Putting a Bow on 20 Years

Jim Karrh On Marketing

Putting a Bow on 20 Years

Over the years, I have come to appreciate the power of honest acknowledgement during important business conversations.

By that, I mean saying out loud what needs to be said about the situation at hand (both the good and the bad), the people involved and the emotions at play.

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This is particularly important when the conversation is about a big milestone (such as a work anniversary or the close of a project) or a substantial change (such as a change in policy or a merger). One of my first podcast guests was Chip Massey, formerly the lead hostage negotiator for the FBI’s Washington office. Chip’s advice during high-stakes conversations: “Never let an emotion go unlabeled.”

Well, I have come to one of those times. It has been 20 years since I began writing this “Karrh on Marketing” column for Arkansas Business and plenty of acknowledgement is in order. For me, this overriding emotion is gratitude.

No one would have ever expected a 20-year run. When I approached John Henry, Jeff Hankins and Gwen Moritz in 2001 with an idea for a recurring column of marketing tips, my wife and I had recently moved to Little Rock. I was a junior faculty member in the College of Business at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock.

Just for fun, I took a look back at my first couple of columns. Meh. In hindsight I really appreciate everyone’s patience as I found the voice for this format and we evaluated whether you readers were getting value.

I am also grateful that — even when my professional roles changed — Arkansas Business leaders and readers allowed me to continue. As I moved from a CMO role (with Mountain Valley Spring Co.) to agency roles to a solo consultancy, we used this column to share insights as business in the state changed as well.

I even shared other parts of the full Arkansas Business experience along the way, including a place on the 40 Under 40 list and a role in an Arkansas Business of the Year.

But I am most grateful to you, my readers. There have been a few notable experiences with readers outside of Arkansas — including a kind letter from the then-CEO of McDonald’s (no kidding) in response to a 2002 column titled “Fallen Arches” — but the best have been the everyday experiences with entrepreneurs, sales professionals, operations managers, board members, fundraisers, agency leaders and others working hard in the state. It has meant the world to me to hear when copies of (or links to) a column were part of a leadership retreat or sales meeting. I have appreciated your engagement even when you disagreed with a point or recommendation.

This column is my small attempt to acknowledge an important milestone and “put a bow on top” of 20 years. It is also my final column for Arkansas Business.

See, in addition to this milestone I am also making a substantial change. (In many ways, I am completing a professional circle.) Our family has very recently moved to SEC West Enemy Territory: Tuscaloosa, Alabama.

Why, you might reasonably ask? I accepted an offer as a clinical professor in the University of Alabama’s Culverhouse College of Business. In that role I will return to the classroom but also continue my work as a consultant, speaker, podcast host and whatever else it is that I do. Yes, I will have to put up with “Roll Tide” but I am excited about this additional role.

With a move outside of Arkansas, it is no longer appropriate for me to write for Arkansas Business.

I will miss it. Label me as grateful for the relationships, ideas and opportunities that have come as a result of this column and the connection to you.

I hope we can keep that connection strong for many more years to come.

Browse all 20 years of Jim’s column at arkansasbusiness.com/onmarketing.

Jim Karrh of Little Rock is a consultant and speaker, host of “The Manage Your Message Podcast” and author of “The Science of Customer Connections.” He really does want to keep in touch with you. Connect with him on LinkedIn.