Chances

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This is a remembered summary ( I spoke without a script) of my remarks on Feb 6 2014 when accepting the Chicago Advertising Federation’s Silver Medal Award.

Thank you to the Chicago Advertising Federation for this honor. I am humbled to be part of a group of people who have received the CAF Silver Medal, many of whom are in this room and many of whom I have worked and learned from. Thank you to Rocco and Jill for their words and emceeing the proceedings and to Cheri Carpenter, Mary Markou and Tanya Graham for organizing today, to Ria, Andrew and Jack for their tributes, and to all of you who braved the Chicago weather and cold to make this occasion special.

In every life, and a career is just a part of life, chance plays a very big role. Luck matters. Some believe things are destined and “it is written” while others like TE Lawrence in Lawrence of Arabia believes “nothing is written.”  But regardless luck and chance play a big role in life.

It is not this chance that I would like to speak about but rather about the chances that people took and the chances people have given me over the years without which I would not be here.

Let me start in the middle or at the beginning of my US life where the Graduate School of Business at The University of Chicago (now the Booth School)  gave me a chance to be part of a world class university by admitting me with no work experience and an okay GMAT score. I was only one of two people from India admitted that year, 1980, and one of a handful from outside the United States.

When I graduated with great grades only one of 35 companies I interviewed with called me back for another round. I did not have a work visa. I was from India. I looked and spoke like an Indian. A gentleman called Mike Kearns was interviewing for a company called Leo Burnett and because one of his friends in the agency, Sadru Patel, was an Indian he decided to overlook the lack of a work visa and call me back for a second round. But before the round Sadru and him prepared me to ensure that I had the best chance to get in. I interviewed with legends like Dick Hobbs (who was one of the driving forces behind the Leo Burnett Media department and who would help birth Starcom) and many others, all of whom voted to give me the chance to get a job. Without the chance that Leo Burnett and all those folks gave me, I would have graduated jobless and possibly returned to India.

In those days even if you were going to join the Client Services Department you would start in media and before you were “placed” on an account you sat in a large room called “The Pit.”  It was a big conference room which had a series of desks and one phone which Tony Weisman who had joined the same day and is now the CEO of Digitas in North America sat next to and barked out the names when the phone rang for one of us in “The Pit” to go do some thankless adding of numbers or spreadsheets (this being real spreadsheets since there were no computers).  My main job in “The Pit” was to work with the head of media research called Jayne Zenaty who showed me how to build the case for an emerging new technology called “cable television.”  That chance to see how you built a case for something that still was in its infancy turned out to be very helpful some decades later.

When I was finally placed on an account (Maytag and Allstate) I was fortunate to work with Don Amos who took a chance by taking me into his office and letting me know that I “did not fit”. What he meant was that while I was good at running the numbers and doing the buys, I could not speak about sports or culture or make others feel that “I fit.”  Today this advice would be considered “illegal” but Don did not just provide advice but took it upon himself to send me to college football games with his children, get me into the University Club and pick up all the social graces, cultural cues and nuances that mattered (and still matter) in corporate America. Don Amos took and gave me chances.

When I moved into Client Service on Procter and Gamble, my first boss Patricia Swindle who is here decided I had no writing skills and as far as I was concerned she became the Devil incarnate in that she would make me re-do memos at least 20 times (this was in the age of typewriters) until every word, every sentence and every selling point was as tight as possible. She gave me the chance to improve my writing skills. Others like Paula McLeod, Mary Bishop and Peter Husting threw me meaty and strange assignments that included observing and analyzing rat studies to build a case for an anti-plaque toothpaste. When going through these rat studies with corporate lawyers like Carla Michelotti who is also here, I wondered where I was and what I was doing. When would I work on a prestigious account and do glamorous things.

As luck would have it my next assignment involved trash bags. Glad trash bags. I moved onto this account owned by Union Carbide two days after the Bhopal Gas disaster to go work for a Client who was from the deep South and yelled at my account director with me in the room as to what he was thinking putting me on the account. Bill Haljun who was my director just said I needed to work under hostile conditions and hostile clients and here was my chance. He was a religious man and then said we should pray things would work out. His prayers worked and when I left the business two and half years later some long lasting achievements were (along with Warren Guthrie) renaming the company to First Brands, developing the first data driven way of allocating spot television spending to market results and learning how to make amazing ads with Kent Middleton who today is the longest serving creative still at Leo Burnett and who is also here in the room. I also was terrorized by an Account Supervisor named Mike Miller who was convinced that I was the worst presenter he had ever seen and so decided that I needed to rehearse and rehearse and present and present till I knew what I was doing. He did not say you will not present because you are no good but rather you will present till you become good. All these folks took and gave me chances.

