Offices Aren’t Just For Working

thumbnailOCHWW colleagues—I think you all would agree that we face a lot of challenges at work: client requests and tight timelines, internal office debates, and the food in the cafeteria. Well, it’s not exactly Dean and DeLuca. Plus, as wonderful as it would be to leave work (physically and mentally) every day at 5:00, that isn’t always the case. We spend most of our waking hours within our cubicles, conference rooms, or offices with coworkers. That’s why I think it’s important to have our workplace be somewhere we’re proud of—and somewhere we look forward to going to.

I’ve personally been a big fan of Ogilvy CommonHealth Worldwide since 2009, when I was a  Communications and PR intern in our New Jersey office. That love grew when I spent two years in the Payer group before deciding to leave my super cool roommates (aka Mom and Dad) and start working for our NY office.

Those of you who work in the NY office, or have had the pleasure of visiting, know that it’s a completely different atmosphere from NJ. Here’s one small example: our cube walls are super low (read: nonexistent) which means you’re basically in everyone’s business all the time. (I wonder how many times a day I apologize to my poor neighbors for being loud and/or obnoxious….) Because of this open floor plan, it’s easy to get to know people—really well. I know when my coworkers are busy, frustrated, upset, or happy—and usually their moods affect mine. That’s one of the reasons I was concerned for the state of our employees’ mental health when the head of our NY morale committee was leaving Ogilvy. What was going to happen to our Friday festivities!? I leapt at the chance to work with the Mod Squad to ensure our morale would remain high.

It’s been a great joy for us to bring back “beer cart Fridays,” while also trying to start new fun events. We had a fantastic time with our Halloween Decorating contest, where employees could be found hanging cobwebs from the ceiling, taking grotesque self portraits, and watching the cool feature film developed by the creative department! This Christmas we had another decorating contest, where each team was given one box of items including playing cards, twine, and toilet paper, with which to decorate their rows. We had fantastic results, from “scratch-n-sniff” snowman noses out of mac-n-cheese to a tinfoil skating rink. Although brutally competitive, these two events have been some of the most fun weeks I’ve had in the office. My mind was blown away by everyone’s creativity, commitment, and fun spirit.

It’s so important for us to have fun together whenever possible—that’s why the Mod Squad dedicates their time to these events. Plus, advertising isn’t just about the work we are doing for our clients. It’s about what we do for ourselves. Don’t we want to brand ourselves as a company who enjoys spending time with each other, whether it’s working in a conference room, pushing a beer cart, or hanging toilet paper from the ceiling?

So, when making your resolutions for 2014, I ask that one of your resolutions be to help make our offices even more fun places to work! I’m happy to hear any and all ideas you may have. I promise you won’t regret it.

Questions? Comments? You can contact the author directly at blog@ochww.com.
Please allow 24 hours for response.

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Unleash Your Passions

thumbnailAs the year comes to another busy end we find ourselves working long hours to ensure we meet the needs of our clients, but look forward to the hope and promise of a new year. The New Year is the time to reflect on the changes we want to make and resolve to follow through on those changes. As we think about those resolutions, let’s take a moment to reflect on the corporate culture of Ogilvy & Mather as laid down by David Ogilvy.

“Some of our people spend their entire working lives in Ogilvy & Mather. We try to make it a stimulating and happy experience. We put this first, believing that superior service to our clients depends on the high morale of our men and women.”

Ogilvy CommonHealth Worldwide is an organization filled with hardworking, creative and smart individuals. In fact, we often find ourselves defined by what our job roles are; account managers, copywriters, art directors, finance directors, medical directors, and more. But we are so much more than a job description. Underneath it all, we are all individuals with personal goals, passions, with a desire to better ourselves and the world around us. We are all poised for greatness. This greatness lies within us—deep within, we are painters, poets, caregivers, entrepreneurs, mentors, performers, advocates, athletes, and so much more.

