Feb 16

You da man!


I had a fascinating conversation the other day with Northeastern University President Joseph Aoun and his senior communications strategists. We were discussing the subject of trust, the erosion of trust in virtually every segment of society, and the need for current and future generations to re-adjust their definitions of success as a result.

I volunteered that I’d noticed quite a few Millennial-focused surveys of late in which respondents seem to accept the very real possibility that, due to the economy, limited job options, staggering student loans and global competition, they may never attain their parents’ level of success. But, many seem undaunted and, in fact, point to new, and different, definitions of success, including: 

-      Achieving a work-life balance

-      Feeling fulfilled in one’s occupation

-      Believing one’s contributions are somehow making a difference for the better.

That’s very different from the definition of success when I grew up.

We were told one wasn’t successful unless one at least earned one’s age (i.e. $25,000 per annum if one were 25 years old, etc.). We were also led to believe that success meant getting married, fathering 2.4 kids, as well as owning a dog and a house with the requisite white picket fence (I scored with the wife and two kids, and now am pleased to say I report to two pooches: Mick and Rooney, respectively).

I also came of age in the Me Generation, monster-of-the-universe Gordon Gekko ‘Greed is Good’ Wall Street era. In fact, I distinctly remember a great example of success in the late 20th century. We were dining with my next door neighbor who, at the time, toiled at the now defunct Lehman Brothers. He was boasting about a huge raise and year-end bonus. Then, he glanced down at his PDA and shouted: ‘Look at this! ‘My boss just e-mailed saying, Jimmy, you da man!’ It was nauseating to say the least.

Well, with Wall Street, Main Street and just about every other street either stagnating or in full retreat, the You Da Man moments seem to be dwindling in an inverse ratio to our country’s budget deficit. That doesn’t mean there won’t be some incredibly successful executives rising through the ranks in the near and long-term future; it just means there will be fewer masters and mistresses of the universe.

So, knowing that, how have you personally re-defined success? I’m especially interested in hearing from my Millennial readers (as well as the Generation X and Baby Boomers who have been forced to re-set their expectations as a result of the New Normal). Success is still there for each and every one of us. It just may no longer look like a million dollar paycheck, a trophy wife, two kids, a dog, a house and a picket fence anymore.  

What will it look like to you, and what do you envision prompting a boss or peer to text a message saying, ‘You da man!'


Jul 29

Being Laura Zanzal

July 29 - the-office-michael-scott I can't take credit for the original idea. That belongs to erstwhile Peppercommers Stephanie Chaney and Jenny Grendel. They're the ones who, hearing my various thoughts on agency leadership and innovation, suggested I put my money where my mouth was and swap jobs with a member of the rank-and-file. Job swap, they said, and you'll have a much better feel for what the agency needs to do to be better.

And, job swap I did. And, I found that Steph and JenGren were 100 percent right.

I first became Rob Longert for a day and saw how much time was being wasted on mundane daily news searches (we ended up outsourcing the function to our London office in a true win-win fashion. They made money for the searches and our New York employees gained invaluable strategic time).

I also experienced the then-horrific acoustics of cubeland and asked our office manager to install sound-absorbing baffles in the ceiling. And, I saw how difficult it was to report into multiple bosses, all of whom had priorities and deadlines. We subsequently created workshops aimed at helping better manage up, down and across the organization as a result.

Being Rob Longert for a day sucked the lifeblood out of me. But, I think it made our New York office just a little better.

I next became Sophie Hanson in our London office. Whilst (notice my deft use of the Queen's English) my experiences as Sophie weren't quite as seismic, I did do a spot of press release writing and pitching and had any number of Brits hang up on me because they couldn't understand my 'weird' New Jersey accent.

And, what of Rob and Sophie? How did they spend their days as Steve Cody? Each authored a 'guest' Repman blog. Each imitated my daily regimen by disappearing for a long workout at lunchtime and each attended various internal meetings in which they, like me, contributed little save a few corny jokes. Rob also came precariously close to selling Peppercom to a larger agency in his 24-hour stint as managing partner.

So, what do I hope from becoming Laura Zanzal for a day?

 - a few nitpicks that I can spot and improve for the greater good.
 - a better appreciation for the frenetic lives of our junior people.
 - a definite need for a long, cool beer around 5:30pm on Thursday.

Apr 04

Employees struggle to maintain work-life balance

Steve and Ted sit down with guest, Melissa Vigue, to discuss the importance of a healthy work-lifeRepchatter_logo

The discussion centers on recent articles that question whether or not spending time at home can be hazardous to one’s chances of climbing the corporate ladder.

Is it possible to successfully balance work and home? Are workers pressured to stay late and/or on weekends in order to achieve success in the business world?  Can choosing time with family over work cost you a promotion?