When I was a young salesperson, just starting out, I loved to complain. I complained about my prospects (or lack thereof) my coworkers, my manager, but most of all, I loved to complain about my marketing department.

As far as I was concerned, they were the ones holding me back. If they turned out better copy, better advertising, more commercials, I’d be successful! For some reason, I never looked in the mirror at my attitude. I think deep down I knew I wouldn’t like what I saw.

One day, while giving the marketing department my very best complaints, one of the older, wiser, seasoned sales professionals shut me down with one line:

“If you’re waiting for the marketing department to feed you, you’re going to die hungry.”

He went on to tell me that it was up to me to make my own market. These were the days before social media, but he showed me his calendar. It was full of speaking engagements. He had a column in the local paper. He sat on three volunteer boards. And he worked his butt off on the phone. He cultivated the image of an expert professional and that’s how people saw him.

With some work I learned this lesson.

If You're waiting for your marketing departmentI needed to build my own brand outside of that of my company. I couldn’t wait for someone else to do it for me.

Today, it’s easier than ever. Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook give us multiple ways to grab attention. Blogging, speaking and volunteering give us multiple ways to be seen as expert professionals.

Taking advantage of these tools, we all have the ability to become our own marketing departments. We can feed ourselves and not go hungry.

I think about this lesson a lot. Few things that I’ve been told have stuck with me the way his words have. It helped change my attitude. It made me take responsibility for all of my results, both good and bad and gave me some needed focus that has paid dividends ever since that day.

If you find yourself struggling, complaining and blaming, I would encourage you to remember this phrase and replace the words marketing department with whomever you’re blaming. No one is going to feed you. It’s up to you to stay fed.

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