Okay, so you work long hours, but does that mean you're working hard? Because, "long" and "hard" are now two different things. In the old days, we could measure how much grain someone harvested or how many pieces of steel he made. Hard work meant more work. But the past doesn't lead to the future. The future is not about time at all. The future is about work that's really and truly hard, not time-consuming. It's about the kind of work that requires us to push ourselves, not just punch the clock. Hard work is where our job security, our financial profit, and our future joy lie.
It's hard work to make difficult emotional decisions, such as quitting a job and setting out on your own. It's hard work to invent a new system, service, or process that's remarkable. It's hard work to tell your boss that he's being intellectually and emotionally lazy. It's easier to stand by and watch the company fade into oblivion. It's hard work to tell senior management to abandon something that it has been doing for a long time in favor of a new and apparently risky alternative. It's hard work to make good decisions with less than all of the data.
Today, working hard is about taking apparent risk. Not a crazy risk like betting the entire company on an untested product. No, an apparent risk: something that the competition (and your coworkers) believe is unsafe but that you realize is far more conservative than sticking with the status quo.
Richard Branson doesn't work more hours than you do. Neither does Steve Jobs or Alan Sugar or Julian Richer.
None of the people who are racking up amazing success stories and creating cool stuff are doing it just by working more hours than you are. And I hate to say it, but they're not smarter than you either. They're succeeding by doing hard work.
As the economy plods along, many of us are choosing to take the easy way out. We're going to work for a big company, letting him do the hard work while we work the long hours. We're going back to the future, to a definition of work that embraces the grindstone.
Hard work is about risk. It begins when you deal with the things that you'd rather not deal with: fear of failure, fear of standing out, fear of rejection. Hard work is about training yourself to leap over this barrier, tunnel under that barrier, drive through the other barrier. And, after you've done that, to do it again the next day.
The big insight: The riskier your (smart) coworker's hard work appears to be, the safer it really is. It's the people having difficult conversations, inventing remarkable products, and pushing the envelope (and, perhaps, still going home at 5 PM) who are building a recession-proof future for themselves.
Author Seth Godin.
I share it because it sums up perfectly what we're forever banging on about alot at Here Be Monsters, the constant need to be smart in what we do.
I've lifted this from an interviewCreative Generalist did with Steve Callaghan, writer and producer of the Family Guy cartoon series. Here is how he describes the process of developing and writing a script.
"Well, as you might imagine, it is a highly collaborative endeavor. There are about 100 people or so who are in some way or another involved in putting together an episode. The process begins, of course, with the writing staff. My fellow writers and I will come up with a concept for an episode and discuss the general storyline that it would contain. The episode is then assigned to a particular writer who will write the first draft of the script. The whole writing staff then takes that first draft and, as a group, rewrites it -- improves jokes that might need some help, fixes any story issues, etc. -- before the show gets recorded by all of our voice actors. Once the audio has been recorded, then our animation team takes the baton, creating an animatic, which is a rough, pencil-sketch version of the show. Once we all screen the animatic, the writers take another pass at the script to address any remaining writing issues. A while later, the show comes back in color. We then do one more, smaller rewrite on the script before the finishing touches (music cues, sound effects, etc.) are added and then you've got yourself an episode of "Family Guy."
Now, compare that with how the typical creative team in the typical ad agency creates their script.
Account person and/or planner explain brief to creative team. They leave. Creative team spend anything from a day to a few weeks sweating it out. They present their ideas to the CD, who says yes, no, maybe, perhaps etc. What is very unlikely is that he will spend any time working with the team beyond this verbal input. Not through laziness, but because the script 'belongs' to the team. Work is then presented back to the account person-planner combo, who are allowed to comment on it, but only within the confines of their job title remit. God help them if they mis judge this and over step into the creatives' domaine. Conversations between planner and account person, account person and client, planner and creative director, planner and client all take place in a isolation to one another. As a result nothing much changes in the script until a director is selected. Now the creative team will listen and make changes, because a) the director is also a 'creative' and b) the team really want to be him.
I've been fortunate enought to have been a part of both processes and I know which one delivers the better work.
“There are three things I think about the most when it comes to making it as a marketer these days.
The first one is there's no amount of money I can pay to get my commercial in front of you, because you can powerfully edit what you spend time with. So my job as a marketer is no longer to interrupt, but to produce content that is so relevant, interesting, entertaining and involving that my best consumers won't want to live without it.
