Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Simon Sinek

One of my favourite speakers at the moment and a challenger of values, beliefs and leadership. Don't miss out on his brilliant talk from the 99% conference.

Monday, July 25, 2011

How to choose the right agency to work for

Ideas, Awards, Clients, Reputation, Location, Salary? All these things matter but if your aim is to grow as a creative you should look out for another greatly important factor: agency culture.

It's a combination of all things together and beyond. It also takes into account what your expectations and goals are. I think agency culture is crucial for choosing a workplace – yet at the same time agency culture is hard to grasp by being a rather abstract term that's both difficult to define and compare.

Luckily during the Cannes Lions festival 72andSunny held a Masterclass about exactly that topic. They called it 'Company VS Culture'. While most other agencies showed a lot of their own work, 72andSunny instead used their time to talk about agency culture and presented ways on defining and understanding it. For Robbin and me this talk was especially relevant as we're talking to different agencies at the moment and trying to figure out the right next step for ourselves.

Matt Jarvis & John Boiler started their lecture with a strong but simple statement:
'The most important career decision you can make is the culture you choose to grow in.'

A thought that particularly rings true if you're young and starting out as it will define a big part of how you do things later on in your career. Their advice is to look for a culture that doesn't only produce great work but also great people. I guess most of us know deep inside it's more than work that matters, but what Matt & John did here was to break down agency culture into five points and shared simple ways on how to recognize it. The five values they see most relevant to an agencies culture are Collaboration, Generosity, Courage, Accountability and Ambition:

1. Collaboration
If you get into a culture that values collaboration, there's room for you to contribute. Places that value collaboration tend not to be about the person, they tend to be about 'THE BEST IDEA WINS'. This is not about people or ego, it's about the idea. How you recognize it:
  • How are people seated? Departments? Integrated? Floors?
  • Do they assign ideas to people? Groups? The boss? Name on the door?
  • How do they review work? In the open? Corner office? Small/big?
2. Generosity
Is important because your early career should be about learning, not just output. And it takes generosity to teach. A culture of generosity will allow people to explore their own ideas, potential, find their own voice and learn from failure. How you recognize it:
  • Do co-workers celebrate your success as their own? Do they want what you want for yourself?
  • Ask who has grown and developed the most last year. Do they actively think about it?
  • How do they give and share credit?
  • What's the approach to training and education? How do they handle career reviews?
3. Courage
As creative people, you should be wired for courage. You need an organization that stands up for brave ideas, or you will learn fear. How you recognize it:
  • Do you look at their work and ask 'How the hell did they do that?'
  • How many ideas do they bring to a pitch?
  • Have they ever resigned business for a creative or cultural differences?
4. Accountability
A culture of accountability quickly teaches that success or failure matters. Being accountable for the outcome, either positive or negative, is leadership. Be in a culture that shares your definition of success and that teaches you to lead. How you recognize it:
  • Do they embrace metrics? Do set them at all?
  • What is the ultimate win to them? Awards? $$$? Long relationships? Happy clients?
  • What is the compensation structure for clients? For staff? For leaders? What does it reward? Performance? Seniority? Internal political success?
5. Ambition
It's important to understand your personal ambitions and find an agency that shares the same ambitions.  If you're missmatch it's going to be a bad relationship. If you aspire to greatness, attach yourself to an organization that aspires to greatness. How you recognize it:
  • What goals do they aspire to? Success as defined by clients, industry or culture?
  • Do they talk about what they could do better more than what they do well?
  • Do they visibly push themselves?
  • Do they attract 'Challenger' clients and brands?

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For me this is a great check list and toolbox to have in the back of the head when looking into agencies and going on interviews. There might not be a perfect place that has all of these covered but it's important to have them in mind and also to ask yourself which of these of these five are most dear to you.

This whole lecture is quite in line with my learnings at Hyper Island. There I learned that there is great value in thinking about the 'how' side of things not only the work itself. One can be a happier and more effective creative when having certain expectations on your environment, workplace and coworkers and communicating them clearly. I think it all comes down to simply being a more considerate creative, thinking about what you want, what you want to achieve and finding a place that is best suitable for this. Thanks to 72andSunny for sharing their thoughts on this topic and to end on their words:
'Don't pick a company. Pick a culture.'

