When I read articles by agency principals that have successfully disrupted the market and been successful the first thing they talk about is their agency culture.
When I was growing up I loved watching movies about Shangri-La. Just the name evoked numerous senses and sensors. The word Shangri-La danced in my young ears. A place that was the epicenter of enchantment. I am still looking for Shangri-La. I have had a glimpse from time to time. A little peak. A taste from time to time. A vaporous kiss.
I was copied on a mass email update recently from somebody that I didn’t even know if I knew them. I do not have enough time to go into that basement. It was their personal update on their search for their next career opportunity. The person didn’t come into focus but I remembered that I had received a previous blast from them before. They were still on the beach. Their email blast made me easily accessible but their elusive job for them was still out of reach.
I live surrounded by young people. I have hired paid interns for ten years and often speak on campus colleges on networking and why young people shouldn’t try to get a job.
That’s how I got this nice poster designed by Kyle Ready when I spoke at CBU in Riverside.
I am amazed by how many college students in their senior year that are looking to enter the workforce aren’t on LinkedIn. Young people are natives in the world of technology. I was an immigrant to their world of technology.
I embraced LinkedIn as an early adopter. My largest client last year found me on LinkedIn.
College students who aren’t using LinkedIn lose their native status and become LinkedIn immigrants. They look like they aren’t ready for business. They don’t speak my language. And guess what? I don’t want to hire them because I don’t want to train them on LinkedIn. I want to teach them other things.
As a solopreneur I want an intern to help me from the get go. That’s my world today. And the world that today’s college students will live in when they are 50. There are numerous articles documenting that in the near future a large proportion of the workforce will be consultants, freelancers, or temp workers.
When I speak to students I advise them to go where you want to be. If you want to be in business then use the social media channel that businesses use, and that is LinkedIn. The best way to get a job in the field you aspire to is to engage with the people living in that world. LinkedIn provides you with that opportunity. If you want to work in the future communicate with people that may hire you in the future while you are in the past. You should start your job-hunting a year before you graduate or sooner.
I recently met a young man with 500 LinkedIn connections. He was twenty years old and was soon to graduate from UCI. I wasn’t surprised. Did the 500 plus connections help him graduate early? Probably not. I am sure that his attitude of preparing for the future did.
I have always said some of the worst career advice for students comes from people in the Old Normal. They focus on resume building. That’s all good, but resumes don’t appear on the Internet, your LinkedIn profile does.
Today resumes should be info graphics or simple websites.
Young people today will have many jobs in the New Normal or create many companies.
The foundation of their success will be their network. LinkedIn is a simple platform to build it and amplify your voice.
In the Old Normal there used to be simple insights shared that ran like this. If you saved a dollar a day starting at 21 you would be a multi-millionaire by the age of 65 based on the principle of compounded interest.
In the New Normal if you connect with one person a day starting in college you can be sure of having lots of social currency and an improved chance of financial currency as well.
LinkedIn can help you get there.
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Something is missing in advertising today: training.
It used to be the basic foundation of how agencies operated. It provided direction to all. Unfortunately, there is no training anymore. Nada. Zero. Here are your business cards, here is your cube or office, there is a client meeting next week and you are going to present. Here is the company T-shirt. That’s all, yeah. Often nothing more. I hear this all the time. Today, there are CYA employee handbooks and very little institutionalized training; I don’t think many agencies even know what the curriculum would be.
Today’s agency training course is called Figure It Out Yourself.
In order to allow growth to occur, training needs to be the foundation of your agency’s culture. Your agency has very smart people looking for some paths they can run down. They are looking for reassurance. Everybody needs a little direction, a little confirmation, and a little reinforcement.
I live a life surrounded by Millennials, Generation Y’s, whatever you want to call them. I don’t talk much; I just listen to what they have to say, and their words tell a lot.
I listened to one frustrated soul who really didn’t know what he was tasked with at work. He felt uncertain, and that causes anxiety. Things were changing in the industry. He shared that he wanted to understand more about what he needed to do. The supervisor responded with, “what do you need to know?” How can youth know what is behind the curtain when they never pulled the levers on the other side?
Today in the agency business, many layers are missing. There are only generals and privates. The mentoring layers are gone. Many senior people focus on looking up to protect their jobs versus training down.
I talked to another young person the other day. She got a call from another agency asking her to interview, and asked for my advice. She said she really liked her current agency. Somebody had actually trained her recently, merely for an hour, which to her was a lot better than the place she had worked at previously. Only one hour. A lunchtime training session. And these places still wonder why when they lose so many of their employees.
When I was a puppy, I received training frequently. Somehow, I felt that agency management referred to the idea that training was a responsibility that companies needed to do. It was not an option, but a formula necessary for success. If you don’t train your people, well, why are you the boss?
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I had a glass of wine the other night with a friend who runs a large local agency. He talked how committed his agency was to training its young people really well by rotating them around into all the areas of their product so they would be well rounded. He lamented the fact that after a certain time many left causing a lot of turnover at the agency.
At first I was a little surprised at the rate of turnover in this economy but then again the advertising agency game has changed. There aren’t as many layers as in past and often you get senior people stretched over too many accounts and the young worker bees. Well trained ones are even more valuable today because there aren’t as many firemen around to put out the fires quick enough for today’s client.
Keeping talent in the advertising industry has always been an industry issue. Deutsch in conjunction with the 4A’s conducted a study on the issue that was reported in Fast Company. The study found that 25% of people in the business don’t love it. That sounds high but I recently heard that in the general workforce, 40% of people don’t like their job. I also know many people in transition who would be more than happy to be unhappy at a job just to have one.
Not only has the number of people in the advertising industry declined in the last decade according to the 4A’s but the average age of the industry has increasing become younger. According to an IPA study in the UK the average age of an employee in the Mad Men biz is 34 and more than two fifths are said to be thirty or younger. I think it is the same on this side of the pond.
I often blog on today’s Millennials. I have lived surrounded by them. I have a number of friends in advertising and PR who are 28 and are working at their third or fourth agency. In a thin margin game even young people can be put on the beach. Advertising has always been an industry where you get your first job at an entry level salary and then jump to another agency for a salary increase. The other option is to stay and get promoted to increase your salary. The first option is more expedient for many when they have today’s college loan debt levels. Rock on Congress.
Some people feel that young people move because they are the entitled generation and are self focused. I don’t buy into that. Maybe for a few but not the majority. I think the entitled generation went away after the world melted. A 23 year old has lived a quarter of their lives in the great recession. Many have seen a parent or both parents in transition. They know what foreclosures are. They also know plenty of friends who are unemployed or having trouble finding a job.
So how do you foster an environment in the advertising, PR or digital game that Millennials want to work and stay? Certainly training is important but they want more than that. I think like most people in a relationship they want to know where they stand. Young people like direction. In this case what is the agency’s career plan for them? Not for the next month but the next two years. That provides vision and objectives for them.
They also want guidance. In this case it translates into mentoring and mentorship. I think that everyone that joins an agency should be assigned a mentor. A mentor for somebody who is 23 in today’s advertising business can be somebody who is 27. I have always been a big believer in mentoring up and down and everyone in the Slash Generation has their own set of skills that everyone can learn from. Capturing that helps everyone grow no matter what their age.
You can connect with Hank on Linkedin
Follow his updates on twitter @hankblank
You can watch a video by Hank on Why Young People Shouldn’t Try to Find a Job.
You can also read some other Hank Blank blogs.