"As we are all aware, we are experiencing disruption in our industry that is historic, disorienting and often scary, very much like that tinderbox of the ’70s. But if we would just stop listening to the naysayers—both inside and outside our business—and allow ourselves to be fueled by the blaze rather than burned out and burned up by it, can you imagine the creative renaissance we could realize?"
Those words were written by Michael Houston, the global CEO of Grey, in an AdWeek article comparing the current chaotic state of advertising to life in NYC in the 1970s -- crazy and scary but bursting with creativity. Now more than ever with issues like transparency and fraud and data privacy and threats to agency's like Houston's at play, we should treat the encroaching crazy as a chance to collaborate more, do better and create beauty.
Houston's post is an inspiring read. We thought of a few tangible ways those in the ecosystem can work together to bringing about radical, beautiful change.
1. Work in the gray: Speaking of color and creativity, humans have a natural tendency to be black or white. You see it in meetings every day---the people who are constantly vocal and then the ones who never say a word. One likes confrontation, the other likes passive agreement. We can't operate that way in the world anymore, on any level. To bring out the best in each other and our work, there has to be more gray. That means debating and sharing thoughts in meetings, not agreeing to the status quo, not caving to the loudest voice in the room. As Houston points out, "We walk into our offices every day with the expectation that ideas and points of view will collide in order to solve problems and create things—and serve our clients and make money while doing it—even though we all come from different places."
2. Carve out time each week for experimentation: There is so much busy and business-as-usual work that it's hard or exhausting to even try to set aside time to think of new ideas or projects to play around with. But just as we start out with heavy playtime as children, this time to dream and imagine and create is crucial in our work lives, especially in industries like advertising. Even if it's an hour a week, 15 minutes a day, two sessions for 30 minutes a week, carve out that time in your Outlook calendar to play. That could be researching what other brands and agencies have been doing, plotting a new concept, talking to a group of colleagues about a new campaign idea. The point is to make it a habit, ideally daily.
3. Act from a place of love, not fear: There are scary things happening in the world, and macro factors can affect how we treat ourselves and those around us. It's easy in times like these to put up walls, to plod along. Why not attack the threats head-on? Lend your voice and time to important issues. Work with industry bodies like the IAB or DMA to effect positive change in our industry. Participate in groups like TIME'S UP™/ADVERTISING to make the industry and world at large a better place for women. Start with the things you love about what you do and lean in from there.
Photo from Creative Commons