Jan7

How Saying Thank You Can Transform Your Career

ThankYou 200x149

How did you feel the last time someone truly thanked you?
Not just the mumbled thanks for holding the door or handing you a tissue: a true, heartfelt expression of gratitude.

Being thankful can help others and it can help us. Grateful people reported fewer aches and pains and were more likely to engage in healthy activities, according to a study published in Personality and Individual Differences.1 A separate study found that gratitude can lead to increased self-esteem and better relationships with team members and supervisors.2

In addition to the happiness boost that comes from focusing on the good things in your life, saying a simple “thank you” can also bring a huge boost to your career. Recognizing the contributions of your colleagues helps to build stronger, more dedicated teams, and leads your peers to look to you as a leader. Gratitude, like praise, can help to reinforce positive behaviors, leading to a culture of success within your team and organization. Gratitude is also a great way to “pay it forward,” building good will for those moments when you need others to help you achieve your goals or take a risk for you.

Expressing gratitude can also help you to build a professional network. Recent research has confirmed what we have all known for years—that saying “thank you” to a new acquaintance increases the likelihood that he or she will share contact information with you, helping you build your professional network (and make a new friend!).3

So how you can implement gratitude in your career? The first step is simply recognizing that business is a team sport. Has a supervisor taken time out of their day to answer your questions or train you for your next big move? Did a colleague stay late to help you meet a deadline? A sincere, heart-felt thanks can make someone’s day.

Ogilvy CommonHealth also offers a great way to say thank you through the You Earned It! program. This program was created to allow team members to reflect on the contributions necessary to achieve a great outcome and publicly recognize colleagues. According to Darlene Dobry, managing partner, the program has been tremendously successful across all units and skill centers. “It is great to see how infectious the program is. People reach out to thank others and the feeling spreads. It is particularly nice to see people reaching out across departments to thank people they don’t always have a chance to work with and building lasting collaborations.” So the next time a colleague does something great, send them some YEI points and your heartfelt thanks.

“Thank you” may be two simple words, but the recognition and appreciation encapsulated in that short phrase has the power to transform you, your colleagues, and your organization.

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References
1. Hill PL, Allemand M, Roberts BW. Examining the pathways between gratitude and self-rated physical health across adulthood. Pers Individ Dif. 2013;54(1):92-96.
2. Chen LH, Wu CH. Gratitude enhances change in athletes’ self-esteem: the moderating role of trust in coaches. J Appl Sport Psychol. 2014;26(3):349-362.
3. Williams LA, Bartlett MY. Warm thanks: gratitude expression facilitates social affiliation in new relationships via perceived warmth. Emotion. 2015;15(1):1-5.

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Dec17

Woo Hoo!

Throughout our careers we all may come up with great ideas, but they don’t get too far if they don’t come across to our clients.

The Art of Woo: Using Strategic Persuasion to Sell Your Ideas, is a great read! Written by G. Richard Shell and Mario Moussa, the book offers a new approach to idea selling. The word “woo” in the book is defined as the ability to “win others over” to your ideas without coercion, using relationship-based and emotionally intelligent persuasion.

The Art of Woo has a four-step approach to their idea-selling process. 1) Persuaders need to polish their ideas for the social networks that will lead them to decision makers. 2) Confront the most common obstacles that can sink ideas before they get started. 3) Pitch your idea in a compelling way. 4) Secure both individual and organizational commitments. Throughout the book the author reference historical business cases that helps bring this approach to life.

As you can imagine, individual personality plays a key role in how you influence others. The book includes two personalized “diagnostic” tests that readers can take to discover their persuasion strengths and weaknesses (I won’t share my results!) One of the diagnostics is the “Six Channels Survey,” designed to help people learn which of the key channels of influence they feel compelled to use most often at work, and which they would prefer to use if given a choice. These channels include Authority, Rationality, Vision, Relationships, Interests, and Politics. Throughout the book you learn how to better understand these six channels.

The Persuasion Styles Assessment is in the book, and helps readers determine the degrees of assertiveness and natural social intelligence they bring to the idea-selling process.

The Art of Woo goes on to describe five distinctive styles:

The Driver—a highly assertive person who gives only limited attention to the social environment

The Commander—a grove-like person who has a quieter demeanor

The Chess Player—a quieter person who attends strategically to the social environment

The Promoter—a gregarious type who uses high levels of social intelligence

The Advocate—who strikes the balance among all the others

Definitely an entertaining read, and certainly relevant to what we all do every day.