Often the demands of our day job and life in general get in the way of achieving our personal goals, or passion projects, as I like to call them. But, especially in a creative business like advertising, we have to ensure that the pressures of the daily grind are not counterproductive to our creative spirit, the lifeline of our work. As such, we really need to make the time to pursue our passion projects. Our personal passion projects can provide a much-needed creative outlet and an escape from the demands of the day. Ultimately, making the time for our side projects will allow us to unwind, gather perspective and experience, and center ourselves.

But aside from the personal satisfaction that can be gained, passion projects loop back into work life, fueling professional inspiration. It is no secret that high performance and job satisfaction are tightly linked with the need to gain control of our personal and professional lives, to learn and create new things, and to be better at what we do. Driven by personal fulfillment, those who pursue passion projects are highly engaged and will work more efficiently and effectively.

So as we reflect back on the past year and resolve to make changes for 2014, let’s think about those side projects we are passionate about. It’s time to let those passion projects brewing beneath the surface grow into valuable opportunities both personally and professionally. If you give them a chance, you’ll get the pleasure of working with highly motivated people who are happy at their jobs. In the new year, I resolve to pursue my hobby of painting more vigorously… What will you do? Consider acting on your passion project as part of your New Year’s resolution.

Questions? Comments? You can contact the author directly at blog@ochww.com.
Please allow 24 hours for response.

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The Global Awards Ceremony

blog thumbnailAs you enter this welcoming, creative environment, you are immediately humbled by the amazing creative work on display. The best work from around the world. The creative directors from many of the world’s top agencies are in attendance. It is a true creative event in every sense of the word.

The work is brilliant, and it is judged by only creative eyes. The judging takes place at 3 locations: Sydney, London and New York. And while you are here mingling with creative royalty, there is this great sense of community, as only creatives can experience. It is a chance for us to share stories, discuss the work, and enjoy each other’s company without the daily politics we are so used to dealing with.

This show is a very special one. They do it right, by getting a true global perspective on the work and then putting that judging through even more scrutiny at the regional level. Once it gets past the regional level, only the very best moves into the executive judging in New York. This is where the Global finalists and Grand winners are determined.

The debates over which work deserves to be considered the best are fun and filled with an intense passion. What is special is that we are fighting for someone else’s work to be recognized as the best. No other show does that.

And after we are done with the marathon of judging, we all go out and get to know more about each other, share our stories, and build friendships. Yes, we are rivals during the day, but during this prestigious event we are part of a special group that has a tremendous amount of respect for each other.

Questions? Comments? You can contact the author directly at blog@ochww.com.
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Young Execs Within the Marketing World… Shaping Ourselves to be the Future Leaders of Tomorrow


Like any new beginning, stepping into a new job as a young professional can be a bit overwhelming, especially if it’s into a new career in the fast-paced marketing industry.  This is Part 2 of the 8 fundamental steps that I used to help conquer my own scary start…

(Part 2 of 2)


TIP #3: BE PATIENT, YET PROACTIVE—You will only climb the rungs of the corporate ladder as high as you can raise your hand. Don’t be scared to ask questions. Although in this case, fear is the right feeling. It’s perfectly normal to feel overwhelmed with the thought of the unknown, especially when first starting out in a new career. The lesson here is to overcome this fear with frequent questioning.

In the beginning, fear will help propel your ability to ask the right questions, demonstrate your wheels are turning behind those blank stares at the conference table and your willingness to not be satisfied with silence. Display the urge to dig deeper into the thought process and even volunteer yourself to try something new.

By volunteering for new tasks that are beyond your regular 9 am–5 pm duties, you’re creating for yourself an opportunity to expand your skills. Offer your time and extra pair of hands to pitch in and get dirty. Find out how you can contribute more to the greater team. You’d be surprised how much you’ll learn when you take the chance to dive in.

Scared to dive in without your swimmies? Just remember, “An expert at anything was once a beginner.”


