Archives for posts with tag: courage


When my father died a few years back, I spent a long time reliving the past. Many days were spent re-imagining my past. See, I didn’t speak to my father for 15 years. I had opportunities to do so, I knew his phone number, his address, I even stood in front of my old home in Germany 10 years ago but I couldn’t bring myself to ring the bell. I was imagining a past where I rang the bell, picked up the phone and dialed.

When I stopped imagining a different past, I moved on to rationalizing, explaining and finding excuses why I never did what I should have done. You know “My childhood” or “He was supposed to take the first step”. I tried to externalize what was going on, and make it about this or that, as if somehow I hadn’t made the decisions all along.

What is past is prologue – William Shakespeare

We do our best. Until we know better. Focusing on what we should have done, doesn’t change the past.

I write about failures, innovation and taking risks a lot. I know it’s the right thing to do. I know this is the only way to survive in this hyper-competitive world. Still, my heart is not always in it. It’s so much more comfortable not to grow. Actually, I want to grow. But I just want the end product, not going through the process. It leaves me in uncomfortable situations, makes me feel less at home in my skin. I do have to accept that I know nothing while knowing so much and then start all over again, learning, figuring things out, trying new paths, falling down, getting up and experience those new skills to become part of my natural self.

The real challenge is to live with uncertainty. We want to know that if we’re trying something new, it’ll actually work. We know the past. We study the past. We know everything about it, what went wrong. What went right. We can’t study the future. The future is about the unknown. We don’t know if we try something, we’ll be good at it. We might suck. Or become the best in the world. No guarantees, no guidebook, no maps. Maybe we just fail in new ways. Who the hell wants to fail again? My ego might get hurt. People might look down on me. Consider me a failure.

I like the dreams of the future better than the history of the past – Thomas Jefferson

We’re living in uncomfortable times. Everything around us screams “change”. Every sign tells us doing business the way it was done the last few decades doesn’t work anymore. The whole culture pokes and tells us to start doing unknown stuff. Still, we tend to think “What if it doesn’t work out, why not stick with what we already know? It doesn’t work that well anymore but it’s doing okay.”

We love to stay in the place we know. It’s so much easier to keep doing the thing we know to do. We are good at rationalizing these choices. That’s why we find all sorts of excuses: “Let’s not be the first to do it. Let others make mistakes first and we learn from them, just to do it better.” There are some good arguments there, no doubt. In the end, these excuses are just there to mask the fear of change. Fear of the unknown. Fear to face discomfort.

Discovering new ways and new opportunities is risky. We need to put down the comfort food, throw away the pillows, the padding. We need to suck it up. Start the hard work of learning new skills, experimenting with new things. We don’t know if we will succeed. There are no guarantees. Waiting, holding out will not change the present. You know what choices you have to make. Gather the courage and do it now.


This column appeared first on Jack Myers’ MediabizBloggers

Did you know: Only 37% of Americans have a passport? And 15% never left the state they were born in?

In the age of globalization, that’s a huge problem

When you never leave your country or state, you see everything through a narrow prism. Considering other points of view becomes challenging, accepting them almost impossible.

We have to make hundreds of thousands decisions each and every day. Apply meaning to things we experience. Sure, humans are decision and meaning machines. But if your database is limited and narrow, your decisions will reflect this. Suddenly, the Indian education machine feels threatening, the emerging China economy is experienced as end of days of the US empire, and immigrants looking to make a living in the US should be kept away with a big fence.

Courage is not the lack of fear but the ability to face it

I would be foolish not to understand how afraid people are of the future. To get my first job in advertising, I had to compete with 2,000 other applicants. All Germans, with comparable background and education. My kid will have to compete with the whole world. Most likely, she will have to try to get a job that doesn’t exist yet.

I’ve had the privilege to fly out to Dubai this week to meet with a client, and then head out to Mumbai to speak at a digital conference. When you have coffee with people from Syria, UAE and Libya, discuss their hopes and dreams, you get that invigorating feeling that we’re all in this together. Our job is to face the future and work together, understand each other and collaborate to create a better world.

Who are we to bemoan the decline of US dominance when millions and millions of people are moving from poverty to a middle-class lifestyle? It raises the game. And, we have to be prepared, improve our education system (better: revamp it), work better, focus more on collaboration and creativity.

Enough of the Hyde Park speech, Uwe. Let’s talk about advertising.

Boutique agencies are fabulous. (Well, I hope so, BatesHook is one.) They are specialized, focused and often deliver amazing results. There are great media agencies, creative agencies, social marketing agencies, data analytics agencies, SEO agencies, SEM agencies – I’m getting dizzy. They know their field, their specialty. More often than not, that’s about it.

They’re like the guy who never left the state he was born in. The only thing they know is their specialty. Let’s say it’s Social Marketing:

TV? Come on, that’s so dated.

DSP? I’ve never seen it work.

Creative types? Overpriced show-offs.

Radio? You’re kidding, right?

When you want to be successful in advertising, when you want to deliver impactful results for clients: you need to travel out of your state. You need to leave your comfort zone and try to understand others. You need to see things from their point of view.

I started as a Creative Director, moved on to Account Management, Project Leader, Media, Direct Marketing, Social Marketing and Social Business. Every move to a new state was a culture shock. And showed me over and over again that I knew nothing. You don’t have to follow my career path, you don’t need to reside in every state. But you need to visit all these other states once in a while. Hang with the creatives, have lunch with TV buyers, understand the concerns of Direct Marketers.

Once you visited all the states, why not get your passport and travel the world outside of advertising? Explore the world of R&D, the world of anthropology, the world of user experience. The continent of economy and behavioral economics. Psychology. Physiology. Neuroscience. You will return to your home country with an expanded mind and vision of the world. And, if advertising is your passion, you will say: “It’s good to be home.”