7 Reasons Why “C” Students Crush “A” Students When It Comes to Online Marketing

by Marcus Sheridan

C studentYes, I know, I’m lumping a lot of people together with the title of this post but for the most part, it’s true, at least symbolically, as the “C student” is crushing the “A student” online every day, which begs the question—Why?

About a year ago the subject of this article started percolating in my head. I’d just received an email from Lewis Howes—the kind he sends out to his list—and within the email there was a typo.

As I saw this typo, I literally chuckled out loud, not because I’m pretty  skilled at typos myself, but mainly because it was so very symbolic of Lewis and almost every single other ultra-successful online business (individual brand or  larger company) I’d witnessed in the digital realm since I actively joined it in 2009.

You see, this wasn’t the first time I’d received an email with a typo from Lewis. Nope, there had been others, and despite the fact that Lewis may not have had a professional editor reviewing his stuff, nor managed to garner a “perfect score” on his writing exam, the guy was absolutely, and still is to this day, crushing it.

And why was he crushing it? Simple, he was in almost every way an example of the following list, a list of qualities that I keep seeing again and again and again with the greatest online marketers and businesses in the world today.

7 Reasons Why C Students Dominate the Web

1. C-Students Hustle: Surprisingly, I’ve seen the word “hustle” frowned up by some folks in recent years, almost as if it was a crude method whereby to attain some measure of success. I think such thoughts are a total crock. In fact, “hustle” is more underrated today than it has ever been, and I’d take it over genius brains any day of the week.

Hustlers are relentless. They push and push, without ceasing. Gary Vaynerchuk was one of the first that brought “hustle” to the forefront of the online world but many have since followed, Ryan Hanley (Insurance Industry) and Danielle Vasta (Pet Sitting Industry) come to mind here,  bringing “hard work” to a whole, new level.

2. C-Students don’t stay within the lines: Creativity is the name of the game in the online world. Whereas the A-student often needs a checklist and a nice, step-by-step guide to complete tasks, the C-student looks to clear their own path and blaze a new trail. Sure, sometimes the trail blows up in their face, but it’s also what creates new discoveries mixed with greatness. My friend David Frey is a tremendous example of this.

3. C-Students don’t care how daddy did it: This may sound mean, but “the way Daddy did it” has killed more business and marketing success stories than one could possibly count. In a digital age where change is traveling faster than the Earth itself, Daddy’s way often doesn’t pay the bills. (See Kmart)

Kmart is a great example of a company that simply didn't embrace change, costing them greatly in the long run.

Kmart is a great example of a company that simply didn’t embrace change, costing them greatly in the long run.

4. C-Students don’t hold their finger in the air to check what direction the wind is blowing: That’s right, they don’t, mainly because they don’t care. If they have a gut feeling, they often go with it, and watch the results later.

5. C-Students don’t care if everything is just right: Not too long ago I had a client that delayed the start of their blog for weeks simply because they didn’t like the shade of green on their blog’s home page. (Seriously, I’m not kidding.) Needless to say, that client has yet to experience much success online.

At the reverse end of this, over the past 6 months I’ve been working with a company called Ongoing Operations, led by an incredible leader in Kirk Drake. Some of you may remember how Kirk managed to produce over 100 blog posts in less than 5 hours, but more importantly, the whole reason why Kirk exploded out the gate when he embraced content marketing was because he accepted the fact he and his employees weren’t necessarily perfect writers, but nothwithstanding,  was willing to take the steps to simply “get better.”

When it comes down to it, there is no such thing as “just right” or perfect online.

Your website will never be right.

Your writing style will never be right.

And your business will certainly never be just right.

Embrace imperfection. Run with it and fix on the fly, it’s the stuff every champion is made of.

6. C-Students aren’t afraid to get a bad grade: For some folks, the word “fail” is debilitating. For others, it holds little significance, as there is always the next test, the next opportunity, or the next project. Although I doubt he was an actual C-student, Seth Godin speaks much of this principle with all of his words. We all see the man as a genius, yet many of his projects have been complete “failures.” Despite this, he keeps creating his own type of art, no matter what the critics say.

7. C-Students understand not everything will be their best work: I’m amused with much of the ongoing quality vs. quantity debate online. These days, many folks want to be a “quality judge” and talk down the idea of doing anything less than a 10 out of 10. Again, I think this is a crock.

There is a time to create great video.

There is a time to create average video.

There is a time to write pillar blog posts with hours of research.

There is a time to slap something together in 20 minutes.

There is a time to tweet inspired thoughts.

There is a time to tweet about what you ate for dinner.

