The Job Change Fantasy

Imagine you are sitting at your desk, your boss just complimented you on your last project, you’re sipping coffee and you feel good.

The phone rings and it is an HR recruiter.  They’ve seen your profile on Linkedin and think you would be perfect for a job they’ve got.

You skip along to the interview, where you discover it is your dream job.  It’s also more money and a shorter commute – what a result.

You get an offer at the end of the interview and are working there in no time.

Sounds great doesn’t it?

Unfortunately, in reality that happens about as often as buying the winning lottery ticket.  You don’t want to bet your career on it.

You can still get the dream job
Getting your dream job is within your reach, it just isn’t going to find you and then land in your lap. Continue reading

You Are Going Nowhere…

This ad is a wonderful observation on human nature.  It feels true to life, the reactions are great.

Clemenger in Melbourne came up with the idea for their client, National Australia Bank, a couple of years ago.

The ad is good, makes you smile and is connected to the financial product it is peddling, but that’s not why I’m writing about it now.

I dug it out of the archives because I’ve been doing a lot of coaching lately on careers and finding the job that’s right for you.

So often when we look for jobs, we think our role is to sell our services.  We research the company, explain all the ways our experience could help them and nervously wait to see if they want us.

The reality is we need to be in the buying seat.  Is this the company for you? Are these people you want to work with, is the job going to challenge you and help you gain expertise in your field?

Think of this ad as you prepare for your next interview – you don’t want to get a new job, then discover that you are going nowhere.


Managing Difficult Conversations

You know that sinking feeling, your stomach is in a knot, you have to have a conversation and it’s going to be difficult.

Avoiding it makes it worse and leaves you feeling anxious even longer.

So, how do you handle these conversations with finesse?

How bad is it?
Put it in perspective.  Challenging conversations vary in degrees.  What might be seriously difficult for one person, won’t be troublesome for another.

Here are some scenarios to register your threshold – which of these would make you squirm?

First there’s the area of awkward conversations; telling someone they’ve got something in their teeth, they need deodorant or that their child has badly misbehaved.

Now, move up a notch to conversations that are harder.  Delivering the news that something isn’t going to happen on time… or at all. Maybe it’s explaining changes that weren’t made or explaining a mistake that was made.

Finally, some really difficult conversations, telling someone they’re losing their job, asking someone if they’ve done something illegal, telling someone that they are seriously ill.

How did you do?

Sometimes putting the subject into perspective is enough to get you moving.

If it’s an awkward conversation – don’t blow it out of proportion. These are best dealt with as politely as possible, and then move on.

If you have something harder, a subject in that second or third range of difficult conversation, here are some tips to help you think about your approach. Continue reading

So Wrong But So Funny – Ads That Make Fun Of Us

Sometimes you just have to laugh, even when you know it’s wrong.

Like watching those home videos where people have disasters.  They fall off swing sets, get clobbered by a golf club, the brides dress falls off or the dad gets attacked by the cat.

We know we shouldn’t enjoy their anguish but it’s just funny.

This ad from McCann in Sydney is so inappropriate, in an age where we are constantly warned about too much alcohol.

But it is just funny.

It takes Australia’s love of wine and parlays that into an unexpected message for Corelle’s  product benefit.  A benefit most of us never think about.

I’ll leave you to watch the ad, I’m off to find a glass of wine…

Go For It – An Inspiring New Year

I was watching a Ted Talk by Diana Nyad, a friend sent it to me and I thought you might like it.  She is an amazing woman with a contagious sense of spirit.  You can see it here:
Never, ever give up
She is a long distance swimmer, the first person to swim the gulf from Cuba to Florida.  No one had ever done it before and she had already attempted it 4 times.

When she turned 60, her mantra became “Find a way.”  At 64 she accomplished her dream and made it all the way across.  At 64.

The first thing she said when she came out of the water, after 53 hours of swimming, was “Never, ever give up.”

How do you get that kind of conviction?
1.  Define your dream
Narrow your choices, too many options and your dreams will remain swirling in your head, just possibilities.  Decide on something, big or small and make it the shore you are aiming for this year. Continue reading

What Do You Dream Of?

A favourite question for journalists and magazine quizzes is “Who or what inspires you?”

