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Monthly archives "April 2013"

The Secrets to Secrets: Mad Men Philosophies

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Stan Rizzo (Jay R. Ferguson), Don Draper (Jon Hamm) and Pete Campbell (Vincent Kartheiser) - Mad Men - Season 6, Episode 4 - Photo Credit: Jordin Althaus/AMC

Stan Rizzo (Jay R. Ferguson), Don Draper (Jon Hamm) and Pete Campbell (Vincent Kartheiser) – Mad Men – Season 6, Episode 4 – Photo Credit: Jordin Althaus/AMC

Episode four of Mad Men season six, To Have and To Hold, is very secretive. In the first scene, we learn that SCDP is going after Ketchup after all — behind the scenes. Don and Stan spend a lot of time in a back room at the firm with tin foil over the windows. They are keeping this creative pitch a secret from everyone, including the other partners at Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce (SCDP). The presentation day comes and Draper et al. give it their best. Upon leaving the room, they run into Peggy and Ted Chaough. Don listens in on Peggy’s pitch and is visually heartbroken when she uses one of his tried-and-true techniques. Both firms run into each other at a first-floor restaurant. Ken Cosgrove walks in and tells them that Ray from Heinz baked beans found out about the pitch and fired SCDP on the spot. Project K fell flat.

There are some secrets to secrets. Don and the gang attempted to court Ketchup as if it was another mistress. It backfired. In any business there are always secrets, whether they’re little secrets to keep from lower levels of staff or bigger secrets such as the one Draper encountered. Here are four secrets when it comes to secrets at SCDP and your office:

  1. A secret is only a secret if you don’t tell anyone. SCDP was doomed from that start when Stan told Peggy about the then-potential Ketchup pitch. Also, since the Ketchup and Baked Beans accounts were part of the same company you had to know that they would find out sooner or later. Not to mention, Timmy was not the only Heinz man in the room. He had others involved in the selection of the competing agencies. We also have to realize that Timmy from Ketchup didn’t like Ray from the Beans business. These types of workplace politics always exist. No matter what you think, secrets will be known eventually.
  2. Nothing ever stays secret for long. Once you tell someone a secret they will most likely tell it to someone else. It is part of human nature to let people in on the juicy gossip. How Ray found out about the pitch we are not sure, but it could have been any number of things, such as: a memo (a forwarded email today), a friend privy to what is happening on both sides, or Timmy may have told him directly to watch his sales crash and burn. No matter how Ray learned of SCDP’s disloyalty, we learn that secrets are not designed to be kept secret long.
  3. You are a key player. You know you are key to the company when you’re involved. For Don, Stan is his new go-to guy. Ginsberg is shut out again. When you are part of a secret this big, that is a real testament to your character. When you are a key player, you should be open and honest about things. Stan forgot to mention to Don that he let it slip to Peggy that SCDP is not pitching Ketchup. Don would have been able to foresee some things and make more informed decisions.
  4. Weigh the possible outcomes. If and when the secret does get out, is it worth it? From the start, Don and Pete said Ray would never find out about this. They did not think about what would happen if he did. Could they afford to lose the business? It is a gamble. When you go to the casino it’s not smart to take so much money that it would leave you living out of your car for the next few years. Only play what you can afford to lose. Since it is still a secret, the rest of the partners will not be happy once they learn about this loss. Would the other partners have made the same decision? If you do not want to get caught, do not proceed. You must be able to accept the consequences no matter what the outcome is. Peggy and Stan’s friendship is now severely damaged and the company has lost a multi-million-dollar national account.

How do you deal with secrets at work? Are you always in the know or in the dark? Give me a fifth secret to secrets.

Read the original article on the Talent Zoo blog Beyond Madison Avenue at: http://www.talentzoo.com/beyond-madison-ave/blog_news.php?articleID=17379

Educate or Deteriorate? You Choose.

