Success Is a Marathon; Failure Is a Sprint: Lessons in Marketing and Branding

There are sports and military metaphors aplenty about business success, with a seemingly never-ending pile of books — a ziggurat of intersecting hardcover and paperback tomes, positioned on a north-south and east-west axis like an art exhibition — in which each author’s name and photo looks like a three-dimensional topographical map, with the forehead ridges and creases, and the broad smiles and dimples of one of several supreme salesmen and speakers.
These are the promise-makers: The writers in name only, whose books contain the words and phrases of that literary apparition known as the ghostwriter, who have the secret — never mind the different and contradictory secrets among these individuals — regarding instant fame and personal riches; these are the impassioned preachers of the five to seven (or eight to ten) steps to quick revenues and profits, for whom any stairway to spiritual wealth or ladder to divine enlightenment is superfluous; these are the video pastors with tens of millions of viewers, the YouTube evangelists and vocational disciples of Vimeo, who conflate shouting with sincerity; these are the ostentatious operators of conspicuous consumption, using their own property (and their use of beautiful women as property) as proof of the riches you can possess.

Despite their conflicting theories and trite anecdotes, despite their clichés and atrocious prose, these books almost always reduce business success from a marathon to a sprint.

For, to segue into the metaphorical world of athletics in general and running in particular, these books eliminate the training and conditioning — they delete the strength and endurance — necessary for withstanding 26.2 miles of physical resistance and psychological resilience; they dismiss the importance of dietary restrictions and individual resolutions, in favor of a downhill sprint with a finish line that rewards everyone by bestowing the laurels of victory unto anyone.


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