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”

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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!

Five Ways To Make The Most Of Time

PD825In the end time is the only thing we have.

And the way we spend our time is the way we spend our lives.

We often say we are killing time.

But really it is time that is killing us.

So how best to make the most of time?

1. Eliminate: Many people recognizing the limitations of time tend to try to do as much as possible. They multi-task and run around in a frenzy. Usually all they achieve is more multi-tasking and more frenzy. Doing more stuff is  not the same as achievement. Activity is not productivity. Showing how busy you are does not show how important you are.

2. Focus:  The key to doing less is to focus. Here are two filters to help you decide what you should focus on.

a) Comparative Advantage: You should spend your time doing things that you can do better than most people. Some focus areas are are easy like being a spouse or a parent, since by definition you should be able to do this better than other folks. However for many of the errands you run and the assignments you take on at work, it is important to ask if you can outsource or delegate or find a colleague who is better than you.

b) Positive Outcome: Where you can choose you should only do things which give you a positive outcome. Either you 1) earn a financial reward,  2)  learn something new , 3) help someone else or the team get better or 4) experience in itself feels good.If it is not one of those four outcomes and it is avoidable why are you doing it?

3. Scale: You can scale yourself  and your impact and therefore save time. Two ways to do this is to use “leverage” and “momentum”.

Much of what we do as white collar workers is  to think, communicate and sell. Basically with a few exceptions our success is based in large part on how we are as  communicators and sellers of ideas and points of view.

a) Leverage: Today technology and scheduling allows people to leverage. You can use social media, good writing and speaking skills to reach many people that you need to communicate and sell your thinking to. You are not limited to small meetings and groups. You can decide if you are senior to gather folks at the right conference or meeting versus repeating yourself again and again.

b) Momentum: The trend is your friend. To not waste your time you need to understand the underlying trend that is driving your firm or your business and in most cases align with it. The world is going global. The world is going digital. Every company has a built in DNA. If you are going to go against the flow prepare for much loss of time and grief. I am not suggesting that you sometimes do not try to change the trend of your firm or relationship but be alive to your chances and better have a superb strategy or you will be have nothing to show for it but bitterness.

I often meet people who doggedly pursue totally wasted causes and complain about how little time they have. Time is all you have. Stop having idiots decide how you spend it.

4. Do new things. Tattoo the moment: While the first three behaviors of elimination, focus and scale are scientific, the next couple are much more artistic.In the movie “Into the Wild”, there is a line about how the core of existence is new experiences. Often what we remember and which gives time certain elongation and depth are new experiences. These do not just have to be travels or new relationships and new jobs but could be as simple as walking down a new street, eating at a new place and going to a new cultural event. If there is a way to tattoo the moment into your memory you should try too.

5. Give you time to others:  One of the best ways to use your time is to use it not on yourself but on others. Nothing is as rewarding as helping other people, mentoring younger people and forgetting about yourself in your time equation.

If you respect other people’s time. If you give them your attention. If you think not of  the lack of time but the beauty of time, you will find that the time you spend is magical.

And in the end it is the time that you do not measure that is the most meaningful of all.

2012 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

19,000 people fit into the new Barclays Center to see Jay-Z perform. This blog was viewed about 58,000 times in 2012. If it were a concert at the Barclays Center, it would take about 3 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

The Arc of Content Era

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Today, more and more,  people are engaging with video  (and increasingly other content) on two types of screens.

1. A bigger screen that hangs vertical on a wall, which we call a TV or in some cases another vertical screen that sits on our desk called a personal computer.

2. A smaller screen, that lies horizontal on our lap or in our hands, which we call a smart phone, laptop or tablet.

The future of the content business, from advertising to programming, will be built around the interaction within the ninety-degree arc between the horizontal and the vertical screens.

This is the Arc of Content.

Findings from a host of places including NBC Universal’s “Billion dollar” Olympic research indicate that people are consuming video and content in an additive way.  They are following events on multiple screens.

During most live television events we now follow the events on the big vertical screen while hearing or sharing our perspectives on the horizontal screen. Increasingly, many people find a Twitter stream on their phone or tablet is the more insightful soundtrack for live events than what accompanies the broadcast. For others a second screen experiences such as Zeebox or Get Glue add information or social or transactional layers to the activities on the vertical screen.

As tablets proliferate and smart phones get more powerful this multi-screen habit will grow.  While at home, we are likely to use the biggest television we can find as the vertical screen and a tablet or phone as the horizontal screen to create the Arc of Content. But we will soon create this arc everywhere. For instance, in the privacy of our room or on the road we will use the tablet propped vertically and the phone horizontally to create an “arc on the go”. Or the vertical screen will be a television in a bar and our tablet or phone will be the horizontal screen.

Basically, content will be consumed as an arc in as many places as we will be able to make this happen. Being transfixed to just one screen for video will over the years shrink to a minority of people who are old or do not have access to a wireless connection.

The Content Arc will transform marketing among other things.

Marketers will have to learn how to tell stories using multiple screens. They will also have the ability to enhance storytelling and data gathering and collapse the funnel from awareness to transaction. Interactive television will be more an Interactive Arc between the vertical and the horizontal screen rather than interactive TV as we imagined it, which involved zip code targeting, interactive menus and remotes.

Programmers and distributors are already moving quickly in working to understand and leverage the Content Arc whether it be unleashing video such as HBO Go, investing in the horizontal plane of the arc as Comcast recently announced with Zeebox, or Nielsen leveraging Twitter as a quick, real time research tool. But, increasingly the sight sound and motion business will not just come from the traditional video companies and studios but from the Trojan horse of the horizontal screen which will via technologies like Apple Airplay take over the large screen.

While we think of Google’s You Tube combined with Google+, Amazon Instant with their data warehouse or Microsoft’s X-Box as ways technology companies will come to the large screen, it is not just a technology play. Conde Nast, Hearst and the magazine business can now become major television players as they take their titles and properties and make them truly multi-media and get distribution over IP based versus cable networks.

The opportunities and threats for each marketer, brand, agency and content player will be significant as we enter the Arc of Content Era.

 Companies and individuals, who think and plan around the Arc of Content, should see their future blessed with another arc.

 They will enjoy a rainbow of wealth and business growth after the storm of change.