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educationYou bought a new car. It is fresh off the lot. You have driven it for a while and it performs really well. A few years pass. You realize you washed it more in the first year than the next 6 years combined. New models are coming out every year with new technology just waiting for your car to get old. Rust starts to collect on the quarter panels. Oil changes are not the only thing that you have to pay extra for anymore. It is more trouble than its worth. Eventually, it is scrapped for a new car.

Now think about yourself and your career. You graduate college and you have been out for a while now. You know a fair amount of things going on in the world and you are amazing at your job. A few more years pass and there are a lot of younger people under you or close to you that want your job. They know the latest technology and are hungry for the work. You are used to certain ways of doing things and this new technology seems like a passing fad. Eventually, you wonder why you were traded in for Liz from accounts.

What happened? Whatever you knew is just part of everyday business and what you do not know is holding you back. You forgot one of the most important things in life: Continual education. You lost touch with the world. Education is a basic fact of life. It would be a tragedy to think that you were to stop learning when you graduate college. Do not fall into the you-can’t-teach-an-old-dog-new-tricks category. Make it a point to be in the always-open-to-learn-something-new category.

That is not to say it is always easy to learn new things. It can be scary. However, once you learn even the smallest thing, you will be all the wiser. Nearly everyone has the capacity to learn something new. When she was alive, I taught my 91-year-old grandmother how to use her cell phone. She lived through the depression and held out from getting a cell phone as long as she could. She was physically old, but she did not let her mind catch up with her physical age. At 91, she was happy to learn something new.

Alright Don, we get it. What do you suggest we do about it?  

Never stop learning. Sure you may tweet and share things to look like you know what is going on, but it is just an act. You read the headlines. It sounds interesting, so you re-post it. If others are traveling at 60MPF you are too. You do not realize that sometimes it pays to travel at 40MPH to better understand new material, or at 80MPH when you know exactly what needs to be done. After I graduated with my MBA, I quickly found out that to reach your highest potential, you need to find the internal motivation to teach yourself new tricks everyday. Yes, everyday. It does not have to be some earth-shattering idea, it just has to be something.

How do you apply this in everyday life? Here are the 10 things I do to keep myself fresh of new ideas and changing industry trends.

  1. Go to the library. You do not have to waste your money on buying all the latest magazines and books. The library has them for you. When is the last time you were there? That’s what I thought. Books on CD work great too. I just finished a Seth Godin book on CD recently from my local library.
  2. Subscribe to key blogs. Many industry leading individuals and companies have key blogs. It may take some digging to find key ones that appeal to you, but once found, make it a point to read them as often as they post.
  3. Go to local events. Nearly every industry has local, and national, events centered around education. I say local events because they are the path of least resistance. These events allow you to learn directly from industry leaders.
  4. Network. Local events always offer some sort of networking option. Always take advantage of this. At a scholarship fundraiser for my alma mater last weekend, I heard of a recent forensic science graduate to who was introduced directly to the head of the Michigan crime lab. This was an invaluable chance meeting. Do not miss out on these opportunities.
  5. Watch the news. Before work every day I watch the news with my beautiful bride. It keeps me up-to-date on local happenings. The sports update is especially helpful. If you are a real go-getter you know that finding the time to watch all or even part of a major sporting event is difficult. Watching the news will help you see all the major plays and the outcome. That way, you will not miss out on an opportunity to continue a conversation at a networking event.  Similarly, you will also keep knowledge of other events in your mind to help shape decisions you make in the future.
  6. Set up lists.  Lists on Twitter help a lot when it comes to educating yourself. I have a list set up in Twitter called Influencers, among others. This list allows me to see what is important to some very influential people in my industry. Reading this keeps me very well-informed.
  7. Subscribe for webinars. Webinars are easy. Most of them are a half hour to an hour in length and a number of them are free. You can log in to a webinar anywhere and many times they make materials available afterwards for reference.
  8. Ask a colleague.  Sometimes this is very difficult. You do not want to come off like you do not know anything but you know they have the information. It is best to simply ask a colleague what she thinks about a certain situation if you find yourself hitting a brick wall with your own knowledge. After all, you are supposed to be functioning in a team. Collaboration will flourish, if you are open, and you may learn more than you bargained for.
  9. Ask to listen in. Ask your boss if it is okay to sit in or listen in on key meetings. I have done this many times. Shadowing your boss, writing down their key thoughts, and remembering what you learn will help you excel by leaps and bounds.
  10. Blog. Do something like what you just read. It has been the biggest payoff for me.

