Mark Schaefer giving a presentation

Breakthrough Interview with Mark Schaefer

We launched our exciting new “Breakthrough with Brilliance” interview series featuring emerging and established “game-changers” in late 2016. We’re thrilled to have this opportunity to interview one of the brightest minds and luminaries in modern marketing today, Mark Schaefer. 

Mark W. Schaefer is a globally-recognized author, speaker, podcaster, and business consultant who blogs at {grow} — one of the top five marketing blogs of the world. He leads many sessions of our Rutgers Business School Executive Education programs and has written five best-selling books including The Tao of Twitter and The Content Code, named by INC magazine as one of the top five marketing books of the year. Mark also wrote the classic first book on influence marketing, Return On Influence. His many global clients include Pfizer, Cisco, Dell, Adidas, and the US Air Force. He has been a keynote speaker at prestigious events all over the world including SXSW, Marketing Summit Tokyo, and the Institute for International and European Affairs. In addition, Mark is a popular and entertaining commentator and has appeared on many national television shows and periodicals including the Wall Street Journal, Wired, The New York Times, CNN, National Public Radio, CNBC, the BBC and the CBS NEWS

Jackie Scott: Let’s get started.  What’s your personal definition of a breakthrough?

Mark Schaefer: I have a pretty high standard for breakthroughs! For me it is doing something that has never been done before. 

It took me a long time to figure out my gift. I was never a great athlete or musician but I eventually realized that I could think through trends. I have a good sense of where things are heading and where a business needs to go. This has been a great help in my role as a marketing strategist and it also helps me create ideas that have never been created before.

An example would be my book "Return On Influence" which was the first book on influence marketing and correctly predicted it would be a mainstream marketing trend. I also think my approach to modern marketing problems in "The Content Code" is breakthrough thinking. Similarly, my new book "KNOWN" codifies a step-by-step process to become known in the digital age which has never been done before.

Scott: I would add your first book “The Tao of Twitter” to the list. “The Tao” was risky and required some brave new thinking, and in my humble opinion was definitely ahead of its time.  Who is a breakthrough thinker you admire and why?

Schaefer: Peter Drucker. Amazing man. I was lucky enough to study under Dr. Drucker for three years when I was in grad school in California. He had the brilliant ability to distill even the most complex concepts into the essence. His writing from 30, 40 or even 50 years ago is still routinely quoted today. What other business leader could claim that? A revolutionary thinker.

Scott: Peter Drucker is an excellent example of a breakthrough thinker and is quoted frequently in our programs!  What company or brand do you admire for breaking though?

Schaefer:  On the surface this is going to sound like a weird answer but I would say Coca-Cola -- a company with a product that never changes.  

This company pulls off the miraculous achievement of re-inventing itself for every generation while holding on to its core customers. Coke has been a relevant, youth-oriented product for more than a hundred years. Nobody else comes close to that track record. The key to their success is deeply understanding trends, culture, and technology and taking advantage of every weapon at their disposal. They are among the best story-tellers on earth.  

When you think about it, they need to break through in the way they present the brand every month, every year, without exception and without end and never mess it up!

Scott: You are right! Coca-Cola has been creating complete, compelling and connected brand experiences without losing sight of the brand purpose & promise for generations.   They make it look so easy! My last question is optional and just for fun…if we were to make a movie about your life, who would you like to play you? 

Schaefer: I guess the person who comes to mind is Tom Hanks. He seems like a good guy. Takes some risks. Keeps it clean.  And Apollo 13 is about my favorite movie so he checks all the boxes!

Scott: Perfect pick!  Tom Hanks is uber talented, has amazing range and is widely known as the ‘the nicest guy in Hollywood’.  You are an amazing writer, inspirational speaker and are widely known as “the nicest and most helpful guy in social media”!  Thanks for your time today Mark and to borrow a line from a “Toy Story” tune – “You’ve got a friend in me”!  Wishing you all the best on your new book “KNOWN”.

To learn more about Mark Schaefer please visit

And just for fun, check out this hilarious 7 minute “filmography” featuring Tom Hanks

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We have many marketing programs that are about to begin both in online and in-class formats. Contact Christina Murphy, 848-445-9243 or for more information and to see which program best fits your needs.

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