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Dec3

The Difference Between a Job and the Work

How many times have you been asked by family and friends “what type of work do you do?” And, how many times have you struggled with how to answer the question? How exactly do you respond in a way that they understand? Do you share the details of your daily job, the challenges you may encounter? Do you focus on the trials and tribulations of the daily routine? Or, do you express a sense of the work you are involved in-the mission you dedicate your life to each and every day?

The Eternal Pursuit of Unhappiness - courtesy of instagram.com/ogilvymather

If you’ve read The Eternal Pursuit of Unhappiness published by Ogilvy & Mather Worldwide in 2009, you know that it speaks to the 8 habits of creative communities. They include courage, idealism, curiosity, playfulness, candour, intuition, free-spiritedness, and persistence. The overall messages are geared toward how to turn bad habits, discontent, and sour attitudes into good. And while the book generally speaks to the corporate culture, the work, it also serves up lessons for how we can improve as human beings on a personal level, how to create better life experiences, the work.

Recent television news reports smack of intolerance, bully behavior, lack of teamwork, and lack of respect. If commentators, other “leaders”, and global influencers worked a bit harder at the 8 habits, wouldn’t we be in a better state of mind and actually do a better job at motivating and helping people instead of shutting them down and making them feel disillusioned, in a state of hopelessness, despair, and unhappiness? The “work”, in my mind, is the inner sense of positivity, of paying forward, of keeping true to yourself in an environment of negativity; of lending a hand, of championing an idea when it’s not popular, of having the courage to stand up for what is right regardless of who is advocating, and for defending the character of the effort, having someone’s back, especially when you know that they have given their time and made every effort to move the needle forward. Whether you are in the workplace or at “your home base,” being principled-at all times-is the work.

So perhaps when someone asks you again what you do, think a bit about describing the work you do versus the job you do. What is your contribution to improving healthcare in a positive way for our clients and the pharmaceutical industry as a whole? What eventually benefits the consumers? For example, helping patients who need financial assistance to gain access to the therapies they need to improve their well-being. The more we focus on the ideas and campaigns we create, the honesty and spirit we bring to work each and every day, the teamwork we encourage, the wisdom and passion we pass on to the junior staff, the energy we exhibit and the expressions of thanks we send out, the more grace we practice, the more we instill energy and pride in the organization, we create the place of happiness the book speaks about. In addition, there are many wonderful, positive, and impressive statements of work and demonstrations of community support (whether it be local, state, or global) that Ogilvy employees contribute to on a regular basis. To name a few, there are the personal mentoring efforts, the Chrysalis Initiative, YouEarnedIt, Community Service Day, AHA Heartwalk, Tunnel to Towers Run and Walk, Jersey Cares Coat Drive, and the Community Foodbank of NJ, and Dress for Success. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of similar organizations Ogilvy employees touch in hopes to create a better world.

So ask yourself ….. What line of work are you in???

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Aug14

The Client’s Always Right…Except When They Aren’t

Darlene Dobry Med Mktg Blog Image EDIn a service industry, many of us live and die by the mantra, “The client’s always right.” We have long understood and served our role as agency partners and know that we need to passionately support our clients’ efforts.

But is it acceptable to challenge the clients’ wisdom and tell them from time to time that the path they want to take will not result in the best outcomes? That they should take greater risks and push themselves and their brands to greater heights? That they should not accept mediocre results when they can achieve greatness? That they should stop doing what the others are doing and break away from the pack?

Absolutely—this is our job, this is what true client partners should want and expect. We cannot simply nod our heads in approval if we truly care about our clients and the brands we support. We need to tell the truth―backed up with data, customer insights and market knowledge—and state it with conviction. When it’s out, the client will ultimately determine which direction to proceed, but they will do it knowing the potential “watch outs” or barriers to its success, and we can then work together to be armed with the ultimate plan.

It has been my experience that clients do appreciate partners who show passion, conviction and a commitment to doing what they believe is right. Most are not looking for order-takers or yes-men (and if they are, you may want to consider working with a new client).

In my office, I have a sign that says, “I’d agree with you, but then we’d both be wrong.” It’s not there to remind me that I’m always right—it’s a daily reminder to stand up for the brand and what you believe…always, even if it’s not necessarily popular. Of course, it’s critical to be able to back it up and deliver with diplomacy, grace and experience. In the end, the client drives the ultimate decision, and as their partner, we align, support them and drive to deliver the very best.

My best client relationships have been based on trust, truth and transparency, and respecting that it works both ways. There is immense power, transformative ideas and inspired problem solving that come from collective diverse thinking and challenging the status quo. Remember, in the words of David Ogilvy, “We only get a spark when the stone and flint are moving in opposite directions.”

