Bob Cargill For Hire

Today, in my regular perusal of the posts on Adpulp, I came across an impassioned appeal for employment from Bob Cargill, a local direct marketer and creative director who's looking for his next great opportunity.

His appeal resonated so much with me that I wanted to share an excerpt here:

Wherever I land, I hope it’s a place that recognizes the need to leverage the effectiveness of traditional, time-tested marketing principles with the power of the latest new conversational media tools, consequently embracing a sense of both immediacy and transparency, two of the most important hallmarks of successful brand communications campaigns today.

Wherever I land, I hope it’s a place teeming with brilliant creative minds and bold, farsighted agents of change who can at least relate to such groundbreaking business tomes as “The Cluetrain Manifesto,” “The Tipping Point,” “The Virtual Handshake” and “Life After the 30-Second Spot,” not to mention the thought leadership of luminaries the likes of Seth Godin, Tom Peters, Steve Rubel and Amy Gahran.

Amen, Bob. I love your post and wish you the best of luck in your job search. I'll be interested to see where you end up!

The Rise of the Creative Class

Rise_of_the_creative_classI originally picked up Richard Florida's The Rise of the Creative Class thinking it would be a good business read - particularly with the subtitle, How it's Transforming Work, Leisure, Community and Everyday Life. While the book proved to be more academic than I'd planned (re: multiple charts and graphs of population statistics and research findings), Florida did peak my interest with his theories on the Creative Class and how it has affected the economy, society and class structures.

Florida's tome was inspired by his work in urban planning...specifically, in trying to understand why once-successful cities like Pittsburgh and Detroit struggle to regain their past glories despite numerous attempts at improvement. The answer lies in the rise of the Creative Class, which values investments in R&D, the arts, and education rather than sports stadiums and strip malls.

Florida asserts that creativity has emerged as the single most important source of economic growth. The Creative Class behind this growth values individuality, meritocracy and diversity; creative communities take root and thrive when 3 things are present: technology, talent and tolerance. That is why communities like Cambridge, MA, and Silicon Valley have experienced boom times in recent years. Florida recounts social constructs throughout the years, like the bourgeoisie of the 50s that favored hard work, the bohemians of the 60s and 70s which favored play, and today's Creatives who recognize that life is an elusive mix of work and play. Creativity can not be turned on and off, and is not limited to the hours between 9 and 5. Thus we've seen more relaxed work environments and flexible working hours.

He quotes Nobel Prize-winning economist Robert Fogel: "Today, people are increasingly concerned with what life is all about. That was not true for the ordinary individual in 1885 when nearly the whole day was devoted to earning the food, clothing, and shelter needed to sustain life." (p. 82) Homo Creativus is more tolerant and more liberal because material conditions allow it and social conditions demand it. Today, the content of the job and nature of work environment matter more than compensation; money alone does not motivate - it's important, but so is:

  • challenge and responsibility
  • flexibility
  • stable work environment
  • professional development
  • stimulating colleagues and managers

People don't stay tied to companies anymore. Instead of moving up through the ranks of one organization, they move laterally from one organization to another in search of what they want (or as Florida writes, "The playing field is horizaontal and people are always on the roll." (P. 104) Much of this can be attributed to the layoffs in the '90s which broke the social contract between employers and employees: it is no longer enough that you do a good job to stay employed. In fact, at the time of the book's publication in 2002, Americans changed jobs every 3.5 years - and that figure was trending downward. It hearkens back to the Young Experimenting Perfection Seekers I noted in a recent post about Sally Hogshead's Radical Careering.

Overall, The Rise of the Creative Class was a really interesting - if long - read; it documents a lot of principles to which my generation can relate.

MIT OpenCourseWare

In the true spirit of Open Source, MIT has made a broad selection of its course work available via MIT OpenCourseWare, a free educational resource for people around the world. According to the Web site, "OCW supports MIT's mission to advance knowledge and education, and serve the world in the 21st century. It is true to MIT's values of excellence, innovation, and leadership."

While the resource is non-degree-granting and does not provide direct access to MIT's famed faculty, I applaud their efforts at making syllabi, lecture notes, course calendars, problem sets and solutions, exams, reading lists, even a selection of video lectures available to self-learners around the world. With 1,250 courses published as of December 2005, the long-term goal is to include nearly all of its undergraduate and graduate course materials by 2007. For the Discussion Forums, MIT has partnered with the Open Sustainable Learning Opportunities Research Group in the Department of Instructional Technology at Utah State University. OSLO is a research project focused on building "social software" that enables informal learning communities to form around existing open educational content.

Of particular interest to me are their courses in Comparative Media Studies, an "examination of media technologies and their cultural, social, aesthetic, political, ethical, legal, and economic implications." Courses explore the cultural transition from analog to digital media, the use of technology and media in social constructs like education and war, and how images have shaped the identity of people and cultures, among others.

Stay tuned for more on this topic, as Jeremi and I are toying with the idea of building a companion weblog to document a self-learning experience in this space.

Radical Careering

Radical_careeringAwhile back, I tuned into American Copywriter's podcast #24, on which author and marketer Sally Hogshead appeared to discuss her book, Radical Careering. Sally penned this work after suffering a bout of advertising burnout: despite years of hard work, she didn't feel like she was getting back from her career as much as she'd been putting into it. In it, she emphasizes the need to love the process of what you're doing every day at work, rather than just the end product, and the importance of celebrating little victories along the way.

I was compelled to pick up a copy of the book myself after listening to the podcast and hearing a lot about the notion of the "Creative Class" - a growing group of workers that desire jobs which provide not just a paycheck, but an identity and personal fulfillment. For example, an article in the Jan 26 issue of Red Magazine cites a phrase coined by Kate Fox, a social anthropologist at the Social Issues Research Centre: Yeppies. It stands for "Young Experimenting Perfection Seekers" - those whose main goal is personal fulfillment, and who take an experimental, life-shopping approach, dabbling in a range of jobs and higher education courses looking for more than a personal pension plan and cool company car - they want a job that provides an identity.

Sally's approach is, indeed, radical. She acknowledges early on that it isn't for everyone: "Slackers won't like it. Drones won't get it. Bureaucrats will burn it." Even the copy, fonts and layout are radical. But it's a quick, enjoyable read. I'll share some of the highlights here; they'll resonate not only with those in the advertising profession - which is so often fraught with late nights, tough deadlines, and high emotions - but with others looking for a bit of inspiration in their work lives.

  • Careering is defined as "taking action to become the most powerful, valuable, fulfilled version of yourself"
  • Careerists are hardest hit by failure; achievers become clinically depressed more than the average worker because they expect more of themselves and are less likely to ask for help
  • Being in a crap job isn't your fault; staying in a crap job is
  • Circumstances can't overwhelm you if you focus on what's within your control
  • You already have everything you need to become great; it isn't in any book - it's in yourself
  • Genius/progress can only happen if you move out of your comfort zone
  • When you're operating as your best self, work is only one of the many areas in which you'll be your best
  • Know what is most important to you - quality of work, quality of life, or quality of compensation - and make sure your job matches
  • Results + Reputation + Network = Your Market Value. In other words, your market value is based on what you bring to the party, what people think of you, and your support system. 75% of jobs come through friends, not head hunters/formal listings, so it's important to manage all three dimensions

The Radical Careering web site, like the book, is full of action, insight , and inspiration, plus links to Sally's Hog Blog and a monthly email newsletter, the Defibrillator. There are also links to all of the themed microsites Sally lists throughout her book. I highly recommend both the site and the book - it's one that should be read often to remind yourself of your potential.