On a personal level, I’ve had amazing results with all of the above, and am mystified by anyone who would make an individual or company feel inferior just because their content didn’t fall into the mythical “amazing” category that is frankly so relative that it doesn’t exist in the first place.

Your Turn:

I want to again state that I’m not saying with this post that all A Students don’t have some of the above qualities. Obviously, there are a million exceptions, but hopefully you get my point.

That being said, I’m curious to know what qualities would you add to the list? What have been some of your experiences with what I mentioned above? As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts.

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{ 73 comments… read them below or add one }

Ryan Hanley June 20, 2013 at 12:55 pm


I love the word “Hustle.” If you didn’t play sports maybe you don’t get why, maybe you’re thinking “Hustle” like “Swindle,” but the fact remains there are two types of successful people:

-> Those with extreme God given talent who hustle

-> Those who are really stinking lucky and hustle

The common denominator is HUSTLE. Putting in the work. Doing the job. Shipping… The terminology doesn’t matter.

You can pay someone to nit-pick tiny details.

…and dude, very much appreciate the shout out.

Keep killin’ it bro,



Marcus Sheridan June 21, 2013 at 1:03 am

Glad you talked about the word Hustle Hanley. You represent it as well as anyone I know my friend. :-)



Iain June 25, 2013 at 5:39 am

I think many people do associate it negative feelings.

I’m not sure why though. As you mentioned, when you play sports you have to hustle to get the ball. Otherwise, you’re going to miss out.

The same thing can be applied when you run a business. You gotta hustle.


Wade June 20, 2013 at 2:46 pm

Well, you’ve made me feel better about my grade in college anyway!


Marcus Sheridan June 21, 2013 at 1:02 am

Happy to help Wade! ;-)


Mary Jo Preston June 20, 2013 at 2:58 pm

Great article.. This is soooooooo me- Embrace imperfection. Run with it and fix on the fly, it’s the stuff every champion is made of.


Marcus Sheridan June 21, 2013 at 1:01 am

So glad you liked it Mary Jo!!!

And keep embracing it girl ;-)



Iain July 30, 2013 at 8:10 am

I love what you said here. Run with imperfection.

It’s something so simple and yet it makes it clear.

One of my favourite quotes is, “imperfect action triumphs over perfect inaction every single time”


Gini Dietrich (@ginidietrich) June 20, 2013 at 6:04 pm

I realize you are making a wide generalization, but I am an A student and I do all of these things. I think it has more to do with the values your parents taught you than your grades.

We were dirt poor growing up. My parents didn’t even have a car and they had five (!!) kids. Everything we got, we had to work for. I went to school on an academic scholarship. My parents didn’t have a huge network to introduce me into to get me a job. I hustled that all on my own. Everything I’ve done has been exactly what you describe here and I graduated second in my high school class and magna cum laude from college.

Without typos! :)


Jeremy Abel June 20, 2013 at 7:32 pm

Hey Gini,

I definitely see your point with this. I get the sense that the overall concept is hard work pays off; this isn’t an industry for those for whom things just come easy to them naturally- there’s a lot to learn, and those who put in the time, effort, and dedication in to becoming the best ultimately experience the most success. This isn’t a field for slackers.

Great background, by the way- always nice to hear how other’s have shown adversity and worked their way up.


Gini Dietrich (@ginidietrich) June 21, 2013 at 8:38 am

I suppose hard work is for any industry. I always love it when people think overnight success truly did happen overnight.


Marcus Sheridan June 21, 2013 at 1:00 am

No doubt you did Gini Dietrich. :-)

Yes, it’s a big generalization, and clearly your points about upbringing are spot-on.

BTW, I wish we would have known each other in high school. I would have convinced you to skip class at least once :-)



Gini Dietrich (@ginidietrich) June 21, 2013 at 8:37 am

I was waaaaaay too scared of my dad. His wrath was worse than any teasing I would have gotten from you.


Don Stanley June 21, 2013 at 5:11 pm

I hear you Gini, I felt the same way about my Irish mother. Didn’t want to cross her with bad grades ;-)


Michael Pingree June 20, 2013 at 7:14 pm

I used to get hung up on #5 a lot. Always strived for perfection instead of getting “good” out there and improving over time. Great article.


Marcus Sheridan June 21, 2013 at 12:58 am

So glad you liked it my friend…cheers to “good” ;-)



Jeremy Abel June 20, 2013 at 7:22 pm

Hey Marcus,

The title of this article threw me for a loop, but I caught on after reading into just a few lines. Now that I’m on the sales/strategy side, I’m finding these traits are applicable across functions- whether you’re selling/strategizing inbound marketing, or actually doing inbound marketing.

