Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Creative Pros need coaches too

The suits get coaching. Why shouldn’t the creatives get a coach?

There used to be a stigma attached to having an executive coach. But this has changed. According the Harvard Business Review, coaching was once considered remedial – to help toxic managers to fit in better for example. But today most CEOs have an executive coach. And we know top athletes and singers have coaches.

So what about the Creative Professionals. They seem to be the last to be taken care of. But creatives: your time has come. The worldwide head of a global ad agency recently observed to me that they have been taking care of developing their suits, but neglecting the development of their creatives – and they need to fix this.

Watch out world. Great talent with great coaching is a powerful combination.

Look at Tiger Woods. Look at Steve Jobs. They have coaches.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Passion sells

Be passionate about what you are doing. Everyone around you will sense it and it will work wonders for you. Your staff and co-workers will thrive on your passion and try to meet it. Your clients will recognize it and it will inspire them with confidence in you and they will be stimulated by being around you. If you can't be passionate about what you do - I suggest you find something you can be passionate about. You will feel better and your business will thrive.

Are we too busy?

I just saw on my facebook feed that a friend had “drowned" her kindle and has to go back to real books. The first comment was “when the hell do you have time to read?”

This follows on a client this morning lamenting that he was exhausted. And that all his clients are exhausted. Everyone is working so hard and is so stressed and yet we just keep on going. And getting exhausted. We were talking about how much time and effort goes into our marketing and brand building and how corporations are hiring interns to twitter for them and staff time is taken up with facebook marketing - and it never stops. Everyone is pushed to the breaking point and there is always more to do and never an excuse to quit. I have a new client (well, a prospect actually) who spent a few days in the mountains of northern CA last week and was out of touch. We should all do this from time to time. (I hope he had a wonderful time and didn't feel guilty. Well I know he felt a bit guilty because twice he went out of their way to find a connection and get in touch with me about when he was going to get in touch with me. Ah well I hope he had a good time anyway.)

I was asked last week what “content” impresses me at the moment. I was delighted to realize that I am in fact reading a book right now. It’s a fascinating and challenging – and very long – book. It has been a while since I was immersed in a book and I am liking the feeling. It's a historical novel and on the face of it has nothing to do with my work. But it didn’t take long for me to find the work relevance and now I feel that this is no longer recreational reading. It’s work. Thank goodness I love my work. But I am reading it into the early hours of the morning so I am still exhausted.

So what are you going to do?! Tired but happy – that is the best I can offer you.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Looking for a job? Be specific, show passion

Here is the question I just received in my email from a young career seeker:

"I am actively pursuing a career in marketing and public relations and am looking to network as much as possible. I have attached my resume for that purpose and would welcome any ideas you may have for me i.e. places to look, people to pursue, etc. I'm trying to get myself out there as much as possible with the intent of hopefully getting a foot in the door."

Here is what I replied:

My first suggestion is that you get very clear and specific about what you want to do in marketing and PR and then add a para at the top of your resume that says what that is and make sure it is supported clearly by the experience you list below that.

The thing is there are many many jobs in the field – and many kinds of companies where you could work. You could work at a marketing company like Procter and Gamble or in an ad or PR firm. You could be a writer or a strategist or a researcher or an account manager. There are all manner of specialties and the most effective way to get hired is to be really really clear on what you want to do and where you want to do it.

This is a tough market and no-one but you (unless perhaps your dad or mother in law) is going to help you figure it out. People who are hiring are looking for particular skill-sets to solve particular problems. So I recommend you spend some time reading about companies – reading Advertising Age, Media Post, reading about CMOs and what they do, reading PR world or whatever it might be called – and form an opinion as to what you are good at and what you would like to do and where you’d like to do it.

Then armed with that clarity and with a passion for it that you can communicate, you will find it easy to get meetings and interviews and maybe even to get hired.

So that is my 2 cents worth.

Advertising: is the very name boxing us in?

All my working life my passport has said Advertising under profession. Every time I enter England they ask me what I do and recently I've begun to hesitate. It used to be so clear. We made commercials and we made print ads - we were in advertising.

But what is it now? Can we really call it advertising when we do SEO or make websites or post videos or send emails or build the biggest mobile phone in the world or write scripts for telemarketers or track you on your cellphone? Is this advertising - is it marketing?

Are we held back because of the box of the business we thought we were in? Is the word "Advertising" constricting our thinking? What about the people who make TV shows or movies with Minis in them or Johnny Walker or Miller beer - are they in advertising? Or marketing?

What is the box that we have to think outside of? What is inside it and what is outside it? At a NYMIEG panel recently someone was talking passionately about thinking outside the box and the very very smart moderator Juliet Powell said quietly, "I didn't think there was a box any more."

It's a drip drip drip drip world!

Drip drip drip - this is my current mantra. I have been using it with clients when we are working on their marketing plans - and now they are feeding it back to me.

Drip drip drip: it's the way we reach people. There is a real drip drip drip quality to facebook and twitter. I learn a little bit about each of my "friends and followers" every day. Slowly it adds up to who they are.

Drip drip drip: It's the email that follows the phone call that follows the newsletter that is followed by the chance meeting at the conference that is followed by the linkedin connection and so on: drip drip drip. As one wonderful client said to me: it's like water torture - but in the good way.

Drip drip drip.

And here is a response I received to this from the aforementioned wonderful client:


Do you care? Should you care?

This is an interesting one. I was talking the other day with an extremely successful music producer. He said the secret to his success is that he doesn't care. That is to say he cares and he actively doesn't care at the same time (cognitive dissonance, anyone?).

This reminds me of another piece of wisdom which has helped me - that is "Never fall in love with a deal. Your time is valuable, and if you are working with one client, that's less time you can work with someone else; so also consider the cost to you of working with each client."

Of course all this goes against all our instincts and training. Creative people care desperately. Especially since success or failure is always a reflection of us - of our personal brilliance or uselessness.

But the idea is a very helpful one and is worth reflecting on. We try so hard to please our client or investor. Often we try just too hard. Who we should really be pleasing is ourselves and our own high standards. If we are doing it because we like doing it, and perfecting it because we will get massive pleasure from its excellence, then that is what will work for us in the long run. Smart clients will have chosen to work with us because of our taste and our smarts and our experience. Then we just have to deliver on that. We don't have to lose sleep over it - we just have to do a great job. The way we see it.

And you know how much better you are creatively and how much stronger your work is if you don't care about anything - except the work itself.

All is not lost! Some good words from clients

Dear reader: you are not alone in your current concerns. I have been hearing the word "scary" from more new clients than ever before.

But all is not lost! No really. Here are some recent comments from my clients that may make you go aahh:

"We accomplished everything I set out to do - this was to put my skills and experience into an interesting and unique resume that sets me apart from other so I can get the interview. It's already working and I'm getting a few calls - and it's because of my new re-vamped and unique resume. Everyone I have sent my resume to has said it's different, quirky easy to read and really interesting."

"You deal with creative people and we're all a little "out of the box" so to speak. This is a great start to a new beginning."

"Whenever I have spoken to my friend (a former client of Pollock Spark), in the past months the conversation always arrived at you and your talents for helping one see the forest for the trees. (My friend) is a testament to that. I have seen his many moods from rage to euphoria at any given peak or trough of his career. Yet it is the past year that I can truly say he has a sense of clarity and purpose - at peace with his talent and his drive. Because of that he seems unstoppable."

See - I told you - there is hope for us all. Keep up the good work.