TIP #4: FIND YOUR “GO-TO GURUS”—These aren’t just the various experts of the biz (of course you need these too!), these go-to’s are your mentors, your sounding boards, your 5-minute coffee break pals who help you refocus your energy and stay positive so you can finish your day strong.

Speaking of mentors…

TIP #5: FIND A MENTOR AND STICK TO HIM/HER LIKE GLUE—Keep your eyes and ears open while around your mentor, and you’d be surprised how quickly you can pick up the catchphrases of the industry and get the lay of the land around the office.

The best part (although maybe not the favorite for most) of working in an open-cubicle environment is the full exposure you have to everyone around you. This is the easiest way to observe different operational styles. Like any good fashion designer, you observe the trends around you; see what works and what just wouldn’t look good if you tried it on for yourself.

Different People = Different Experiences, which allows you to pick and choose what traits you’d like to adopt and morph into your own as a young professional, thus developing your own unique employee “style.”

Remember when shopping for the good in people: Take the best, leave the rest!


TIP #6: ELEVATORS CAN BE JUST AS IMPORTANT AS A GOOD RESUME—Spurring a small conversation on the way up to the 4th-floor lobby may be the best way to help you get to know your coworkers, and them to know you. Just by engaging in pleasant chatter, you quickly learn who does what and what areas they can assist with. Although it appears effortless at the time, this task may just be the thing that ends up getting you the answers you need in a pinch later on.

At the very least say hello—it’s just plain polite!


TIP #7: GET INVOLVED—Here’s my shameless plug… There’s always room for newbies on the corporate softball team! And what better way to meet people from all areas of the company than with a piece of Big League Chew and friendly camaraderie over the umpire’s last questionable call?

Getting to know your “team” outside of the office can help strengthen your understanding of how they operate best when in the office. It’s not just about building a bond on the field (although, always a plus), it also allows you to observe your teammates’ true personalities and preferences. Once you’re aware of how a member functions at his/her highest level, it provides the answer to the age-old question of how to successfully perform as a team where it matters the most—with your clients.


Last but certainly not least, before considering a path forward to your tomorrow, I urge you to follow TIP #8: EXPLORE ALL CORNERS OF THE EARTH (or in this case, corporation)—In order to operate as a true team player, you’ll need to know the ins and outs of your company first. Use your x-ray goggles to really gain a fundamental understanding of all departments, their specific roles and how they fit into the overall “corporate pie.”

After all, how is a team supposed to win a game with players who don’t even know each other’s names or positions on the field? (It’s tough!)

The good news is unlike on the softball field, with a well integrated business team, it is possible at the end of the day to have more than one winner: You, Your Team and Your Employer. I’m a firm believer of the saying: “Individual talent can win games, but TEAMWORK wins championships.”

In closing, do the legwork! Use these steps to set yourself up for success and leap with confidence. Look to your teammates and mentors for help along the way to reach new heights and refine your goals, but don’t sit back and let others pave the way for you.

Remember, this is YOUR future; Pack your own parachute!

Questions? Comments? You can contact the author directly at blog@ochww.com.
Please allow 24 hours for response.

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StormWorks and What We’ve Learned From the Hurricane

hurricane thumbnail image

It’s a little hard to believe that today is the one-year anniversary of Hurricane Sandy, a storm that ravaged the East Coast and plunged much of the region into darkness. Even harder to believe that it was the second storm in two years to knock out all power…on almost the exact same day in October.

Up in the northern part of New Jersey, we lost power, and flooded. Many people lost their homes in flood-prone areas. But down at the Jersey shore, the destruction was more devastating, and our friends and neighbors in beach communities are still suffering. They remain in our thoughts and prayers.

At work, we can learn a lot from these nor’easter storms, which appear to be more frequent and ferocious. Let’s take a look at five things that we can learn from hurricane season and how these lessons may apply in our everyday workplace.