While all of these traits are ideal, I’ve found commitment to your craft among the most valuable- I was never the student who just “got it” the first time around; I spent hours upon hours studying a topic and working on projects just to be competitive with the “A” students. Today, I continue to spend hours on end educating myself on new topics, trends, and strategies so that I can in turn better educate business owners. The result? I. Turn. Leads.

It’s content marketing 101 my friend :)

Another attribute is the one you branded me with- being a “renegade,” and having the will to just say “f** it”- time to dive in! If no one else is going to do the hard work, then that’s great- it just means there will be less competition for you and me. The ROI of genuine hard work is what makes this field so addictive.

Great article, Marcus. Keep changing lives.



Marcus Sheridan June 21, 2013 at 12:58 am

Jeremy, you’re exactly right, these do apply across all areas and functions of a business, and in life.

And your point about commitment is a great one– likely more relevant than all the ones I mentioned above.

Thanks for your support my friend and keep clearing that trail ;-)



Don Stanley June 20, 2013 at 10:32 pm

This reminds me of Thomas Stanley’s books “The Millionaire Next Door” and “The Millionaire Mind”. In his studies, he found the average millionaire had a lowly 2.92 GPA and SAT scores between 1100 and 1190 (with the exception of attorneys and docs). When people hear this, they are often surprised. They assume that those with better grades have higher intellect and that intellect alone is enough to be “successful” in the professional world.

Turns out the “B” students were more focused, in general, on learning and on doing stuff,, lots of stuff (classes, work, extracurriculars, etc.) rather than focusing on just grades. And they were more personable too and focused on building interpersonal communication skills.

As I always tell my clients and students, the purpose of education isn’t knowledge, it’s action. What separates the good from the great is their commitment to doing.

Thanks for inspiring me to keep on keeping on! You and the TSL community rock!


Marcus Sheridan June 21, 2013 at 12:56 am

Don, GREAT analogy my man. What I’m talking about here has been discussed in other realms many times, as it’s the principles that carry the day. And like you said, the principle is that of action, commitment, and persistency.

Looking forward to chatting soon :)



Teena Hughes June 21, 2013 at 10:56 pm

Hey Don, I love this that you wrote:

“As I always tell my clients and students, the purpose of education isn’t knowledge, it’s ACTION.”

Spot on, perfect!

Marcus you really made me think with this article – I was an A student who didn’t even try to be, everything just seemed easy to me. So – A student grades, C student attitude :-)

I now see I have the best of both worlds — I fit into the C student category for my online business, and I could sum up my attitide now as, “Just go for it! If it doesn’t work, change it!” After all, nothing’s set in concrete on the internet (well, on your website at least ;-)

Monsieur Lion, as always, you brighten my morning with your words – written AND audio, dude!
Ciao for now


Marcus Sheridan June 26, 2013 at 2:50 am

Teena, you rock :-)

And I’m glad you “got” this post (Can’t say everyone did ;-)

I was an A Student in college. So yeah, this isn’t about A students, it’s about behaviors of success.




Julia Shanon June 20, 2013 at 11:01 pm

so true, im a C student and when it comes to marketing i feel that im smarter than my friends that i thought would be smarter than me..


Douglas Burdett June 21, 2013 at 7:22 am

Marcus, this post has inspired me!

And for some reason, John Belushi from Animal House came to mind (“Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor??”). In that movie, his character was less than a C student (“Seven years of college down the drain!!”), but he became a U.S. Senator. Coincidence? I think not.

See you at Inbound 2013!


Carol Lynn Rivera June 21, 2013 at 9:09 am

Hi Marcus,

I enjoyed your points and hear the truth in them but as a kindergarten teacher-turned marketer I believe that this is more of a failure of the educational system than an indictment of “the A student.” As a former A student myself I was brought up firmly in the “color between the lines” camp and it wasn’t until much later in life that I could appreciate a less paved path. But as a teacher in a private school where I wasn’t bound by the rules of tests and state funded requirements, I enjoyed teaching a generation of “thinkers” and not direction-followers. I can see how creativity and self-direction is completely stifled, if not outright killed without the freedom to let kids think, express themselves, try and fail without judgement. The C-students are the ones less concerns about the grade and that serves them well in an otherwise stagnant educational system.


Churchill Madyavanhu June 21, 2013 at 4:56 pm

Hi Carol,

I am also a teacher and, just like you, I try to teach children to think instead of just following orders. However, I still believe that people who struggle a little bit with their education are better prepared for adult life. If you sail through your education years without facing any serious problems, you will not know how to handle problems when they appear at work, for example. And they are bound to appear. The guy who had to hustle to finish school will find his way round such obstacles more easily. What do you think?