Choose wisely. Will you educate or deteriorate?

Loyalty, Friends, and Work: Mad Men Philosophies

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heinz-baked-beans-mad-menLoyalty and work in advertising. This is not the standard norm that it once was. Loyalty in this business — in any business, for that matter — is more of an old value that sits on the shelf, used occasionally but most often forgotten. Mad Men’s latest installment in their Emmy-winning series titled “The Collaborators” brings us three major instances of challenged loyalty in business. Let’s not even get started on their personal lives.

  1. Loyalty and longtime business: Don Draper and Ken Cosgrove are visited by Heinz Baked Beans client Raymond Geiger for an introduction meeting. He introduces them to Heinz Ketchup’s “Polished Pollack.” The meeting ends and after the head of the “Coca Cola of Condiments” walks out of the room, Ray quickly changes his tune, saying not to go after the Ketchup division. Ray assures Don and Ken that he is happy with SCDP and walks out. Ken Wants to go after Ketchup anyways but Don reels him back in, saying, “Sometimes you gotta dance with the one that brung you.” Ken is unhappy with this response. Did Don do the right thing in keeping loyalty towards Ray and the Baked Beans division? This brings us back to earlier in the Mad Men seasons, when Don wanted to stay with Mohawk Airlines and Duck wanted to go after American Airlines. Ultimately they ended up without either airline. This makes me think that Don may have had this in his mind when he was explaining his rationale to Ken. We will have to wait for further episodes to see how this unfolds; however, what would you do in this situation? It would be easy to risk everything and go for broke, but would you be willing to lose the Baked Beans business? Don’s loyalty in business, though ironic, shows great concern for his clients and their best interests. When clients know you are in their corner, they fight for you in ways that you could never think of. Ray is testing Don’s loyalty and it looks like he is going to pass.     
  2. Loyalty for the good of the client: Don’s loyalty towards this work and what is right for the client is tested again in this episode but in a different way. One-third of his Jaguar client, Herb Rennet, is trying to poison the deal once again and thinks only about himself. Herb calls a meeting with Pete and Don to discuss changing all of the media buys and creative to favor his part of the business. Then he asks Don to pitch it to the rest of the team as their idea. Don knows this is not right and the work will suffer. He also knows that it will reflect poorly on the firm if they run with this plan. When the rest of the Jaguar team comes in for the final discussion before launch Don pulls a pitch move like we have never seen before, attempting to sell Herb’s idea but knowingly sounding very off base. The Jaguar team knows that this does not sound right for their luxury brand so they stay with the original decision as Don intended. This loyalty that Don showed exhibited what needed to be done for the good of the client. Sometimes what is asked of you and what is right do not always coincide.
  3. Loyalty towards work friends: Peggy Olson is on another one of her after-hours calls with Stan Rizzo, physically laughing, when her new boss walks in. Boss Ted Chaough kindly asks what was making her laugh. Stan was talking to her about the Heinz incident and SCDP not going after the Ketchup brand. The next day when she walks into the office, Ted has a folder for Peggy to prepare to go after Ketchup. Peggy says she cannot do that because she learned about it in confidence from a friend. Ted tells her “Maybe you need a friend more than you need a job,” ending the conversation with, “This is how wars are won.” Peggy is faced with a tough situation. Does she go after the potentially huge opportunity for the firm or stay loyal to her friend? If Peggy wants to stay at her current firm she will have to go after the account. Can she do that and still be loyal? Peggy is used to being loyal to Don Draper and SCDP, and that is one of the underlying issues here. Since SCDP is not going after the account, it would make the most sense to let Stan know that her firm is and leave it at that. That way she is letting her friend know their now-inside information while being loyal to her new boss. It may not be the war like Ted explained, since Don walked out with the white flag, but it will test Peggy’s loyalty.

