Ditching Survival mode
By: KIRSTEN RUTHERFORD, TBWA\CHIAT\DAY
"It is only in your thriving that you have anything to offer anyone." - Esther Hicks
Advertising. It’s meant to be fun.
Usually, it is.
But sometimes, it just isn’t.
Looming deadlines, pressure to crack a brief and very little sleep can make us forget why we ventured into this career in the first place.
At times like that, thriving suddenly becomes more like surviving.
After a couple of decades as a creative, I’ve certainly been there. Yet I’m still passionate about my craft and believe I have something meaningful to bring to my clients, my co-workers and my job.
How? By being true to myself.
My best agency experiences have been the ones where I’ve been given free reign to bring my most authentic self to work every day.
Given the chance, every single one of us has something unique and amazing we can contribute, whether we realize it or not.
This wonderful industry of ours seems to gather the most interesting of folk. I’ve had the pleasure to have worked with pro surfers, country singers, top fishermen, children’s book authors, cat rescuers, gourmet chefs, gymnasts, ironmen and women, stand up comedians and humanitarians. All alter egos of advertising colleagues.
The agencies where people seem to have thrived the most are those that allow them to bring their true selves to the office-their passions, their quirks, their foibles and their eccentricities.
For me, being authentic means sweet treats, dogs and fitness.
Sweet Treats - Every Friday when I’m able, I bake for my colleagues. Fresh Cookie Friday has now followed me across continents and networks.
In London, I baked a replica Wieden + Kennedy out of Gingerbread that ended up in our reception. My Easter Egg hunts began as a small agency hunt for 30, and over the years turned into a hunt that stretched over 4 floors for 300.
At 72 and Sunny, they bought me a Kitchenaid so I could prepare my dough and bake my cookies fresh onsite.
At Chiat, I’ve turned it into an act of gratitude…in order to take a cookie for yourself, you have to publicly shout out someone who helped make your week better.
Dogs - It’s helpful that the front entrance to Chiat has a wall painted with ‘Be more human, (and if in doubt), be more dog’. My pup is everything to me. The dozens of Chiat pet parents who bring their pups to work feel the same. That’s why I’ve started twice yearly dog events- because who says humans should have all the fun? We’ve just held our annual Secret Santa Paws event (where your dog buys a gift for another furry coworker), and July sees our Indepawdence Day costume parade and party.
Fitness - I’ve taught group exercise for the last 18 years and love the way exercise can bring balance and health to a busy life. If time permits, I’m going to try to get a bootcamp up and running for the ladies I work with in 2017.
Is all the extra effort silly? Maybe.
Is it time consuming? Sure.
Would I stop it for a minute? Hell no!
Every day I go to work, I know I can be me-whether with a new colleague I’ve befriended through the puppy parties, or with my agency President, who has enjoyed one of my sweet treats.
As a result of it all, my work is more interesting. I’m thrilled I get to collaborate with, and experience the point of view of, colleagues entirely different from myself. I can feel confident bringing a different point of view to a brief or a meeting. But, what’s most important, is that I’m constantly reminded that I’ve got something unique to offer.