Lessons from 2010

2010 has been a massive year of both ups and downs for me which has lead to some significant personal development. As I take a leap forwards into come new challenges I thought what better time to compose a very brief list of some lessons I’ve learned in the year past.

Professional Lessons

– A campaign not working is not a failure as long as you learn something from it
– Just because something is a good idea doesn’t mean it will work, just because something didn’t work doesn’t mean it wasn’t a good idea
– Take holidays – for years I put off taking trips because I didn’t want to fall behind on work, but nothing leaves you more hungry to do good work than a little time away
– ‘No’ is not a dirty word – If a timeline is unrealistic at least suggest a more manageable solution, don’t just say yes
– Low cost, High Quality, Fast delivery – Pick 2
– Anyone can be insightful, often without realising it. The secret is to listen closely enough to hear the verbal diamond in the rough.

Personal Lessons

– There is no such thing as a black and white situation – only varying shades of grey
– While it’s important to speak your beliefs it is more important to listen to those of others
– Exercise really is enjoyable – everyone wasn’t lying to me for the past 23 years despite what I previously thought
– If you want something in life take it. Don’t wait for the ‘right time,’ it may never come
– In 12 months everything can change – Last year my dad spent about 6 months in hospital undergoing chemotherapy and a stem-cell transplant. The end of December see’s him 12 months cancer free and he is currently back at work full-time and looking more healthy everyday.

A new series of guest posts: My Start in the Media Industry by Daniel Cravero

Daniel Cravero is a friend of mine who very recently started his first role in the industry as a Media Assistant at the GroupM owned MindShare. I approached Daniel and asked if he would be interested in sharing his experience of being a new person in the industry in order to capture the full process as he grows from these beginnings as a bright-eyed, hopeful, junior.

Daniel kicking arse and taking names

Outside of media Daniel plays drums in some bands and generally kicks arse.

I’ll do some disclosure and say that while Daniel and I work for competing agencies the opinions expressed by both he and I represent only our own. They should in no way be related to our agencies, clients, or anybody with common sense.

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My first foray into media has been something like what a kid in a candy store feels like. To those seasoned individuals reading this thinking “wait till the hard cold truth hits him” I’m already one step ahead of you – I only need to look at some of the other assistants I work with to get an idea of things to come!

So what about first impressions? I really like what I’ve seen so far. This is now my 3rd week and I am learning a great deal about what it means to be working in a media agency. To be perfectly honest, it’s very exciting stuff! I took a good look at one of the media plans and thought to myself “wow, this really makes sense, I can totally see the vision behind this plan, when do I start planning?”

It turns out I may be lacking some essential skills I need to develop before I get to this stage.

Speaking of training, in house training to develop my skills has so far been out of this world. I have been so impressed with the level of coaching and training available at my agency. I couldn’t help but notice, however, certain publisher based training “seminars” include very little training content and end up turning into a selling exercise. I have worked in sales before – I can smell a sales pitch from a mile away! (But who can really complain when there are French pastries on offer).

Am I keen to stay? Absolutely. Do I enjoy the fact there are long lunches, numerous freebies, after work drinks sponsored by media owners and plenty of after hours events throughout the year? Without a doubt. Will it all come crashing down in a fiery ball of flames once reality sinks in? Stay tuned…

The ultimate idea killer

Ideas can come from anywhere. They are not limited by age, race, status or education. A good idea can come from the mind of a 5 year or in the ramblings of a 90 year old. These are facts that are universally accepted, and yet in an industry built on ideas many people allow their ego and sense of entitlement to hinder this process.

The ultimate enemy of ideas is the ego.

More accurately, it is ego which leads to poor leadership that in turn impacts the creative process.

Confidence and self-assurance can be great qualities in a creative thinker, they allow them to be vocal and forward with their thinking, free from the self doubt that can kill an idea before it begins. However these same traits that can make a great thinker can make a person a lousy people manager. Their ego and the feeling that they have earned their way to their current position of power and authority can make them hypercritical and short with those below them. There is an immediate dismissal that anybody with less experience and a lower paycheck could ever possibly come up with an idea that they could not top.

While the immediate impact of this will simply be dis-engaged and unmotivated staff, the long term ramifications for the agency are massive. Firstly, key talent are likely to go elsewhere if they feel they are being unrecognized and under acknowledged. This in turn will lead to a lack of up and coming talent from within the agency leading to the highly expensive need to recruit top talent from outside the business when your mid-top level employees move on. Secondly, the employees who do stay will likely be unhappy and unmotivated, this leads to increased sick days, lower levels of productivity, a generally lower level of moral in the workplace and higher turnover.

These problems are not limited to creative careers such as Advertising and Design, they are however more baffling in these industries as they impact not only the overall mood and moral but they inhibit the very thing that businesses pay for.

I have been fortunate enough to have been nurtured greatly and as such I have been lucky to have had incredible opportunities arise numerous times in my short career. This is perhaps the reason for my passion to help those that are new to the industry flourish and grow their passion. However many I know have not been so lucky, a lot of people will only last 6-12 months in their first role before leaving the industry all together, still more will go sales or client side out of frustration with the way they are treated and a lack of visibility into their future.

There needs to be a resolute and sound focus over the next few years within the media, advertising and marketing industry to check our egos (amazing though they be) at the door and really concentrate on building our people and talent management skills in order to ensure that creativity and free thinking thrive and that agencies are able to retain talent.

2010 – The words list

I’m not normally one for new years resolutions however this year I have decided that I am going to take a few steps to increase the level of positivity in my life. One of these steps, in order to improve the quality of my thinking and the level of positive vibes I push out, is that I am going to aspire to use certain words more frequently and not use other words (those that strip the user of power or impede creative thinking) at all.

Words to strip from my vocabulary

can’t
impossible
stupid
idiot
hate
not my fault
dislike
failure
don’t
won’t
should
have too

Words to use more frequently

great work
thank you
please
exceptional
amazing
deserve
fun
hilarious
want
care
I love you

Chewing gum in class; Cool is the new nerdy

Chewing gum in class; an action once reserved for only the most wicked rad rebellious badass kids in class should really be an action performed by the geekiest of nerds.

There have been many studies conducted on the effects of chewing gum on both alertness, stress levels and peoples ability to learn and absorb information however a recent report by the Baylor College of Medicine shows that there could be direct academic advantages to chewing gum as a result of the previously established facts.

With this in mind one must wonder about the strict discipline with which children are met for doing, what is in essence, nothing more than enhancing their ability to learn and perform well in class.

Perhaps it is time for teachers and administrators to think about what is in the children’s best interest and, instead of banning chewing gum, making it an essential part of the schooling experience, like a pen license.