These situations may play out very differently if Mad Men were set in today’s world. This idea of loyalty seems lost. What would you do if you were faced with these tough decisions? Would you rest on the laurels that your parents and grandparents taught you or would you take a chance?

Read the original article on the Talent Zoo blog Beyond Madison Ave at: http://www.talentzoo.com/beyond-madison-ave/blog_news.php?articleID=17337

Working Through a Client Crisis: Mad Men Philosophies

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Sunday night’s premiere episode of Mad Men showed Peggy in a new light. In her new role she is reminiscent of a young Don Draper in Season 1. This episode, though very entertaining, teaches its professional viewers a thing or two about working through a client crisis. The episode was focused on a campaign for Koss headphones called “Lend Me Your Ears” that was pulled after an unfortunate incident in the Vietnam War. When Peggy was unable to reach the firm’s partner to figure out how to handle the situation, she was left to her own devices.

Working through a client crisis is no picnic, especially when it’s a crisis as socially unacceptable as what she would have had to deal with. Peggy losing out on Christmas vacation is nothing out of the ordinary for many ad agencies today. Here are five things to learn from Peggy Olson on how to best working through a client crisis:

  1. Accept the crisis. Do not get in the way of yourself. By acting upset you are simply wasting time and energy. Move on. When Peggy was presented with this situation she was frustrated but kept it together. She was diligent in sticking to her process of what works, going back to a method that Draper taught her about writing a letter to someone about how much she loved the product.
  2. Open your eyes. Sometimes the best answer is right in front of you. When her live-in boyfriend Abe brought dinner, she did not kick him out. She wanted him to stay and asked him to listen to the music and describe what he heard through the Koss headphones. When she saw Abe bobbing his head to the music she remembered some video footage that came out of her initial session for the “Lend Me Your Ears” campaign. She used what she observed towards the ad. When you open your eyes, many times you will find the answers in the most unexpected circumstances.
  3. Do not try to rebuild Rome. Rome was not built in a day and it could not be rebuilt in a day, either. Developing an advertisement takes thought and time. It is important to use the resources that are around you. As we see here, the ad did not need to be adjusted that much. In the end, it was a much stronger ad. It almost makes you wonder how close you actually are to a much stronger ad when you think you have a good one.
  4. Confidence. Have confidence in yourself and your team to take care of the situation. The client told Peggy what to do but she only considered it as an option and not a great ad. Peggy showed the confidence that she had in herself and the team, reassuring the client that they would have a new ad in time for the Super Bowl. Showing confidence allows others to trust in what you believe is right. It makes a big difference in almost any situation, whether it is business or life.
  5. Go the extra mile. Let’s face it. Peggy got lucky with the extra footage to prevent a reshoot. Next time you have an ad, go the extra mile and keep other material on hand from the start. Shoot a little extra or write a little more just in case. Once the ad is complete, it may even be worth revisiting a couple days later to bring a fresh set of eyes to it. The key here is to be ready for anything at a moment’s notice. After all, you would rather put a little more into an idea up front and prevent a future crisis, wouldn’t you?

Have you been in a similar situation as Peggy Olson from Mad Men? How have you dealt with the situation? What could you have done better?

Read the original article on the Talent Zoo blog Beyond Madison Avenue at: http://www.talentzoo.com/beyond-madison-ave/blog_news.php?articleID=17306

5 Tips for Branding Yourself as a Leader at Work

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handshakeYou want  to be a leader right? Let us start off by not going through work catatonically, each day waiting for something to happen to us. You need to take action for your own life and make things happen for you. Our goal is not to be the person wondering who took the last french crueller out the kitchen. Our goal is not to be worrying about petty he said she said inner office gossip. So, how do you become a leader to realize your goals?