I am not a fan of cats and dogs. So after rat studies and trash bags the Leo Burnett company decided I was to work on pet food and specifically on a brand , Amore, where the client did not believe in television advertising but wanted to explore this strange terrible second class thing called direct marketing. My bosses  Jeff Herscovitz and others insisted that I learn this direct marketing thing the Client was interested in. So mailing lists, de-duping, postage costs, databases were encountered rather than Hollywood TV shoots or working on McDonalds or United Airlines or Kellogg’s…But that would surely come when I became an account director….

It was time to be promoted but there were no positions since all the large accounts promoted from within. So Tom Collinger who ran the direct marketing department gave me the chance to be a director in his group though I really was not a direct expert. In some ways it was also seen by many as career suicide since the 34th floor was full of outsiders like Jerry Reitman and Tom Collinger spouting things about integrated marketing and data bases. I joined the “leper colony” and started to learn about these “dark second class” arts. Also got interested in a thing called Compuserve and Prodigy because the economics of direct marketing had a bunch of fixed costs like paper and postage which needed to be offset to make the economics work.

One day driving to a Client to present a direct marketing plan with Linda Wolf who would become the CEO of Leo Burnett but was then running the Fruit of the Loom account and was the head of new business I spoke about computers and technology. She asked me to go see Rick Fizdale then the Chief Creative Officer who was determining how to staff a new business pitch for IBM’s Personal Computer Business. The assignment was not a creative pitch but a 90 minute conversation about the future of computing and what we would recommend IBM market its PC. Rick gave me the chance to lead this pitch and I was armed with the first IBM Think Pad, went off to Forrester conferences and got to work with legends like Bud Watts ( creator among other things of the Rhapsody in Blue themed ads for United which we still hear today). We lost the pitch even though we had got the recommendation right (which was about empowerment and suggested that IBM stop thinking in silos and instead of giving us their PC business to put all their business together), they first hired an unknown agency for a few weeks and did just what we recommended with Ogilvy and Mather who had worked closely with IBM leadership at Amex where they all had come from.

In order to work on the IBM pitch I had left my direct marketing job and so I was now without an account and a new business loss. Bill Lynch and Rick Fizdale asked what I would like to do and I asked if I could start an Interactive Marketing Group. They were not sure what I was talking about but they said yes you can do so but you will have no staff. So I started the group with no staff, no account, no budget in a business where stature meant how many clients and budgets and people you controlled.

Jan Klug who was running a part of the McDonalds account called me and gave me the chance to pitch her Client about Leo Interactive to help them evaluate the Time Warner Full Service Test in Orlando in 1994. McDonalds hired us and we needed people to help us with content for this test and I was introduced to two young brothers, Adam and Eric Heneghan from Iowa who had moved to Chicago with a company called Giant Step Productions. We asked them to work from the Leo Burnett building. We then found ourselves recommending McDonalds to get out of the Time Warner test telling them that it was not going to work. The Client wondered if we were mad since we were asking our only Client not to do the only project that we were working on. We asked that they actually think about a company called America Online instead and a CD-Rom company called Broderbund to partner with.

In rapid order Carla Michelotti’s husband Bob Colvin then a senior agent at the talent agency ICM, introduced us to Broderbund and helped introduce us to folks that allowed us to create the first online live talk show called Oldsmobile Celebrity Circle on America Online. Bob and ICM took a chance on a crazy Indian guy spouting interactive marketing, a bearded savant called Tig Tillinghast and two strange looking Iowan folks which were the Leo Interactive Marketing Group.

Then came a flurry of gambles and chances that people took. Adam and Eric agreed to sell a majority of their company to Leo Burnett. Bill Lynch, Jim Jenness and Rick Fizdale allowed us to take Leo’s name off the door and make Giant Step the Leo Interactive Marketing Group and they let us leave the building into a loft in Greek town and fund things called a server room! And from this loft Clients like United let us launch them on the web and General Motors partnered with then sites like Hot Wired. And the person who helped us build the underpinnings financially was Frank Voris who later would be a driving force with Jack Klues behind another new entity called VivaKi…

3 years and 100 employees strong Adam and Eric taught me how to be an entrepreneur, how to make payroll and a lot of other things but we came to disagree with each other since I remained loyal to Leo Burnett (whose employee I was and which owned 75% of the company) while they cared about Giant Step and its future. I returned to Leo Burnett sitting in a fish stinking room above Catch 35 with nothing to do.