1. Prepare for the storm

During Hurricane Irene, we saw how long it can take to get the electricity back online. It is not something that typically lasts more than a day or two, but for many people, this time days rolled into weeks. The following year, people were better prepared. They had charged devices, flashlights, portable heaters, gasoline, and even generators. That storm was stronger but we were better prepared.

In the workplace, there are storms of a different kind. Even though we try to anticipate customer needs, we never know when a client will have an important need on short notice. If you’ve trained your teams to be reactionary, they will not be prepared for these last-minute requests. You can complain about the challenge and timing, or you can step up and get it done. Advertising and marketing are businesses that must be prepared to respond to the needs in the marketplace. Like having gasoline for your generator before the sky darkens for the storm, there are ways that we can prepare our staff for emergencies.

2. Follow the process

In schools and in most workplaces, we have fire-preparedness drills. While these fire drills seem a little silly, it’s important in the event of an emergency to avoid chaos and know where the exit signs are.

My RedWorks team is part of a centralized unit that provides services ranging from editorial, production, design and video. When there’s a client emergency, there’s usually some (or a large) request for my team’s services. We have process in place that both (a) manages existing project timelines and (b) responds to the client emergencies.

If managed effectively and everyone knows where they are supposed to go, you will limit the number and duplication of calls and emails. Plan and discuss the best way to divvy up work, particularly when there are other projects already in the work stream. As a manager, you must discuss emergency response before there’s an actual emergency, and then trust your people to make smart decisions.

3. Don’t cut corners

It can be tempting to cut corners to complete a last-minute request, but it’s just not a good idea. In the long run, you could actually cause more problems. Skipping a production step or an editorial check in order to save time could cause crucial errors. We’ve been able to streamline response time by following our documented processes. You don’t have time to tweak process during the middle of a client emergency.

Also, you don’t want to churn out poor work that you (and your client) will regret later. Sometimes the difference between mediocre and good is just a few steps. I’ve seen some great work emerge from designers and other creative people, simply because they kept a cool head, followed their process, and focused on their part in the workflow.

4. Apply what you have learned

After the first hurricane, a lot of people went back to life as usual. Others took the opportunity to stock up and prepare for the next epic storm. Just because our region lost power, it didn’t mean that the rest of the world stopped working. Those of us who lost electricity (and not our entire homes) had to keep working. The year before, we figured out ways to stay in touch, even when electricity was out in many neighborhoods.

We quite literally charged our devices in our cars and connected through telephones (remember those?) and email. WiFi is fast, but 3G wireless was keeping us connected. The next year, during Hurricane Sandy, we knew to take home the right files and equipment.

Beyond that, we prepared with our clients, particularly the local ones who were going to be hit by the same storm. It seemed a little awkward to exchange personal phone numbers, but we were glad we did. Many servers and websites were down, so we kept in contact in any way we could. We remembered what the previous year was like and planned around the actual stormfront that was coming.

We stayed on top of the work and kept the deliverables coming. We also learned a bit about each other as human beings. We made new friends and shared respect for each other on many levels. None of this would have happened if we hadn’t learned how to prepare from the previous storm.

5. Know your technology

If you’ll allow me to, I want to brag about my team for a moment. These are dedicated creative types who can blow you away with their skills. As such, we ensure that they are properly trained and keep up to date with the appropriate software and technology. We do like new tech, but we also respect the tech we have already mastered. We’ve seen competitors turn out award-winning creative work one year only to fall apart the next year. Often they are trying too hard to be the first people using new software, instead of just giving clients what they want and need.

It’s important to know your tools intimately enough that you can sit down on anybody’s machine and begin working. At one point last year, many people on our staff had lost use of their homes, so we met at a hotel that was reserved by our corporate team. We had dozens of people tapping away on laptops, and some people even had to share computers.

My team was composed of well-prepared professionals who knew how to use the technology to work effectively, back up their jobs, and find ways to deliver files to our vendors and clients. Having staff that is agile in their technical skills enabled us to plug and play during a challenging two weeks.

