Agency Leaders Give Thanks, Part II

It’s the time of year to give thanks for all we have and reflect on the positives of our industry.

Adweek interviewed a group of agency leaders and creatives about what they are thankful for this holiday, and there were so many responses we wanted to give everyone interviewed a chance to weigh in.

Below are the thankful thoughts from those who didn’t get into our original story. We want to thank everyone who took the time to give us their positive thoughts, and we hope everyone has a great Thanksgiving here in the U.S., and we extend our thanks to those who read AgencySpy in all countries of the world.

Chaka Sobhani—global chief creative officer, Leo Burnett Worldwide, chief creative officer, Leo Burnett U.K. and Fallon U.K.—who inspired the story with her endless enthusiasm for the industry, had this to say:

“There’s always a niggle here and there that annoys. Sometimes big, sometimes small.

I think that’s just a byproduct of life and true of all professions and industries. But unlike so many, we have so much to be grateful for. And sometimes I wonder if we need to pull our heads up, take a deep breath and appreciate what we get to call ‘work.’

“We get to be surrounded by people who are the smartest, most curious, cerebral, daft and brilliant. We get to play every day in a playground where nothing is off bounds and everything is possible. We work on and with businesses that at their best, are genuinely used and meaningful in people’s lives. We get to create ideas, generate feelings, gets things right, and wrong, learn and grow.

“I remember back at school going through the obligatory careers assessment…I punched my answers into the computer and was helpfully informed my future lay in either being an actor or a wig maker…thankfully neither career path opened itself up to me. Instead, I get to wake up every day and do what we do. Always different, always creative and with the best people. That’s not a bad reason to get up out of bed for.

“I’m not saying it’s all roses, all the time. But I can’t think of another place or space I’d personally rather be. Or feel so lucky to be part of,” said Sobhani.

Ranae Heuer, CEO at Big Spaceship, noted that the last year was rife with fragmentation, ranging from communities and political views to turbulent financial markets, a warming planet and geopolitics, to name a few.

“There was also fragmentation within our industry—media formats, technological advancements, consumers with wildly disparate interests. The key to uniting us when we’re in a moment like this is human connection and only with connection can we truly build trust. That’s why I have immense gratitude for our community of specialists at Big Spaceship who are fueled by this fragmentation and the challenges it presents, building trust by bringing together consumers and brands,” said Heuer.

Jeff Graham, president and CMO at Cactus said he is thankful to be an agency lifer.

“There’s nothing better than coming together as a team to crack a client problem with genuine insight, the feeling of selling through a big campaign idea, seeing that idea come to life, and watching it change the client’s business. Maybe even change the world for the better.

“Not many professions offer the opportunity to make an impact the way ours does every single day. I’d wager my worst days in an ad agency are still better than a good day working ‘a real job.’ We see it firsthand when clients visit the agency – they change, they light up. That hour or two they spend in the agency is probably the best part of their day, maybe their week or month.

So for all of our belly-aching about the state of the advertising business, which I’m certainly guilty of, we agency folk still live a pretty charmed life. And I’m grateful for it,” said Graham.

Khara Wagner, president at Anomaly LA, is inspired by those who remain persistent in their drive to overcome constant hurdles.

“A little girl from the South Side of Chicago doesn’t know about this industry. You could be a doctor, lawyer, preacher or teacher. I’ll never forget my first impression. Walking into an agency for the first time the bravery, ambition, and creativity was palpable. I was in awe of the people. The rebels, misfits, makers, visionaries, builders, and leaders… united and on a mission. I wanted in.

“Another year, another “existential threat” and still we persist. Another day, another unexpected hurdle to overcome and still we persist. I’m thankful for the ones that persist. They have always and will always inspire me,” said Wagner.

We’ll leave you with a few more of the thoughts from Jen Hruska, chief strategy officer at McGarrah Jessee, who provided a lengthy list of reasons she is grateful for the industry.

“This industry has empowered me to:

  • Be the same person at work as I am at home.
  • Be a proud non-linear logic leaper.
  • Use instinct and intuition as the highest form of data.
  • Riff a lot with people who love to riff.
  • See rules and have permission to rewrite them.
  • Never fear what’s happening when I leave the room.
  • Solve problems every day with ‘What if?’
  • Live in the now and next, not what was.
  • Curse a lot. Laugh even more. Cry sometimes.
  • Look at people instead of resumes. The more different, the more honest, the more open, the better.
  • Lead with emotion and vulnerability.
  • Tell true stories about people and things—because the truth hurts and heals equally.
  • Write a lot. Thesaurus even more. Read and run between meetings.
  • Live and work wherever I want, wherever creativity calls.
  • Come up with ideas and ideas are fun. And that’s really the best part. Having fun. A lot of it.”