I think a great marketing technologist should be part optimist, part pessimist.
The optimist needs to indulge his or her imagination to drive the organization forward. To wonder, “what if?” To keep an open mind about new technologies and processes. To engage in the sort of creative free association and collaborative brainstorming that leads to innovation. And, most importantly, to be fearless in diving into the implementation of those ideas, making them real.
The pessimist — or realist, some would say — needs to ask, “What can go wrong?” It’s a different kind of imagination, anticipating the ways that things might not work as expected. Of course, to be useful and not annoying, it needs to be combined with solutions for plugging those holes, guarding against those contingencies, or calculating when certain risks are acceptable and not worth addressing.
Another way to think of it is as two sides of a game strategy: offense and defense.
The optimist without the pessimist builds spectacular skyscrapers that fall apart when the first woodpecker gives them a rap. The pessimist without the optimist may never conceive of the skyscraper in the first place.
The Zen of Marketing Technology exists in the balance between these two halves.