Don Stanley June 21, 2013 at 5:14 pm

Good point Churchill. It’s pressure that creates diamonds right? Adversity helps us grow and become better, if we choose to use it in that way. A


Carol Lynn June 21, 2013 at 5:21 pm

I think you made a great point but it’s another point entirely! Here’s how I see the difference:

Yes, if everything comes easy (whether it’s money, looks, smarts or anything at all) then you do “sail through” and you may have a lot less drive because you don’t really need it. Your existence is good enough! So I agree on that point and you see it happen every day (celebrity culture anyone?)

When you have to “hustle” you certainly learn to face obstacles and overcome them. You develop a better appreciation for struggle, failure and victory. Agree on that point too!

But! There are plenty of “A students” who hustle to get where they are and they are not A students by accident or fortune. They may be hustling for the “wrong” thing (ie: the grade, making the teacher happy) but that doesn’t make them slackers and it doesn’t mean it’s always easy. There’s an argument to be made that C students just don’t try hard enough. If they applied themselves to the rules, they could get A’s on tests, too.

I’m very passionate about education and I think we do ourselves a disservice by categorizing people by “type” when we’ve already stacked the system against them. As an A student, I hustled pretty darn hard to make sure it stayed that way. To what end? We ask kids to strive for the grade and then later we slap them on the wrist for not “thinking for themselves”. Show me an SAT or ACT or [insert acronym here] that measures a real ability to think and I’ll eat my dunce cap!


Churchill Madyavanhu June 21, 2013 at 6:01 pm

You have got a point there about the hustling “A student”. I completely forgot about that group of students as I am just used to “A students” who do not need to hustle that much.

I also agree that education should not be all about the grade. I often teach kids who do very well all year round, until the day of the exam. They get so nervous that their results hardly reflect the knowledge that I know they possess.

“The aim of education should be to teach the child to think, not what to think.” – Indira Ghandi


Marcus Sheridan June 26, 2013 at 2:54 am

Carol, great thoughts. Some may take this post as me “talking down” A students. In reality, I was an A Student and did quite well in college.

What I’m really doing here is a call-to-action. Hopefully, companies and individuals will see that. :-)

Thanks again for stopping by,



Jack Quarles June 21, 2013 at 9:10 am

Right on, Marcus. My old pastor used to say “The A students end up working for the C students,” and I think there’s a lot of truth to that – even as a former A student!
Also reminds me of the story of the pottery class – you probably know that one. Thanks, Jack.


Marcus Sheridan June 26, 2013 at 2:59 am

I hear you Jack, and I like what I’m hearing! ;-)

Talk soon buddy,



Lana June 21, 2013 at 9:13 am

Marcus, I totally agree. When I was first starting out a year ago, I thought everything needed to be professional and perfect. These thoughts filled we with fear and uncertainty about even starting out. As I learn more I realize that the people I am most drawn to are the ones that are real and not always perfect on their sites or blogs. I respect people who are not afraid to voice their opinion whether I agree or disagree. At least they are not just posting vanilla content. I am trying to get better and being a 1 woman show for marketing my business my biggest problem is trying to stay consistent with my posts along with all the other hats I wear. My plan is to brainstorm a bunch of posts and get them all scheduled out. This is much easier to do when you can get the perfect and pillar post out of your head.


Marcus Sheridan June 26, 2013 at 2:59 am

Love it Lana!!! :-)



iGoByDoc June 21, 2013 at 11:48 am

Hey there Marcus, totally dig this post.

What struck a cord with me was the writing imperfections and typos. Being a C-student myself, I love the ideas I come up with. But I have this perfection side of me I just need to let go. From proper formatting to grammatical errors, every post of mine ends up having one.

I get some people who call me out on it, and some days it bugs me, and other days I say go have a shot of your favorite beverage, and we can make this into a drinking game. Find a typo? Cheers!

But overall, this post and some other stuff I have been reading as of late have inspired me to write anyway. I used to love writing. In my english and writing classes in school, while I did not get the best grades, the class and teachers always seemed to love my stories (they were out there).

Anyway, thanks for the post and the great reminder good sir. Perfection is vastly overrated.



Marcus Sheridan June 26, 2013 at 2:58 am

Doc, thrilled it helped a little my friend. That’s what it’s all about.




Jon Loomer June 21, 2013 at 11:54 am

Ah, crap, I was a B student. I’ve never wanted to be a C student so badly.

Some will undoubtedly nitpick this post, but I agree with the sentiment. There are two things I’ve been meaning to do for months but have been delayed due to needing to be “right.” Screw it!

Keep crushing it, Marcus…


Marcus Sheridan June 26, 2013 at 2:58 am

How right you are Loomer, many have disagreed. But you’re correct regarding a focus on the sentiment.

