A word about talent

Or team. Or hiring.

They’re all interrelated.

Find great people.

It’s just that simple.

And then figure out how they can offer up their best selves. Either through experience, talent, or passion, and probably a combination of all three.

If you find great people who bring intangibles – like hard work, perseverance, dedication, positive attitude, logic, intelligence, respect, fun, just plain ol’ being nice – to the table, then you can get through anything.

Yes, hard skills matter, but we live and operate in such a dynamic environment today, that on some level, we all have to learn new and more hard skills. We can teach hard skills. Not so on the softer skills.

Working in an agency, at the end of the day, we need to deliver on the clients’ needs. Sometimes those needs do not align to people’s best selves and you know what, we have to deliver.

But if you have great people who bring great things as people and are open to whatever is in front of them, then you can get through those times as well. And they actually see it as an opportunity to grow.

More often than not, people are going to be fulfilled this way and as far as talent goes, that’s the goal – put them in a position to feel fulfilled.

The people part of it – not the skill part of it – is the greatest key to doing this.

A Secret to Success

Be open.

I grew up an actor and filmmaker. Then, I fell in love with writing. Creativity, and the need for outward expression through some sort of art, is in my bones. When I feel the most fulfilled, I am doing something that feeds by creative desire.

As one who is continually checking myself as it relates to career growth and fulfillment, I am discovering – and having an even deeper appreciation for – a key principle that has been instrumental for me: being open.

Open to opportunity. Open to doing what needs to be done and immersing myself in it. Open to learning. Open to stretching in ways that might be uncomfortable.

This very principle is at the core of my growth over the past two years, and if I were to look back and analyze my ‘path’ before then, I would most likely come to the same conclusion.

Most acutely, over the past two years, I have been focused on the business and operations side of my industry, an industry that is very dynamic and exciting, one where ‘blueprints’ haven’t been widely created. It has definitely required me to use, flex and embrace the science side of my brain.

While I certainly couldn’t have verbalized this specific growth – in the past, projecting ahead – it has been a substantial rounding out of my different dimensions. And, at the end of the day, isn’t that what true growth is? Uncovering and rounding out dimensions that need it and making stronger those that are already there.

In today’s instant-gratification and sometimes, somehow entitled world we operate in, it’s easy to get distracted by lack of clarity related to career growth. My advice based on personal experience and ultimately, gratification: just be open.

And embrace it all.

The Two Different Agency Camps

There are the talkers. And there are the doers.

They are quite different camps.

Sometimes, the doers need the talkers. But in the business of delivery, the talkers always need the doers.

The talkers are always out in front. They like to talk. The appearance. The brand. Their value comes in the form of connections and often times, authority. They feed off of attention. The best ones are quite charming.

The doers, on the other hand, operate in the background. They like to do. The focus. The crafting. They feed off of work. Their value comes in the form of delivery. The best ones can do a lot in the period of time they have and at a high quality. Machines.

The main difference, at the core, is focus and, for a lot of people, comfort. There is a distinct difference between the focus on the word and focus on the work.

There is an evolution over ones’ career. As you find yourself going through that evolution – and it will probably happen multiple times – you must ask yourself where you want your focus. That will determine what camp you will find yourself in.

QR Codes Strike Again…Diapers This Time

I just don’t know what to make of QR codes popping up everywhere, particularly in new, odd places. Like (smart) diapers.

I guess the one thing QR codes have going for them is they could be more novel to parents than the digirati, who no doubt scoff at them.

The idea here is good, but I can’t picture a world where we are scanning pee & poop-filled diapers. Can you?

One Simple Truth

I think social media is the most mystifying, yet simplest thing to think about – on one hand, you have something so dynamic with the rate, pace, and scale of communication between people via social media channels – and that is very difficult to keep up with and to navigate – but on the other hand, you have an innate human truth that we’re dealing with here, which is communication. Plain and simple. Just communicating with people. Technology, or the fact that we have more ‘channels,’ doesn’t change anything about the core of what we’re trying to do. There is an art to communication and it’s not bound and/or dictated by technology.

Reflections – Listen

There might not be a greater takeaway from a demanding year, or day, or even moment than this –   practice and hone the art of listening.


More than you talk.

Understand that, even if you think you know everything or a lot, you don’t know it all, and to succeed, you have to open yourself up and listen. Open those ears. Pay attention to what other people are saying. What they’re needing. What they’re feeling. What they want and what they don’t.