And then the phone rang and gentleman I know well said…”Hi this is Jack Klues. I am about to launch Starcom. Can I convince you to join me to help us on digital and the future?”. And thus was born Starcom IP. But I was not the first employee of Starcom IP. Rather an ex Starcom employee, Tim Harris, had been hired back from a company called Launch Media ( a CD-Rom music magazine run by David Goldberg now CEO of Survey Monkey and husband of Sheryl Sandberg) to help Starcom in digital. Tim Harris was pissed I was there but decided to give me a chance to be the President of Starcom IP (he was Vice President and the only other employee). And with completely made up credentials we got Miller Beer to take a chance on us. As we grew we hired folks in a most unusual way. The first hire was someone we thought was a online porn specialist called Steven Governale (he was not), the next was a pal of Tim called Jeff Marshall. Every one we hired had to be approved by everyone else and we took chances on the most unusual and most strange folks who left successful careers to take a chance on us. PJ Macgregor, Wendy Barsky, Sarah Cook, Andrew Swinand, Dan Buczaczer, Scott Witt, Chandra Panley, Christian Kugel, Courtney Acuff, Michael Zeman…..the list goes on and on. Today these folks are among the superstars of the Industry and they were great then too and took a chance with us.

And the chances and people taking chances grew as we become SMG and got people to give us chances to launch the first gaming agencies (Play), social expertise (Reverb), mobile expertise (Digits), futures think tank (SMG Next) and then came Publicis Groupe Media. And during a PGM board meeting we built a case for the future that the only way to win big in digital was to buy a company called Digitas or one called Aquantive which had a unit called Razorfish. While we went about doing that we were given the chance to launch a unit called Denuo which a gentleman called David Kenny (CEO of Digitas) called to understand better.

Soon Digitas came into the fold and we launched VivaKi which included Vivaki Nerve Center with Curt Hecht at the helm and in time included Performics and Razorfish and much more.

The chances continued when eight months ago I got a call from Maurice Levy when I was in China and was asked to Chair DigitasLbi and Razorfish. When I asked why he noted I was “acceptable” to the Pete Stein, Shannon Denton, Luke Taylor and Tony Weisman and the other CEO’s of the company. They gave me a chance to work with some of the smartest folks and best transformation marketing and technology agencies in the space.

But when it comes to chances that have been given to me the biggest chances were given to me by my parents who educated and grew my sister Moeena and I. Our parents were extra-ordinary people who grew up very poor and believed in education and made sure we had the best ones we could get. Jack and Frank had an opportunity to meet with them on a trip to India. Our parents always cared about doing the right thing and never forgetting where they came from and giving back. Our father would study under street lights, walk miles to school, could afford one meal and when he was successful always focused on the folks who studied today under lights and struggled to succeed.

My in-laws who I first met when I was twelve also took a chance by letting me marry their daughter but also were like another set of parents. Today my parents and my father in law all of whom got to live past 80 are no more but my mother in law is here to represent this era.

But when it comes to taking a chance not one has taken a bigger chance on me than my wife who probably decided to marry me when I was 12 or definitely before we were seventeen. She was the President of her school, one of the best students and the reigning beauty queen. Our daughters Ria and Rohini , when they looked at my picture from those days ( awkward) and not a very good student or a player of any sports still ask their mother…”what were you thinking mom…what did you see?”

Rekha typed my admissions form into Business School. Stood outside the station the first day I came home from work from Leo with my basket of apples. We had just enough money after paying the rent and grocery after my first check to buy a Mr Coffee machine which we kept for 25 years till it exploded. And a splurge was going to eat at the Burger King outside Esquire on Oak Street where we wondered how anyone could afford the stores. Today when Rekha occasionally goes there what we remember are the two of us eating our whopper and looking forward to a cut rate matinee movie. Rekha bet her life and future on me and she gave me the biggest chances and gifts including our daughters.

So here I am because of chances I have been given and people who have taken chances on me.

A  benefit of success  is the ability to give chances to people and taking chances on people.

Because the best thing you can do when given chances is to give other people chances…

Four Feelings After Four Days On Magic Mountain

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This past week I was one of the fortunate 2600 or so people  to participate in the 2014 Annual Meeting of The World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

It was my first experience at Davos and here are my feelings after four days on Magic Mountain (Davos is also the site of the sanatorium in Thomas Mann’s famous 1924 novel  called Magic Mountain )

1. Overwhelmed: There is rarely a concentration of so many talented folks from government, technology, business, the arts in a small town that has one single street (The promenade) which can be walked end to end in about 40 minutes. One moment I was in a room with Mohammed Yunis the Nobel Prize winner for his pioneering work in Micro finance, Matt Damon the actor and Ariana Huffington and a few hours later at a small breakfast that included the leaders of McKinsey, BCG, the Harvard Business Review and Facebook. Or a few hours later watching Simon Peres the President of Israel on the same stage that a few hours earlier Hassan Rouhani the President of Iran was standing.