This post is about behaviors of success, not actual people.

Thanks again man for all the support,



Churchill Madyavanhu June 21, 2013 at 1:11 pm

I totally agree with this. I never had to hustle until I finished high school. By the time I started learning how to hustle as an Engineering student, my “C” students friends were already way ahead of me. I am still catching up. :-) Now I know that failure is to be expected on the road to success. Great post.


Sheryl Kurland June 21, 2013 at 1:30 pm

Marcus, like others who’ve commented, you made me think about my grades growing up. I was an A student, but a “closet C.” As kid, my mind was farrrrrrrr out of the box but I kept it to myself because I knew it was unacceptable. I often felt mixed up inside over this issue….now I know why…thx!

(I’m curious, knowing this, how do you handle grades with your own children?)


Marcus Sheridan June 26, 2013 at 2:56 am

Hey Sheryl!

Regarding my kids, well, for now they’re homeschooled, so we actually don’t have any :-)

But I’m glad you caught the point of this article.

“Closet Cs” rock! ;-)



Srinivas June 21, 2013 at 1:47 pm

One other thought. C students don’t wait for all the lights to be green at the same time. They just go because all the lights will never be green at the same time.


Marcus Sheridan June 26, 2013 at 2:55 am

Amen to that brother!


Mike Martel June 21, 2013 at 5:30 pm

At first glance I was already wording my comment about how I disagreed, but several paragraphs in I see your reasoning. Way too many people agonize over getting it perfect, instead of just getting started.

I would say it is the person who knows when an A is important and when a C is good enough who will be successful.

Thanks for the thought provoking post.


Marcus Sheridan June 26, 2013 at 2:52 am

Mike, so glad you understood what I was after in this post. It wasn’t an attack on every A student since the beginning of time (me being one of them).

It was a call-to-action.

Cheers my friend,



Andrea T.H.W. June 22, 2013 at 1:13 am

Sometimes C students are simply lazy while A students devote everything to achieve a result. And they get it. :)

As always there should be a balance between pushing and pulling. If we look at results C students never get a sound result, at least in the blogging world, and most of A students follow the same trail for the simple reason that there are many other factors involved beside quality, persistence, etc.

If Google doesn’t love you then there is nothing you can do, you’ll always end on page 5 of search results even if you’re an Einstein of blogging.

Also let’s not forget that these days everyone is an expert of something or can become in a couple of days. With a microphone everyone can become a radio star, or pose to. But there is only one PSY.

One thing is procrastination to death, another one is having hordes of bloggers jumping on any wagon which might provide a bit of traffic whatever their ability to do something.

Long posts!
Short Post!
Ads above the fold!
Ads below the fold!

All moving in packs. Reminds me of Simon says: Jump! And the pack: How high?

A piece of paper doesn’t always make the difference in life but knowledge does. There are many C students which gets astonishing results but many others who achieve nothing. The same goes for A students though but while instinct can bring results it’s knowledge together with instinct imho which brings someone into the Olympus in every field. That and a bit of luck.

So, in short, I don’t think it’s the grade which is relevant but personal traits. The best hackers usually don’t have grades because they’re too young yet they pass through defenses built up by adults like a warm knife through butter.

I see your point though Marcus, I just wanted to add a bit of spice. :)


Marcus Sheridan June 26, 2013 at 2:49 am

Andrea, your spice is great, and I appreciate it. Heck, I agree with you fully. I made a broad generalization here in order to tackle “traits,” not real people, which is also why I noted the fact that there are “1 million exceptions” to what I’m saying in this post when it comes to true A vs C students.

Thanks again bud for all your great thoughts,



Andrea T.H.W. June 26, 2013 at 3:07 am

My pleasure Marcus. I saw your point, as you say I just wanted to add a bit of spice. I’m a hot pepper nut. :D


Paulo Castro June 22, 2013 at 12:54 pm

Marcus, I cannot agree with this article. Let’s start with #1, the assumption that ‘A’ students don’t hustle, or hustle less than ‘C’ students. The whole point of being an ‘A’ student is a result of a higher competitive drive. The ‘C’ student cannot or will not take the extra step (studying harder, longer, delivering projects on time, etc.), whereas the ‘A’ student will go beyond the minimum to achieve success.

About point #2, ‘C’ students don’t stay within the lines. Most ‘C’ students I have met in my life (hundreds) were perfectly complacent to do the minimum amount of work required to pass. No efforts were made to ‘wow’ the instructor or fellow students. On the other hand, ‘A’ students go above and beyond to deliver not only what is being asked of them, but much more. Most creative minds who are successful come from ‘A’ level work in class.