The second thing is understanding that instead of brochures and trade shows, marketing now really begins with the product. Great companies are investing a lot of time and attention into trying to make products that market themselves.
The last piece is that user-generated content has made it possible for consumers to own your brand, and if they don't, you're not doing your job. The brands that are adopted, blogged about and parodied the most are the ones that are going to win because they're involved in the evolution of pop culture. If you're scared to have your brand played with, you're going to be left behind.”
How I wish they were my words, but unfortunately all I can do is claim to whole-heartedly second them. They belong to Jeff Hicks of Crispin Porter + Bogusky
The thing that stuck me the most about yesterday was the way that logic and creativity really are one and the same thing to children - hardly the most insightful lesson perhaps but it was a real joy to be able to see how naturally creative, confident and resourceful we are in our early years. As Picasso said,“Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up".
My favourite moment was chatting with 3 kids about who lives in the sky. It started off with clouds, planes, helicopters and spacemen, went onto birds, butterflies, dragons and ended up with Santa, the wind, snowmen and water. 100% correct answers and all delivered with utter confidence and self-assurance.
I also learnt that, robots are never pink, monsters can have 3 ankles and that Lexi Bo likes to lay on the ground and pretend to be dead all breaktime, although I didnt find out why.
More on the dadhood vibe Russell has pointed out this as worth listening to, I just have and once again he's on the money and I urge you to do the same, it's half an hour long. I warn you though it's as much a tearjerker as the Dick and Rick Hoyt story
When we started Here Be Monsters, we had four goals;
To do the very best work we were capable of
To have fun doing it
To get some work-life balance back into our lives
To make some money.
Although we've never formally prioritised them, I think that would be the order. Well, that's the order I'd put them in anyway.
Today, I'm not going into the agency, I'm spending the day at my son's school instead. I'm going to help out, but really I'm hoping I can get an insight into how to think like a 4 year old from a bunch of experts. And if I don't, I still get to hang out with one of the most important people in my life and I get to tick off 2 and 3. Of course it does mean I'll miss coffee morning, again.
John Grant, has tagged me with this Five Fings thang that's doing the rounds. Normally I would ignore such tosh. But I felt different to this request. Okay, so there were no threats of looming disaster which was refreshingly honest, but then again nor will I be the recipient of good fortune in 48 hours. Damn.
No it's the blog-thing that makes it different. When I started this blog it was to take an active part in a community, and the more you put into a community the more you get back, right? So, if that means only one person is moderately interested in me, then so be it. I'm in.
I have already been tagged, actually it was my alter-ego on another site. It's not too difficult to work out who that alter-ego is, so I'll leave it to you to find out. Should you be in the least bit interested.
I have never watched any of the Star Wars films all the way through. The same goes for 2001 A Space Odyssey. And I sometimes wonder if I ever will.
Whenever I go abroad I take 300% more books than I could ever read in that time. And I've still haven't learnt my lesson. Although at least now they tend to be soft-backs.
Everything I have ever created has disappointed in the transition from the imagination to reality. I think this is one of my key motivations for working harder. One day I will be pleased
In the last year I have started to get stressed out by my stuff. I have too much of everything and am now scaling it down via eBay. I am now more drawn to experiences than ownership.
I'm now suppose to send this onto new five people. But I've already done that via my alter-ego. So, forgive me for not doing it again.
We're constantly thinking about how to be different, not different for difference's sake, you understand, but different for better's sake. If nothing else it forces us to challenge our presumptions and highlight when we're being complacent. Okay, it keeps us from arguing over who's going to win, I'm a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here. It was while reading The Wisdom of Crowds that it occurred to me that this, was as good a description of how we're trying to work as any we've seen or heard.
There are four key qualities that make a crowd smart. It needs to be diverse, so that people are bringing different pieces of information to the table. It needs to be decentralised, so that no one at the top is dictating the crowd's answer. It needs a way of summarising people's opinions into one collective verdict. And the people in the crowd need to be independent, so that they pay attention mostly to their own information, and not worrying about what everyone around them thinks.
And then I was reminded of Collective Intelligence by Pierre Levy, which refers to a situation where nobody knows everything, everyone knows something, and what any given member knows is accessible to any other member upon request on an ad hoc basis. And through that collaboration you grow and develop And that rang true too.
Obviously they can both co-exist, but what is the best working structure, briefing process etc that would maximise the potential from both? I've no idea where I'm going with this, I just wanted to get it out there in the hope that I might get some clarity. No doubt I'll come back to it and expand upon it. In the meantime feel free to chip in with any suggestions.