Friday, October 29, 2010

The Art of Non-Conformity

I discovered a cool website this morning called The Art of Non-Conformity; it "chronicles how to change the world by achieving significant personal goals while helping others at the same time. In the battle against conventional beliefs, they focus on three areas: Life, Work, and Travel. "

How cool is that? I immediately signed up for their e-newsletter. I am a big preacher of learning to go against conventional beliefs, especially as it helps stretch and grow your creativity and your ability to concept an idea. Unconventional routes usually lead to unconventional creative ideas.

Below are parts of welcome email I got right after I signed up.


Hi Cecilia,

It looks like we've recently met. You came to the AONC site, took a look around, and decided to give me your trust. The trust commitment came in the form of your email address, and now I have the responsibility to fulfill my obligation:

To tell you how to change the world. . .

. . . If you've always thought there must be more to life, if you want to do something different, if you're interested in finding your own way or you've already charted the course, you're who I'm writing for.

I'm interested in questioning assumptions and expectations about how we live our lives, and I write for remarkable people all over the world. To be remarkable means:

* You're interested in life as a series of adventures, not just something we do to fill the time

* You complete your education (high school, college, university, graduate school, whatever) because you want to, not because you feel like you should

* You do work you enjoy that also makes a positive difference in other people's lives

* Helping others is not something you do as an afterthought. It is a central part of who you are, just as doing what you want is. If you want to change the world, you'll need to start with a major decision.

The decision is deceptively simple: begin making your own choices, and stand out from many of the people around you. It's simple because that's really all there is to it -- think for yourself instead of following the crowd, then begin to take actions to align what you do with what you believe.

It's deceptive, however, because whenever you begin to do this, you'll encounter more than your share of opposition from people who want you to do things their way. Some of them will say your ideas or goals are unrealistic. I say, "life is short." Finding a way to do what we want while also helping others is the most important work we can do.

I say, AMEN to that.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Getting more involved

I came across a recent interview of Luke Sullivan on The Big Orange Slide. Luke’s Group Creative Director of GSD&M Advertising in Austin, Texas and author of Hey Whipple, Squeeze This: A guide to creating great ads (one of my all-time fav books for students!).

I love his answer to this question - From a career perspective, what’s the importance of making intangible cultural contributions to an agency?

"Pretty interesting question. To get ahead in this business, you need to contribute to the agency by doing great work. But you can also contribute by being a helpful and involved company person. That means caring about more than just the ads you’re workin’ on, but caring about the company itself. You can contribute by raising your hand to help with new business. Or by picking up the empty pop bottle by the front door. Or helping with the agency web site or agency blog. All things being equal creatively, management at your agency is gonna notice someone who’s involved over a cube dweller."

Wow. Contribute by being helpful. As in picking up the empty pop bottle by the front door. I love the simplicity of this advice. It reminds us that our existence in an agency goes beyond creative abilities or our official job description.

This hit a chord with me because I am constantly picking up used paper towels in our agency bathroom. It's like I am the only person who sees them there. Or maybe just someone who treats my workplace as a second home (cuz it pretty much is). And I would no sooner leave used paper towels lying on the floor of my bathroom at home as I would here at work. Simple.

We can all use a reminder to be more involved with the agencies we work at. Jumping onto a new business pitch is hard when you are crazy busy. Volunteering to host bring your Kid's to Work Day is equally a time suck. But, at some point we all realize that helping oftentimes goes beyond your day job. Being truly involved in your workplace is so much more than 9 to 5. A little reminder of that every so often is appreciated.

Read the rest of Mr. Sullivan's interview, he is a champion at giving great advice. Then go pick up the bathroom.

Monday, October 18, 2010

I (heart) Sir Ken Robinson

This just may be the coolest thing I have seen in a while. As if listening to Sir Ken Robinson wasn't enough as he speaks on education and creativity and our role in the futures of our children, having him do that while animated is even better!

Friday, October 15, 2010

One student at a time

You'll hear a lot of things about the issue of diversity in Advertising. That the industry doesn't do enough, that diversity efforts are merely a box for agencies to check, that efforts to increase diversity are too little, too late. Read this article on Ad for more background on the latest issues facing the advertising industry regarding diversity (or lack thereof).

The film I worked on this summer, "Pursuit of Passion: Diversity in Advertising" went live online today. And I will be the first to admit it won't change diversity in industry. It won't all of sudden make agencies hire and promote more multi-cultural candidates. It won't make it easier for lower income ethnic students to access schools and programs to get them into this industry. This film doesn't claim it will do any of this.

Here's what this film will do: this film will encourage students to consider advertising as a career; this film will give students a perspective on advertising they haven't seen before, one that is honest and frankly, exciting; this film will allow multi-cultural students to see that there are successful, intelligent and pretty fun people just like them, making their way in this business; this film will ignite passion in students who are often too young to recognize their own creativity; and this film will give students a tiny bit of direction in their lives where they may have been none.

That's it. The film doesn't claim to be the be-all, end-all to this issue. But it will claim to be a concerted effort toward making a bigger change in our industry, starting one high school student at a time.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Beware the exit interview

Perhaps most of you have yet to experience an exit interview, where upon giving your notice at a job you are interviewed (usually by HR) so they can hear a bit more about why you are leaving.

Beware. Beware I say.

While not a worry if you've had a great experience at a company, love your coworkers, enjoyed every day and have literally nothing to complain about. Then, enjoy the process and gush all you want. Nice words pave the way should you ever want to come back to said company.

The challenge comes if you have NOT had a great experience, did not love your coworkers, did not enjoy the place and have lots to complain about. How do you provide constructive feedback to the company without using the opportunity to vent and rave about everything you are leaving over? Fine line, folks.

Here's a personal example. I was production manager at an agency when they suddenly lost the account. Rumor was most of us would be absorbed into the new agency, but a lot of us went searching for new jobs just in case. I landed a job, gave my notice and had an exit interview on my last day.

I wanted to do them a favor while they began to hire a replacement for me. I proceeded to tell them that I was too senior for the job and that, when they rehire, they should find someone with less experience. A junior person would be perfect for the kind of printing they were doing, which wasn't terribly complex. They kept listening, so I kept talking.

Fast forward to day one at my new job. Which I h.a.t.e.d.

Telling you all the reasons why I hated this new job on day #1 would be an entire blog post unto itself, so I will spare you. Suffice to say, I immediately called my old boss and asked for my job back. And surprisingly wondered why their answer was no. Huh.

This is a tame example of what topics you should probably not get into in an exit interview. As well, save your rants on specific people or find a way to get your point across without being disparaging. These meetings, while they appear confidential, aren't always so.

It's important that a company know what cogs might be broken and exit interviews allow the forum to get those points out in the open. I'd just caution you to really think about what you want to say and why.

If you truly would like to come back to the company some day, say so. If you truly would never like to step foot on their premises again, then really think twice about what you choose to talk about. It's a fine line between trying to help them get better, trying to vindicate any wrongs you suffered while there, and maintaining your reputation as a professional.