Once you consistently show that you care and are working towards something greater you will begin to receive more respect at work. Caring for yourself and for the greater good of the business is only the first step to bringing you closer to your goal. Here are 5 ways that anybody from Administrative Assistant to Project Manager can become a leader at work without the Director or C-suite level title:

  1. Look the part: What does your boss wear to work? If they wear a suit to work so should you. If they have nicely pressed clothes, you should discover spray starch. You see the trend. Mirror your boss in the kind of clothing choices you make at work. This is not to say you have to wear ‘old’ looking items. Take style tips from them and make it uniquely your own. Your boss will notice and will appreciate the effort you are putting into your presentation. As I mentioned in a previous post “When you look better, you feel more confident. When you feel more confident, you perform better. When you perform better, you get noticed. When you get noticed, you get rewarded.” How you present yourself is the very basic level of personal branding.
  2. Active listening: When you listen carefully you understand what is really going on in the business. Many times leaders are chosen by seniority which means that the leader is most likely from a different generation than you. Different generations have different mindsets and ideas for how to get things done. You may hear a problem and be the next one to help develop a company or industry-changing initiative. All this can happen by just listening more.
  3. Do not form cliques: Dictonary.com describes a clique as “a small, exclusive group of people.” The key word here is exclusive, meaning that you are excluding yourself from others in the company. Once you are in a clique you are usually obligated, under peer pressure, to think like the clique and do what others in the group do. This can put your climb up the career ladder at a stand still. It is important to continue relationships with anyone you come in contact to at a company. Think of it as inner office networking.
  4. Your boss is number one: Make your boss look their best. If you go above and beyond to make your boss look good, they will pay you back. Zig Ziglar said, “You can get everything in life you want, if you help enough other people get what they want.” This could not be any more true in this situation. Chances are your boss wants to move up the career ladder too. They need your help to achieve those goals. If you fail, they fail. Once you help them achieve their goals you will reap the benefits.
  5. You are never too busy: Even though you may be busy, others do not need to hear about it everyday. Along these same lines, never say ‘its not my job.’ Always leave open the opportunity to take on something additional at work. I know this is the hardest task of all. However, if you are open to new projects, you are open to new ideas. The more you understand the totality of a company and its goals, the better off you are. If you constantly say you are busy, your boss may just leave you out of the conversation. Once you are out, you are out. That is it. Then your competition comes in and takes what could have been your glory. Only you could have done it better, right? One implication of this is you may have to take a break from stalking people on Facebook at work.

These five tips in branding yourself as a leader at work may have been review for you or they may have been completely new ideas. Either way, I hope you were able to take away the one underlying lesson of it all – flexibility. How can you become more flexible to achieve your personal goals at work?

Starting an Agency Includes Cultivating REALationships

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Bilal Saeed and Tim Adkins, Brofounders Pakmode

Bilal Saeed and Tim Adkins, Brofounders
Pakmode

“Deflate your ego.” This is one of the first things Bilal Saeed, Brofouder of Michigan-based Pakmode Media + Marketing, said to a packed house at TEDxEMU on March 15, 2013 at Eastern Michigan University’s Quirk Theater. Alongside Saeed, was Brofounder Tim Adkins, who leads creative direction at the agency. The creative duo’s discussion focused on building REALationships, and not just relationships, to stay successful in business and life.

When starting the agency fresh out of college in 2008 they quickly understood what hard work meant. Upon their first day of business, an advisor gave Saeed a small needle. He was unsure what it was for but the advisor simply said that Saeed will know soon enough. He kept the needle and got to work. Many times, Saeed and Adkins, found themselves washing dishes and waiting tables at a local restaurant after a full day of work just to pay the bills.

Thousands of clean dishes later, it dawned on the Brofounders that the needle was to deflate their ego.

Brofounders, by the way, is what they decided to name themselves instead of the formal CEO or COO since they were together much of their waking lives. The name stemmed from when they first heard brothers John and Scott Meyer of 9 Clouds refer to themselves as ‘Brofounders.’

