Taking the Path of Least Resistance

by | Marketing Leadership, Prudence

Human beings love the path of least resistance. We want the easy route to success, fame, wealth or power. Time and effort are for chumps.


Managing partners want a brand like Apple. Practice leaders want super-charged growth—today. Business developers want uncontested, easy to close leads. Thought leaders want to be published in the Harvard Business Review, speak at Davos, and be quoted on the front page of the WSJ after producing their first whitepaper. Marketers want their campaigns to go viral. Closer to home, my high school son wants to play his viola at Carnegie Hall and my daughter wants an Academy award but both would rather spend the day surfing social media than practice his/her craft.

Our society thinks that there’s always shortcut, overnight success is the norm, and that hard work is the exception. How did we get here?!


Last week, I had a wonderful exchange with Sarah, a blog reader, after she read Identifying Market Opportunities. She shared several thoughtful comments on the post. Here are a few excerpts from the exchange:

SARAH: “Jeff, …I appreciate your approach to marketing, maybe because mine runs along the same lines. Yet I have wondered how big the market is for prudence over the next shiny thing or easy answers. That could sound offensive, or like a challenge, but it’s really a simple wondering, given my experience in professional services. Of course – prudence is a virtue, and not an easy one to attain.”

JEFF: “The market is SMALL, but it doesn’t have to be huge for me. I have no desire to be another marketing agency spewing more on ridiculous fads, hype, and half-truths. Most people don’t even know what prudence means or that it’s even a virtue. They think it is a punchline of an SNL skit. I don’t care. Our business world and our society have become far too vacuous, selfish, and greedy for my tastes.”

I primarily work with Managing Partners who are tired of the old BS of PS, up-or-out, dog-eat-dog, I’m-a-partner-you’re-not approaches. I tell them to forget “shiny objects” and that differentiation is NOT easy. My best clients appreciate the honesty.

SARAH: “That’s true – and I’m glad you’re doing it. Someone has to. I’ve come to find marketing gross, in so many ways, and I do what I can to do it well.”

JEFF: “Don’t let marketing be gross!  Remember what I wrote, Marketing, teaching, therapy, and priesthood are all the same basic profession. If you want to be a great marketer…, be generous with your time, ideas, listening, and support in order to help others, not in order to sell something to anyone who will buy it.”

SARAH: I love that! That’s what I’m trying to do…and bring people along with me…



Sarah gets it.

She understands change is hard. She also knows that the path of least resistance is to just keep your head down, don’t rock the boat, and just put in your time.

But, people like Sarah, the managing partners I work with, and I want something more. We know that it neither comes easy nor fast. We also know that just because an object is shiny doesn’t mean it’s valuable. Don’t let the fleeting, instantaneous world of social media convince you that success comes easy and that hard work is for chumps.

Be prudent.

About the Author

Jeff McKay
Founder & CEO
Prudent Pedal

As a strategist and fractional CMO, Jeff helps firms set smart growth strategies in motion. He was the SVP of Marketing at Genworth Financial, the Global Marketing Leader at Hewitt Associates, and held senior roles at Towers Perrin and Andersen. Learn more.

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