Archives for posts with tag: Mitch Joel


Many people in our industry are thinking about the future of agencies. Mitch Joel wrote a nice piece. I spoke about it before. The majority of pundits agree that any successful agency has to be agile. That’s an important principle but if you’re having 10 different businesses working on the same brand and nobody talks to each other, agility starts to feel a bit superficial as a founding principle.

Organizational principles are fundamental for a successful company but we need to dig deeper to find the real reason some agencies deliver good work and some play in the ugly lake of mediocrity. The culture, the mindset, the inner spirit of the agency has to be right to deliver excellence.

That’s where the moral compass comes in

The best places I worked for had a strong moral compass. They set expectations internally and with the client. Agency business can be very difficult, labor-intense and caffeine-fueled. There has to be more than a good title or a fat paycheck. A moral compass gives everybody a little kick when times are tough. It elevates your agency from a service provider to a consultancy.

Providing a service implies a hierarchy. Consultancy implies a level-playing field: We’re all adults here, let’s try to solve the problem. Clients that consider you a service provider, don’t care if your creative team just got hired by somebody else. They don’t care that your media team has the flu. They just want to get the job done. Period.

Agencies with a moral compass have the freedom to disagree with the client. They are asked to disagree, when necessary. (I know, gasp!) Consultants are employed to provide thoughtful counsel, bring their point of view to the table. That’s where your value is, not by hiring a good director, production company or having close relationships to publishers.

People will hire you out of respect for your insights and they will be more forgiving when a campaign/initiative fails miserably. It’s not about riding high from success to success, it’s about learning from executions and applying these insights to the next campaign. The moral compass will be the guiding principle for your relationship and the work both of you collaborate on.

If you plant honesty, you will reap trust

Empathy is extremely important. You have to understand the pressures on your client and you need to integrate the internal structures into your recommendation. It’s an ongoing learning process. Empathy cuts both ways. Clients have to understand that they can’t expect a Rembrandt when they hand us Crayolas. Agencies need to be clear about this dilemma before any brief lands on the table.

In a world where a bunch of agencies work on the same brand, good agencies will not fight for money out of selfish reasons. They will fight for budget because they believe in their POV and they want the best for their client.

Being a service provider will only get you so far. When you want to make real impact with your work, you need to be a considerate and thoughtful adult with a strong moral compass. Not a reactionary and whiny kid.


It’s interesting to see that some of the thought leaders in the Social Marketing space encourage everyone to work through the holidays.

Chris Brogan says in his “Work Now” post:

“Work now while they’re coasting.

Yes, see your family. Yes, take measure of where you’ve been. Yes, do everything in your power to realign and rethink what you’ve done and put it in terms of where you’re going next.

But then get your hands dirty and work. Now.”

Mitch Joel connects The Matrix with the drone mentality of many people

“You see, while I’m Blogging during the holidays, spending time to think and soaking in the good will of my family and friends, you’re dreading going back to work next week.”

And, Adam Daniel Mezei (also mentioning The Matrix) asks “Who’s working this week?”

Yeah, don’t you just love the buzzing claptrap that the “Holiday Season” is the time for family, when families get together to reacqiaint themselves with each other in the spirit of the Festive Season? What bullsh-t…

Look, friends, for some of us, family day is every day. Moreover, we have a “special” family day each week so one guilt-ridden “24 little hours…” isn’t going to solve the roiling rifts in your crooked family dynamics, trust me when I tell you.

Mighty family ties are something you cultivate over the weeks, the months, and the decades. You forge these bonds over the long-haul, Charlie. Like a lush garden, you water that sh-t every day to make it flourish. If you don’t, you suffer the consequences. Then you need the “Holiday Season” to make your amends and fulsomely apologize to the family you’ve willfully neglected over the past eleven months.

Xmas isn’t some glorified milestone to declare a family ceasefire, okay, where you ultimately decide to consecrate the day via a reaffirmed mission to stop adulterating against your suspicious spouse, being generally hateful to your peers and colleagues, being disreputable in your business dealings, and speaking gossip against your fellow members of society; an act, according to some, which is tantamount to flesh and blood murder. It isn’t about suddenly deciding to be a good girl or boy, papering over your erstwhile reprehensible actions of the past calendar year (a secular, doubtful, and 13 days forward-jettisoned Gregorian year, at that) through a bevy of tastefully wrapped expensive tschotchke gifts which which you expect to razzle-dazzle your intended recipients, in the hope they won’t prolong their trenchant hate-on for your egregiously-sinning ass for another twelve sorry months.

Sorry, it doesn’t work like that…

For those of you who think those of us who actually work these final two weeks are anti-family workaholics who can’t see the forest for the pine trees, here’s a newsflash: we’re more family than you can shake a 20-piece KFC chicken bucket at!”

No matter what these folks write, taking time off is essential. Just explore the links on this post to find enough evidence that taking time off is important. I’m not saying you should become a TV vegetable for hours on end and do nothing. Read that book you never had time for. Do the activity that was always too much for your work week. Hang out a day with your loved ones without any goal, objectives and time limits.

The time between Christmas and New Years is precious. Don’t waste it with just wasting away. It’s not about working more. It’s about doing something better. Whatever floats your boat.

Daydreaming might be the best way to go:

“Daydreamers rejoice, for now, research shows how doing nothing but daydreaming improves our focus and generally, makes us smarter. Author Jonah Lehrer writes how the study conducted by Susan Whitfield-Gabrieli and John Gabrieli of MIT suggests that an active idle state of mind activates long-range neural connections in the brain that are linked with high performance in IQ tests and better thought process and intelligence.”

No matter what you, don’t feel forced by anyone to do more. Just get yourself ready to do something better. Today. Tomorrow. In 2011.