According to the weather reports, we’re living in an age of increasingly harsh storm conditions. High winds and flooding will continue to challenge us here in the Northeast, as storms by you will challenge you.

We have a responsibility to our clients, our teammates, and ourselves to be prepared to continue seamless delivery of great marketing and creative assets. The storms may slow us down, but we will remain focused and reliable.

The name Ogilvy stands for something, and we aspire to be the best. We’re a team, we’re strong, and we’re prepared for anything.

Questions? Comments? You can contact the author directly at blog@ochww.com.
Please allow 24 hours for response.

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Five Kinda Digital Trends for 2013

thumbnailWhen I first began writing this post it was about technology, because that’s been my focus for many years. As I began diving into it, however, I found something I didn’t expect. Five digital trends that are hardly digital at all because, as one article puts it, “e-marketing” has become just “marketing.” If you’re not digitally enabled in some way, you’re not doing it.

In April I had the good fortune to attend the 2013 Ad Age Digital Conference in New York. It was a fantastic and informative event with many thought leaders and lots of great presenters. As they spoke, much of what I had been writing about became evident as not just my ideas but trends which describe the new age of marketing as an industry. Distilled here are five trends for all of us, not just the digital folk, reinforced by the hundreds of smart people who gathered at Ad Age Digital this year:

Trend #5: Set Impossible Goals, Then Achieve Them
At a conference like Ad Age Digital, big thinking is all around you, but this trend is different than that. It’s not just big thinking, but big doing. As Robert Wong, Google Creative Lab’s Chief Creative Officer, put it, “Think exponentially, not incrementally. If I tell you that you need to make cars run at 50 mpg, you retool your car. If I say 500 miles, you start over.” This is the basis for what Wong dubbed “moonshot thinking.” “You are not bothered by not being able to teleport around the world because there is a part of you that thinks it impossible,” he quipped. “Moonshot thinking is bothered by that.” It’s those people and those organizations who know it’s possible, whatever it is, that drive the industry forward. Present at Ad Age Digital were three fantastic examples of this: Citi, Delta, and USA Today. All historically non-digital organizations down to their very core, in one case dating back to over 200 years of tradition. All there to present their story on how they made the seemingly impossible digital jump, catapulting their organizations into and ahead of their industries.

Trend #4: Content Marketing Is HOT
A few years ago content was taken for granted as solely the job of an intelligent and strategic copywriter executing on channel strategy. Today content has a strategy unto itself. The advent of hundreds or more ways to communicate with consumers on the go changed everything.  Consumptions habits have changed. With so many channels and massive interconnectedness throughout every aspect of our lives, we are consuming content at an unprecedented rate. The advent of mobile has broken our tether to fixed channels, allowing us to consume on the go. It’s also changed our point of reference, which has led to the long-tail era of context. Context is what drives us to search for content that is more specific and more applicable to us. Unfortunately for content generators, content must now be relative not just to who is consuming it, but in what form. From state of mind to physical location, time of day to where we are in our brand journey, the narrower you target your audience, the more specific your content must become.

Trend #3: Big Data Should Empower, Not Replace Decision Makers
The other day I read an All Things D article (http://allthingsd.com/20130520/in-media-big-data-is-booming-but-big-results-are-lacking/) which described the atmosphere of the last decade of Big Data conversations. Essentially, it noted, we know how to collect data, we just don’t know how to use it. Oftentimes we either cede control to the all-powerful data blindly accepting it and moving on without a thought or, worse, we spend too much time with the data, looking for that one thing that will be a perfect solution, 100% guaranteed.

With everything going on in this space—from President Obama’s National Big Data Research and Development Initiative to Electronic Medical Records and Big Data’s role in organizational and marketing optimization—it’s clear that Big Data’s time has arrived. Unfortunately it’s arrived a little too much. Trend #3 is about taking a step back to find the right mix of data and inspiration. “Stats are nice,” said Vanessa Colella, Citibank’s N.A. Head of Consumer Marketing and probably one of the most intelligent people in the room, “but obsession with mountains of data leads to paralysis…intuition still makes the difference.”

