To Thank an Industry (or a Method of Marketing)

On Nov. 12, more than 300 colleagues in our field gathered at the Direct Marketing Club of New York’s 31st Silver Apples Gala. I am humbled to be a 2015 recipient.

On Nov. 12, more than 300 colleagues in our field gathered at the Direct Marketing Club of New York’s 31st Silver Apples Gala. I am humbled to be a 2015 recipient. Let me find a way to say “thank you” in this blog post — by prefacing these remarks with an echo from Direct Marketing Association Hall of Famers and industry advocates Pete Hoke and John Yeck, who would have corrected my headline: “Direct marketing is not an industry — it’s a method of marketing used by all industries.”

And so it is.

What a night to be honored, especially because the “Father of Direct Marketing” Lester Wunderman received a rare “Golden Apple.”

My Mom always dreamed I’d get a job hosting on QVC. Mom, you just never know, no one knows, just what’s next for Chet Dalzell. Instead, I wound up at DMA, Harte Hanks and Digital Advertising Alliance — plus freelancing for a host of DM leaders — and in this dynamo of a city, in this fascinating marketing discipline, I truly found a home.

When we look this year’s honorees, and the entirety of the Silver Apples honorees since 1985, these are movers and shakers in the marketing. These are people who have defined this business, exemplified leadership and shown us how to give back. They are my colleagues and my clients, they are our innovators and teachers. I am only around to amplify their messages.

I learned that in looking for a great job, you look for a great boss and a great client. I’ve had them all, in Jonah Gitlitz and Connie LaMotta (DMA), in Richard Hochhauser and Mitch Orfuss (Harte Hanks), in Lou Mastria (Digital Advertising Alliance) – and in marketing leaders such as Liz Kislik, Rick Witsell, JoAnne Dunn, Peg Kuman, George Wiedemann, Terri Bartlett and — of course — my blog editors at Target Marketing. Through these wonderful individuals, you wake up and realize that the best boss in the world is yourself.

There are plenty more I love and adore in my professional and personal life — and there’s no justice in trying to include them all by name. Instead, let me pass on a few pearls I’ve learned from them, and see if the necklace fits:

  • Get up every day and smile. Just being on the journey gives you gratitude. And with a smile, gratitude can be shared.
  • Think of everyone as an individual, and walk a mile in his shoes — and five miles in hers. Feel her joy and pain. See what life could be like.
  • Listen to that little boy or girl inside, every day — and act on what he or she has to say. When we were in kindergarten, we all raised our hands when the teacher asked if there was an artist in the room. Somehow, many of us forgot how to express ourselves creatively.
  • Patience, kindness and love wins the race. If you’re employing other means to get ahead, choose another race.
  • Live to learn — and be the dumbest person in the room. In other words, surround yourself with people who share their intelligence, and never stop asking them how and why. (Oh, and read The Economist.)
  • Standing still breeds crisis. Instead keep asking “what’s next?” And prepare.

To my New York family — from friends, to clients, to leaders in this field — I “thank you” for keeping me around. I love you and this life you’ve made possible, to which my own personal family says thank you, too.

Mr. Wunderman, look what we’ve done to your song.