Today's business culture has changed over the years, and so have the people that make up businesses. I have noticed in my career a paradigm shift in the ability of younger minds (Gen-Y / Millennials), to take ownership and responsibility for business actions. Maybe it's because they are considered the "Me Me Me Generation." Maybe it's because it appears their own self-opinion comes before their employer's business requirement or if applicable, before the client's needs. As a corporate marketing and agency professional, I have experienced this lack of self-accountability in the younger generation. I do think it could be a lost art in today's younger professionals.
Just Figure It Out
Recently, I read a LinkedIn article titled "Fearless Entrepreneur" by Ralph de Geus. I can relate to his eight key points. His points are intrinsically me, or at least most of them. I have to admit, I am not one of those fearless entrepreneurs. However, many of those traits I am happy to have as part of my repertoire. My favorite in his article is, "They say yes first--then figure out how to deliver."
Earlier in my career I learned how to say yes first as a young producer and account director while working for marketing agencies. When working with clients, I realized that saying no sent signals that meant I don't care about my job or the requirement. I learned to never say no, but to always say yes. Then I just figured it out afterward. Yes, it was very frustrating and extremely challenging and stressful. If you work in an agency environment, it's a skill that is a must to survive. In fact, it's a business requirement.
"No problem, I will take care of it." -- My Story
Four of us from our agency had a meeting scheduled with a prospective client in their office. The client just happened to be one of the ten largest brands in the world. As an agency, we invested two weeks working on our ideas, trying to figure out how we would win the business and perfecting our pitch presentation. After two hours explaining all the ideas that we developed and how those ideas would be exceptional for their business, the VP of Marketing stood up in an immediate, resounding manner and said, "Let's move ahead." What seemed like seconds later he said, "We can get started on this tomorrow." Within minutes we had scheduled our kick-off meeting that required a lot of work and pre-planning. It all had to be completed by 10 a.m. the next morning and delivered to his office. My anxiety level instantly began to elevate. We all shook hands, shared our excitement over the project and exited the room. As we walked down the hallway, my boss turned to me and said, "Looks like you have some work to do Scott, We're counting on you." Naturally I said, "No problem, I will take care of it," -- shaking in my shoes and sweating as I continued walking.
I must admit, at that moment in time, I had no idea how I was going to figure out everything I needed to do in the next 20 hours. In fact, I was stressed on the inside, but not showing it on the outside. My poker face was in full gear. I told myself that I must focus on the business and client requirement and make sure I get everything accomplished. At the time, I didn't think about it, but now that I look back, if I had really thought of the magnitude of the client's global reputation, I probably would have chosen not to drink any coffee the entire week before our meeting. 10 a.m. in the morning arrived - project plan in place, creative team all present sitting around the table, focused, prepared and ready for action. A client success story had just begun!
Never Let Them See You Sweat
Part of the ongoing challenge is to never let your team or your client see you sweat, even when the stakes are high and you don't exactly know how to solve the problem that's in front of you. This is critical so that you give your client positive signals that show them you have it all together and will take care of their needs, regardless of the challenges.
One of my favorite phrases is, "No problem, I will take care of it." It's probably one of the best phrases you can use in your career, as long as you follow through and make sure you get the job done. There's nothing better than hitting home runs with your boss or your clients time after time. Earning their trust is priceless.
As marketers, we must adopt this characteristic in our professional lives. No, you don't have to be involved in client work. All companies expect employees to perform with their A-game. The same principle applies. When your boss asks you to do something, your answer should be, " no problem, I will take care of it," every time.
The Lost Art -- Doesn't Have To Be Lost
As I alluded to earlier, in my opinion, this appears to be missing in the repertoire of our younger professionals. If you happen to be a Millennial or even another generation, and you see that the "no problem, I will take care of it" trait is missing in yourself, here's my suggestion -- fix it. What I mean is, hold yourself accountable.
The business requirement and/or the client requirement must be elevated above your own personal likes and dislikes. Yes, it's stressful and uncomfortable. However, the lost art must be found, and I feel it's up to us older, more seasoned marketers to teach and instill this in the younger professionals that are working for us.
Guess what? Now the accountability is on us Gen-X and Boomers. "No Problem, I Will Take Care Of It" -- It's all in a days work.