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Enterprising Thoughts

  • The Agency Business as Fountain of Youth

    Published on February 3, 2011.

    Back in the 1950s and before, it was said that, “Advertising is a young man’s game.” After a couple of succeeding decades, the truism was amended to “Advertising is a young person’s game.” That was in recognition of the increasing leadership role of women in the industry. The operative word, of course, remained, “young.”

    But—fortunately—some of us are able to survive the pressures of the agency business (whether it be advertising or public relations or marketing or design), as well as repeated downturns in the business cycles that tend to accelerate the aging process. If one is to gain “senior” status in an agency, it is essential to be able to think and act “young” in order to be a contributing factor in our clients’ successes.

    I have found that the agency business for me has been a virtual Fountain of Youth. The legendary spring supposedly restored the youth of anyone who sampled its waters, but the “agency game” offers several factors that, while not restoring youth, do help one maintain mental vigor.

    What I discovered is that to be an effective agency executive you must carefully listen and constantly read. You must listen to both clients and colleagues. You must read, well, virtually everything. Both help keep us current with 21st century thinking, emerging trends, and contemporary business practices.

    But an even more important contributing factor is that as you get older, your colleagues in the agency tend to get younger. Because everyone I work with—and all my clients—are younger, all I see all day long is young people and they energize me. (And its doesn’t hurt that my wife is considerably younger too!) If fact, if I didn’t have a memory or a mirror I would think I am three decades younger.

    So, that’s why I stay in the agency business, and is one of the reasons I enjoy my work so much—and have for so long.