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CPSM: Make ‘Em An Offer They Can’t Refuse!

Brando, Pacino, Duvall. Three great actors were cast in three iconic roles. As great as they were, none could play all three.

Leading your firm’s marketing effort may not be as dangerous as running a crime syndicate. But there are strong emotions, conflicting personalities, and differing priorities and leadership styles to navigate all along the way. All of these can be intensified by disruptive change, such as reorganizations, leadership transitions, or staff turnover – to say nothing of changes in the competitive landscape that are beyond everyone’s control! CPSM certification gives you the versatility to manage in the teeth of change.

The CPSM credential gives you good tools and a good structure for learning. It can help you navigate a variety of situations. But “being a CPSM” will only add value to you and your firm if you can better manage change while still performing well in your current role in your organization.

If your primary duty is to keep a busy department on schedule, then you may be better off not seeking out a problem, but instead waiting for one to appear on its own. When it does, your CPSM stature will give you prior authority to handle the problem when it becomes self-evident, and before it becomes a serious threat.

In The Godfather, there were three characters that were central to running the Corleone crime family:

  • Don Vito, the patriarch, who establishes the family’s connections and builds a network of favors and a reputation for being generous but tough. He is able to diplomatically avoid bad investments, dubious allies, and rash decisions made in anger. He sets the example that all his sons and lieutenants observe and creates the culture they all strive to function within.
  • Tom Hagen, the consiglieri, who is adopted by the Don, accepted as a brother by his children, sent to law school on the strength of his intelligence, and groomed to be the Don’s technical specialist and trusted adviser. Early in the story, it is Hagen who is the Don’s alter ego and proxy, negotiating first, and finally getting his hands dirty (bloody) to show the family’s strength and resolve.
  • Michael, the straight-arrow son, who is moved to take decisive – and deadly – action by his loyalty to the family, and his sense of responsibility to protect his family’s honor and their lives.

These are three distinct characters. Their contrasts are striking: The Don holds things together; Michael shakes things up. Tom Hagen is the specialist; Michael Corleone acts on instinct.


The Don holds things together. Michael shakes things up.

Tom and Michael are both change agents in The Godfather – but in different ways. Tom Hagen is a family insider, but is also in touch with the times. He is more a product of America rather than the ethnic identification and humbler times of the Don and his son. Michael purges the family and “settles all family business” – not to break from The Don’s ways, but rather to carry this legacy forward, as it is in clear danger of being destroyed after The Don’s death.

Tom Hagen is the technician; Michael manages on instinct.

Tom Hagen is the technician; Michael acts on instinct.

You have a part to play in your organization. But it’s not up to you which one it is. What you learn in the CPSM program may be uniform. But the most actionable takeaways are different for everyone. There are many other CPSMs whose contrasting strengths can balance out your own when you need to accomplish critical things in your job and career.

If you’re considering pursuing CPSM certification to advance your career, have an idea of which of these archetypes you can play, and be prepared to seek out those firms that are currently casting for those roles. This way, you will have opportunities to play different roles at different points in your career. Also, more HR directors, principals, and up and coming firm leaders will see the advantage of doing business with a CPSM on their team.


Make the CPSM an offer they can’t refuse!


Mike Sweeney, CPSM is the Principal of Design-product Systems, which provides content development, marketing automation, and marketing management services to firms and individuals in the A/E/C industry Mike brings IT industry expertise and design studio training to bear in helping firms develop new or updated marketing materials and information systems.

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