Jump & Justify & Marketing

In the last five months, I’ve gotten to the final round of job interviews three times. I got none of them. These are real interviews, big boy interviews: phone calls, multiple in-person meetings with Vice presidents and execs, writing samples, references called, etc.

So my confidence has suffered a bit, naturally.

But that’s not really what I want to write about. I want to write real quickly about jump and justify. It was one of the first improv concepts I learned, 18 months ago from Shana Merlin.

Throughout my job interviews, a few improv philosophies have appeared. Jump and justify is one of them. The idea of the concept is: you jump somewhere in a scene (make an offer) and then justify it. It’s more fun that way. It keeps scenes moving.

And it’s a good rule in, if not always your actual job role, at least in the job search: jump and justify. Here’s what I mean:

I do a few things professionally—but most of them involve direct communication with people, constantly. Training, marketing content creation, general writing tasks, etc. My jobs have almost always boiled down to: can I communicate this complex idea in a simple, compelling manner?

In marketing, we should jump to an idea, and then do the justification. Because improv reminds us that not only is the justification usually fairly simple to create, but it’s often the fun, meaty part of a scene. The jump can be great; the justification can be delightful. Same with how we promote and market ourselves:

Make a bold statement that differentiates your group, product, service, whatever. Then worry about the justification.

Let me be clear: it’s obviously a bad idea to just go around doing whatever the fuck you want I. Your job. But so much of day-to-day business is just well-crafted bullshit. Let’s not forget that. And your job, as someone wishing to crush it in your job or job hunt, is to set yourself apart, for good or bad. And that’s part of the deal: you gotta be willing to fail (another improv lesson!). But the only thing that will differentiate you is to make solid offers, to jump.

Here’s an example:
When I send cover letters out, I’ll often say something like, “The thing about most professional training, no matter the subject or topic, is terrible. Most people dread training, especially some quiet online course. It doesn’t have to be that way. Creating high-quality training is not rocket science, but it does require a willingness to defy conventions, to speak to clients where they are…”

I’m paraphrasing, but not much. Another example would be a writing sample I recently created that attempted to explain the benefits of a particular piece of fundraising software. I can’t include it here, but it was motherfucking bold. It spoke in direct, dramatic, benefit-focused, self-deprecating, simple sentences. I’m proud as hell of it. (Still didn’t get the job.)

But you know, fuck them for not hiring me. Because what they hired is, I’m highly confident, is some dull, traditional worker bee, who will quietly continue to churn out dull, industry-standard content. That company will continue to claw along doing exactly those things that have left them small and indistinguishable.

There’s a much larger topic emerging from this post, something about improv and marketing and media saturation and psychology and maybe my lingering resentment.

But I had a fourth final interview today, and it went well. And I’ll probably know soon. And if I get it, awesome. And if not, absolutely no worries. None at all.

Failure bow.

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