What do you stand for?

I recently found myself taking stock of what’s important to me (in life, but more importantly) at work. What gets me out of bed in the morning? What would I want people to say about me when I wasn’t in the room?

I scribbled some stuff down, and looking at it again, really liked what it said about what I stood for. It’s always a good test for me if I write something down, come back to it a few weeks later and feel that it still rings true.

So, in a business context, these are my values:

Unbridled Curiousity

One of the things that I have always tried to do is take the time to really understand your strategy. I try to ask the right questions (which is usually just about different ways of asking “why?”) but I’m also not afraid of asking the tough questions. I’ve come across people in my career who wouldn’t challenge a client’s thinking, or make them face the reality of their situation in order to re-frame the conversation towards a solution that’s going to make a real difference. I’m not one of those people. I’ll ask the question that nobody wants to have to ask, because I know that the things we don’t want to hear about are usually the things we most need to deal with. With experience, you learn to ask these questions in ways that don’t expose people or make them feel threatened. Nevertheless, I’d like to be remembered as someone that was curious enough about you to be sure that I’ll be able to think as big as possible about how to solve your challenge.

Simplify Success

When I worked at Euro RSCG, we developed “Simplifying Success” as a proposition for our business. There were a number of levels to it, but one of the key messages behind this proposition was the idea that we would remove all of the industry jargon and confusing technical terminology from the conversation. We’d speak in plain English to our clients and colleagues.

Towards the end of my time at Euro, I lead an Innovation Task Force, with some of the brightest minds in the agency. It was amazing. We got to talking about how little people knew about one another inside of the agency. So someone may not know that the London Creative Director, an amazing graphic artist and conceptual designer, was into DJing on Ableton Live and may be able to apply his musical abilities to a brief, should the need arise.

We started thinking differently about how to communicate the knowledge, skills and abilities within our agency. We decided that it was important to tell colleagues and clients what we needed to know in order to get the most out of us, as intelligent, creative strategic thinkers not as an Art Director, Planner or Chief Strategy Officer…

This has helped me in my career, as I make the process of telling people what I need to know as engaging and productive as possible. This way they see how to inspire me, rather than simply to request that I solve their problem. Inspiring the people around you leads to the best work, and that’s what I’m about.

Unconditionally Committed to Creativity

I believe in the power of ideas that move people. (And I know that these days, those ideas can happen in much smaller, more intimate ways).

Cool when it comes to Technology

For some people, technology is a scary, confusing world. Not for me. I’m cool. I get it. I was one of those kids that learned to program in Basic on my Commodore 64 when I was 8. I had a portable mp3 player before anyone had heard of an iPod. I’m the guy with a bag full of leads who can hook anything up to anything else. I can look at a website and generally can figure out how it was built, why it does the things it does and how to improve it. I’m cool with technology, it doesn’t scare me. Even as it keeps changing.

This means that I can speak the language of the technology geeks that other people don’t understand. So after we’ve had a good long conversation about your strategy, used all of our influences, motivations and experiences to imagine better ways for you to do things, we can be really creative and comfortable with technology as we (hopefully) blaze a few trails together.

In this age of “personal” branding, I established these values to remind myself what I’m about, and to be able to apply these values to decisions such as business strategy, career decisions, and even being a leader at work or in front of my team. Attitude reflects leadership, and I love to be surrounded by people that share my attitude about things. Why not be clear about what my attitude is.

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