Navigating the Fustercluck
It’s simple but not easy. That’s the paradox of the creative world. At its core, it’s nothing more than problem/solution with a twist. Very simple stuff, right? So, if it’s so simple, why isn’t it equally as easy? In a nutshell: human beings. Even with our bulging frontal lobes and opposable thumbs, we find a way to muck things up. Creating one big fustercluck.
Sadly, there’s no solvent or spray to untangle this hairball of human folly. But what is offered here is some clear, solid advice written in plain, simple peoplespeak by me- Wegs, the Anti-Guru, to help you navigate the fustercluck that drives many creatives crazy, if it doesn’t drive you out of the business first.
Every 10-15-minute podcast contains overlooked, bite-sized insights for creative types like you. Some may surprise you. Some may inspire you. And hopefully, many will be of use to you, whether you’re an actual creative or someone who realizes that innovation and creativity is key to any business.
Taken together, these snackable nuggets should shave years off your learning curve. Helping you step around the landmines, so you can focus on the work. The thing that drew you to creativity in the first place.
So, please listen in, offer feedback and help spread the word about Navigating the Fustercluck. Helping Creatives Keep Their Heads.
52. Here’s to the Future!
Here’s to the future! Instead of goodbye, that’s what my friend used to say. HIs name was Arnold Penney. He died at 92. Literally, my oldest friend. And for some reason, he had erased the word “goodbye” from his vocabulary. Perhaps it was because he had had so many hard goodbyes in the past. Especially his brothers in arms he lost in WWII. All I know for sure is that was our traditional send-off: Here’s to the future. It suited Arnie, the youngest senior citizen you ever met. Full of life. And a fan of good Scotch til the end. Since his passing, I’ve tried to keep that forward-looking outlook. That sense that the best is yet to come. And that’s the spirit I hope fills you as we celebrate the first anniversary of our podcast. Welcome to Episode 52 of Navigating the Fustercluck—a podcast full of snackable insights to help you navigate the 7-times-down, eight-times-up world of creativity & management. My name is Wegs, like eggs with a W, joining you from Deaf Mule Studios in Dallas, where our anniversary has placed us in a rather celebratory mood. Thanks again for helping our launch year be such a success. Not only were we an iTunes New & Noteworthy selection, you gave us over 100 5-star reviews. And we appreciate it. If you’ve found the snackable and stackable ideas on Navigating the Fustercluck to be helpful, please share them. Looking back over our first year, here are some of the things about working in the world of creativity that makes me look forward to the future ahead: The Stories Every time I sit around with my oldest buddies, they want to hear advertising stories. And they’re rarely let down. These guys are in fields like pharmaceutical sales, banking and such. Face it, we may not make as much money as some industries, and we may have more headaches than others… But we have our stories. Here’s one I’ve been asked to retell multiple times… It’s The Star Trek Story featuring old school writer, Larry Simon. I didn’t work with Larry long, but he was brilliant. Great writer. Great presenter. Smart, smart guy who used to be featured some on NPR. I’m not going to share the client, but the relationship had gone sideways.Seriously sideways. And while the agency may not have been perfect, but the client was abusive and confused. Toggling between insults and wholesale strategic changes meeting to meeting and sometimes multiple changes within meetings. Things were coming to a head for awhile when we walked into their offices for what felt like a make-or-break meeting. And people were a bit uptight. Now Larry, he was always uptight. A bundle of energy. Nervous energy that sometimes worked for him, sometimes against him. But he had the big idea and like I said, he was a dynamite presenter. You just didn’t know if he was going to explode. From the moment we walked into the conference room, things didn’t feel right. We should have pulled a fire alarm and booked. But then we wouldn’t have this story. From the first slide, the meeting started off wobbly and from that point on it just kept sliding down and down and down, but we gamefully gutted it out. When it came to his turn, Larry was brilliant. Smart, clear and engaging. To me at least. The client? Not so much. And when you’re an entertaining guy like Larry, a dead room is a living hell. No matter what Larry said, he couldn’t break their poker faces. Finally, standing dead center in the room, Larry just shut down and stopped cold. He just stood there silently. For a split second, I thought he might be having a stroke. But after a pregnant pause, he pulled his wallet out of his back pocket. Flipped it open like a Star Trek communicator and in his best Captain Kirk voice said, Scotty, beam me up. There’s no sign of intelli
