I would never have made a name for myself in marketing had I not studied philosophy and human behavior for the last couple of decades. Classical knowledge is critical to success in any field, which is why the world’s finest military officers still study disciplines that have no direct relation to warfare.

Digging deep into the history of humanity, one will find a number of maxims that have survived for centuries. I can think of no better way to identify a useful concept than its innate persistence; in the case of “Festina Lente”, a concept that has lived since the time of Aristotle, there’s a universal relevance that can’t be ignored.

Through time, this motto has been adopted by the the emperors Augustus and Titus, and by the Medicis who controlled Florence throughout most of the Renaissance. More recently and with much less recognition, I’ve adopted this maxim and often relay it to my friends and clients.

What is “Festina Lente”?

The term is a Latin translation from the original Greek, and it translates again to “make haste slowly”. An oxymoron, certainly, but a bit of wisdom that has earned its place among the most well-known classical thoughts still studied by modern academia.

In many ways, the core concept can be likened to ideas such as “presence” and “awareness” in Eastern belief systems, but I think of it as having a more action-oriented spin.

At its heart, Festina Lente reminds us to think about what we’re doing before we do it. It’s a tonic against rashness, emotional decision-making, and foolhardiness.

These are all negative things that we’ve encountered in the business world, right? And their application rarely ends well.

“Slow and Steady Wins the Race”

I frequently encounter people, clients or otherwise, who want to rush through important business decisions. I’ve noticed that this tends to happen quite frequently when the decision involves a part of the business that they don’t understand or don’t fully appreciate.

Marketing serves as a great example.

Those who don’t understand the depth and scope of marketing as a discipline often see it as a simple, even expendable part of doing business. To those folks, the only challenge of marketing is the time involved, and they will often view marketing experts as drones whose key value is that they enjoy toiling away at these time-consuming processes.

Obviously, I don’t agree with this assessment.

Fact: To fail to respect the levels of intelligence, training, education, and creativity that go into effective marketing is to fail to use marketing effectively.

If someone doesn’t understand marketing, they will often take the approach of “just do the thing and do it fast” with their marketing staff or expert of choice. Again, this is the foundation of failure, as the ultimate goal of our work is not to see if we can break the internet with the number of emails that we send out at any given time.  

“Just do whatever marketing is and do it fast” is an approach that will waste your time and money.

Personally, I don’t like being ineffective, so I will often cite “Festina Lente” as a balm to soothe this type of eagerness.

Quality over quantity applies to what I do. Deliberation beats aggression every time. Like it or not, you must start at the beginning with things like discovery and strategizing. If your marketing professional doesn’t know anything about you or your company and they’re already blasting out emails they’re doing it wrong, regardless of how “productive” they appear to be.  

Festina Lente. Do it thoughtfully. Do it with a plan.


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