Point #3 is probably true for some of the spoiled kids coming from rich families. During my Med School years in South America, I studied with two types of kids, those who were poor and those who were rich. Everyone of those kids, rich or poor, had a strong parental presence pushing them to achieve excellence – most of them did. ‘C’ students will often have no ‘daddy’ or ‘mommy’ to demand perfection out of them.

Point #6 ‘C’ students are not afraid to get a bad grade. Of course not! They are used to it. An ‘A’ student understands the importance of learning to be successful and will do as much as possible to stay away from bad grades. Yes, they may be afraid of getting a bad grade because it could cost them a scholarship award, or the election to class presidency, or the opportunity to attend an elite school, or the chance to work as an intern for Google. A ‘C’ student can never be so ambitious.

So, these are just some arguments I would like to throw in to this discussion. I agree there can be extremely successful ‘C’ students as much as there can be incredibly unsuccessful ‘A’ students, but statistically speaking, ‘A’ will always represent higher probability of success in real life, or in virtual life.

Paulo Castro


Churchill Madyavanhu June 22, 2013 at 1:46 pm

I am beginning to think that we are all wrong when we say “C students” hustle more than the “A students” and vice-vesa. There is just too much generalisation in that sentence. The first thing that came to my mind when I read this article was that “A students” don’t need to hustle that much. This was an opinion based on my experience and my observation of “A students” I have taught over the years.

But then Carol Lynn Rivera reminded me of the “A students” who really have to hustle to get the best possible results, which is also true in a lot of cases. So the conclusion regarding point #1 should be that without real statistical data regarding how hard both A and C students work, which is probably not available anywhere, we are actually discussing subjective evaluations, in which case each and everyone of us is entitled to a different opinion.

Maybe that was the idea behind the post, who knows? :-)


Marcus Sheridan June 26, 2013 at 2:42 am

Churchill, good thoughts bud. Actually, the “hustle” part was more a general quality, especially because it’s not always the ‘smartest’ online that have the most success, but rather the ones that hustle the most. Obviously, this applies to all walks, A,B,C,D, and F students. :-)

But happy to make everyone think a little ;-)

Thanks for stopping by,



Marcus Sheridan June 26, 2013 at 2:45 am

Paulo, I actually don’t disagree with anything you’re saying here. This article wasn’t an attack on “A” students around the globe. I was attacking types of behaviors, that obviously any group (of any letter grade) can demonstrate. But putting it in A vs C helps paint the picture more clearly when talking about the necessity to run with these principles so as to achieve greatest success.

Hope that makes sense man. Thanks again,



Sandy Wicaksono June 22, 2013 at 11:25 pm

Marcus, I totally agree with your post. 6th points is the key of success


Bella June 23, 2013 at 2:24 pm

Wow Marcus!

When I shared this article saying that it was talking about ME… the C Student, I admit I only skimmed it. Not until someone brought it to my attention did I notice the mention.


AS I sit in Rocky Point Mexico on my vacation, (NOT WORKING) I saw this message and had to take the time to write you and say thanks!!! :)

You inspire me! :)


Marcus Sheridan June 26, 2013 at 2:40 am

Bella my friend, so happy you’re on vacation, yay!

And thrilled to mention you, you rock girl!



Rick R. June 23, 2013 at 5:46 pm

I think this is a great way of thinking about this. Also I feel C students may not have been book smart but that doesn’t mean they are not street smart and I feel in life street smart is going to get you a lot farther.


Marcus Sheridan June 26, 2013 at 2:40 am

No question Rick, the “street” smart are often the “digital” smart as well. :-)




Kevin June 24, 2013 at 3:51 am

I contend that some of these are the reason I had an A grade with C level work. :D

I think #1(hustling) is indeed a skill everyone needs. It’s not necessarily about taking advantage of someone else or succeeding at the expense of others (what the word seems to be associated with a lot). It’s about finding a way to make it work with what you have even when most would say its impossible.


Marcus Sheridan June 26, 2013 at 2:38 am

Well said Kevin—and keep hustling my friend. ;-)


David Hoyer June 24, 2013 at 6:07 pm

Marcus: Your title got my attention, just to see what point you were trying to make, but the content of what you wrote left me cold. You state that “C” students somehow have more drive than “A” students and use this false premise to justify the conclusions set forth in your piece. First, why do you think that those students who have gotten As have not “hustled” to get them? Did it not occur to you that perhaps the reason they are “A” students, rather than “C” students is because they recognized whatever limitations were holding them back and undertook the extra effort needed to reach to goal of being an “A” student instead of settling for simply getting by with a “C” for their grade?

