaders, in these workshops that I do to build strategic thinking and a strategic mindset. And what resonates the most with them is this notion is that they they went into the workforce, and they wake up every day really hoping to contribute, in a whole different way than they seem to be asked to contribute today. The thinking, the the the creativity, the ideation, the what ifs, the, really looking at the role that they play or the organization they're in as a whole, as a connected organism. That's what people long to do. And I think what's happened in the workforce is that we have created such a chasm between those who will think and those who will do, but we still expected to tap you on the shoulder and invite you into the group that will think. And and there's no there's no way to know how does that Payne. How do I get tapped? How do I get noticed? What does that look like, and why can't I I feel like I'm pretty smart, and I went to school, and III think I could contribute.

Mary Rapaport [00:24:02]:

That chasm is really, I think, a key factor in in driving disengagement. And that quiet quitting and that job hopping, it's because people are like, well, I do a list of tasks, and I do them really well, and I'm really effective, and I got a great attitude. I can do that anywhere. So I may as well pick up myself and put myself into, you know, the conditions that maybe better suit me. Maybe it's a better better hours or a better a more fun environment, or maybe I wanna do it over here. Or and and so without if you're not engaging your teams in developing strategic thinking and asking them to think, you're just really inviting them to see themselves as an interchangeable cog, and they will interchange. They will be Absolutely. Yeah.

Sara Payne [00:24:52]:

Yeah, absolutely. I mean, what I'm hearing here, I think it's really great advice is we have to give our, our employees permission to play. Right. We have to give them permission because if we've created this job description, this role, this team environment, where you, you get the gold star for completing to your earlier point, completing the tasks, doing the reporting, hitting the metrics, then then you're going through the motions on that. And the organization hasn't told you we want more. Right? We want you to use your imagination. We want you to ask what if more often, as you said. That's where the excitement is.

Sara Payne [00:25:31]:

Right? There's a reason why as children, we love imaginary play. Right? Because we want to step outside and try something different than, you know, life inside of this box. And so I just, I really love the way you framed that. And I think it's really important to think about as leaders that we are actually giving them carving out permission to step into that role. We have to be able to carve it out. We have to and give them that permission. We have to enable the time, give them the time for it, and then we have to teach them how to do it to your point too. Because where else are you gonna get those skill sets? If you haven't been traditionally or in recent years asked to do that, how are you gonna cultivate that thinking when you are tapped on the shoulder and invited into the room?

Mary Rapaport [00:26:18]:

Yeah. Absolutely true. Absolutely true. There's a big cost. And what you'll what you'll see, if you're if you're wondering, like, oh, do I have is my team thinking strategically enough? You know? You can you can look for signs to say, we're not playing at the level we should. Payne your meetings are very tactical, very action. Like, okay. Let's take a look at the actions.

Mary Rapaport [00:26:42]:

Does everybody you know, check off the list. Did you do this? And that's really all you discuss, or maybe you go into problem solving before really thoroughly exploring a a challenge or an issue that's come up or taking a look at maybe a root cause. If your team is not curious, that's a big warning sign. If they don't ask you why, or how, how are how is it that things are are not you know, what what are some of the barriers, or what is the, you know, what are we trying to accomplish here? If they're not if they're lacking curiosity about how the company is doing or curiosity about why are you prioritizing this over something else, chances are you also have an issue where they're not bringing new thinking, no no new ideas, and they're and I'm gonna guess the credibility in the organization for those for those individuals is probably pretty low. It's they're not gonna get access to the thought leaders in the organization, and it's not gonna allow you to do your best work as a marketing leader.

Sara Payne [00:27:47]:

Yeah. Absolutely. And and this is, I think, been threaded throughout the conversation so far, but strategic thinking is important for every level of the organization. Correct?

Mary Rapaport [00:27:56]:

Oh, absolutely. Absolutely. It's not a it's not like the star you get after you've accomplished all your things. It's not, oh, well, only a few of us get to think, and the rest of you, good luck. We hope you'll get here someday. No. It has to it has to come at every level all the time.