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Mar27

(In)Sanity Check

Blog Image Insanity2Here’s an all-too-familiar story about a team in Ogilvy CommonHealth – trying to launch a Value Prop, get a label update, overhaul 2 separate iPad assets, and submit 2014 work for an last-minute award. And that’s on top of our regular day-to-day items! As I sat to write this, and looked at the items on my to-do list, I realized that I’m not alone in the fight to keep my sanity in the midst of agency chaos.

As workers in advertising, we have our own type of sanity…but that doesn’t mean it can’t be healthy. Here are the things I’ve seen work for myself and others, to keep us relaxed and sane in even the most stressful environments:

  1. Write everything down – Starting your day (and week) with a to-do list is essential. Add whatever pops up, and cross items off as they’re accomplished. Spend the first 2 minutes in the office (or at home with your first cup of coffee) looking at your calendar. Jot down what meetings you have, what needs to be accomplished. Keep a running list of what you know will be “hot” within the coming days, so you can get ahead of them if time allows.
  2. Take 3 deep breaths – This is helpful for when you want to send a sassy response to an email, or are trapped in a heated meeting. Taking some deep breaths will help lower your heartrate, which will in turn help you make more level-headed decisions.
  3. Take your eyes off of your devices before bed – I know, I’m just as addicted to my email/texts/Facebook/Instagram/Pinterest as you. But take 15 minutes in bed to read a book or do a crossword puzzle. It’ll help you disconnect and start relaxing.
  4. And while we’re talking about bed, sleep – Resting your mind and your nerves will help in all aspects of work and life. If you’re having trouble sleeping because your mind is always racing, refer back to Step 2: slowing your heartrate will help your body relax into sleep. You’re not you when you’re sleep deprived.
  5. Treat yo’ self! – In the wise words of Tom Haverford and Donna Meagle, “treat yo’ self!” It doesn’t have to be extravagant or unnecessary, but treat yourself to something that you know you deserve. It can be as simple as a Starbucks run, or a drink with a friend after work. Give yourself the time that you deserve to reset and recharge.

These are simple solutions. But when we’re in the throes of work, it can be hard to step back and remember to take the needed time for ourselves.

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Jun11

My First Experience Working on a New Business Pitch

FinishLineAt first I was apprehensive about working on a pitch. And by apprehensive, I mean…terrified. I heard about the sleepless nights. I heard about the weeks in overdrive. I heard about the soul-stealing, confidence-crushing monster (perhaps known by others as a time crunch). I imagined myself going into crisis mode…which isn’t pretty, let me tell you: a lot of crying and a lot of M&M binging. But I soon learned that the Kleenex and the M&Ms wouldn’t be necessary. For me, working on a new business pitch ended up being an amazing experience, and a bit like college orientation.

During my freshman year of college, I was placed in an orientation group. It was The Breakfast Club all over again: a group of people who wouldn’t ordinarily hang out are all put in a room, bring their individual personalities to the table, become friends, and develop a special bond because of their experience together. This experience was replicated at Ogilvy CommonHealth in my first new business pitch that happened just weeks after I started my role as a planner.  Not only was I able to meet a lot of new, amazing people and develop relationships with them, but I was also introduced to what my life would be like as a planner. While these relationships were definitely important for the purpose of the pitch, I really loved that they significantly influenced the work I would do in the future. Plus, it made the office a friendlier place!

Now down to business. So, I mentioned my first new business pitch happened just weeks after I began my role as a planner in CommonHealth.  In my 6 months as an Associate, I had some exposure to Ogilvy’s Fusion system and to market research—all very much on the surface. On this pitch, I knew I would get to go way deeper into a brand than I had gone before. This was the opportunity for me to really get my hands dirty. I couldn’t wait. I was able to be part of the planning process from start to finish for the first time. I researched market trends, I conducted target audience interviews, I drafted the Fusion Journey and Blueprint, and I even got to write the creative brief—all in just a few weeks, and of course with supervision (Thanks, Mindy!). I loved becoming the expert on the client’s business and even more so the target; I loved learning about the different experiences these people had, whether a benefit consultant giving weight-loss program anecdotes, or an HR manager sharing how she chooses health and wellness programs for her company; I got to be a part of their world for a few minutes, and I felt their excitement and pride as they told me about their roles in their companies. I loved being a part of the entire pitch process from the competitive audit down to writing my very first DO Brief. It was a three-week taste of everything I would get a chance to work on in my career as a planner. And it tasted amazing.