51. 8 Brow-Raising Things I’ve Heard a Lot Lately
I Can’t Recommend This Business Anymore…The Holding Companies Won’t Allow Me to Lead…There Are No Advertising Heroes These Days…I’m Really Hoping NOT to Get Promoted… These are just some of the brow-raising things that I’ve been hearing lately. Some of which I’m hearing for the very first time. Perhaps each of these are a signal that creativity & management are indeed in the middle of a great upheaval. The again, when isn’t it? Welcome to Episode 51 of Navigating the Fustercluck—a podcast full of snackable insights to help you navigate the evolving world of creativity & marketing. My name is Wegs, like eggs with a W, joining you from Deaf Mule Studios in Dallas, where we’re exploring all the talk out there. As we move past our first 50 episodes, thanks again for helping our launch year be such a success. We truly appreciate it. And hope that you’ll keep enjoying and sharing Navigating the Fustercluck. OK, let’s get back to the buzz all about creativity & management… I Can’t Recommend This Business Anymore This is one of the saddest things I’ve ever heard. And I’m hearing it more & more. From grizzled vets to those who should be the next group of leaders and cheerleaders for the business. People are down. They feel forlorn. (Sad sounding word, isn’t it?) Some feel that in their pursuit for economic efficiencies, clients haven’t noticed or don’t care about the struggle of agency people to maintain some degree of work/life balance. They feel that their companies barely care more than their clients. It’s been going on so long this way that people are finally exhausted. Losing faith and optimism in their industry. And their leaders. So much so that many no longer want to see anyone else suffer the same fate. They’re actually mentoring younger people to get out while they can. All I can say is that the rank-and-file need some hope. Leaders, you still owe your team 3 basic things: A vision to march behindInput to the visionThe tools & environment to fulfill the vision And you owe them this whether or not those above you in the org chart aren’t supplying the same to you. No wonder I’m also hearing people say… * I’m Really Hoping NOT to Get Promoted It’s not that people aren’t ambitious, it’s just that leadership isn’t always worth aspiring to. Why? People are looking for safe-havens. A balance between making money and free-time. And they’re afraid to be at such a level where they’ll be exposed when layoffs come. You can actually become the victim of your own success. Seeking security over new challenges. Especially when cuts are being made by accountants at the home office who have never met you. Some of these problems are perceived to come from the same source- holding companies. I even have C-suite leaders, including CEO’s saying… * The Holding Companies Won’t Allow Me to Lead According to them, they have to manage to the numbers. Keep the status quo. Unable to investment spend in tools or people unless a current client requests it. No risk. No gain. Just the same agency offering from before. Incremental improvements over dynamic change. At the same time, these leaders seem a whole lot safer than those they serve. The average stay of an agency CEO stay is pretty stable it seems, just as long as they don’t try too hard to innovate. That may be one reason why people are saying… * There Are No Advertising Heroes Anymore Was Alex Bogusky the last advertising hero? Because he’s gone now. Again.David Droga may have held that mantle, but that’s before many dubbed him a sell-out when he sold to Accenture. (The jury is still out on that one.) So who else? Dan Weiden is basically out of the picture. Jeff Goodby? Perhaps
It’s in your head. And it won’t get out. That little voice only you can hear. Yet it’s loud and clear. You’re not good enough. You can’t do it. You’re an imposter. A fake. A fraud. And you’re about to be found out. We’ve all been there. Now how do we get out? How do we become more confident? That’s what we’re going to look into today. Welcome to Episode 50- yes, I said 50– of Navigating the Fustercluck—a podcast full of snackable insights to help you navigate the bittersweet world of creativity & marketing. My name is Wegs, like eggs with a W, joining you from Deaf Mule Studios in Dallas. Thanks again for making our first 50 episodes such a success. The initial goal was to do 52 shows. A year’s worth. And now we’re almost there. And not only did we become an iTunes New & Noteworthy selection, you’ve given us over 100 5-star reviews. And we appreciate it. If you’ve found Navigating the Fustercluck to be helpful, please share it. As we share insights on the relationship between creativity and confidence. How do we quiet our inner-critic? That little voice inside our head. As Winston Churchill said… When there is no enemy within, the enemies outside cannot hurt