Jordan Ogren

November 12, 2021

Want to suffer less? Find less meaning. 🤔


"Hey Jordan, it's dad, are you alone?"

"Yea, what's up?

"…your brother is getting a divorce."


Have you ever gotten a call like that? Or a text message?

The ones that make your knees wobble. And your throat knots up.

Yea, I hate them. I'm sorry if you've ever had to experience one. But, that's not what this email is about. 

When I gave my brother a ride back "home" a day after getting that call, he was talking to me in the car. He was rambling somewhat, understandably, trying to reason why it fell apart.

He explained how in the past, most of his relationships crashed and burned. So there was a clear reason why it didn't work. This time was different.

He was slipping on ice, attempting to find a "reason" for the fallout. There was none.

Long after that conversation, I realized a basic human trait: 

We involuntarily attempt to attach meaning to everything that "does not work." 

Humans are meaning-making machines

My example is my panic attacks and anxiety from March to July. Without even applying any energy, my mind was trying to find reasons for why it happened.

Maybe it was overworking?
Maybe it was too much pressure at work?
Maybe I was grieving the death of my old life (college, unmarried)?

Regardless, my mind went wild trying to find a reason. And I believe much of my suffering was due to not finding one and being unsettled about it. I was unable to sit with the uncertainty.

Many marketers struggle with this, too (You knew I would take this back to marketing at some point).

We put fantastic work into the world, and it flops. Then we, as meaning-making machines, attempt to find a reason for why it didn't work. This could be for many reasons:

  1. We want to improve the next "thing," so we want to find out what went wrong to improve for the future.
  2. We want to have an excuse for why it didn't go well—we want to blame anything other than ourselves for the failure.
  3. We cannot sit with the uncertainty concept that rules marketing, love (my brother's situation), and the world.

In the end, searching for meaning when one is not near limits our growth and introduces much suffering. Of course, I'm not saying don't track your marketing. 

Data can be a lot of help, but it can't predict the future and people. Using data, customer feedback, and other objective measures is excellent, but you can't lose sight of the alchemy (magic) that is at play.

⚔️ Marketeer insights:
  • 1 + 1 ≠ 2 in life or marketing—you can't always "predict" what will work and bring real change
  • Have a good feedback loop tied to data, but realize when anomalies happen and move on if you can learn nothing directly
    • You'll always subconsciously learn through experience (indirect learning)
  • Reduce the amount of stress you experience by understanding that luck and alchemy are at play in every marketing endeavor

I think the advice I gave my brother right before dropping him off is applicable here:

Love is not math. You can't work the equation backward to find where the calculation was incorrect and fix it to solve it. Many things are happening under the surface that dictate the results.

Marketing is no different. I've had moments of disappointment in marketing when I was like my brother, confused why something didn't work. And instead of moving on and growing through experience, I sulked and stalled.

How do you get over failures or setbacks that have no rhyme or reason?

🧠 + ❤️ // JO

P.S. I'm rooting for you. I may not know you, but I'm supporting you because you're here supporting me on my journey. So please, never hesitate to reach out.

Peace be with you.