2. Humbled: If you ever think highly of yourself a visit to Davos serves as a nice tonic and slap in the face. Yes, you are fortunate to be there but you clearly realize that your inclusion must have been a major mistake. Its not just all the big names but the place is filled with young folks from NGO’s and tech startups and the Arts who are scintillatingly brilliant, driven and often succeeding in changing the world. You feel small.

3. Inspired: While it may be easy to make fun of “Davos Man”, and it is still 85% men with two thirds from countries that account for 12% of the worlds population, it is clear that many of these folks are here to actually help deliver on the World Economic Forum’s mantra of “Committed To Improving The State Of The World”. This is done on at least three levels.

First, it is a forum for connection where people who would not connect with each other or have access to each other can. Eminent bankers sitting with young students. Bill Gates counseling young entrepreneurs. Larry Summers (Economist), Maurice Levy(Marketer) , Marc Benioff (Technologist) conversing and commenting on why developed countries are less optimistic while developing countries are more optimistic about technology. At most conferences you do not get such a smorgasbord of viewpoints. Oddly the different angles inspire far greater insights than most conferences where everybody is really in the same Industry.

Second, the conference itself has between 8 and 10  parallel  tracks that one can attend that span everything from what the outlook for China or Japan or Europe is to new advances in healthcare, energy or environment to sessions on meditation, the mind in a hyper connected age and the future of privacy. If you decided to keep away from your Industry (like I decided to do ) and only expose yourself to new arenas and perspectives you can and be illuminated beyond belief. This understanding of  a much bigger canvas surely helps make the world a better place because it brings more perspective.

Third, this is about people. Even though one is surrounded by amazing names and titles which leaves one feel small, in time one realizes these are human beings and people and while intelligent and driven just simple carbon based life forms. Oddly conversations occurred between any two folks were both high minded and illuminative and simple and human.

4. Educated: My notes from all my meetings and sessions were prolific but I tried to narrow it down to some key themes that I sensed were a silent undertow to the overall event. Here were my top six.

a)  Unemployment: There was a real concern that a combination of technology that in the short run destroys more jobs than it creates, businesses that maximize margin versus investment and governments focussed on austerity versus growth (outside of Japan) are creating long term problems with over 200 million people worldwide looking for jobs.

b) Age versus Youth: Countries like Japan are aging to such an extent that in the next 20 years  their population will decline by a quarter unless they let in immigrants. Other nations in Western Europe are running economics to protect the well being of the established and leading to high unemployment among the young with Spain having over 50% unemployment. Will the young who are highly social and connected pay attention or use social media to tweet pictures of food to each other?

c) Inequality: If there was a theme to this conference it would be inequality among different constituencies (young versus old, tech enabled versus tech challenged, employed vs unemployed) and the potential social and political ramifications of such inequality. A general thesis was that an investment in education was critical and progressive taxes may be necessary.

d) Technology and Data: A large part of the optimism at the conference was not just that the economies appeared to be on the upswing in most places, thought during Davos markets began getting shaky, but that technology was going to enable great advances. There was a belief that while there would be short term dislocations and impact of technology overall it was a force for good. The governance of data is likely to be a huge issue.

e) China: If there is one country that dominates Davos it is China. Whether it is in the room or not, one sees a more confident, more assertive China. Along with the United States it increasingly appears we live in a G2 (Group of 2 world), with Europe being bifurcated into a growing Germany and East and a muddling along West and  most of the emerging countries somewhat eclipsed in the limelight versus some year ago.

f) Google/Alibaba/Tencent are increasingly more powerful than most Governments: Apple does not show at these events and Facebook was present and is on the rise but the dominant tech companies at Davos were Google who held a party where everyone came to kiss the ring and Tencent and Alibaba who lurk in the air and are clearly about to join Google as two of the other three huge global players (even though initially China based)

Oddly the power of Internet companies is a reason why the WEF which is a truly global organization is so relevant. Today in a connected world, countries may increasingly be containers of the past with rules, regulations and codes that fail to resonate with where we are and organizations like the WEF allow for solutions and conversations about the future to happen.

If ever given a chance do go. It is a mind blowing event.