Trend #2: Make Documentaries, Not Ads
Just like Big Data can stifle big thinking and paralyze action, big productions can paralyze advertising campaigns. David Ogilvy once said, “Products, like people, have personalities, and they can make or break them in the market place.” This big trend is all about the product and getting out of its way. Your product has a story to tell, so tell it. And do so simply. Not everything has to be highly produced. Seventy-two hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute by ordinary people with something to share. In this long-tail age of democratized content, consumers have become adept at distinguishing real stories from marketing noise, and their message is clear: Tell me about it, inspire me to use it, and let me choose; if I like it and it adds value, I’ll buy it—don’t try to sell it to me.

Trend #1: There Is No Digital
Across the board, There Is No Digital is the No. 1 digital-ish theme of 2013. Citibank’s Journey to Digital, Delta Airlines’ Digital Leadership, and USA Today’s Reinventing USA Today were all premier examples of historic, traditionally non-technical, non-integrated, highly regulated industry leaders completely transforming their organizations to sync up to the new world of consumption. “Digital is no longer a silo. Everyone in your organization must be digital,” said Vanessa Colella, clearly stating that there’s no such thing as “those tech guys.” “If you’re a marketer, you need to know digital and it’s our individual responsibility to stay up to date and fresh,” she continued.

Digital has been democratized and we’re all a part of it.As Robert Wong said, referring to Google’s 100,000 Star Chrome experiment, which plots the actual three-dimensional coordinates of real stars in an interactive visualization experience, “Geeks and poets make beautiful babies…art should challenge technology and technology should inspire art.”

Cross-discipline collaboration requires more than informing, it necessitates understanding. We no longer look for trends in digital marketing, we look for trends in marketing.

Questions? Comments? You can contact the author directly at blog@ochww.com.
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Client Banner Days That Click

banner-day-1This past Saturday, the Mets held their annual Banner Day at Citi Field—a one-day event that gives baseball fans a chance to express their loyalty, appreciation and creativity to their beloved ball club using homemade banners. Fortuitous for the Mets’ brass that the banner parade was held on the field before the game, as the Mets were mercilessly plundered by the Pirates 11-2.  I can only imagine what season ticket holder “Vinny from Queens” would have expressed with a bed sheet and some spray paint after the less than amazin’ performance.

In our business, and unlike the Mets’ fan base, we have the good fortune of being able to celebrate and show appreciation for our clients’ performance beyond just one banner day a year. In fact we have many.

As their partners, we help our clients thrive amidst the daily pressures and demands of making a brand meaningful, and we contribute to those amazing banner day moments. A successful product launch, an engaging and effective RM program, a new brand campaign and website, a motivating and memorable workshop  or convention, a positive sales quarter, or a brand team member promotion are all opportunities to keep our creative juices flowing and to let our client appreciation banner fly.

Rather than judiciously yet unceremoniously checking the “job well done” box then moving on to the next task, is there an opportunity to turn each milestone into a celebratory and defining moment for you and the client? And why do it at all?

Many of our clients have joined the marketing ranks after a successful stint in sales, where they were driven by incentives while showered with frequent tokens of appreciation and recognition, including for some, President’s Club, honoring the uber-performers with VIP getaways to sun-splashed resorts.

What’s the motivation and where is the recognition once they get into marketing? We can do our part and partially fill that void with client banner days. Each time the client achieves something special, there’s an opportunity to recognize and celebrate it with an agency-made token of appreciation. Let them know how much you care about them and their accomplishments. It gives us a chance to prove that our creativity extends beyond what’s stated in the brief to something more personable. It’s an endearing touch point that can enhance a relationship. And unlike the Mets, it only takes a little effort to get amazin’ results.

If you’re interested in learning more about how we have celebrated client banner days, please contact me at gary.duffy@ogilvy.com.

