Month: August 2014

Do you have a bench?

David Ogilvy once said that the advertising agency business is one where the assets go down the elevator every night.  As he often was, Mr. Ogilvy was absolutely right.  And it’s still that way today.

Here’s the irony.

Ad agencies are good at advising their clients about brand building, advocating strategies and tactics that look well into the future.  They understand that a strong brand is a huge asset and worth doing almost anything to protect.

Increasingly, however, advertising agencies look at their primary asset – talent – in a much different manner.  Most agencies are highly talent-reactive as opposed to talent-proactive.  If the star art director gets poached by another agency or the well-respected account manager switches over to the client side, what often follows is the advertising version of the Chinese fire drill.

The drill goes something like this:  the agency’s internal recruiter receives a memo from the top directing an immediate all-out effort to find a replacement.  It’s this panic driven approach that often leads to bad hires.  And bad hires lead to lowered productivity and fractured client relationships.

How much better would an agency’s operations be if they adopted their same long-term brand-building approach to asset-building?  Yes, most service businesses tend to be reactive by nature but that doesn’t mean one can’t plan for the future by preparing contingencies.  The reality of today’s advertising marketplace is that no client can be guaranteed forever and no person is irreplaceable.

Agencies are always looking for new clients knowing client defections will occur.  That same approach needs to be applied to human capital.

With modern recruiting tools, it’s not an unrealistic goal for an agency to develop a “virtual bench” of talent for use in the future.  When the circumstances are right to add new talent or to replace someone who unexpectedly walks out the door, using a “virtual-bench” approach can minimize downtime and increase the chances the new hire will be the right hire.

It may feel like a radical approach to HR, but considering the dynamic changes in today’s business, the time is right for agency leadership to embrace the “elevator effect” and take a proactive approach to managing the future of their firm’s most important asset: human capital.


Networking is like baking a cake – you need the right ingredients in the right amounts to bake a tasty cake or build an effective professional network.

One of our favorite industry influencers and career coaches, Lou Adler, gives this advice:

“While networking takes a lot of work, there are two HUGE benefits ……

1) you don’t need to be a perfect match on skills and experiences
2) the jobs themselves are not cookie cutter jobs, but have the potential to be significant career opportunities”

So the choice is yours, waste your time hoping to find a decent job, or build a network to help you build a career.

We find this to be so true, especially in today’s world of increased connectivity. Whether coaching a college graduate in creating a new profile on LinkedIn and explaining why it is so valuable in their future career vs other social media outlets (Twitter, Instagram, FB) or helping a seasoned candidate make a change in their career path, the message is the same. You should always be adding to and building your professional network of peers, mentors and leaders, business contacts, social & professional groups, and companies in your field since they are the ones who often know of new job opportunities before they are ever posted to the public. Effective networking is key to career stability, mobility, and overall job growth & satisfaction.

~ Linda Kay ~

What are some ingredients to building a professional network?

• Start with your LinkedIn profile – update it and expand it every week by inviting people you know to connect with you
• Join as many groups as you can, both in person and online, and contribute to discussions/meetings etc
• Volunteer in company related activities as well as those in your personal life
• Offer your time/talent/treasure to those in need – become a mentor in your field to someone just starting out; share your talents with those around you whether it’s at your child’s school, church, or company out-reach program
• Get personal – call someone rather than text or email; meet for coffee/lunch/dinner – you never know who might be a future reference for you
• Read/Research/Learn – strive to grow and challenge yourself every day – learn something new to share with others

Whether building a cake or a professional network, the right ingredients in the right amount will make it worth your time and effort. Enjoy!

You Can Hear Me, But DO You Hear Me?

Way back in the ‘70’s shortly after I joined The Wall Street Journal it’s forward thinking management shared a short booklet with some tips on how to improve skills associated with good listening.  The stuff was pretty interesting and most of the sales staff became better listeners but, sadly those skills faded over time.  And, back then multi-tasking was talking on the phone while bouncing a ball off the wall.

The point is – to win “the game” we need to speak less and learn to listen better.

The facts are we retain less than half of what we hear and that’s the good news.  Before digital distractions people in a face-to-face conversation could only remember 10% of what was said after a brief distraction, according to a 1987 study that remains the benchmark of conversational recall.  Imagine how today’s distractions and interruptions are negatively impacting that benchmark score!

To avoid falling in the trap of hearing what we want to and not what was said consider these tips.

  • Clear your mind, make a list, turn-off distractions including mobile and PC’s
  • Take notes to stay focused
  • Paraphrase what you think the speaker said and ask if you’re on target
  • Ask clarifying questions, note the speaker’s body language and use pauses to draw out more information
  • Set a goal of talking 25% of the time and listening 75%
  • Summarize the conversation drawing out next steps
  • And, if appropriate, set the next meeting

Remember, “We have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak.” Epictetus (Greek philosopher AD 55-c.135).

For more information about improving listening skills visit