you. And don’t you already have enough real obstacles to overcome?As IDEO’s Tom and David Kelley state in their book Creative Confidence:Creativity, far from requiring rare gifts and skulls, depends on what you believe you can do with the talents and skills you already have. Self-Fulfilling Prophecy According to Tanner Christensen…Many of us who have a powerful creative drive refuse to let it become more than just a few occasional day dreams not because we lack creative capabilities, but because we lack the creative confidence necessary to do the work. We think to ourselves: “I can’t write a novel, I’m not a writer” or similar thoughts. The result is that we end up fulfilling the prophecy. We don’t feel like a writer, so we don’t write, which ensures that we don’t become a writer. Fear of Being JudgedIf the scribbling, singing, dancing kindergartner symbolizes unfettered creative expression, the awkward teenager represents the opposite: someone who cares—deeply—about what other people think. It takes only a few years to develop that fear of judgment, but it stays with us throughout our adult lives, often constraining our careers. Most of us accept that when we are learning, say, to ski, others will see us fall down until practice pays off. But we can’t risk our business-world ego in the same way. As a result, we self-edit, killing potentially creative ideas because we’re afraid our bosses or peers will see us fail. We stick to “safe” solutions or suggestions. We hang back, allowing others to take risks. But you can’t be creative if you are constantly censoring yourself.Growing OUT of Creativity I love this notion that comes from a quote from Sir Ken Robinson, whose popular TED Talk you may want to check out. We don’t grow into creativity, we grow out of it. Or rather, we get educated out of it. The problem is… No one is going to pay much attention to the person who has no confidence in himself. That’s what fashion maven, Tim Gunn says. The Chicken or the Egg Are self-confident people more successful? Or do successful people become more self-confident? In this chicken-or-the-egg argument, one thing is certain: every study conducted in the past 50 years on self-confidence and success has proven that the two are at least related. That is, self-confident people are more successful in all areas of life.
49. Will Agencies Ever Learn? (The Importance of Education & Training)
Gallup says only 29% of Millennials are engaged at work. With 16% actively disengaged.(Meaning that they’re actually getting paid to undermine their place of work.) That means over 55% are in the middle. They’re stuck in limbo.Passionate with nothing to be passionate about. And Millennials aren’t the only ones. We’re seeing this kind of detachment throughout our workforce. Meanwhile, it’s a fundamental human need to feel like one is part of something bigger than themselves. Something different. Something better. Something they can believe in.Yet, when is the last time you’ve been inspired by an agency website, manifesto or work guide? Is it because agencies don’t know how to advertise what makes them special,or don’t they have anything worth saying? Considering just how little we invest in training and communications, you have to wonder. Perhaps if we did invest in these efforts, again, we could start a virtuous cycle. One where the continual sharpening of our vision, mission, values and skills would not only inspire our people but attract more clients and press. Welcome to Episode 49 of Navigating the Fustercluck—a podcast full of snackable insights to help you navigate the everchanging world of creativity & marketing. My name is Wegs, like eggs with a W, joining you from Deaf Mule Studios in Dallas, where today we ask…Will Agencies Ever Learn? (The Importance of Education & Training.) It’s all about our culture. That’s what every agency says. But ask them what their culture is, and few- very few– can tell you what exactly their culture is. What defines it. What I can tell you is that few agencies have learning cultures. A commitment to expanding the knowledge and skills of their people. To growing their business by growing their people. A commitment that includes training programs. Educational support. Speakers. Webinars. Writing books. Creating content. Like blogs and podcasts. One company that gets this is the iconic design shop, IDEO. Educational Products IDEO is so committed to training & education that their programs have become a product. You can earn a certificate in areas ranging from presentation skills to design thinking. They actually make money on their efforts! Imagine if other agencies looked at their educational efforts this way. A key point is that this doesn’t have to be a top down effort. Grassroots In fact, it can be very grassroots. Take Talk Shop, for instance. Nina Bressau & Robert Stahl work for Integer, an Omnicom agency in Dallas. A planner and a creative, Nina and Robert, are young teammates on the rise. That said, they both