 

The Dawn Of A New Era In Marketing

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Photo By Hans Hillewaert [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) via Wikimedia Commons

Philip Kotler defined marketing as understanding and meeting the needs of customers. This definition of marketing still holds and is more relevant than ever since customers today are far more empowered than before due to enabling technology and services including mobile computing, social networks and assisted search. Marketers must now upgrade their marketing to meet the needs of the empowered age. It is time for empowered marketing for an empowered age. Empowered marketing is one that respects the new capabilities and tools that people have at their disposal and a marketing outlook that leverages these new tools and technologies in ways that transform the way marketing is done.

In an empowered age, people are exhibiting dramatically new habits in the way they become aware, consider, buy and advocate. These new habits supplement and do not necessarily in the near term replace the ways they traditionally evaluated and bought products and services. However, in time, we anticipate that these new behaviors are likely to become dominant.

The three biggest shifts are enhanced expectations, connected experiences and self marketing.

A simple example of a company that has both fueled and benefited from these shifts is Amazon. They both have created and responded to peoples expectations for speed, value and service, seamlessly connected all aspects of the “marketing funnel” and fed a habit of us marketing to ourselves as we search, evaluate and comment on products and services. Today 30% of all e-commerce searches start on Amazon versus only 13% on Google.

These trends of self marketing is fueled also by social networks, increased expectations by new companies like Uber, Warby Parker and others that fixate on delighting people and ensuring that every single experience pre, during and post experience is tightly linked and seamless.

It is this era that marketers must get prepared for rather than fixate on the buzzword bingo of “big data”, “cloud”, “programatic buying” or conference mumbo jumbo which sometimes are ingredients to delivery but not the recipe nor the meal itself.

To thrive in this era marketers must re-consider their partners, their organizations and even themselves. The future does not fit in the containers or mindsets of the past. Putting crap on a cloud and making it mobile and serving it with programatic technology still does not change the fact that it is crap.

The new era requires five key changes.

1. Invest in superior products and services since it is the best form of marketing.

Today in a connected age with social networks that allow word of mouth at scale, investing in great products and services is the best marketing investment. You do not want a viral buzz about your advertising. You want people to be advocates of your products and services. Think less about advertising and more about utilities, services, employee training and arming advocates while defanging detractors. Worry about the content and experience of your marketing interactions more than fixating on how cheaply you can distribute these interactions. One superior interaction is worth many many mediocre ones. Marketing is moving from wholesale spraying to custom hand holding. Focus on the poetry of the interaction and not just the plumbing of the delivery.

2. Recognize that everything is marketing.

In a mobile age your customer tweets, instagrams and posts about every aspect of the their service or product experience. If the hotel room is good but the gym sucks, the world will know it. If the product is good but the customer support is not, this will be telegraphed. Ensure that your digital presence and your analog reality are both world class and connected. Recognize that the phone in your customers pocket is really their key interaction in many ways with your products and services.

3. Make your Brand API Friendly.

Brands will matter more and more in an age of self marketing, fragmentation and change. Brands are the ultimate navigation devices. They are the beacons people will steer by. It is critical that your company and your brand are easy to access, connect and collaborate with in a connected age. Is it easy to find on search engines, is it easy to engage with on social networks, is the data and experiences on your website modular and distributed, are components of your product and service developed in ways that your customers and other distributors can incorporate them into their marketing. Can customers easily understand the authenticity, values and purpose of your company and its people?

4. Get real. The new stuff is difficult and requires new skills.

It has been 20 years since the Netscape Browser and the start of digital marketing. Consumers in many markets have so absorbed technology and devices into the way they shop and behave that some marketers have begun to believe that the “digital” era is over since it should now be all merged again. We hear “digital first” and “digital at the core” loudest from those who are the least digital. Digital is not just about technology. Digital is a mindset. It is about a whole new way of thinking abut marketing. It is a world where brands matter, insights matter and storytelling matters BUT the way Brands are built, Stories shared and insights extracted and leveraged are different!. Yes BRANDS. Yes STORYTELLING. Yes INSIGHTS. But NO to the same way of doing things in a connected, empowered, self-marketing, mobile age where commerce will be baked into more and more marketing interactions.

The new stuff is hard. Its difficult. It requires technology and coding and new organizations and measurement and partnerships as well as brands and insight and storytelling.