You seem to do a disservice to all those people who did the extra work, put in the extra time or went after the extra credit so as to have the best grade they could get, and instead appear to glorify those who did none of those things. I don’t think this is what you meant in your piece, but that is the impression with which I was left. Taking your points as you presented them sheds some insight. I have already pointed out that many “A” students got their because they hustled and they have been hustling since they were in grade school. The implication that it all came easy and therefore they have no drive now to succeed makes no sense and is not supported by any evidence that you cite. My argument would be that these people always recognized the need to work harder, do better and get the best grade, which led them to be an “A” student, instead of being happy coasting along with an average “C” grade.

Second, staying within the lines isn’t an attribute that you can attach to one group to the exclusion of another. Many who achieved “A” grades all their lives did so by finding new ways or shorter methods to reach that goal. Your assumption that most A-students need a checklist which they must follow and can only complete a task by using step-by-step instructions is, frankly, insulting. Many A-students are perfectly capable of looking at a problem and solving it without any list, instructions or guide of any type and may do so using intuitive leaps, or just plain hard work. Type casting them and putting them in a pigeon-hole of needing to be spoon fed steps to a goal is demeaning.

Third, “this is the way Daddy did it” may work, but you do not specifically state that A-students are the ones who follow this methodology. It seems as many C-students may use this as A-students and there is an underlying bias in your piece, an implication that the A-student cannot do it except for following what has been done before by “Daddy” which is also demeaning. Why not say, “They use what has been done before” rather than “this is the way Daddy did it?” The insult which is implicit in your choice of language would be lessened. It would be lessened even more if you acknowledged that (a) C-students are as likely to follow what has gone before as A-students; and (b) sometimes it makes sense to use what has gone before because time, effort and experience has shown it is the best way.

Fourth, your implication is that A-students DO hold their fingers in the air to see which way the wind is blowing. You state they go with their gut feeling and then see what they outcome is. This is written in a manner to suggest that A-students either will not (or worse cannot) do the same thing. This is simply untrue and I think you would find that many A-student got to be A-students by going with what felt right to them, in conjunction with point two, discussed earlier. Such generalizations that C-students do “X” while A-students do not do “X” does not make sense.

Fifth, your example of someone delaying a web page over a particular shade of color is certainly an extreme example. Perhaps it was detrimental to the overall success for that person, but perhaps not. For all I know, the field in which the website was to function had in effect some type of color scheme that made the choice important. For instance, if you are producing vitamins and want to market them on a website, picking the acid green color of Mr. Yuck, the poison guy, would be a bad choice. Also, you seem throughout the piece to belittle the proper use of language and English. While typographical errors often occur, anyone who writes knows how extremely difficult it is to edit your own work. They should also know how vitally important proper use of language is in conveying the message that you want and being sure it means the same thing to everyone who reads it. Ignoring proper use of language is inviting failure of your message to be understood and therefore, inviting failure in general.

Sixth, your implication that only C-students aren’t afraid to fail or get a bad grade, is again demeaning to the “A-students” out there, who have tried and failed, perhaps dozens of times. Your premise appears to be that you cannot be an A-student without having gotten a bad grade or having failed. Nothing you say supports this and I think most people whom you would call A-students would agree that they have had their fair share of failures and bad results in striving (and hustling) for their A.

Seventh is perhaps the worst and most disappointing thing you have written: C-students understand that everything will not be their best work. How depressing. Things do not need to be a 10 out of 10, but if you are going to put something out there for others to see, read or consume, it should certainly be the best work that you can do in the given subject area. That doesn’t mean everything is going to be perfect. As I noted, typos can slip by, but that doesn’t mean you should try your best to catch them, or that your shouldn’t try your best to produce the best work that you can. To settle for mediocrity, or worse, because “you understand everything will not be your best work” is a recipe for failure and a sure way never to improve yourself or your output.

While you state that many of the characteristics do not apply to many A-students, I am left hoping that they do not apply to many C-students. Such a pessimistic attitude and lack of care as to what you put out under your name is troubling. If you really mean to say that you would put out a paragraph full of misspellings, words used out of context and lacking clear meaning because you “understand” it isn’t your best work, then I do not understand why you are in the communications arena to start.

Perhaps I have misread this, but I don’t think so. I think that the generalizations are just too broad to make any sense and in many ways are insulting to those who work hard to do their best, communicate clearly, use the English language as it is meant to be used and try their hardest to get an “A” in everything that they do. Anything less is just not trying, or, far worse, apathy.