For me that inspiration comes watching someone really push toward their dream.

Whether it’s an Olympic athlete, someone renovating an old house or an injured person relearning to walk, I feel that tingle.  If they can do it, if they can keep pushing, then we all have that potential.

Wherever it’s found, you see the determination, energy and drive it takes for them to overcome their fears and keep moving forward.

They celebrate each inch that they creep down the long road that holds their dream.  It keeps them going.  It’s a shining beacon that they aim for.   They climb over obstacles and push off rejection to reach it.

Some people seem to find that dream early; they train, practice or study.  They put in their 10,000 hours and become an expert.

Most of us find a dream later, with a bit of life behind us, an understanding of who we are and what we value.

What do you dream of?

Here are two ads that try to borrow some of that inspiration.  They do it differently and associate their brand with the dream in different ways.

Does either one leave you inspired?

Amstel Chef

Misty Copeland for Under Armour

Jot a note in the box below, I’d love to hear what you think.

Emotional Intelligence – How Smart Are You?

Emotional Intelligence is being touted as the X factor in those who rise to the top and are able to stay there.

How good is yours?

Quick test
Here is a quick test to check your emotional connections – can you identify your feelings around this changing scenario?

Imagine you asked your boss if he wanted to walk with you to the client presentation.  He says no, he’ll catch a cab.  You get there and are waiting in front of the building when he arrives, walking with your colleague, deep in conversation.

How do you feel?  How do you feel about him?

Now imagine he joins you in the coffee queue and explains that he wanted to think through his presentation and clear his head, which is why he turned down your offer to walk together.  He was disappointed when the colleague caught up with him and he mentions “we both know how much he can talk.”

How do you feel now?  How do you feel about him?

This time picture a different response from your boss.  When he spots you, he laughs and quickly explains his cab broke down a couple of blocks away and he saw your colleague walking so he joined him.

Does that change how you feel or how you feel about him? Continue reading

The Changing Face Of Gillette

I worked on the Gillette account for 6 years when I was at BBDO.  It gave me an unusually intimate knowledge of what men get up to when shaving.
Razors, foam, gel, blades and aftershave, I worked on it all.

When it came to the razor advertising, the formula was simple:
Take a young, fit Alfa male with a very square jaw.
Put him in an airplane, space craft or race car–fast and macho.
Then cut to him in the bathroom shaving at the speed of light, never a nick.  Follow this with a lush woman, sidling up to his naked chest so she can stroke her hand over his soft cheek.

If that doesn’t bring back memories of every Gillette ad over the last 15 years, here is a 1999 example to remind you.
Mach 3 Continue reading

Is Your Team One Big Drama Triangle?

Is there a lot of drama in your office?
Say someone on your team is really annoyed.  They have been wronged.

They were asked by a person in another department to do something that isn’t their job. This has happened before.  That person’s plea is always accompanied by reasons they can’t do it themselves: they don’t have time, the client suggested it, their boss has something else for them to work on.

Your staff member walks up to your desk steaming.  They explain their frustration, and plead with you to talk to the other department manager and clear this up.  They’ve had it, they’re stressed with their own work, this can’t go on…

And suddenly you’re involved
You pick up the mantle.  You don’t want to have this conversation, you know it will end in a “he said/she said” circular discussion. Continue reading

Food Porn In Advertising

I’m a sucker for food porn. A glorious shot of a salad tossed high, a sensual glimpse of molten chocolate, even the humble burger, shot beautifully, can make it alluring.

So, you’d think amazing food shots coupled with dramatic music and mood lighting must add up to a memorable ad… or not.

Wieden and Kennedy have selected exotic ingredients with strange textures and sharp teeth to take us on their food odyssey.

W&K are a great agency and certainly have delivered on the idea that cooking is an adventure.

But the ad doesn’t feel like a new idea and it doesn’t tell me much about this Cook’s Range of butters from Lurpak.

I’d be the first to admit they make it all look spectacular – who knew you could turn an egg yolk into a galactic explosion?  But does it make me want to cook?  Do I know more about this new butter that will take me into unchartered territory?

I think not.

Great entertainment value – so I’ll give that a 10, but I think they missed the boat on the message.

What do you think?  Drop a line in the box below and tell me if you’ve rushed to put Lurpak on your grocery list.


