Aug26

Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose

Dave Chapman Blog Image August 2015 EDThe more things change the more (some) things should remain the same

Many of the conversations you hear or take part in about our industry are focused totally on change. Changes on the client side, the rise of procurement, the move to digital, the uptake of mobile, the impact of social. Changes on the agency side, the focus on project management, the growth of planning and digital strategy, the redefinition of account management.

You name it, we’ve discussed it. We’ve talked about change and, better yet, we’ve done something about it—transforming the agency across an untold number of parameters, with more surely to come.

And rightfully so. Change is the constant in our world. And if we don’t change with—or ahead of the current—we will be left behind. Even if we were the world’s best buggy whip manufacturers, we’d still wind up being the world’s best buggy whip manufacturers, only we’d be sitting in Google self-driving cars taking us to an ever-dwindling set of client meetings.

However, what I don’t hear—and I don’t think we talk about enough—are some of the things that haven’t changed and should never change. Like building positive, lasting, and trusting relationships with the client.

A couple of days ago, I was on the first floor when a gaggle of clients came into the building. Holding open the door for the conference room area was an Account person.

Each client literally stopped and hugged her and the level of excitement—seeing a trusted friend, colleague, and teammate—was wonderful to see. She had a visible, audible, and palpably positive relationship with her entire client team. I thought to myself, that’s one aspect of this business that has never changed and should never change.

That type of relationship opens the door to better results in every way. A connection is made on a human and personal level, not just a purely transactional exchange. Information flow and sharing is unhindered. Confidence that, should the need arise, gives room to explain why or how something unanticipated occurred. Inherent belief in a partnership focused on having all ships rise, that success is a common cause.

So here’s a short list of some things that shouldn’t change in a service industry, especially for an Agency, because their importance hasn’t diminished and will not in the future:

  • Create a positive, trusting relationship with the extended client team—not just the brand, but Medical Affairs, Sales, Regulatory, Admins, Security—the whole nine yards
  • Lead by example: do what you said you were going to do, and do it when you said you were going to do it
  • Provide solutions proactively, creatively, strategically, and efficiently

I’m interested in hearing what you think has always been part of being successful in this business and hasn’t—and shouldn’t ever—change.

Let me know some of your ideas. Perhaps we can compile our own manual.

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Jun5

A Case Study: Unlearning

Blog 6.5.15resized

“Fail, fail again, fail better.” Samuel Beckett

I have this fear of making mistakes.

I find that I’m always second-guessing and triple-checking myself in most things I do because of that fear. When I do end up making a mistake, I find that I spend about 5 minutes scolding myself and wondering how it could have all been avoided. Let me just say that I find about 10 different ways to answer that question.

But isn’t making mistakes a part of life?

Yes. Everyone makes mistakes in life but it is how you bounce back from those mistakes that defines you. I recently listened to a podcast where the focus was on learning and unlearning. To “unlearn” means to let go of what you have already learned or acquired. To unlearn, you have to be open to letting go of what has been pushed on you for so long, pressing the pause button, and relearning all over again—but this time, the right way for you.

After some research, I decided that the time was right for me to start unlearning a few things—therein began my month of renewing my mind. Here is one thing I’ve “unlearned” thus far:

1. All mistakes are bad.

I recently came across an article in the Harvard Business Review about “The Wisdom of Deliberate Mistakes.” Paul J.H. Schoemaker and Robert E. Gunther, the authors of the article, state that “the resistance to making mistakes runs deep, creating traps in thinking and decision making”—a statement that I wholeheartedly agree with. I believe the No. 1 thing that gets in the way of us being our best creatively is fear. I am learning to call my mistakes “experiments.” We live in a world of trial and error, and sometimes the greatest things can come out of simple experiments. As a wise person once told me, “It’s all about where the creative work is taking you and not where you are trying to take it.”

I have come to believe that in our line of work, especially in the creative department, we shouldn’t be afraid of making mistakes. Embrace it because some of the greatest innovations have come from just the simplest mistakes. Don’t believe me? Take some time and research how one of the antibiotics widely used today—penicillin—was created.

I’m still on my journey of unlearning, and if you would like to learn a little bit more, feel free to reach out!

