Learning from experience
This time last week I was in Scotland. I went home for a fleeting long weekend to become godfather to a friend’s son. The fact that I was asked to fill that auspicious role should be a fair indication that there is a serious shortage of responsible adults right now. But it’s too late for Cameron or his poor, misguided parents to change their minds now. I am fully signed up to be a magnet to his moral compass till he comes of age.
Luckily there is a new batch of grown- ups coming online, and we have profiled a lot of them in our Faces to Watch series. In this issue it is the turn of PR and media agencies to have their brightest and best showcased. Again, I ask for forgiveness from those whose names didn’t make the cut. I’m sure they will generate enough news in their careers to make it to these pages many times over in the future.
Whatever age they are, from early 20s to 30 on the nose, the Faces are all learning. They are learning faster than we oldies do, and there is more for them to learn as the industry morphs and twists and turns and develops and writhes from its own growing pains.
The Faces give plenty of examples of what frustrates them, and much of it is the same stuff that frustrates us dinosaurs: deadlines, timesheets, cautious clients and the likes.
On page 9, Publicis Media chairman Alex Saber writes about some of his life lessons, which affect industry newbies in two ways. First, juniors can learn from the mistakes of those who have gone before. Read what Saber says, listen to your elders and take note. But secondly, he acknowledges that we learn from our own mistakes more than those of others, and it is essential that people be empowered to make those mistakes, learn from them and grow.
They will need to learn how to cope with those clients, how to hit those deadlines, how to fudge those timesheets themselves.
Right at the very top of the industry, Sir Martin Sorrell is out as CEO of the world’s biggest advertising group, WPP, which he built. He is a sort of godfather character in his own way, and many of our readers work for companies bought with an offer they couldn’t refuse. And Sorrell’s departure will no doubt signal another huge shift in the industry, another step change in how our world works. The world won’t stop, but it will change.
And we oldies can pass on our wisdom, in a godfatherish way, to our one- day successors. But we can’t guarantee they will listen. Nor should we expect them to. It’s their world they are growing into, and they need to find out how it works. It is they who will run it.