Excerpted and edited from Jack Myers' 1993 book Adbashing: Surviving the Attacks on Advertising
Relationships between employees and their companies and between companies and their clients are increasingly short-lived. Positions are jobs, rather than careers. Myers Reports mails thousands of letters each year to ad executives. In 1992, more than 20 percent of our correspondence was returned. Attrition. Moves. Firings. Lay-offs. Recession. Change. (2009 comment: A recent e-mail outreach we conducted on behalf of a client using their list of agency and advertiser executives had a return rate of more than 35%.)
The Japanese have created a system of loyalties in business built upon "Dokikai." As a new group of employees enter a company, they form fast friendships that continue throughout their careers. Whether an employee has become company president or stayed in the entry level position, members of the "dokikai" are obligated to state "honto" to each other - their true feelings on any business subject.
In this country, our driving ambition to succeed often causes us to state "tatemae," saying what is expected, rather than "honto." Employees rapidly moving from one company to another, and intense pressure for promotions within companies virtually assure that few employees feel free to state what is truly on their mind for fear that their feelings are not consistent with their management's objectives.
As we mature in our careers, we form "dokikai" with a few, very select friends and associates whom we have learned to trust. Typically, these individuals are not within our own companies and they serve as advisors, rather than forces for moving a business. The adversarial foundations of the advertising, marketing and media businesses have encouraged career-minded individuals to think only in linear patterns at the next sale, the next deal, the next client -- like digital clocks moving ahead with no sense of continuity or long-term purpose.
Our business focus should be on preparing for the person who will follow us after we move into another position. The role of every individual should be to take responsibility for clearly demonstrating how his or her job function is being enhanced and how it is enhancing the process of which it is a part.
The future of the marketing, advertising and media businesses depends upon improved training programs and expanded emphasis on "honto." Each year thousands of graduates pour out of the nation's colleges and universities. If America's greatness once was manifest in the dreams of its young, its current economic conditions now have imposed a more austere reality. Today, the hopes and dreams of college students simply are for a meaningful entry level job. They are moving back into their parents' homes and are being forced to accept jobs far afield from their hopes and aspirations.
We used to say (and most people still do) that it's a "dog eat dog" world. I don't agree. (2009 Comment: The Bernie Madoffs of the world might convince me otherwise.) Success is built on a foundation of relationships, perceptions, ideas, experiences and skill. Success in today's business environment requires a tactical focus on immediate business needs within a strategic vision of tomorrow's opportunities. Your success will be inevitable when you organize the forces of strong relationships with imagination, planning, knowledge, involvement and effort.
You can order Adbashing: Surviving the Attacks on Advertising and Jack Myers' other books at www.myersreport.com
Jack Myers consults with media, agencies and marketers on transformative business models and revenue growth strategies. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
To communicate with or to be contacted by the executives and/or companies mentioned in this column, link to the JackMyers Connection Hotline.