I’m Creative – What Does That Mean To You?

When we’re little, we are all creative.  Every kid in preschool wants their drawing stuck to the fridge.  No one’s concerned about the colours being accurate – it’s fine to give the boy a green face and the rabbit blue hair – it looks good.

As we get older we get conscious of comparisons.  Do I draw as realistically as they do?  Is my writing as interesting as other bloggers?

I have a wonderful friend that is a natural story teller.  She also has a unique ability to let her humour shine though and often makes me laugh out loud reading her emails.  She has all the talent she needs to fill her desire to write a book, but is held back by the comparisons – will it be good enough, is she creative enough?

Those comparisons kills our buzz – we start to doubt, then decide we just don’t have the imagination.

What defines creative
I have never had “Creative” in my job title.  I’m a creative cook, I’ve danced for years at a dance studio, I’m good at interior design,  I can sew without a pattern and I love writing my blog.  But if you were to ask me if I was creative, I’d hesitate a long time before saying yes.

For years we had a small definition of what exactly is “creative work.” I’m delighted that has begun to change.

Creativity is no longer the prowess of people who can draw and paint, play an instrument or sing.  It’s no longer owned by people whose work title has the word Creative in it.  It has bloomed far beyond the fine arts, the commercial arts and the plastic arts.

Now creativity lives in inventive thought – ideas, words and products that are inspired by our lives.

I just saw a Facebook page for a company called Under Colors – they are developing a nail varnish that changes colour when it comes in contact with rape drugs in drinks – how creative is that?

It’s not the product idea that defines their creativity.  It is the imaginative way they’ve connected today’s social risks and the need to feel secure, with the discretion required to check if the people around you are trustworthy.

It’s the brilliant connection of life experience and imagination that make this creative.

People who write code that delivers us new experiences on the web are creative.  People who curate their photos or pinterest or write about their food adventures are creative.  It’s about your imagination taking flight from your experiences.

Creative expression
Creativity is not a difficult mistress – it doesn’t demand an audience, you don’t need to be paid for it and it doesn’t have to be affirmed by someone else.

Creativity is in the joy of doing something that expresses your original and unique thoughts.   It is in the way you put it together, different from anyone else and uniquely yours.

There is a joy in that creative thinking that we revelled in as a child. Find yours again, let it loose without inhibition.

Don’t be humble, belittle or compare it.

Let your imagination soar.

Here’s a video from Adobe about how they see the new creative landscape.

If you enjoyed this post you might like this article in the New Yorker by Joshua Rothman    on the evolution of creativity. Here is a quote from the article:
If you’re really creative, really imaginative, you don’t have to make things. You just have to live, observe, think, and feel. Coleridge, in his poem “Frost at Midnight,” uses, as his metaphor for the creative imagination, the frost, which freezes the evening dew into icicles “quietly shining up at the quiet moon.” The poem begins: “The Frost performs its secret ministry, / Unhelped by any wind.” The secret, silent, delicate, and temporary work of the frost is creativity, too. It doesn’t build, but it transforms. It doesn’t last, but it matters.

Drop me a line, what unleashes the creativity to you?


An Ad That Hits THE Spot

Sometimes you can’t say things directly, in an ad, because the audience tunes it out.

We’ve all experienced that.  The charity ad that shows you such heart breaking pictures that you flip the page.  The insurance ad that is so obvious you just stop listening.

Research tells us that if people need to think a little about an ad, they are much more likely to remember it.  We also know if they can relate it to their own experiences or emotions it will resonate.

So the holy grail is finding an ad that makes people think a bit, that they relate to or empathise with and then remember the message long enough to act.

This ad about guns certainly stayed in my mind.

My guess is that this McCann NY were asked to target women with this message because they’d be most likely to act.

They cleverly realized that gruesome shooting scenes and fear were not going to cut through, because they are on the news daily in the USA.

Instead they used humour and I think they’ve struck the chord just right.  I don’t know if it was effective, but maybe they hit the spot.

What do you think?  Drop a note in the box below, I’d love to hear your comments.


Can I Have Your Undivided Attention?

I bet you thought “no” when I asked for your undivided attention or maybe “yes but only for a minute.”

We rarely give anyone or anything that kind of focus.