Goodbye soul-stealing, confidence-crushing monster (the time crunch again). Goodbye M&Ms. Actually, not goodbye M&Ms, I still quite like your chocolatey crunch—not ready to be rid of you quite yet. But seriously, working on a new business pitch has been one of the most rewarding experiences for me at Ogilvy CommonHealth, not only for the extensive planning experience that I gained in such a short time, but also for the friendships I made along the way. Thanks, team! Oh, and to make my first pitch experience even sweeter, we won the business! I continue to work on the brand and grow my planning experiences every day.

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May16

The Challenge of Change–Breaking Out of Your Comfort Zone

POP flyerJ-codes. ICD-9 codes. CPT codes. UB-04 forms. Medicare reimbursement appeals. Care Management Strategy and Solutions. Formulary access. Business case. Value prop. These are just a few of the vocabulary words from a whole new language I’ve been learning—the language of Payer.

I’ve spent 20+ years in pharmaceutical advertising—long enough that I truly thought there was very little left for me to learn. How wrong I was. When our Payer group expressed the need for more copywriters recently, I answered the call. And the last couple of months have been quite a ride.

Suddenly I was a newbie again. I went from focusing on one or two products with one client to juggling more than half a dozen different brands for three different clients simultaneously. Beyond the multitasking, though, I’m discovering that breaking out of one’s comfort zone is, while scary, the best and fastest way to grow, personally and professionally. And I’m fortunate to have found some very smart—and very patient—teachers along the way.

Payer is the future of our industry. As everyone from the federal government on down turns their focus to managing the cost of healthcare, the days of billion-dollar blockbuster brands (like Claritin—an account I worked on for seven years) are behind us. Budgets are tighter. It’s not enough to convince a doctor to write a prescription when any one of a handful of middle men—pharmacies, pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs), commercial insurers—can step in and switch that branded drug to a generic, charge a hefty copay to discourage patients from paying for it, or just refuse coverage altogether. Efficacy and safety aren’t the most important selling points anymore—they have become the price of entry to a market that is much more cost-sensitive. And patients are more discriminating too—no longer willing to blindly follow a physician’s directives, especially in the current economic environment, they scour the Internet and become educated, sophisticated healthcare consumers in their own right.

We are all going to need to learn this new language—promoting pharmaceuticals in this brave new world requires talking about our brands in a whole new way. The points we use to persuade potential customers are going to have to be more compelling than “Drug X worked better than a placebo.” And I’m excited to have the opportunity to be involved in this emerging area.

My horizons have broadened exponentially in the short time I’ve been involved with Payer—I’ve worked on reimbursement guides, wrote a sales training manual teaching reps how to use a formulary access app, crafted emails announcing formulary status changes, and edited a PowerPoint promoting care management solutions (online resources and programs that encourage patients to participate in improving their health). And I know I’ve only scratched the surface—Payer encompasses a wide range of audiences, not just payers but also HCPs, patients and even caregivers. Future projects could include everything from writing a value prop, to a webinar, to materials for an ad board. I look forward to continuing to learn, and ultimately master, the terminology that sounds like Greek to me today. And maybe, just maybe, I’ll figure out what a business case is, and how to fill out a UB-04 form!

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Apr8

Mad People…and the Cadillacs That Drive Them

thumbnail BRUNEIt was recently brought to our attention that the “American way” is rooted in a belief that hard work in the pursuit of “stuff” is how we do things…and central to what makes us exceptional. In fact, nothing is (apparently) more foreign to us than the thought of being away from work for more than a week at a time. Can we even conceive of taking the entire month of August off? We might agree that it sounds nice, but we have our priorities straight.

Or do we? When evaluating work/life priorities, ask yourself these questions: “How many vacation days have I banked…and how many will I bank this year?” The truth is there are a lot of folks who find it difficult (or completely impossible) to take all their vacation time and, perhaps even worse, to “unplug” and thoroughly enjoy a hard-earned week away from work. The very nature of our business makes it all too easy for us to justify checking in periodically; but doesn’t this come down to personal choice?

The question of “work-life balance” weighs heavy. It haunts us a little, and taunts us more. Not surprisingly, it’s a question that routinely makes an appearance in our Town Hall meetings…what should be surprising is that so many of us have allowed it to actually be a question. None of us deny the importance of “checking out” or “recharging” (which, oddly enough, sounds like work). So why don’t we take our own advice?

Is the answer found in a TV commercial that has proven brilliant in its well-calculated (or serendipitous) controversy? A commercial that has generated so much chatter precisely because it can be interpreted to equally support—or refute—opposing political and social agendas?

