Give a Damn!

As I’ve stated before, people are the most important part of any successful advertising and marketing group. No matter how great that team’s process, technology, history or pedigree, it comes down to the people doing the work that makes the difference. I’ve talked before about the responsibility of management to empower and make others better  – and, additionally, there have been some great articles recently about the dangers of micromanaging, and the idea of leaders acting as the “customer” or “client” to direct reports. But what about the direct reports? What is their responsibility?

I’ve said this before, as well – their job is to give a damn. To go beyond the “get it done’ mentality, to go beyond simply “phoning it in”. So what are the key components of this and how can someone push themselves to avoid being a Rhett Butler, you ask?

1) Ask questions
The right questions are as, if not important more, important than the right answers. Naturally, everything we do should be answering or solving for something. So being a good questioner is critical to problem-solving and developing solutions. But asking questions does more than help figure out what problem you’re trying to solve. It demonstrates engagement – you are involved, committed and driving for clarity and success.

Asking questions takes you beyond assumptions and givens. Just because something is stated, doesn’t mean it’s so. Even a brief that’s handed down to you demands to be questioned – are there aspects of it that haven’t been thought through, is there something that doesn’t make sense, should an additional consideration be added? Questioning means thinking.

2) Be an “action” hero
Fight inertia – “an object in motion tends to stay in motion, an object at rest…” You know the rest. So keep active. Be constantly curious, be an engine for ideas, keep making connections.  Keep reading, forwarding and sharing interesting material. Just being “present” and active in the world is a big step.

It’s also been proven that an active mind and body keeps your brain young. Active thinking and doing improves brain function – so why wouldn’t you?

3) Aim for the stars
Have high expectations – for yourself and your team’s work. If something’s worth doing, it’s worth doing well – if you’re point of view is “get it done and move on”, then you should be doing something else. Get out of the “checklist” mind-frame.

Sure, there will be projects and tasks that won’t reach the stars, that simply are “give it your best hour” projects. But don’t mistake these for a reason to settle or be laissez-faire. You should be as passionate and driven to deliver executional excellence and top quality, no matter the context (see my previous post).

4) Have fun
It’s a fact that advertising and marketing are getting more and more complex, business is more pressurized, Clients seem to be getting more demanding, the business more competitive. But there has never been a better time for our business – the opportunity, the excitement, the innovation and the new. Have some fun, dammit! Remember, it’s not brain surgery.

These are some key ways to continue to show you give a damn. What are some ways your team demonstrates it?


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