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Feb20

Idea Is King, Guard It With Your Life

OHW Blog Image 2.20.15“In the dizzying world of moviemaking, we must not be distracted from one fundamental concept: the idea is king.” – Jeffrey Katzenberg, former Disney Chairman (’84-’94)

This fundamental concept also holds true in healthcare communications. All great work starts with a great idea. But arriving at a great idea is not enough. In our highly scrutinized and regulated world, a great idea is at risk of an untimely death at numerous points in its life. From internal creative reviews and client presentations to market research and medical/regulatory review, a great idea is often pushed aside because it looks and feels different than the status quo. A great idea makes people feel uncomfortable. But that is exactly what it should do: grab our attention and challenge our thinking.

Healthcare advertising is plagued with bad clichés, overused metaphors, and happy slice-of-life imagery. Contrast these campaigns to the quality of the work that many creatives in our industry include in their own portfolios. The difference is amazing. It’s an eye-opening experience to see the original idea that devolved to the happy couple sitting on a park bench with a benign, lackluster headline. We need to come together as a united community—creatives, account, planning, digital, and analytics —to courageously support great ideas, protecting their creative integrity all the way through final execution. Because in healthcare, great ideas can lead to more than awards; they can help save and improve lives.

 

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Also posted in Branding, Creativity, Culture, Design, Health & Wellness, Healthcare Communications, Marketing, Media | 1 Response
Dec11

Now That’s a Vision

visionary_governanceIn our business, we often help our clients to develop and navigate their corporate vision. If done well, the vision of the company is aspirational, achievable, and distinctively ownable. Far too often when reading a company’s vision statement, you feel that you could simply replace Pharma Company A with Pharma Company B, and might at times even question their ability to achieve that vision. So it is with fascination and awe this holiday season that I reflect on one corporate leader’s amazing vision for his company and his unwavering commitment to delivering on that vision. In 1994, when Jeff Bezos founded Amazon, he articulated:

“Our vision is to be the earth’s most customer centric company; to build a place where people can come to find and discover anything they might want to buy online.”

He has clearly redefined online retailing, and Amazon is the world’s top Internet retailing company.  While there are arguably many out there who may not agree with me, I applaud the customer experience that Amazon has created, and I have often tested the theory of whether they truly have “anything” I might want to buy online and my “cart” has yet to be disappointed, even for the most obscure or uncommon searches. So this month as I cross off items on my holiday shopping list and avoid carrying a heavy coat and shopping bags around a crowded shopping mall with annoying people, I thank you, Jeff Bezos and Amazon, for having an aspirational, achievable and distinctively ownable vision.

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May29

A Patient is a Virtue

sales reps and docsIn the age of WebMD, Everyday Health, and Facebook, consumers are more informed and involved in their health than ever before.  And with social media infiltrating every aspect of their lives, they are now more vocal than ever.  Patients can – and in most cases are willing to – tell you what you want to know about your brand.  Just ask…and listen.  So why is it that some brands fail to take full advantage of tapping into their own customers for insight, ideas, and even inspiration?

We’ve all heard the phrase “typical pharma ad” and as an industry we are guilty of producing far too much of it.  Sometimes it’s driven by regulatory conservatism.  Often it’s a stubborn client who is afraid to push the envelope, while at other times there just isn’t enough budget to upset the status quo.  So we’re forced to pick up some stock photography, reach into our bag of preapproved claims, slap the all-important “pharma swoosh” on the piece, and call it a day.

But is the work resonating with patients?  Is it even being noticed by patients?  In order to make a connection with patients, the marketing needs to tap into what drives them, what worries them, and what will help them take the desired action.  Put simply, they need to see themselves in the marketing.

Market research and reports can obviously give you broad-stroke generalizations about your audience.  But how can you dive deeper into the psyche of your patients?  There are numerous ways you can do this and they don’t require significant investments:

·         Develop and leverage a standing Patient Advisory Board – Recruit patients to participate in an advisory board…and use it!  This is a great channel for bouncing ideas off patients and hearing first-hand about the challenges they face with their condition every day.  These boards can be conducted virtually (although at least one face-to-face meeting a year helps build camaraderie).  Also, be sure to refresh the participants so that you continually get the latest perspectives.

·         Seek input from stakeholders outside of the Brand Team – The Brand Team can sometimes be the furthest removed from the patient base, as they can get bogged down with sales reports and budget meetings; so try to engage those on the front line.  Sales reps often can provide direct feedback from HCPs and office staff on what they see in patients.  Is there an 800 number for you brand?  If so, speak with the customer service reps who field those calls.  What issues do they hear about most often and what questions are they asked most frequently?