Marcus Sheridan June 26, 2013 at 2:36 am

David, I appreciate your passion, I do, but I think you missed the mark of my post, as it wasn’t an “attack” on anyone. Furthermore, I’d reiterate the final section that says:

I want to again state that I’m not saying with this post that all A Students don’t have some of the above qualities. Obviously, there are a million exceptions, but hopefully you get my point.

Notice the usage of the world “million.”

I’ve worked with a lot of companies and individuals on their web marketing efforts. The ones that do very well, demonstrate these qualities the most. The ones that don’t, don’t. It’s really that simple. What I have attacked/tackled/call it what you want in this post isn’t a group of actual people, it’s a behavior.

Then again, “A” students don’t always read outside the lines ;-)

All in good fun,



David Hoyer June 24, 2013 at 6:10 pm

PS: I noticed I used “their” instead of “there”, as I did not get a chance to review before posting, but I would have corrected it and “hustled” to remove the error had I seen it before it was submitted. As I noted, proofing your own writing is notoriously difficult. There may well be other typos, as you tend to see what you intended to write, rather than what ended up on the page.


Patrick Goff June 26, 2013 at 3:21 am

Great article. I got a 2.2 so I guess I’m a C student. I would add to your list that you need the balls to just do things, not talk about doing.


Tom June 26, 2013 at 12:15 pm

Marcus, sorry about that. I did get your message about behaviors and think it was a good point. Maybe I was trying to take it a little too much to heart and trying to comment first, edit later. I know you were trying to catch our attention with the headline but it certainly pushed my buttons somewhat.


Michael July 3, 2013 at 2:51 pm

“As I always tell my clients and students, the purpose of education isn’t knowledge, it’s ACTION.”

I really like this. This really applies to marketing too. It’s so easy to read case studies and articles on different marketing strategies but it’s much harder to put yourself and the company out there and try to execute those strategies. It’s fun but I could see why you have to tell your clients and students that. There’s too much to learn, not enough time – you have to just do it.


Diana July 8, 2013 at 1:00 pm

Hey there, great post! It’s really encouraging for us C-students. I’m still in college and have gotten my share of both A’s and C’s and all that’s between. It’s this crazy cultural formula that you have to have a good GPA to get a good job or be sucessful. That’s crock to me.

People are so much more than their scores; if anything grades should encourage improvement in those areas but it creates this demeaning hierarchy of smart-and-smarterer that discourages creativity.

To all you who work hard and give it your all, despite the grade– way to go! Keep being yourself and don’t be discouraged!


Diana July 8, 2013 at 1:00 pm

Hey there, great post! It’s really encouraging for us C-students. I’m still in college and have gotten my share of both A’s and C’s and all that’s between. It’s this crazy cultural formula that you have to have a good GPA to get a good job or be sucessful. That’s crock to me.

People are so much more than their scores; if anything grades should encourage improvement in those areas but it creates this demeaning hierarchy of smart-and-smarterer that discourages creativity.

To all you who work hard and give it your all, despite the grade– way to go! Keep being yourself and don’t be discouraged!


Jaimie July 8, 2013 at 2:08 pm

I’m a major perfectionist (generally an A student, too), and that has definitely gotten in the way of my writing/blogging/getting myself out there. If I can’t do it really well, as in the best, I figure, why even try at all? Well, that’s not a good excuse, and I’ve been learning that effort doesn’t need to be perfect as long as it’s effort–work will pay off, even if it’s not perfect work.

Thanks for this!


Anu July 10, 2013 at 1:04 pm

Wow, this is very much interesting type of topic. Thanks a lot for this article.


Aldenir Araújo July 16, 2013 at 5:14 pm

Hello Marcus,

I totally agree with your post. Undoubtedly 6 points is the key to success.

Hello From Brazil


Brian Richard July 18, 2013 at 4:51 pm

Just because someone is not book smart does not mean they are not street smart and personally someone with street smarts is going to go a lot further.


Stan Eigi December 30, 2013 at 5:09 am

It’s no surprise that C-students usually get higher than A-students. All these points are true and I agree with them. I also think that they succeed because they are willing to go over people’s heads. Yes, you need to be a civilized person, but truth and good will won’t always play good for you. At least it’s what I learned years ago.


Sam Leimela July 5, 2014 at 12:06 am

I believe it to be the attitude of approach. Mostly, anyone who wants to achieve a perfect structure will often not notice one which will work simply because its not enough in their eyes. This can b very tragic because sometimes the structures that you discard are the very same ones that wil work and give u the opportunity to improve on them.

I was an A student, but i can confidently say that its useless that after being on top of your class, you then still have problems of predicting what might work. Because, if u think about it, its not any action from education that produces success, nor any stored-and-unused education that produces failure….its all about the predicament of what you have as to whether it is good enough to work or not.


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