I really notice it when I’m stuck behind someone looking at their phone while climbing the escalator, walking down the street or getting off the tube. These are quick basics – get from A to B, yet they are totally distracted.

It’s worse in the office.  I tell every person I coach to turn off their Email Pop up. Many don’t listen; they think it’s essential that they’re connected.

These are the same people that talk about feeling overwhelmed with the amount they have to do and not finding much satisfaction in their job.

The correlation is clear.

Get with the Flow
Mihály Csíkszentmihályi discovered the concept of Flow in his research.    He described it as the mental state where a person is fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement and enjoyment in the activity.

Flow is characterized by complete absorption in what you are doing.

You are unaware of time, all your thoughts are channelled on this one thing.

The state of Flow is thought to produce the highest sense of satisfaction in what you’re working on.

A lot of video gamers say this is the joy they feel when they are totally immersed.

So, back to the email pop up.  If your eyes flit to the corner of the screen and your brain briefly engages in each new email, you will never be in a state of flow.  Ever.

You’ll never get that pleasure, that amazing sense of losing yourself in the task.

We work in an era of thought driven, creative innovation.  We work on strategy and ideas; creative thinking is the hallmark of today’s jobs.

It’s the kind of work that lets you get in the Flow.  It demands your undivided attention for you to be good.

You have to be willing to give it your full focus.

People need it too
I was headed to work and saw a woman walking with her 4 year old, her daughter was dawdling behind.  As she walked, she was staring intently at her phone.  She snapped her fingers and gestured hurry up, without ever looking up from her screen.

I’d bet when her daughter is 14 and her mom wants to talk, the daughter will motion “later” and walk away texting.  Mom will be seriously annoyed, not realizing she taught her this.

That little bit of attention is so valued.

Do you know someone that always stops what they are doing, looks you in the eye and really listens to what you have to say?

It gives you a little jolt of energy, they make you feel important, they have time for you.  You are more important than anything on their many screens.

Experiment with this 
Give someone your undivided attention, how did they respond?

Ask for someone’s undivided attention, how do you feel?

Unplug from the outside world.  Set aside 2 hours to work on something and don’t check your email, Facebook or texts.

The real pleasure in life is not in multitasking and I’m sure it isn’t on your phone screen.

Give something your all.

Find your Flow.

Old Spice For Hair – What A Creepy Ad

I love Old Spice –well,  really it’s their clever advertising I love. They target women and manage to differentiate themselves from Lynx/Axe and its spray on sex appeal.

However, THIS Old Spice ad for their range of hair products, is just creepy.

It has a tagline “Old Spice, hair that gets results.”  It appears that Weiden and Kennedy in Portland set out to prove that literally, making the tag line into the ad.

The result?  I want to take my shoe off and start banging on the conference table, hoping that rat like creature that crawled of the slimy guy’s head will run away.

I’m not sure that’s the reaction the client had hoped for.

Maybe this works for someone, but the self-satisfied look from the hairy guy is enough to put me off.

I feel like I need to wash my hands now…

Want To Learn Something New?

Have you ever had a job where you were really busy but bored?

At one point, when I worked for the biggest ad agency in London, I found myself standing too long in the ladies’ room, having to will myself to walk out the door.

I’d been working on the same account for eight years.  I had seen endless junior brand managers come and go.  If I could get myself to leave the bathroom, I was headed to my client’s office to have the same tedious discussion, about the size of their logo on a poster, that I’d had repeatedly over the years.

I was so bored with it.

I knew I needed to do something else.

Give me something new
Fast forward several years to my current role as a coach, helping other people figure out what they want.

Some clients hire a coach because they want a change and can’t see the way forward.  They’re adamant, saying “I need to do something different, really different – like a whole new industry kind of different.”

I understand the sentiment.  Learning something new is motivating.  It’s great to figure things out that you have never done before.  It’s exciting to see yourself getting better at something, understanding how or why it works.  Building your experience is a joy in itself.

Oddly, when we’ve absolutely dominated a skill or ability, it no longer holds a challenge.  It’s just repetition and repetition is dull.

That makes it easy to understand the pleasure of learning.  If you take up a new activity, golf, dance, meditation, skiing, there is an immediate satisfaction as you learn and improve.

