Editor's Note May: Overcoming Fear, Becoming Leaders

Editor's Note
Thomas Haire

During his welcome address at MTC Expo last month, John Yarrington, the long-time publisher of Response, spoke candidly about fear and leadership. 

Yarrington noted during his speech that many people — as accomplished as they may be — fear being leaders. “We love, respect, and admire leaders. But why do so many of us fear becoming leaders? Do we fear the responsibility? The tough, scary decisions? Owning those decisions when things go wrong?” he asked.

“How many leaders do we have here tonight?” Yarrington queried the crowd. Though nearly everyone on hand that evening was a manager, not everyone raised a hand. “I see 300 leaders … why didn’t I see 300 hands?” Yarrington asked.

Yarrington continued, “There’s nothing wrong with being a manager, but why stop there? Management is about doing things right. Leadership is about doing the right thing.”

Then — to prove to the 300 attendees on hand for the Expo’s keynote event that each of them is, in fact, a leader (“All of you have the traits, the ability to be a leader. Will you activate those traits?”) — he attacked one of his greatest fears: singing in public.

What did those leaders in the audience do: they lifted Yarrington up, by singing along with him to Neil Diamond’s “Sweet Caroline.” 

John YarringtonIt was a memorable and moving moment — and one filled with laughter, as well. The group’s efforts put everyone in a perfect mood to hear from a trio of inspirational motivators who shared the Expo keynote stage: Allison Massari, Janet Evans, and Carey Lohrenz (click here for more on the keynote event and here for more on all of MTC Expo).

As times change in the performance marketing space — and we move into the next phase, a phase where, Yarrington said, “media plus technology equals commerce” — it will take a corps of leaders who attack the change they may fear to drive the business to new heights. Picking each other up, carrying each other forward, facing the challenges — and breaking through into new avenues of success: these are the things leaders do.

Need more examples? Just take a look at a few of the marketing leaders who are taking on challenges and building new successes in the pages of this issue: Sun Lee of SurveyMonkeyScott Berger of Dish Media Sales and Michaela Giovengo of Hulu; Higher Power Marketing’s Peter Feinstein and more.

As marketing becomes ever more convoluted and consumers gain more control of the messaging they see and hear, leaders — like you — become more important to our business’ success. Will you overcome your fear and answer the call?

— Thomas Haire, Editor-in-Chief
Twitter: @THrants

Read more on