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Is There Good Karma in Advertising?

buddhaSo much of what we do throughout our careers is interesting…but is it inspiring? Well, we found out recently when the knowledge and information we’ve been exposed to through client work helped me and my wife conceive of and create something entirely new and unexpected. Using the skills we’ve honed while working at ad agencies, my wife and I recently came up with the idea for an iPhone app that aims to improve the world by promoting small changes in daily actions. Basically, we asked the question: what can we do using our advertising knowledge to help make the world a better place? That was the question. “Karmasation” was the answer.

Karmasation, the app we’ve created, is what we somewhat jokingly call an anti-social network. People can post their actions, thoughts, and experiences anonymously and get feedback about whether they deserve good or bad karma. Because users maintain anonymity within Karmasation, they can post honestly. They aren’t speaking to people who know them through various social interactions (as they would on Facebook and Twitter), they’re just speaking to a community of people. Human to human.

The tie-in to social networks, though, comes into play with the idea of gamification, a subject about which we’ve frequently engaged our respective clients. As users participate in Karmasation, they accrue a Karma Profile. Users can simply compete against themselves, or they can share their profiles, posts, and results with Facebook and Twitter to create somewhat of a competition to see who can earn the best karma.

So what type of advertising knowledge were we able to apply while creating the app? And how did that learning continue with Karmasation?
1) The Devil is in the Digital Design. As we’ve worked on different digital platforms for our clients, we’ve learned a bit about clean design and user interaction. Combining that knowledge with being iPhone users ourselves, we had an idea of what would work within the iPhone platform. Are we still learning? Of course! But through our work on our app, we’ve gained a broader understanding of user interaction. We now have a better handle on how users might prefer digital platforms to react and function—not just from an art or copy perspective—but from an overall experience.

2) Bravo for Beta Testing. Again, with the digital platforms we’ve worked on comes testing. The first time my wife worked on a digital presentation, her project manager told her to try and “break it.” And “break it” we did, because before putting an app out there you want to make sure you’ve covered every scenario—not just how you’d use it but also how anyone else might. Because our app has more possible combinations of actions than other projects we’ve worked on, we’ve learned the importance of testing in a systematic way with a greater attention to detail. We also found that as we progressed through the rounds of beta testing, we learned ways to better communicate issues we were finding with our developers. Clear communication between team members who understand different aspects of a project is crucial to getting any problems fixed.

3) The Process of Promotion. The obvious one since we’re in advertising. But this time, we are both the agency and the client. Deciding on your own strategy can sometimes be difficult, and as a result, we now have an added sense of respect for our clients. We continue to work daily to find ways to better promote our app so that more people can know, use and enjoy it.

As we continue with Karmasation and our jobs in advertising, we’ve learned from each experience and have already seen how we can apply our learnings from one circumstance to the other. Like karma, what comes around goes around. And in this case, we’d call it good karma!



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Many Ogilvy Hands – A Real Hands-on Experience of Uganda

2In 2009, Ogilvy & Mather, in partnership with International Needs, set up the Many Ogilvy Hands (MOH) project to build a school for 450 local children in a town in Uganda. Every four months, volunteers from across the Ogilvy group travel out to Uganda to get involved in the project.


Sitting at my desk in Paddington, sifting through emails, writing status reports and completing my Maconomy timesheets seems like a million miles away from my afternoons a few weeks ago…6,247 miles to be exact as I was in the small town of Buikwe, Uganda, with the Many Ogilvy Hands project. Along with 11 of my fellow Ogilvy colleagues, I was lucky enough to be given the opportunity to head off to Uganda in March to get involved with the project and see firsthand what Ogilvy has been doing in this distant land for the past four years.