The spot raises some interesting points regarding the value of the American work ethic vs the unseemliness of American consumerism. The fact that it provides a strong argument for both sides makes one wonder: is it a spoof? Is it accurate, something to be proud of? Or is it offensive, the epitome of the “ugly American”? Buried in most discussion lies the question: Will it sell? Time will tell, but at least that brings me back to our world of advertising.

There’s little doubt that agency life as depicted in Mad Men has evolved (we seem to smoke less, at least). But there are some lingering traces of that world that we might not feel so good about. One of which is the work-life balance.

Along with agency politics, financial stress and creative differences, the world of Sterling Cooper etc is largely populated with Mad People. People who never seem to “leave” work. They leave the office (eventually), they go home, and they go out (usually with coworkers); but the office is a constant companion.

In Mad Men, we also see Don Draper’s career arc accentuated by (among other things) the car he drives. When the show opened it was an Oldsmobile…within a few years he’s in a Caddy. As consumerism goes, he is living the American dream…and his work-life balance predictably bottoms out to the left.

Of course, life in America has changed considerably since the ’60s, and the concessions in “quality time” that we make are driven by some newer realities. We’re as interested as ever in collecting our toys, but the cost of a college education (as one example) now applies significant additional financial pressure. And, unlike the ’60s, college is more of a mandate than a privilege—keeping up with the Joneses now absolutely includes college. This and other factors have no doubt influenced the decision by many families to take a 2-income approach, which can create scheduling issues that make it even more challenging to strike a thoroughly satisfying balance in life.

Is the answer as simple as being less driven to succeed? Probably not.

Just as the character in the Cadillac commercial advises us, hard work can get you the stuff that proves you work hard. But the point he, Don Draper—and perhaps too many of us—may be missing is that hard work is most valuable when we make the same commitment to take the time, to enjoy time.

The work will be there when you get back. But you’ll be living the American dream, with just a dash of je ne sais quoi.

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Mar18

Coming Home

welcomeback_ImageIs it a better opportunity? What’s the environment and company philosophy? Is there an overall growth plan? How are the benefits? Would it be better for me and my family? What’s the commute like? What happens if I leave? What happens if I stay? What happens if I leave and I’m not happy—could I come back?

I’m sure you’ve thought about some of these questions and many, many more over the lifetime of your career. You may have even acted upon them one or more times. I don’t have a one-size-fits-all answer or the right answer for you. But what I can tell you is that…“I’m Back.”

Now that you know the ending, let me tell you my journey that brought me back.

I had been with Ogilvy CommonHealth Worldwide over 3 years. I was happy, but in April 2013 I left to explore a new opportunity. There were pros and cons—there always are—but I missed the people and the work. I missed the laughter and the energy and the passion that bounced off those bold red walls.

Once again, questions flooded my mind. What does it look like if I leave my new job after only 7 months? Will I be happy somewhere else? What will that culture be? Should I consider going back to OCHWW?

Seldom do people think about going back to their previous jobs, or boomeranging; but I was fortunate to have this as an option. After all, I had been happy there and I had a few balls in my court. I had:

  • Left on good terms
  • Gained the respect of my colleagues
  • Made a strong impact while I was there

Those factors served me well and I made the call.

Since I’ve been back, the response has been overwhelming. “You’re back.” “Welcome back.” “It’s great to see you.” “It’s great to have you back.” “We love boomerangers!” I’m now part of that group that has returned home. In the past 6 weeks since I’ve returned, I’ve heard about at least half-a-dozen other boomerangers. Who knew I was part of the in-crowd?

My journey has brought me full circle in less than a year. Each and every situation teaches us something—whether you stay, leave, come back—learn and grow from it.

If you find yourself at a crossroads like I did, try these few suggestions to consider if an opportunity is right for you. Whether it’s internal or external—at some point you’ll need to think long and hard about what to do. So:

  • Make a list of the pros and cons (yes, literally write them down)
  • Talk to trusted family, friends, colleagues—we’ve all been there (be selective, but use your trusted network)
  • Look at the entire picture (salary, benefits, commute, culture, other colleagues who may be there)
  • Educate yourself about the overall company, not just a specific division or job

Try not to:

  • Jump or be reactive
  • Leave because of one unfortunate instance
  • Only focus on one piece of the pie

So wherever your journey takes you (or doesn’t), make the decision that is right for you. Explore, think, don’t jump, and maybe talk to those of us who have come back (there seems to be a trend lately). I don’t have all the answers that would be right for you, but I can let you know that the grass isn’t always greener on the other side—it’s just a different length.

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