Saeed and Adkins realized that deflating their ego was only the first part of the process. To create, grow, and maintain REALationships, there are actually four key ideas to keep in mind, especially when starting your own agency, as follows:

  1. Deflate your ego: This was their first and most vital lesson. It is important to remember that you are not automatically entitled to anything you do not earn. If you want something you must work hard to achieve it. Nothing will be given to you. They say to “Grind because you believe in something greater.”
  2. Be a chameleon: Adkins reluctantly lets Saeed talk about this point since he focuses so much on it. However, in creating REALationships it is important to know your surroundings and adapt as you need to. Do not be afraid of change and allow yourself the ability to be prepared for all situations as they arise. You may be in a tough situation and your next client may or may not be watching you. Saeed exceeded one man’s expectations so much with the way that he went out of his way to adapt for another client at an event that he landed the Little Caesar’s Pizza Bowlaccount on the spot.
  3. Being selfless without being selfish: The Dalai Lama once said, “Our prime purpose in life is to help others.” The Brofounders keep this in their mind daily. Their goals are focused on helping others first and acting for no personal gain. This allows them to be better people and better corporate citizens.
  4. Being a real, better person: This last point is best assimilated to being a child again. Simple things that people forget over the years are to share, say please and thank you, and remember to be nice. And do not forget, the ransparency of this niceness factor should be shown through all social media channels.

At the completion of their TEDxEMU talk, Saeed and Adkins made note that these four points are easier to say and harder to do. This is not a sales technique, but rather a lifestyle. They truly believe in the working capacity of each of these key points and have made them part of daily life. “Do not fake it,” says Adkins. People will see right through the exterior. It is truly important to be a better listener and to care about the REALationships you make. What will you do to turn your relationships into REALationships?

Read the entire article on Talent Zoo’s beyond Madison Avenue at: http://www.talentzoo.com/beyond-madison-ave/blog_news.php?articleID=17244

17 Quotes to Inspire Your Personal Brand

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It is amazing what a good quote can do to help you start off your day. A good quote lets your mind get moving on a positive note. It lifts you up. It keeps you motivated. I started off my year with a blog post on this thought – Do not put off until tomorrow what you can do today. Each of these quotes keep me on top of that goal. Now that the year is a third over, have you stayed on top of your new year’s resolution?

It is amazing the power of what just a few words have on people. Think of “We the people,” “I have a dream,” “Ask not what your country can do for you,” and what did it do? It opened people’s minds and gave them something bigger to hope for. Open your mind. Find a few quotes that motivate you to keep your personal brand operating at full capacity. It will not only keep you more productive at work but will help achieve that work/life balance that so many are constantly striving for.  Start by reading these:

  1. “Be so good they can’t ignore you.” – Steve Martin
  2. “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” – Maya Angelou
  3. “Creativity is a drug I cannot live without.” – Cecil B. DeMille
  4. “A creative man is motivated by the desire to achieve, not by the desire to beat others.” – Ayn Rand
  5. “It’s always too early to quit.” – Norman Vincent Peale
  6. ” The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.” – Eleanor Roosevelt
  7. “Nothing is impossible, the word itself says ‘I’m possible’!” – Audrey Hepburn
  8. “Curiosity about life in all of its aspects, I think, is still the secret of great creative people.” – Leo Burnett
  9. “If plan “A” fails — remember you have 25 letters left.” – Chris Guillebeau
  10. “You can get everything in life you want, if you help enough other people get what they want.” – Zig Ziglar
  11. “You do not really understand something unless you can explain it to your grandmother.” – Albert Einstein
  12. “You may never know what results come of your actions, but if you do nothing, there will be no results.” – Gandhi
  13. “An idea can turn to dust or magic, depending on the talent that rubs against it.” – Bill Bernbach
  14. “If opportunity doesn’t knock, build a door.” – Milton Berle
  15. “Do something worth remembering.” – Elvis Presley
  16. “Don’t bunt. Aim out of the ball park. Aim for the company of immortals.” – David Ogilvy
  17. “Absorb what is useful. Discard what is not. Add what is uniquely your own.” – Bruce Lee

Which of these quotes inspires your personal brand? What other quotes would you add to this list?