felt that their presentation skills could stand for some improvement. Then again, whose can’t? So, they explored all the programs available, Toastmasters, etc. None, however, felt quite right for advertising. That inspired them to create their own program, Talk Shop. Meeting once a month, and open to all Omnicom employees, Talk Shop has now spread to other Omnicom offices. Don’t be surprised if it goes global. I’ve been a guest speaker at a Talk Shop special event. And walked away impressed by the concept and its creators. Kudos to Nina & Robert! Personal Experiences Personally, I lead a team that created a weekly blog that lasted 6 ½ years.Provoke Weekly was a great internal and external tool. One that expanded both knowledge and PR opportunities. We also created Provoke University, an inhouse education and training program featuring essential skills and the latest trends. We even wrote a book that clients and new business prospects loved. A book that served as hymnal to get our entire team on the same page. All these efforts were under my direction, but were lead by amazing young talent that used their experience
48. Good Bad News: Turning the Negative into the Positive
Imagine our ancient ancestors out on the long grass of the wild plain. Their senses fixed upon their predators. Lions and tigers and bears, oh my! Meanwhile, the beasts that sustained our predecessors could bepassing them by without them noticing at all. Making their situation that much more dire. Why? We’re Wired to Focus on the Bad. After all, to survive, life has to win every day. Death has to win just once. That’s why we pay more attention to our enemies than our friends. Our friends won’t do us in! Now transport yourself off the fruited plain and picture yourself in the jungle.The jungle that is most office spaces. Your brain closes off from the outside world and focuses on the negative, preventing you from seeing other options and choices that surround you. After infinite generations of evolution, we’re still steered by our fears. Welcome to Episode #48 of Navigating the Fustercluck…a snackable podcast that addresses the aggravatingly awesome world of creativity and marketing, where our focus today is to explore the power of negativity, and how we can put it to service to make things better. Or as Helen Fisher, the author of Anatomy of Love, says…By conquering the brain’s impulse to focus on the bad, we can all build stronger relationships and enjoy happier lives. Let’s see how that translates in the environment we so often find ourselves in. Let’s explore the office jungle. And what we fear most there… Trauma Just like our own childhoods, we can be scarred for years by a single event. That’s the textbook definition of trauma. As the New York Times points out, Bad emotions, bad parents and bad feedback have more impact than good ones. No matter how well we do at our jobs, we still feel that it can all be wiped away in one fell swoop: By a new boss.A big mistake we may have made.Budget cuts.A vindictive client.Office politics.Unforeseen forces. Any and all of them can wipe away an otherwise superb record. So, we find ourselves in a constant state of anxiety. Oddly enough, there is no positive opposite of trauma. One big success or moment cannot counterbalance the fear of a traumatic event. How can they when we so often here, What have you done for me lately? No wonder negativity consumes so many of us. And when it does, your brain closes off from the outside world and focuses on the negative, preventing you from seeing other options and choices that surround you. Doomed! That’s how negativity can make us feel. Placing us in utter despair. So deep we may wonder how the Hell we can escape it? How do we combat negativity when the negative has a greater impact on us than the positive. In fact, negative thoughts are 5X more powerful than positive thoughts. 5X!!! Back to the Future Well, just like negative thoughts served our ancestors, they can help us, too. Contentment Contentment has its place, but staying too long in one place can be damaging. According to the Harvard Business Review..Negative feedback guards you against complacency and groupthink. Negative thoughts can keep you on your toes. Keep you searching. Moving on from one place where your competitors may catch up to or even pass you. If you embrace it, fear can help you keep your edge. As the legendary leader of Intel, Andy Grove once said, Only the paranoid survive. Furthermore… If you’re wrong, you will die. But most companies don’t die because they are wrong; most die because they don’t commit themselves. They fritter away their valuable resources while attempting to make a decision. The greatest danger is standing still. Just don’t let paranoia destroy ya’. Criticism Criticism is hard to take form anyone. Friend, family or co-worker. The key is understanding the intent of the criticism. Is it cons
47. The Calling: How to Make Your Conference Calls Better
\No one likes meetings.
