Issue 73: The Literal View from 14,500 Feet
From Serial Marketer: "The Cutting Edge of Marketing”

What I’ll probably remember most is the cursing.

I let the curses fly faster than a peregrine falcon.

I wasn’t falling quite as fast as those falcons swoop, as they top 200 miles per hour. I was free-falling a mere 120mph from 14,500 feet high, a least until Jim (whose name I thought was Travis) pulled the parachute cord.

Before I could process what I was seeing, and before I could tell my brain that, no, my body wasn’t being ripped to shreds and was in fact perfectly intact, all I could do was curse. Loudly. Repeatedly. Vigorously.

Parents traveling in planes around the tri-state area were covering their kids’ ears.

Last year, I wanted to celebrate my 40th birthday by jumping out of a plane. The weather turned too windy though, so I had to head back home. I didn’t give up on the idea but waited another year to do it. Two days after my 41st birthday last week, the weather cooperated, and I headed out to NJ to jump with Skydive Sussex.

They offer the highest altitude for jumping in the Northeast – a detail I didn’t realize until a fourth-time jumper, Sullivan, mentioned it before the flight. About two-thirds of that was a free-fall for a minute, followed by about a 5,000-foot more leisurely descent with the parachute.

It’s an odd choice for a birthday present. To commemorate being alive, you do something death-defying.

While you wait for your turn to jump, if you go solo, you’re left with nothing; you’re supposed to leave your phone and any other possessions in your car. All I had was the fresh air, the views of people dropping out of it, and the occasional whiff of cigarette smoke. I passed a bit of time playing cornhole with Sullivan, who’s about half my age and made me feel like a centenarian.

Skydiving is a study in contrast. There’s the adrenaline of getting on the plane, like you’re in “Top Gun.” And then it’s this peaceful ride up. You have some time to think, to soak in the view, to appreciate how beautiful New Jersey can be. You can find this moment of Zen as you gradually approach the target altitude.

And then, all of that is ripped away. The hatch opens. Someone jumps out of it. Then another. And then some guy named Jim or Travis who has you strapped in tightly to him is rapidly scooting you forward and pushing you out of a plane.

He tells you to smile for the camera, as you, of course, had to book the videographer, Derek. Derek wants you to smile, and you are not sure how many of your organs are still in your body at that moment. But sure, what the @%&!, smile for the camera. And what the @%(! is happening to your ears?


Then the peace again. You enjoy the view.

And then you pray to whatever deity you ever thought maybe could be the Real Deal that you don’t break your legs when you land.

Then you’re on the ground, and the world looks so different. It feels different.

That’s probably because your vestibular system has no clue what it ever did to you that made you unleash such vengeance upon it.

I wasn’t always inclined to take such risks.

Before I jumped, I thought back to that time during a college spring break trip to Cancun when I wouldn’t go on some ride because I had to sign my life away before doing so.

I never liked roller coasters either. The first time I went on a roller coaster was soon after I graduated college. I was joining a group of middle school kids from my hometown as a chaperone to Rye Playland. The trip was scheduled for the weekend after September 11, and to the organizers’ credit, they knew the kids needed a release and kept the original plans. There was barely anyone else at the park that day, so our group basically had it to ourselves. My contingent of seventh-graders kept riding the Dragon Coaster over and over. Given what I had just seen in Manhattan five days earlier, roller coasters seemed pretty tame. I may not love those rides, but that day, I stopped fearing them.

Flying up on the plane, admiring the view, I thought about what it meant to be a “chicken.” Chickens are unfairly maligned. Practically everyone eats chickens – Christians, Muslims, Hindus, Jews. Sure, there are many millions of vegetarians, but if you’re a chicken and you see a primate walking around on two legs, the smartest thing you can do is run or fly however fast you can and be absolutely anywhere else. The vast majority of us humans eat chickens, and then we add insult to injury by calling anyone who experiences that all too natural moment of fear a chicken. That is just cruel. If chickens have a chicken-language word for another chicken who’s the meanest S.O.B. in the coop, I hope they call that other chicken a human. “Hey, stop humaning out and taking all the best twigs for your nest!” Maybe then, there’d be a little bit of chicken justice.

That’s what was going through my mind before that ripped-apart sensation in the open air.

So now, I’m back on the ground. I plan on staying here for quite a while. I’m not in a rush to be a repeat jumper like Sullivan, or a hobbyist-turned-instructor like Jim Travis, or a mid-air videographer like Derek who is trying to get people to smile as they feel that disemboweling sensation for the first time. If there was a friend who was itching to go though, I’d do it. Granted, if I didn’t want to and they called me a chicken, I’d consider it a compliment. 

Thanks, Jim Travis for keeping me alive, and Derek for forcing me to smile, and the whole Skydive Sussex crew in the office, on the ground, and in the air for one hell of an operation they run.

