Revisiting the Rainforest and the Mountain.

We're on vacation this next couple of weeks, so I'm re-posting a Drift from last November. Hope it elevates your thinking amid a summer of refreshment and renewal.

We often hear the online advertising and marketing world described as an ecosystem. For digital sellers, it's far more instructive to visualize it as two very distinct ecosystems: The Rain Forest and the Mountain. While they sit in close proximity, they could not be more different from one another.

The Rain Forest is the world of media plans and RFPs, of DSPs and RTB and Data; a labyrinthine world of darkness punctuated by occasional shafts of light. It's the habitat of strange creatures circling one another, not sure which is predator and which is mate. There is little visibility in the Rain Forest, one blind passage leads to another. The seller who chooses to hunt and gather in the Rain Forest lives a life of uncertainty; a day of feast can be followed by weeks of famine. This week's food source quickly becomes next week's memory. Because the Rain Forest, as it turns out, is disappearing. It's becoming developed, mechanized, clear cut. Its unquestionable abundance has drawn the speculators, the miners, the builders. For the seller, it's getting smaller every day.

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Then there's the Mountain. It's the land of marketing, of business. The Mountain is the ecosystem where bigger issues are considered, where more profound questions are answered. Looking up through the branches of the Rain Forest, the Mountain can look daunting, a long and precipitous climb. But once you make that climb, the air is clear and you can see for miles. Clarity around business issues and marketing challenges can feel as brisk and invigorating as a cool north wind. The Mountain is not as crowded as the Rain Forest, and those who live there are able to live quite well....given the proper tools, preparation and provisions. While those in the Rain Forest busy themselves managing commodity, those on the Mountain work to create new value through ideas, connections, synthesis and vision. And they are well rewarded for doing so.

Think my purple prose is a little over the top? Maybe so. But if you're a seller - especially one in the early years of your career - these metaphors represent the very real choice you'll make about your future. And if you're a sales leader, they represent the choices you make about how you would have your team spending its time, energy and resources in the critical months and years ahead.

Life - and business - are all about choices.