5. Marketing is a growth game not a share game.

For too long Marketers and agencies have defined themselves too narrowly in categories as product companies or service companies. As media agencies or creative agencies or promotion agencies or PR agencies. All these definitions were before we entered into an age of digital leakage where media and creative and technology blend, where barriers between industries leak, where service and product congeal. Where the world for marketers include the worlds of commerce, content and more. Where Google and Facebook and Twitter are not threats but great opportunities and stairways to new markets. Its an era to think with a fresh sheet of paper and with courage. To attract, retain and grow amazing talent.

Its an age of abundance where talent and time is short. So get learning, get partnering and get going.

What Art Has Got To Do With It

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( I originally wrote this post a couple of years ago on my right brained blog called Re-imagining which unfortunately was on Posterous which post Twitter acquisition was shut down. It remains relevant today and I have reposted it on this blog)
Some time ago on a flight to Silicon Valley, I removed three paperbacks from my brief case to peruse on the long flight. (Yes, I do have a Kindle and an iPad but I enjoy reading books the old fashioned way). A book of poetry, The Paris Review (a quarterly magazine on the arts that is bound like a book), and a third a story about Victor Muniz an artist whose work had been featured in a documentary I had recently seen called “Wasteland”.
The gentleman sitting next to me on glancing at the books asked if I was a writer or an artist. When I told him what I did for a living he looked again at my reading material and asked “what has art go to do with your job?”

My initial answer was not much but that I loved reading, movies and going to museums.

A few days later thinking about his question, I decided art has everything to do with many aspects of work, particularly in spurring innovation.

I define innovation as “fresh insightful connections”. For more please check out…http://rishadt.wordpress.com/2010/05/17/becoming-innovative/

Art truly serves as a catalyst to innovation in at least four ways. Each of these feed fresh thinking, insights or the ability to see connections. First, artists transform beauty out of materials or words or a point of view by connecting things in new combinations to illustrate the reality of being human. Second, art particularly the written arts allows you to be in the mind of somebody else, allowing you to feel and understand from a different perspective and therefore gain insights. Third, art teaches you to see or shows you how to see in fresh new ways. And finally, the arts can be used to help communicate and make a point better than stating it directly.

To illustrate this I will use how I learned something new or had a thesis underlined by three “artistic incidents” over the past week.

1. Photos that ask you to see differently: This week Chicago had one of its pleasanter days and I decided to walk over to the Art Institute of Chicago at lunch time. The walk through Millenium park is beautiful and as a member of the Art Institute I try to get in a lunch visit monthly and spend time in a new exhibit or favorite gallery. On this day there was an exhibit of photography in the Modern Wing by a Los Angles artist named Uta Barth.

Ms Barth leverages photography in a novel way to get you to both see what you may not have seen but as importantly to make you forget what you are looking at but be aware of the resultant feeling.

Her work which can be simple as conveying the feeling of light on a curtain or a shadow on a kitchen wall is inspired by a line from Robert Irwin which goes…“Seeing is forgetting the name of the thing one sees”.

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My takeaway was to a heightened sense of awareness to everything we see or miss seeing around us. While this clarity may lead to a more sensitive life, it can also open us to the phrase or snippet or number that can be the seed of an idea. Often it is in the crevices and niches of a flow of data and verbiage that the pearl lies.And by seeing without putting things into containers and pre-concieved notions we see anew.
To enjoy more of Uta Barth’s here is a gallery: #mce_temp_url#
2. How Poetry helped inform me about what is personal and how to think about privacy and how people use social media :David Orr is a poetry critic for the New York Times who has recently published a book called “Beautiful and Pointless”. In the opening chapter titled “the personal” he seeks to show how “private” and “personal” are two very different things.
David provides a list of sentences:
Bob Smith was born on November 9, 1971.
Bob Smith’s favorite password is “nutmeg456″
Bob Smith’s Social Security number is 987-65-4320
Bob Smith has a foot fetish.
As a child, Bob Smith had an imaginary friend named Mr Pigwort.
Whenever Bob Smith hears the sound of a high wind, it makes him think of his wife, who died ten years earlier, and he hears her voice faintly calling, as if from a great distance.
He notes that the first three sentences contain deeply private information but they don’t seem personal like the last three.
Mr Orr then states:
The point here is that our conception of “the personal” has to do more than the data of our lives, no matter how sensitive. It has to do with how we see ourselves, how we see others, how we imagine others see us, how they actually see us, and the potential embarrasment, joy, and shame that occur at the intersection of these different perspectives”
More insight and wisdom about how people may relate to social media in that sentence than all the conferences and privacy seminars that are filled with braying experts!
3. How a 50 year old French classic reminded me about leadership: This Memorial weekend it rained a great deal and I took advantage of being indoors by re-watching two of my favorite films by Francois Truffaut. One of these was “The 400 Blows” which gave birth to “new wave” film making and is a story about a young boy in a hostile world.
There are many amazing scenes in the movie including its classic ending freeze frame. One scene that is both hilarious and telling is one where students have to follow a gym teacher on a run along the streets of Paris. Furiously blowing a whistle, running ahead of all his students, and oblivious to them the teacher does not realize that all his followers are peeling away from him.How many times do leaders bark out orders and run ahead to storm the hill without bringing their teams along with them ? Either emotionally by “following but not really following” or physically by leaving and finding other jobs some of the most talented folks leave the pack. Do leaders recognize that in their urgency to move ahead and win at all costs they risk losing the people they most need? Check out the short segment…