At least not the way that they’re usually run now.
Power Point and Keynote have actually detracted as much as they’ve added to presentations. Presenters being more in the service of their slides than the story that they’re trying to tell.
Meetings in person can be rough sledding but conference calls have even more speed bumps.
You can’t see people’s reactions.
You’re not even sure if they can hear you.
And there’s less pressure for people not to check their phones.
Face it. Face-to-face isn’t easy, but it’s a lot easier than over the phone.
With many more meetings conducted over the phone than in person, let’s work on making these calls better. A lot better.
Welcome to Episode 47 of Navigating the Fustercluck—a podcast full of snackable insights to help you navigate the everchanging world of creativity & marketing.
My name is Wegs, like eggs with a W, joining you from Deaf Mule Studios in Dallas, where we hold no meetings without tacos or pizza.
If you find Navigating the Fustercluck to be helpful, please share it.
Now let’s help make teleconferences better.
The Meeting Before the Meeting
Every meeting should have a meeting before the meeting. Because most meetings should simply be exclamation points. The icing on the cake. Where everything comes together and you’re consolidating support for your ideas and executions.
Often the key to that is the conversation or conversations that precede the big meeting. The talks between Accounts and sometimes senior creatives with the client. Where things are smoothed out and people get on the same page.
That’s important in any meeting, phone meetings even more. Develop those allies on the client side that can read the room you’re not in and help make the sell.
The Ta-Dah Moment
Sometimes agency folks prefer to hold back on presenting ideas until the very last moment. They prefer to be like magicians, keeping their work secret until showtime and that big ta-dah! moment.
Maybe they think that they’re protecting the work by hiding the work. Maybe they’re afraid that once the work is exposed that it will suffer a death of a thousand cuts. Yet the AMA claims that the more interactions you have with the client, the better the work. The fact that many agency people don’t believe that points to the lack of trust that hinders truly innovative and breakout work. If that’s the case, then we may have to do a podcast on that. For trust is the cornerstone of every relationship. Personally, and professionally. But that’s for another day.
Who Should be in the Room?
Balance. Agencies are caught between wanting to be efficient with everyone’s time and exposing people to meeting situations so that inexperienced talent learn the game.
Teleconferences are a great opportunity to gain exposure for people. If the client can’t see who you have in the room, they won’t feel that their money will is being wasted. There’s no travel. And there won’t be the distraction of a full room. Just make sure that those extra people know their role and don’t talk, laugh or distract.
Everybody has got to have a role and know their role.
One person has to be the quarterback. Be the glue. Everyone else has their particular section to lead. Competing voices will tear the whole effort apart. Know your roles.
If the meeting takes a detour don’t panic and blurt something out. Huddle with your team. Write notes. Take advantage of not being visible.
Wegs to the power of 10
Love the podcast and can’t wait to listen to more!
Essential Listening for Creative Thinkers
Solving problems and being creative. The former is hard enough. The latter can become an addiction due to the rarity of its occurrence.
Every time I listen to this podcast, I leave with something that feeds my addiction.
Great Podcast !!
This is a great podcast with an amazing host .