This is a random post, but it feels good to write it...
Today was kind of a neat day because, for the first time in a few months months, I checked my Linked In account. I don't quite know why it's been so long since I checked it, or what prompted me to do so today, but I'm really glad I did.
When I got there, I noticed there were dozens of invitations--mostly from people I worked with down in Los Angeles. Some great people were waiting to hear from me and it was fun to see some names that I haven't seen in awhile. I was immediately reminded of some new biz victories, some brilliant creative moments, a few crazy celebration parties and a meeting where an art director slid into a client meeting to illustrate some motion within a TV spot. While I haven't spent time on everyone's profile yet, it's always fun to see the overview of what people are doing now.
Clicking "accept" to the collection of invitations sparked several thoughts... all of which speak to the greatness of our business and opportunities to make it even better.
First, because our business is subjective, we truly have an unlimited capacity to learn and apply new skills. (Objective professions don't have such a luxury because there is somewhat of a learning ceiling.) In advertising, however, we can combine thinking together forever. Principles that were seen in '98 can be refined with some learning gathered in '03 which can be paired with research insights from '06 to solve a new problem for a food product in FY08.
This is the same for people; I frequently find myself reflecting on the presentation style of Jeffrey Blish or the creative insight ability of Austin Howe or the amazing team management style of Kris Rone. All of them make up who I am today. And if you really think about it, each of us are simply a mosaic of the people we have shared our experiences with. This is true in career as it is in life. I find it important to always go back and recall the people you worked with to see if there is something new you can learn from them. (This is possible to do even when you haven't communicated with them in years.)
Secondly, Gen X needs to harness the value of online sharing better than they do. The fact that I hadn't been on Linked In since May is a tragedy. If I was Gen Y, chances are, this wouldn't have happened. I need to be better than that. The more people are open with their professional experiences online (watching confidentiality of course), the better we will all be. Right now Gen Y is really carrying the online sharing torch in the US. I know there are sensitivities around this, but here's an interesting thought: Wouldn't it be great if there was a place on the web--a confidential place that required strict membership guidelines--where approved members could upload thoughts, stories, content, etc. to their network without worrying that it would be snagged by someone random? With so many smart people in so many different places, I'd welcome such a site. Know of one??
Finally, we need to keep in touch with people not for the often-repeated "who you know" thing, but more for the genuine value that people can add to your life. You never know when a past colleague could help solve your problem, or lend a hand. Or if you could do the same. The only way this can happen is if we all participate in the dialog. Putting yourself out there can seem scary or maybe even pointless, but don't let that deter you. Get out there, join in the discussion and keep yourselves up-to-date so long lost friends can track you down. It makes it all so much more fun.