My original answer to my flight companion continues to be true. I watch movies, read books including poetry and go to musuems because i love doing so and find it fun and fullfilling. But while it makes life better, I also believe it makes my work life stronger.

I encourage folks to embrace the arts because not only does it remind us that it is life we are living but it can make work so much more meaningful.

8 Management Lessons From A Great Boss

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On Wednesday this week we will gather to mark the retirement of Jack Klues from the Publicis Groupe.

In a 35 plus year career, Jack spun out Leo Burnett Media into Starcom, managed its merger with Mediavest to form Starcom Mediavest Group, oversaw Publicis Groupe Media which combined Zenith Optimedia and SMG after being acquired by Publicis and along with David Kenny at first and then alone, headed VivaKi which combined Publicis Groupe’s media assets and the digital giants Digitas and Razorfish.

When he stepped down as CEO at the end of 2012 to take on a six-month transitory stint as VivaKi’s Chairman, VivaKi accounted for nearly 40 percent of Publicis Groupe revenue and over 60% of its growth. Jack was also the only American on a five member Publicis Board of Directors.

And as a last act he along with Maurice Levy, re-engineered VivaKi despite its success to position it for the next few years in a networked global world where collaboration will be an essential requirement since no one company will be able to do it all.

Not bad for a guy from Quincy Illinois.

I have worked directly for Jack for the past 15 years  Jack has become not just a boss but also a mentor and a friend. Most importantly he taught me, as he has done so many others, some of the most important management lessons. Here are a few:

1. There is no substitute for hard work: Jack was always on and always in. He is wickedly smart but does not rest on his laurels and is continuously involved and focused on work. (While making sure he always spent time with his priority one his family) . He never called it in. Tim Ferris and all those books of 4-hour workweeks and stuff are full of absolute shit. If you want to do well you have to work your butt off. Period. Even if you are supposedly smart.

 2.  Constantly learn and keep upgrading your skills: One of the things Jack had me do every four or five months was to organize a “mind expanding trip” to expose him to people, firms, concepts that he had never seen or thought off. From Atom Shockwave Films, who were a pioneer in digital video and flash animation production a decade ago to Blue Fin Labs long before anyone knew who they were to folks whose sole mission was to destroy our business model, he saw and learned from them all.

3.  Integrity and your word is everything: Jack hates losing. But he will not win at any cost. Integrity, fair play, transparency are his touchstones. If he makes a commitment he will keep it. No ifs or buts.

 4.  Be accessible and encourage challenges: A case can be made that Jack was one of the three most powerful and busiest men at Publicis Groupe, but you could always see him and tell him what was on your mind. If you were a student, a start up, a nitwit or someone who wanted to sell him an idea, he always found time to meet folks. There were no chiefs of staffs or bevy of executive assistants to shoo away people. His belief was it was essential for him to learn, to listen, to be available. Most importantly he encouraged people to challenge him. You always respected Jack but you never feared Jack.

 5.  Always take ideas to Clients and always tell them what you think:  Jack loves Clients and getting involved in their business. He always was thinking about ideas for them and while very respectful often told them very inconvenient truths. He respects Clients but he cared that they respect him.

 6.  Your success is mostly not because of you:  Jack believes that his success was due to a combination of many factors a majority that had little to do with him. First, it was the talent around him. Second, it was the company he was working for (Jack always kept company first and never became bigger than the company), third it was the prestige of the Clients he got to do work with and finally a lot of it was pure luck and timing. To this day, I never take any body that believes they are superstars who have achieved it all them selves seriously. Never forget where you came from and all those who helped you.

 7.  Celebrate the team and make stars of your people: Jack has over the years nurtured hundreds of talented people who he not only gave opportunities to but also put them in the spotlight. His belief was the more people he made stars around him it reflected not only the reality of their contributions, but allowed him to attract even more great folks

 8.  Put others first. Be Generous:  Jack always thinks of others. He also gives back to charity like the Off The Street Club and to the University of Illinois among others. It’s never about Jack. It’s about the team and The Company.