It’s good to be back on Earth, still a bit dazed, and full of disbelief that it ever happened. I learned how far I could fall, how stunning the view looked from three miles up, and how fast and furiously I could let those f-bombs fly.

@%&* yeah.

That’s what I made of myself this weekend. What are you making of yourself?



Twitter might be democratic in terms of how it is accessible to anyone anywhere (wherever the internet is uncensored), but this research from Pew shows how just 6% of American adults are responsible for 73% of political tweets. That means if your Twitter feed is anywhere like mine and is dominated far more by politics than business or marketing, you're getting a very skewed sampling of opinions. And if your feed is like mine and you really like that skewed sample (ahem Kevin Kruse ahem), that might be quite alright with you.  

Are the ad industry and advertising in general so despised? One quote here says, "It's all advertsers' fault," but I don't agree in the slightest (demand can only be fulfilled by supply, and the suppliers are just as complicit). Also, few people hate all ads. Yes, parts of the ad industry re a cesspool, and I could write a book about some of them. But maybe part of the problem is we have a more media-savvy culture where people notice ads more. Could we actually be victims of our own success? Okay, I'm not so sure about that either.

Via Darren Herman's always-fantastic OP newsletter last week, he threw in some nostalgia, including this Prodigy ad. Did you ever use it, especially pre-AOL? I used it around 1990 or soon after, and it was about 1% of the speed in the ad. The ad would have had to be hours long to show all that for most modems then.  

Via Meredith J. in Slack, social media influencers can indeed do some wonderful things. I'm sorry for (often) implying otherwise. Planting 20 million trees is indeed a very, very good thing. Thank you, influencers.


Want to include your event below? Just reply with the details.

November 6, Royalton Park Avenue (29th St)
New York, NY
Serial Marketers has teamed up with First Wednesdays to bring back this long-standing tradition in NYC. Every month, we'll meet at the penthouse bar from 6-9. While Zack and Rachel post the event links on Facebook, if you want the recurring invite on your calendar, just let me know, and I'll add you to it.

November 14, 2pm EST
Virtual - exclusively in Serial Marketers
As I keep experimenting with new kinds of ways to engage with the Serial Marketers community, I'll be hosting a Q&A within Slack with one of my favorite authors and analysts, Charlene Li, who wrote The Disruption Mindset. You should read this book anyway because, well, she wrote it. But members of the community can ask her whatever's on your mind, and we'll see where the conversation goes. If you want me to send you a calendar invite (or an invite to the group), just say the word. And really, if you somehow haven't become a Li groupie yet, now is a very good time.

November 14
This is a little different for the newsletter, but Alona Fromberg-Elkayam is a marketer and creative lead who I admired ever since I worked with her on iCrossing's brand back in 2004. She has her next big show, "THEN WHAT," and you can check it out at the opening. I'll be there. RSVP here (it's free).  

Deadline to enter: November 22, 2019
Event: March 11, 2020
Austin, TX
Attention Designers! Place by Design is a pitch competition aimed at showcasing innovative and invigorating design in the public sphere. Urbanists, artists, architects, and designers have the opportunity to present their scalable solutions for improving our shared landscape. Reach out to Brian Wallace if interested and for a code to get the entrance fee waived.


Reach out to me if you want introductions or any additional information, and let me know if you have other job postings you'd like to share. There have also been many job updates within the Slack community, so if you're part of that, be sure to check the #jobs channel for more. 

Senior Director of Communications
Via Slack (DM Orli there or send someone my way and I'll connect you with her): "As the Senior Director of Communications, you will be responsible for the vision and execution of PR and Communications for the Company’s Brand and Product narratives including thought leadership positioning for the Executive Leadership Team.  This role will also help develop external stakeholder and community engagement strategies.  It’s an extraordinary opportunity to help a mission-based, high growth start-up, build a transformational brand in a commoditized category."

Senior Manager, Partner, Education & Training
Atlanta, GA
Via my friend Amanda: "I'm currently hiring for a head of partner education and training in Atlanta. It's basically building an academy to educate and certify agencies and freelancers on small business marketing and Mailchimp. Could be a cool role for a content marketing leader (editor/content strategist/etc) or someone with a customer training/certification background.  

Winter 2020 (January) Program - 10/28 deadline
I've been a mentor with Entrepreneurs Roundtable Accelerator for most of the past decade and am a big fan of the companies they select. Let me know if you're interested, and I'll put in a good word or add more color (be sure to still apply directly. "The companies selected to participate in the four-month program will receive a $100,000 investment and the potential for follow-on funding from ERA’s Fund."

Marketing Manager
Via Matthew K. in the Slack group, apply below or connect with him there. "We are an events organization with two large-scale conferences in Las Vegas every year. Our flagship event, Shoptalk, is the fastest-growing event in the history of retail--it takes place in March every year and brings together 8,000+ attendees from around the globe, including the heads of established retailers and brands, venture-backed startups, real estate developers and investment firms."


David Berkowitz, publisher


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