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Victors&Spoils workshop

A rather fun experience in Cannes was the Victors&Spoils workshop with John Winsor. They are a new kind of creative agency based in Boulder Colorado that is based on Crowdsourcing creative talent. They organized their workshop so it would demonstrate their business model and creative process. They've set a creative brief for all participants: Come up with a print campaign that encourages condom use in Cannes during the advertising festival. People could work alone or in teams and submit their ideas to the V&S website while creative direction would be provided remotely from Evan Fry from Boulder.

We had a go at it and submitted three different ideas, and the first one seemed to click instantly with them so we took the first place alongside Moniq Gonzalez from Mexico. The prize – a 1000 euro tab at the Gutter Bar. It was a clever demonstration of what Victors&Spoils are about and we had fun with the workshop and of course afterwards. Below our winning entry.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Cannes Lions 2011 Recap

The Cannes Lions Festival, a legendary week for advertising creatives and alike. This summer we were lucky enough to experience it for ourselves and to see what the fuzz is all about.

First of all we had to plan ahead and put on the back-burner on some freelance projects in order to get a Young Lions pass to the event – and it was very much worth it.

The festival of creativity as it's now called was an overdose of inspiration. Of course it was accompanied by more parties than we could handle and a lot of meeting people but our main focus were the seminars and workshops. And they did not disappoint. Sure, some of the lectures were not as interesting as we hoped but the majority was well interesting. The highlights included Coca&Cola on liquid mystery, John Hegarty on being different, Sir Ken Robinson on Inspiration, Google on our future, Malcolm Gladwell on the importance of being third, John Boiler on agency culture, Rob Reilly on great pitching, Danny Choo on Anime, Johan Lehrer on the science of creativity, Mark Holden on future technology and many many more. Luckily all of these talks are now available online to watch the ones we missed and take in the very good ones once again. We had a great time, it was inspiring, enlightening and very motivating. Next year we'd like to be on stage to pick up a Lion ourselves.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Dover Street Market London

Part two of my DERZEIT flying Paperboy assignment led me to London where I visited the Dover Street Market store. It's one my favourite clothing stores partly due to a great selection of Japanese brands headlined by Comme de Garçons. After I inspected all five floors of this style temple I met my former partner Jai for lunch and strolled through Brick Lane to enjoy the sunny weather. Somehow the whole day I kept bumping into old friends, even on the plane back to Berlin – it's a nice feeling in such a big city. London, you are missed.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

DERZEIT in Paris

This week I'm a rather lucky Paperboy, I'm delivering the daily newspaper DERZEIT which is all about the Berlin Fashion week to two european cities. My first trip started as early as it gets, 7 o'clock and I was on my way to get the magazine fresh off the printers. Being a true fashion week victim I was also carrying a massive hangover with me from last nights Broken Hearts Club party. And it did exceed hand luggage. The first time I realized I was in Paris is when I saw the Eiffel tower but it just didn't feel like I was there. It called for drastic measures: Cafe au Lait, a Croissant and the Amelie Soundtrack blasting from my headphones – finally my head seemed to have landed in Paris as well.

The two places to visit: LazyDog, a cozy little book store in the Bastille area and Colette, hands down one of the coolest shops I've set my foot in. Next to some great clothes they have a fabulous selection of toys, gadgets and other things people don't really need but have a strong itch to buy. After I completed my task I took a stroll through Paris and visited Ladurée to satisfy my sugar addiction. A day well spent. London's next.

Derzeit on tour

Berlin is invaded by fashionistas, it's the Mercedes Benz Fashion week. DERZEIT is a free daily paper written, designed and printed in the heart of Berlin – and delivered fresh off the press to several cities in Europe. I'm on board helping them out to deliver awesomeness and visited Paris yesterday and writing this from London right now. Watch out for the travel diary and lots of photos next.