Equally, when you change jobs and have to figure everything out, you feel like all your senses are on alert and you can’t afford to do anything on automatic, it’s exhilarating.

So why do we dread being in that learning seat?
Give kids a chance to learn something new and they leap on it.  They are quick to give it a go.  They laugh, concentrate and often point to what they’ve done with pride, they just learned it. Continue reading

Mercedes Benz Laid An Egg With This Ad

Mercedes Benz has done some brave advertising.  They have even ventured into selling their features without ever showing their car.

They hit gold doing this with their ad showing chickens that held their head with perfect equilibrium, no matter which direction their body moved.

That ad tied to the analogy nicely with an end line explaining their new feature had increased the stability of Mercedes suspension. It was slick.

If you missed it you can see it here

This new ad from Futatsu Industries in Norway tries to copy the same formula but misses the boat.

They show spoons pounding away on eggs in eggcups – interesting… but then the lights come up, the tagline says “1959- the world’s first safety cage” and it becomes clear that the spoons aren’t hitting eggs.

What the heck? They are bragging about a feature that’s 50 years old with a cheap lighting trick.  That doesn’t feel Mercedes at all.

What do you think?

How To Manage A Micro Manager

Is your boss a micromanager? You know the type, they give you an assignment, then check every step of the way to see how you’re doing.

Midway in their checks they offer to help because they can do it quicker or they understand it better or they know what the client wants.

And boom, you’ve been micromanaged. They swoop in, gather that project back to their chest and say they’ll call you if they need help.

There goes your project. You thought you were leading it and had plans of how to manage it yourself. Instead, you no longer have ownership, now you are just tailing along as part of the support team.

Autonomy is motivating
I talk a lot about Dan Pinks video on motivation in my coaching. He has the research to prove that autonomy is incredibly motivating.

Being allowed to figure something out for yourself makes your job interesting and you more willing to get out of bed and go to work. Continue reading

There’s Nothing Like A Broken Cliché

When an ad surprises me these days, I want to kiss the creatives.  It is so hard to do something in 30 seconds that has an unpredictable end.

John Lewis did it two years ago with the boy impatiently waiting for Christmas, but most of the time the story is short and the conclusion is a given.

This ad from KesselsKramer in Amsterdam for citizenM Hotels is great fun.  They hooked me with the swans made of towels then made me laugh with their end and tag line.

Wonderfully simple and memorable, with the product perfectly integrated.

I hear clichés crunching under KesselsKramer’s heels.

Preparing For A Job Interview – It’s Your Story

It’s happened – you got that call.  Someone wants you to come in for a job interview.

You may have been looking for a job or a head hunter called you out of the blue, either way, a date is looming and you want to be prepared.

I’ve had several clients who’ve requested coaching to prep for their interviews.

They don’t need my help researching their new company, they want help feeling confident, prepared and ready for anything.

Why we need help prepping
You’d think we would have all the answers in an interview– after all we are the subject of the questions and who could know our experience better…

Unfortunately, interviews aren’t that straightforward. It’s amazing how hard it is to think of examples when you are under the cosh.  Toss in a difficult interviewer, a stressful or distracting environment, some unexpected questions and wham, you want to excuse yourself and run for the hills.

So what can you do to prepare yourself? Continue reading

Old Spice – Talking To Moms Everywhere

Old Spice loves the ladies.  They advertise to women though their product is men’s cologne.

More specifically, they want women to buy their product for the guys in their life. Husbands, brothers, sons, it doesn’t matter – just get that product in the grocery basket.

However they do it with such charm and humour that you don’t mind the message.

Lynx, their big competition in this market have always targeted young men directly.  Their message is unequivocal – our scent is spray on sex appeal that makes you irresistible.

Lynx do it well, so it would be hard to challenge them in their heartland.   I think Old Spice have been wise to take a different approach to targeting.

Their famous ad with the Old Spice Guy, Isaiah Mustafa had over 48 million views last time I checked. If you want to oogle him once more click here.

Just for Mom
Their latest approach, with the ad below, shows dear old Mom.

They’ve used fantastic effects to show her in camouflage trying to keep an eye on her son.

Its clever strategy, funny writing and great execution.

Have a look.

Another winner from Weiden and Kennedy in Portland.