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Netflix and Spotify Lessons on adaptability

Are you a Ninja? Not so sure I want to, I’ve worked very hard to get noticed

One simple word of experience.  When you hire in any field, most companies or candidates focus on the ‘know it all” profiles; some like to call them the ninjas, and I understand that in the ideal situation you will be able to find a plug and play candidate, ready to start being productive on their first day.  But with high hopes, come great disappointments.  

A company that focuses on a diverse team, feeds their innovation by hiring candidates with different backgrounds, and usually fill their positions focus on training, the long run objective, and allow new members of the team to absorb the culture and mission of the organization.

I have this very clear, and I’m also able to spot those organizations looking for the Ninja, and I sometimes doubt if they even know what they are looking for.  I personally have been in the media and communications business for more than 20 years, and recently expanded my skills by enrolling back in school, and completing a Master of Science in Marketing.  The credentials are important, don’t get me wrong, but at first glance I might not be the ideal candidate for a lot of the job descriptions out there, and there’s a simple reason for that. Some organizations are trying to match the “know it alls”, with their urgent needs, and then you hear them complain about low levels of retention.  

Yes, I’m currently in the job market, and these thoughts may be a little bias, but I have also been in the hiring manager chair, and for that reason I dare to give one word of advice:  Look for candidates that bring value because they have been trained in critical thinking. While interviewing focus on adaptability, malleability, and openness to new experiences. Once on board, focus on developing them to be passionate about the brand experience, and allow them to bring their backgrounds and merge into your culture.  You might not notice it immediately, but this the way innovation starts spreading like fire.      

Are you a Ninja? You don’t want a Ninja, you don’t need me to become a stealth soldier.  You may want to pay attention when I make an entrance…  


If there’s something we can transfer from new organizations to our personal brands is their capability to adjust.

When Netflix was in the business of DVD mailing subscription, and started eating Blockbuster’s market share, I doubt that they imagine the relevance they will acquired several years down the line in the business of original movies and series production.  When Spotify started their music streaming business, I doubt they were focused on conquering the podcast industry as they are doing right now. But these business giants have been able to adjust to the market realities and create products that are making a difference, Why? Because they have been listening to their audience, and utilizing technology to shape their business to the needs of their consumers.  

It is also important to notice that they have grown without compromising their brands, hence the importance of a clear mission statement.  

And speaking of brand understanding, precisely in Netflix’s Stranger Things (Season 3 Chapter 7), there is a scene where the kids are having a discussion about the New Coke vs The Original Coke, as in paying tribute to the infamous Cola wars fiasco that cost Coca Cola a lot of money.  Don’t worry no spoiler alerts here, the scene doesn’t add nor substract anything to the story, it is a straightforward sponsorship.

Back in 1985, Coca Cola decided to change their taste as a reaction to a very well executed campaign by Pepsi Cola, called the Pepsi Challenge.  In the campaign, blind folded participants tried Coca Cola and Pepsi Cola and had to decide which one was the best, basing their opinion on taste.  Pepsi came triumphant during their Pepsi Challenge, and Coca Cola reacted by introducing the New Coke. Little did they know the negative reaction they would receive from their customers.   The Coca Cola brand was loved because of the tradition and what it represented to the culture in the US. The taste was something that only Pepsi Cola seemed to care about, not Coca Cola’s customers.  (Further reading here)

Knowing what your brand is about is crucial when exploring growth and how adjustable your organization can be. Knowing this, have been crucial nowadays for Netflix as it continues to explore models through these sponsorships during times when media organizations are questioning and exploring new formulas in an OTT universe that continues to expand. 

And as I was binge watching Stranger Things, and have continued expanding my podcast subscription queue, I was thankful to organizations like Spotify and Netflix for their lessons on malleability, and for showing me the importance of reinvention when confronted with markets that continue to transform… for all that and also for allowing a Marketer in the room where those decisions happened.   


Spotify’s mission statement reads like this: “Our mission is to unlock the potential of human creativity—by giving a million creative artists the opportunity to live off their art and billions of fans the opportunity to enjoy and be inspired by it.”

And here’s Netflix’s: “Our core strategy is to grow our streaming subscription business domestically and globally. We are continuously improving the customer experience, with a focus on expanding our streaming content, enhancing our user interface and extending our streaming service to even more Internet-connected devices, while staying within the parameters of our consolidated net income and operating segment contribution profit targets.”

Photo by Aisha Askhadova on Unsplash

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