The comfort of nine hours’ worth of British Airways-strength air conditioning hadn’t prepared me very well for the equatorial humidity that hit me in the face the moment I stepped off the plane, and any thoughts of keeping my well-straightened barnet looking anything short of “beachy waves” were quickly dashed as soon as the first strand of hair came into contact with Ugandan air (I now know why all the local women choose to keep their hair short, rather than face an ongoing battle with a pair of hair straighteners!). Despite this initial shock to the system, spirits in the Ogilvy camp remained high as we picked up our backpacks and 20 extra bags worth of donations and headed to our guesthouse for the night, before making the two-hour journey to Buikwe the next morning.

3After hearing stories from previous trips and seeing photos from colleagues, it was great to finally see the project site for myself. Alongside the original classrooms first built by MOH, there was also an admin block, and now the foundations of a new set of classrooms lay waiting for us to put our building skills to the test. Despite being somewhat challenged in the DIY stakes, I really enjoyed the building work, which involved lots of brick throwing (no JCBs on-site, surprisingly, so building materials have to be moved entirely by hand!), brick laying, mortar mixing and ground levelling. Our days were split between the building site and teaching in one of the classrooms, both of which were physically (trying to control a classroom of excitable teenagers was by no means the easier option of the two) as well as mentally demanding but still incredibly rewarding.

One of the most challenging aspects of the trip was not trying to resist the platefuls of delicious food knocked up by Barbara, the amazing cook, it was travelling with the project’s social workers into local villages to visit some of the families that the charity works with. Despite their cheery and excited demeanour at school, the harsh reality is that many of the local children come from homes torn apart by HIV/AIDs, malaria and extreme poverty. Whilst they may be able to attend school (for many, this is thanks in part to sponsorship), their siblings may be missing out on an education either because they are too sick or too poor to go. Eye-opening doesn’t even begin to cover what it felt like to visit some of these families, but it definitely boosted my MOH experience, especially meeting the child that I had sponsored and seeing what the project can do to help local families.1

Despite the full schedule of building work and teaching, we managed to fit in a trip to the source of the Nile and a trek through a nearby rainforest, as well as countless hours of post-supper parlour games. Despite all working for the same company, one of the best parts of the trip for me was meeting colleagues from different corners of the Ogilvy group, all of whom I would consider great friends now. From visitors in the night, warm Nile beer, killing Tony at cards (on more than one occasion), Barbara’s carbs, mosquito nets, skipping club, feeding the 5,000, birthday G&Ts and so many other great memories, my trip to Uganda with the Many Ogilvy Hands project will certainly be one I won’t be forgetting in a hurry.

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The Work/Life Balancing Act

Work Life Balance_ThumbnailI’ve been thinking a lot about work/life balance recently. It occurs to me that “work” holds the primary position in that expression, but is anchored by “life,” which seems to beg the question: “Is there really a balance?” For most of us in this business, it’s certainly obvious that it all depends on how crazy the month is—how many pitches, big client presentations, launch preparations, strategic plans to develop, creative conceptual exercises to take part in…sometimes work takes over and leaves little time for life. But it’s what we all seek to achieve, finding that perfect work/life balance, to be fulfilled in our careers as well as lead a rich life. I’m no expert on how to do this, but I have learned a few things over the years on how to try to achieve it.

First, it’s about organization and prioritization. If you can keep yourself and the team focused, you can accomplish what’s required and still manage to get home to see the family or meet those friends for dinner and drinks. Communicate the milestones, establish the timeline, and hold everyone accountable for delivering, so late nights/weekend work can be minimized.

Second, it’s about that four-letter word—team. You are not the only one on the team—you are surrounded by others who have the same mission you have. If you know you’ve got an important commitment, communicate it early and arrange a plan for coverage. Your team members can cover one night, and I’m sure you’ll be happy to pay it forward when they need to bow out.

Third, always remember what is most important to you, and the rest will work itself out. I remember showing up to my son’s game unexpectedly, after thinking I was going to be stuck at work and have to miss it. Even though the bleachers were filled and I was just one more person in the stands, the smile on his face and the cool “middle-school” head nod my way when he saw me told me that I had made the right decision. That was balance.

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