·         Establish a patient eCRM program – A CRM program can be simple or complex – but in order to be useful, it must be trackable.  From that you can see firsthand what content is looked at most often and therefore assumed to be of most relevance.  You can also conduct quick surveys or online polls to get insight about your target.

·         Attend events and conferences – Again, this is another opportunity to hear from those on the front line: sales reps, patients, and HCPs.  You can also see, in one fell swoop, what the competition is doing to market themselves.

Nothing I’ve suggested is earth-shattering or groundbreaking, but I do find that these often get overlooked in favor of more complicated (and costly) research.  I happen to work on a well-established drug that was first-to-market in a category that is now undergoing seismic changes.  We needed to defend our turf from new therapies, new dosing formulations, and new administration devices, and we needed to do it with a limited budget.  “Gaining new patients was going to be increasingly difficult,” we thought, “so let’s at least be sure to hold on to the ones we have.”

So we set out last year to develop a campaign unlike anything this brand has seen in its 20+ years of existence.  We needed to reinvent ourselves while remaining true to our heritage and what kept us successful all these years.  We employed all of the tactics I mentioned above to help us paint a clear and vibrant picture of who our patients – our very lifeline – were.  What we learned was that our old marketing reflected misconceptions about what people with this condition were “supposed” to be like.  In no way did we reflect their vibrancy, defiance, and zest for living.  And because of that, our patients felt like the brand was letting them down.  How could we expect them to be advocates for the brand if we weren’t living up to our end of the deal?

The new campaign has just recently launched, so I can’t tell you yet how successful we’ve been at defending our turf.  But what I can say is that the feedback from patients, sales reps and HCPs alike has been overwhelmingly positive.  It is bold and defiant, and goes beyond the standard “talk to your doctor about…” with a rallying cry that conveys our patients’ inner strength.  In other words, it is a clear reflection of them.

So if your brand feels like it’s stagnating or worse yet, losing relevance, don’t panic.  Put your ear to the ground and listen for the voice of the patient – and then make sure it comes through in the work.

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May23

The Art of Self-Reflection

reflectionsOne of the many benefits of having my great-grandmother well into my adulthood was the opportunity to learn many tidbits about what was important in life and how to assess and improve character. Of all the gifts she imparted, one in particular really stuck with me, and I have tried to apply her advice daily in both my professional and personal life.

Whenever hearing her great-grandchildren complain about something or someone, she’d say (as she danced at age 96 with an imaginary partner after having a brandy or two), “When you point those fingers, take a good, hard look at them. You have three fingers pointing back at you!

I’m sure it’s a phrase that many of us have heard through the years. The lesson, of course, is to own it, whatever it may be. To grow and learn from our mistakes means investing time to look within, objectively assess situations, and determine “How did I contribute to that?” and “What can I do to make sure it does not happen again?” It’s easier said than done, of course, and it’s always easier to point a finger in another direction. Admitting to one’s mistakes takes quite a bit of courage. But while difficult, self-reflection leads to a very satisfying place, a peaceful place. It assures growth in only the best and most productive way.

So why not apply the same principle in the workplace. If our goal is to find the balance between being client-centric and company-centric, it means not only delivering quality work in a timely fashion and being efficient, but also holding our company principles to heart and ensuring our staff does not burn out in the process. To achieve this in our fast-paced agency world, self-reflection must be an ongoing and open process. It requires each of us to have the hard conversations with ourselves and our colleagues and commit to being part of the solution. It means letting our teammates know that “I know I could have done some things better and this is what I promise to do in the future to ensure success”; or “…this is what I will change in my behavior to help us get to a better place.”

Some things are in our control, others are not. But for those that are, the art of self-reflection and recommitment to change will land us in a good and positive place. If you don’t already do it, give it a try. My guess is it will be infectious and feel good, not to mention result in a truly collaborative, collective effort in the workplace.

So then, what’s your promise?

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Jan14

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.

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Dec19

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.

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Nov19

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.

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Nov7

Young Execs Within the Marketing World… Shaping Ourselves to be the Future Leaders of Tomorrow

business lady climbing stairsTIPS AND TRICKS ON HOW TO COPE WHILE LEARNING THE ROPES

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)

SINK OR SWIM? WHAT TO DO WHEN SUBMERGED IN A TANK OF FASTER SWIMMING FISH

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.”

I THOUGHT YOGA WAS FOR GURUS

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!

GOING UP?

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!

BATTER UP!

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.

EASY AS PIE

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!

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