Sara Payne [00:28:15]:

Yeah. And and I think that's another 1 of the misperceptions that has led to sort of the workplace culture and environment that we are currently in, as you talked about earlier, is I think there's a perception that some people have it and some people don't. Right? And and and what you're saying is that, no. Actually, it can and should be taught and encouraged if you really, truly want your organization to realize its true potential, you know, disruption, innovation, creativity, whatever those words are as an organization that you value, then then absolutely, it does need to be prioritized.

Mary Rapaport [00:28:48]:

Yeah. It's a muscle and a mindset. It's those 2 things. It's a mindset, which means you are inviting that the conditions of challenge, of questions, of what ifs, of wondering, of positivity and future, you know, possibilities, you're creating those conditions so that someone can have that moment and is invited to even have a silly moment. And it's a muscle because if you don't use this, if you don't invite your people to build this muscle, it'll atrophy. It'll be like, well, that's not my job. That's your job figure this out. Or, well, I just do what they tell me, you know, and I'll wait till they tell me what what the answer is.

Mary Rapaport [00:29:32]:

And, you know, that's that's not an environment that I've ever wanted to work in or ever wanted to create, and I don't think it's an environment that really maximizes the value that marketing can deliver to the organization. So I believe that you can cultivate it and should at every single level.

Sara Payne [00:29:51]:

Even if it's currently atrophied. Right? I mean, that's kind of what we're saying is that's kind of the state of where we are today, and we need to really sort of reactivate those those muscles and those skill sets. Mary, what are some of the practical ways that marketing leaders can cultivate the strategic thinking within their teams. You have a couple of, you know, kind of Yeah. Tangible, tactical ways. You mentioned this this concept of you know, look at your meeting structure. Are you allowing time? Like, give some some examples like that that would be something that would be actionable for folks.

Mary Rapaport [00:30:24]:

Yeah. Well, first of all, take take a moment and really see it as a development initiative. It can't just it won't just happen. It doesn't just happen. There's a lot of research that says it just will never happen. So be mindful if you're doing this on behalf of your team and you wanna create these conditions or develop someone. Note that I'm gonna develop their strategic mindset and their strategic muscle. So that's a start.

Mary Rapaport [00:30:48]:

Just know what that goal is. I would say you can give stretch assignments, but you can't just assign the stretch assignments. You've gotta come back and coach them. What do you observe? What did that mean for you? What questions does that did that con did that situation arise? Coach them in the assignments that you're giving them. Help them observe somebody who is really strategic engaged. I've had people just, you know, in meetings, and they'd come back afterwards, and I, you know, I don't wanna pat myself on the back, but, like, you know, you asked questions I would have never thought about. You made Payne, and they were very respectful, but I've never I would have never thought about that. I would have just kinda gone in with the flow.

Mary Rapaport [00:31:33]:

So model the behavior if you feel like you've got a really good strategic presence, and if not, match that person with someone who does. Always debrief. If you're doing maybe you you can do silly things, like you can go do an escape room as a team building. But take the time afterward to say, okay. Let's debrief. We had strategies that showed up in that situation. What was going on in your mind when you did this? Or I noticed, I noticed, Bob, that you when you saw an obstacle, you did this thing, and that invited other people in. Tell me how you came there.

Mary Rapaport [00:32:13]:

So those are great activities, but they require that's why I mean, like, that super mindset to look down and think about, what's my job here as a leader? What can I do to help that person recognize the behavior? A lot of what I teach and I coach is that muscle recognition. Like, when you flex your thigh, like, you know it.

Sara Payne [00:32:33]:

Right? Like, oh, let's feel that.

Mary Rapaport [00:32:35]:

It's the same thing. Did you notice, and did you notice the impact? And what was different? So that you can come in, you can learn to put yourself in that strategic mindset. So those are some things that really, really come to mind.

