How having sons can enhance your career

I am a marketer. Having sons has made me look at life in different ways and rebel against some of my thinking.  It has also made me much better at what I do. Expect the unexpected.  I have only sisters.  My mother had sisters. My father had sisters.  Then my sisters and I started pumping out boys.  I was totally unprepared to raise sons -- from the hosing during a diaper change  to the endless loudness and roughhousing that I always thought meant they were trying to kill each other (they were not.)  They truly were weird and exotic creatures to me. And they made me look at the world completely differently.

Here's the thing about being a marketer -- it works best when I discover the unexpected.  It may be a customer insight.  It may be a benefit to a product that was not originally planned. It may be spotting a trend.  The unexpected feeds the creative juices and can truly make a different in persuading people to buy a product or service.

Men and women are different. I can hear you scoffing: "She really didn't know that?!?"  Well, not really.  See, between having only sisters and coming of age in a generation intent on proving that women and men were equal, I didn't really believe that boys were innately different than girls.  So while my sons were raised progressively,  they totally preferred trucks, guns and action figures from the beginning.  They wouldn't have been caught dead in a dollhouse and had absolute distain for anything pink or frilly.  The big exceptions were Cabbage Patch kids and stuffed animals.

At the beginning of my career as a marketer,  we really didn't make much of a distinction between men and women. Geography, age, interests, attitude and purchasing patterns were the variables we tended to look at. But then we all started to wake up. Companies finally understood that women often think and act differently than men.  No longer was it enough for a car salesperson to include a wife in the conversation; cars started being directly marketed to women.  Now we enter an age where youth is pushing the boundaries to a no gender place.  What fun!

Emotional guys.  From my conversations with other mothers, I assumed that girls -- particularly teenagers -- would be emotional wrecks on a high wire while boys would be more collected and calm. Girls would wear their hearts on their sleeves; boys would be stoic.  Nope. My sons were emotional as kids and are still emotional as adults.  It's one of the reasons why they are such amazing fathers.  They don't try to hide joy or sadness all that much.  They have big, big hearts.

I think smart advertisers really get that emotion moves men just as much as women.  Budweiser. Microsoft. Jeep.  Just take a look at these Super Bowl commercials.

Do we need to show men weeping or bring them to tears? Nope.  I haven't seen my son Joe cry in 15 years.  But, when I see him playing with his daughter,  it is pure emotion.