Listening is so simple, yet so difficult.

You can make change, on many levels, if you hear the people and things around you.

Reflections – Be Human, but Balance Emotion

Having had the time to look back on the previous year, I’ve really paid attention to what I’m taking away from it. Yes, more experience(s), more knowledge, more work, more relationships, but the learnings – those things that I can apply moving forward – are the things that are going to help me this year and beyond, in everything that I am and do.

In addition to the two that I have previously mentioned (here) and (here), here’s another thing I’ve taken away:

Be human, but balance emotion.

As humans, we are filled with emotion. Emotion can be a wonderful thing, something to be used to everyone’s advantage, and it can also be a bad thing, particularly when important decisions need to be made. And aren’t all decisions important?

I’m a big proponent of being real with people. With your staff, with your team, with your boss, with your clients, with yourself. People need to see the real you. They need to see you happy and sad and upset. These are very real emotions and to me, it’s natural to be real.

But it has to be kept in check. It can’t be too much of any extreme. In any and all times, you have to be in control of those emotions. This is probably most important – yes, be real, but be in control. Even if you don’t know how to handle the situation(s) and/or are overwhelmed. Most especially, when decisions need to be made.

In any given day, we have to make thousands of decisions, all of which have an impact on something (or someone) greater than ourselves. They’re flying at us left and right. To make any of those decisions based on the (high) emotions that we are experiencing at any given moment is an easy thing to do. But it clouds our rational and it could have a negative (and drastic) impact on everything and everyone around us.

Emotion can be dangerous when decisions need to be made. So, you have to learn how to balance this. And that is something that everyone has to learn to do in their own way.

Reflections – Be Cool. Stay Calm. Breathe.

I’m reflecting on last year, which was a doozy in all senses of the word. Good and challenging. Fulfilling and full of fires. I learned a lot. I made mistakes. And I got some things right. Upon reflection, here’s a key takeaway:

Be cool. Stay calm. Breathe.

Fires rare up all the time. Problems are flying in your face every time you look up. Decisions need to be made at top speed. This person is yelling about this and that person did something wrong. It goes on and on and on and on and on. This is the way of life, though. Something would be wrong if it weren’t this way. So, you’ve got to know this going into any situation. Any day. Any moment. It’s just going to be crazy on multiple levels.

You can either get caught up in all of it or rise above it. Keep your cool. Don’t over-react. Breathe. Like really breathe. Purposefully. Don’t focus on anything other than taking a few breaths. Being purposeful about these things in all of those situations really makes a difference. Sometimes you have to slow everything down around you. And these are 3 ways that you can do that.

Reflections – Don’t Stop Being Yourself

Beginning a new year is always great time for purposeful reflection on the last one. If you’re anything like me, you know how difficult it can be to stop while you’re in the midst of the crazy and busy-ness of the year. You look up and whether it’s been a long year or one that’s flown by, it’s gone. And now, we have another one to look forward to. Or, at least, prepare ourselves for.

I think reflection, be it one that yields positive outcomes or negative (or a combination), is healthy. If you’re truly honest with yourself and you strive to get/do better, to build upon everything you’ve done in the previous year, then self-reflection could be a different maker.

So, I’m going to share my reflections here, one per day, until I don’t have anymore to share.

For me, this year has been transformative in every sense of the word. It’s been profoundly transformative, in fact. Everything that I expected at the beginning of 2012 and everything I could have anticipated and everything that I wanted it to be…well, it just didn’t happen. It wasn’t a bad thing at all. I am humbled by everything that I had the opportunity to face, but if there was ever a year full of moments and decisions that would prompt reflection, it was this one.

One of my biggest takeaways from this past year was – don’t stop being yourself. With so much newness – more responsibility and authority and less time to spend with people/your team, it can be easy to lose a little bit (or a lot) of yourself and the very things that got you here – investing in those people, taking time to listen, taking time to teach, thinking through scenarios/decisions, being nice and considerate. These are some of the things that are at my core, and whatever those are for you, just don’t shy away from them. No matter what you’re faced with, just be yourself.

I know that this is quite elementary. Basic. Fundamental. But if we don’t start with ourselves, we can’t be great for others around us.

More to come…

The Trick

It is not enough to simply systemize content across many different screens. While good and innovative in the past, it simply will not do anymore.

Rather than focus on how well you can get content to as many screens as possible, it will be a much better use of focus to get to the bottom of how you can engage as many people as possible.

This is the new trick.