20 December 2010

3 keys to job survival for 2011

It’s December.

We’re all rushing to the holiday finish line, a swirling rush of activity. Some of us will keep working through Dec. 31st, nailing deadlines along the way. For some, it will feel like a crash and burn.

For others, it will be a crash and burn.

All of us should take the opportunity to stop and think about what we’ve accomplished in 2010 and what we want to accomplish in 2011. And then figure out how to get it done. Here are three steps you can take: Plan Big, Think Smart and Move Fast.

Plan Big

Whether your plan is to keep your job, change your job or get a job, it’s important to plan big. The end of year is a reflective time when you can dream a little bit and think about goals for 2011 that are ambitious and achievable. Last year at this time I made a 2010 plan big enough that it will continue into 2011.

Yes, I wish I had been able to check it off my list in 2010, but actually just having the goal has motivated me to do a lot of things I probably wouldn’t have done otherwise. This is especially important if you are in the group of people who want to keep your job – apathy and the routine are your enemies.

Think Smart

This step is about strategy, or more prosaically, how you are going to get things done. Some element of strategic thinking is involved here, especially if you have planned big. You will absolutely have to think things through. You also need two other simple elements: People and Time.

Advertising has always been about collaboration, and now more than ever when no one has all the answers. So think about People you can enlist to help achieve your goals. They won’t be “your” goals anymore, but that’s OK because you’ll still get credit as part of the team.

Time is the other element of Think Smart: You will need to literally schedule time for yourself to work toward your big plans, especially if you need to schedule time with others.

Move Fast

The most underrated job skill in the advertising business is execution – the ability to get things done fast. Some us think big, a few plan smart, and not enough move fast.

The image above is from the tail of Elvis Presley’s plane. It’s the motto of his crew, the letters TCB with a lightning bolt, meaning: “Taking Care of Business in a Flash.” (Lee Knight had a good post on this last year.)

If you really did Plan Big, sometimes people and things around you won’t Move Fast enough. Try to be patient, not frustrated. Certain tasks and steps along the way can go faster, and others can’t. Just stay focused on what you want to accomplish.

A Modest Proposal

No matter what level you are, I’d encourage you to consider goals for 2011 that will increase your experience in digital. Even if you work in a digital agency, you’ll need to rise above the day-to-day and learn new things because “digital” is changing so fast we may not even use that word by the end of 2011.

The key is to get experience. All of us can read about it, participate and even start a blog, which is all beneficial. Doing actual work in your company is even better.

Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Kwanzaa, and Feliz Navidad -- and have a happy, prosperous, change-embracing New Year in 2011.

* Note: One year ago, we posted “3 keys to (continued) survival in 2010”. It was inspired by Arthur Ashe. Today's theme, "Plan Big, Think Smart, Move Fast" was a motto hanging on the wall of Hank Feeley, President of Leo Burnett International, who hired me into this business, and who practiced what he preached.

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