By Scott Harkey, CEO of AZ-based OH Partners
Most of us are trying just a little bit harder to make this summer one for the books.
After losing most of 2020 to lockdown and quarantine, there is a clear desire to make up for lost time and to embrace this second chance we’ve been given. Priorities have never been more in check. Workers can show up fully engaged when it’s time to work—but with a conscious effort, flip the switch when social engagements arise with family or friends.
Those of us with kids in our lives find it impossible not to notice the impact this past year had on their psyches. As the adults in their lives, we’re working a bit harder to up our game this summer; a little more purpose, grace, patience and prioritization. Smartphones work overtime and camera rolls fill up as we look to capture every experience and memory, and as I scroll through and share these seasonal images, I can’t help but have a barrage of déjà vu moments regarding my carefree, youthful summers.
The unbridled joy, excitement, confidence, and overall energy were all so pure in that phase of life; only to wake up one day with the weight of the world on our adult shoulders. The realities of adulting won’t soon go away, but that doesn’t mean we can’t embrace a shift in perspective allowing us to attack this phase of life with some of those childlike traits that made for easier, breezier days.
What if we were more self-aware on a daily basis, and actively worked to find our way back to our younger selves? Less second-guessing, overthinking, and obsessing over the opinions of others?
What if we reintegrated those qualities into our adult lives? Particularly those of us in the marketing space, in which proactivity and unconventional thinking have more currency than ever?
Today’s marketers need to cover all bases, specializing in everything from brand purpose to consumer experience, to digital innovation. We can all benefit from harnessing the shameless curiosity, openness and devil-may-care attitude children often possess.
Below, a collection of thoughts, ideas and applicable hacks our 10-year old selves would approve of.
ASK MORE QUESTIONS
Author and inspirational speaker Simon Sinek has talked up the benefits of being the “stupidest” person in the room and explained how he’ll ask as many questions as it takes in order to understand a complicated point. He shared an example of a client he was working with and how he sat with the C-level execs as a consultant laid out a strategy.
Sinek diffused the situation by acknowledging he was the only one in the meeting without an MBA and he asked the frustrated consultant to go over the point again and again. Eventually, one by one, every exec in the room raised their hands and admitted they too were confused by the premise.
Kids will ask question after question, as their goal is to find the answer at any cost. They’re not concerned with others thinking they’re asking too many questions, or that their query makes them look stupid. They simply want to solve the riddle, whatever it takes.
STOP WORRYING ABOUT WHAT OTHERS THINK
We’d have to go pretty far back to get to a place where we weren’t cognizant of the opinions or judgment of others, but there once was a point where we just did “us” in a pure, unabashed fashion.
We’re all born with free, creative and imaginative spirits—but that tends to go away as we enter our teen years. As we hit the prime of our lives, many of us become consumed with what others think about us, as we’re motivated by the desire to be accepted.
There is freedom in no longer obsessing over what others think about us, but unfortunately, that transformation doesn’t happen for most until later in life.
Churning out ideas, without the fear of judgment from saying the “wrong” thing, can lead to the development of unique and previously unearthed concepts.
Kids just create, imagine and don’t overthink anything; they live and love life. Learn to get out of your head and just be. Think freely. Color outside the lines.
FIND WAYS TO BREAK SOME RULES — If we’re honest with ourselves, most of our rules are self-imposed. Dietary restrictions, working out, saying ‘no’ to weekday plans or putting off that much-needed vacation because it doesn’t make complete financial sense.
The whole work-life balance thing has become somewhat cliché, but only if said and not truly implemented. Most of us would say that relationships and family are the most important things to us, yet we still let work, meetings, errands and to-do lists run our daily lives.
Kids have a way of just letting their lives unfold while adults are hell-bent on trying to control all of life’s variables; consumed by a culture of “busyness”—defining a successful day by how many hours they put into their work rather than the output and results. We’re all faced with a slew of small daily decisions, and a little “rule-breaking” can actually enhance the quality of life.
Blow off that workout to grab dinner with an old friend. Stay up a little later on a “school night” to watch a movie with the kids. Recharge with a quick weekend getaway or staycation with a significant other instead of waiting for the perfect time.
You do yourself justice—and reset yourself—when you take the time to do you. Steer into the skid a little bit, and odds are you’ll come back better than ever.
DON’T TAKE ‘NO’ FOR AN ANSWER
I can vividly remember wanting something as a kid, being told “no”, and remaining persistent in my pursuit of that desired result.
It was never “no” from a parent and that was the end of it. Kids go up, over, around, under, or through whatever obstacle to get their way. The older we get, the easier it is to accept “no” and to convince ourselves that it’s not that big of a deal.
The world will tell you that you can’t have it all —a successful career and tremendous accomplishments in your downtime. Don’t believe that lie; it is a direct result of taking “no” for an answer. Looking at a problem from every possible angle is how you get to the heart of the “why”. Getting to the heart of the why is the reason behind everything we do—not just in marketing, but in all aspects of our lives.
George Bernard Shaw summed it up perfectly: “We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.” Inject some youthfulness into your adulting and watch how personal and professional changes follow.
Under Scott’s leadership, OH Partners has become one of the largest, most decorated agencies in the southwest—recently expanding to Las Vegas and soon to open in Los Angeles.
OH Partners has consistently been ranked one of Inc. 5000’s fastest-growing private companies, and Adweek lists the agency as one of the fastest-growing on the planet. OH has led marketing and digital campaigns for clients including Walt Disney, National Geographic, Airbnb, and the NBA to name a few. Scott’s work has landed him on the Arizona Republic’s ’35 Under 35 Entrepreneurs’, the Phoenix Business Journal’s ’40 Under 40’ lists, and as the peer-voted “Ad Person Of The Year” by the American Advertising Federation of Phoenix in 2018.