Sara Payne [00:32:50]:

Yeah. No. Those are really, really great tips, and I I suspect, folks are gonna be you're gonna get a lot of wheels turning with this conversation. Folks are gonna wanna be they're gonna be hungry for, learning more and and figuring this out. Before we sign off, you ready for a a quick fire with me here, Mary?

Mary Rapaport [00:33:08]:

Let's do it.

Sara Payne [00:33:08]:

Questions for you. Let's do it. Okay. What's the best piece of advice you've ever received?

Mary Rapaport [00:33:13]:

Best piece of advice I ever received? It's not about you. Oh, that's a

Sara Payne [00:33:18]:

good 1.

Mary Rapaport [00:33:20]:

Almost everything.

Sara Payne [00:33:22]:

What is a common misperception about strategic thinking?

Mary Rapaport [00:33:27]:

That it's urgent or important, and those words are interchangeable. But if we if I say strategic, if I say it's it's strategic, what I really might mean is that it's urgent or it's urgent to me or it's really important. Those are not interchangeable words.

Sara Payne [00:33:46]:

Yeah. Yes. Yes. How do you stay current on your own professional development, Mary?

Mary Rapaport [00:33:52]:

Oh my gosh. I am fascinated with anything that challenges the way people think. I care about how people think, and so I am always out there looking for books or podcasts that just make me go, oh my god. I never thought about that, or I was thinking about that completely the opposite way. I collect those. And often, I'll use those in my in my workshops and say, hey. I bet you were thinking about this, Rob, too or differently too. So I do a lot of that.

Mary Rapaport [00:34:24]:

That keeps me fresh and energized.

Sara Payne [00:34:26]:

I love it. And can you share a book that every strategic thinker should read?

Mary Rapaport [00:34:31]:

My I have a list. I have a reading list, but my 2 favorite ones. I'm gonna I can't one's very, very new, and one's very, very old. The very, very new 1 is think like a freak, and that is by the authors, of the Freakonomics podcast. And, really just and what what they were doing was they were teaching people to think in that book, and it's it's it's easy to read. It's fun. It's playful, and it just made my wheels just turn so fast. The other is a very old book, which is Think and Grow Rich, Think and Grow Rich.

Mary Rapaport [00:35:07]:

And that is a book that even it's written, I don't know, like, in the 1900, like, early 1900 when business was new and marketing was new. And, every once in a while, I'll relisten to that. You'll hear I listen a lot. Like, I do audiobooks a lot. I'll listen to that, and I will I will say, oh my gosh. So fundamental. Why did I think of that? Or why did I forget to do that? Or dang. This is, like, basic.

Mary Rapaport [00:35:35]:

Why why did I not even remember that I should be doing these things? So I think those 2 are really like, 1 is really leading edge, and 1 brings me back to the center. Like, there are some really good basics that you have to remember to do to be successful. So those are those are 2 I'd recommend.

Sara Payne [00:35:54]:

Love it. Well, so much great advice today, Mary. I know I personally learned a lot today. Thank you so much for being here. How can our listeners get in touch with you?

Mary Rapaport [00:36:03]:

Well, I have a website. It's it's acceleratebiz, and I think that'll probably be in the notes because it's really hard to smell. So find me there. There's a whole page on the strategic playground, which talks about how can you build the strategic muscle? How can you reawaken your strategic mindset? Email me, call me, whatever. Let me know, what the best question is that you asked in a meeting. I'd love to hear that. Like, what's the biggest drop in my question you asked that really got people thinking strategically? That'd be what I'd love to hear.

Sara Payne [00:36:38]:

Oh, I love that. Leave everybody, on inspired here to to reach out and to give that some thought. Wonderful. Thank you so much, Mary. That's it for today's episode. If you enjoyed the conversation today, do us a favor and subscribe wherever you get your podcast. Thanks for being part of the health marketing collective where strong leadership meets marketing excellence because the future of health care depends on it. We'll see you next time.

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