10 Things I Learned in 2010: Josh Oakes

This is the second post in a series of year-end retrospectives from each member of the [meta]marketer staff.

You Can’t Have Too Much Data

I didn’t actually learn this in 2010, but it’s a perennial, no matter what business I’m in. You can’t have too much data, but you can have the wrong data, and you can use it poorly. But if you don’t know, then you don’t know. There is, however, a corollary to this…

More Data, More Problems

Data is subject to the laws of diminishing returns like any other factor of production. As you collect more data you must devote more resources to management and analysis, you’ll realize there is even more data you’re missing, and you’ll realize it isn’t more data, but more kinds and more relationships that are important. Because data storage is essentially free, we often forget that there are other costs associated with collecting and using it. That doesn’t mean it isn’t worth doing, it means the valuable, actionable insights that can grow out of your data don’t happen by accident.


One challenge that makes leadership and strategy interesting is that it requires both the gut-level, quick-thinking, pattern-recognizing parts of our brains that operate largely at the biological level but also the logical, deductive, analytical parts that are trained and developed. You can try to run an organization, project, or team with only one of them, but you’ll be missing opportunities.

Be Careful What You Measure

To be fair, I’m also cheating on this one – it isn’t something I learned in 2010, but it’s an idea whose significance continues to be underscored. At the most immediate level, that means don’t track something just because you can – because your POS software, or analytics software, or Bookkeeping software allows you to. At a higher level, if you measure success based on income, sales, or GDP, then you’re setting up a mental model that doesn’t value happiness, freedom, or peace.

I Can Work From an iPad, You Should Too

I had about a month and a half of 2010 where my then-laptop was totally unreliable. Being both a nerd and a pessimist, I do keep backup computers handy so I wasn’t rubbing sticks together during that time, but I still did most of my work on my iPad. Was it fast? No. Was it multitasking? No. Could it do everything? No. Was it enlightening, fun, and a glimpse at the future of computing? Yes.

Thinking Outside the Box Takes Space

We have three 4’ by 8’ windows, a 4’ by 8’ whiteboard, and access to a conference room with a 6’ by 4’ whiteboard. It isn’t enough.

First Bender, then Flexo, then Fry

Futurama references will go unnoticed and unappreciated in the [meta]marketer office.

I’m Roughly As Good At Money Management as Monkeys Are

Laurie Santos at TED

Peppers Grow Well In Middle Tennessee

And are delicious.

Wear Gloves When Working with Peppers

That one’s a freebie.

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