Let me end with a story.

About 11 years ago we were involved in a critical pitch. Due to weather all flights had been cancelled from Chicago and Jack had got a private plane to fly us out from Urbana Champaign. I finished attending my elder daughters middle school graduation late in the evening and caught a train to Urbana where I arrived at a fog bound station at midnight.

In the gloom of the deserted station sat Jack Klues who said, “ After this long trip I thought you would need a ride to the hotel”

Video

The Future Does Not Fit In The Containers Of The Past

This is the infamous “flying cockroaches” keynote from the 4A’s Transformation Summit where I make the case that a) marketing is a huge growth industry, b) Partnership and collaboration is key c) Companies that are “one-stop” are selling mounds of mediocrity and d) we have to inspire, ignite and invent a new generation of talent!

Six Current and Six Rapidly Expanding Trends Marketers Should Focus On

Image(Originally delivered at the Publicis Investor Conference in London on April 23, 2013)

It is clear to everyone today that six forces are driving the future. These are that the world is, and it will become more

a) Digital

b) Networked and connected

c) Mobile

d) Social ( we live in a people network age)

e) Driven by emerging markets

f) People powered as tech democratizes everything and empowers people

Now we are anticipating six key drivers of the future that build on the original six trends. And we are building our future strategy around these six new realities.

1. The future is not just increasingly digital but it is integrating with analog (Digital Leakage)

Mobile phones make place and people important. E commerce and regular commerce blend. Amazon has stores and Walmart goes digital. Alibaba in China is spans real world and digital world.  People remain filled with analog feelings in a digital world.  All this places a premium on those who can combine TQ (Tech Q), IQ and EQ (Emotion Quotient). Brands and stories will matter greatly  since in the end its about people and “we tell each other stories in order to live” (Joan Didion) and “we choose with our hearts and use numbers to justify what we just did” (Blaise Pascal).

2 .The future is less about marketing and more about facilitating self marketing

People use search and social, to learn and speak to each other about products and services. They self market using people’s networks like Facebook, blogs, Twitter, Yelp and much more. Clients must ensure that their Brands are easily accessible, responsive and broadly distributed in this world. Are you facilitating self marketing. In a transparent world authenticity is what matters. How can brands remain relevant and authentic?

3. Advertising will be less about messages and more about content curation, creation and distribution, and increasingly about  utilities and services.

Acts not just ads will be key. Brands increasingly will develop digital products and services such as Amex open forum and Nike Fuel Band.  Mobility, Participation and API’s (Application Protocol Interfaces) will allow new ways to tell stories, engage and deliver value to consumers. Experiences will rule.

4.The future of TV will be even more powerful, but, will be very different and come from the slime (IP TV) and be multi-glass.

Look at Amazon, You Tube, Netflix, Twitter (and their global equivalents) for where TV is going.  Look at the app ecosystem that consumers are getting used to on their phones and tablets as a new way to engage with TV’s.  Look at the 13 to 18 year olds who watch more Internet TV than broadcast TV to see future behaviors.  A world of on demand, multi glass (screens, devices like Google Glass and new wearable computing) , and full seasons released at one time. Glass will not just be connected to each other and to IP networks but to many of our devices like cars!

5. The future will be about more access and less ownership

Consumers increasingly want access to content (Spotify, Netflix etc.) or things (Zip car etc.) rather than just ownership. This will also be true in the world of big data. It will be how to access and combine rather than own the right data in real time to help deliver services and predict customer behavior. Finally. marketers will want to be both accessible and look to partners who can provide them with access to global partnerships and opportunities key

6.Marketing a huge growth category

This is a growth game and not a share game as empowered consumers call for empowered marketing. To grow in a networked world collaboration and friends rather than “frenemies” (you are or you are not pregnant…odd this “frenemy” thing)

The future world will not only make marketing more effective but will make brand-building story telling more compelling and to prepare for this huge growth we are aligning behind three pillars of a) Commerce+, where marketing is commerce and commerce is marketing, b) Next Generation Story Telling  which leverage mobility, participation and API’s and c) Content (Creation, distribution and measurement across glass which in some cases will be screens, in some cases will be glasses like Google Glass, and in some cases will be devices like new iWatches) .

The future of marketing will be bright. Now all of us marketers have to be bright enough in learning, re-inventing and collaborating to remain relevant and truly unleash this potential!