Initiative’s Summer Treseder (lead image) is this year’s Cannes Young Lions winner in the media section. In this guest post for B&T, Treseder says the advertising industry is too quick to dismiss it’s young employees’ views and at it’s peril…
Well, well, well, fancy seeing you here. Well done for clicking on an article written by a junior contributor, not many do…so thank you.
However, even though you clicked, I bet you’re probably still thinking “What wise words could this newbie possibly impart? What could I learn from a young upstart only two years removed from partying her way around Europe on a Topdeck tour?” But that’s exactly what I want to address. How quick we are to dismiss the opinions of juniors because surely they couldn’t know much…but in fact, I firmly believe inexperience is our superpower.
Businesses often default to a corporate mentality that prioritises work experience as a determinant of value over life experience, but when it comes to creativity and problem solving, I’d argue this. Inexperience isn’t a handicap that limits our work outputs – it is a strength that allows for authentic lateral thinking. Whilst it’s true that creative craft matures with time, virgin thinking thrives in the early days of our career, unjaded by the indoctrinated biases of the industry and free from the taint of media jargon and preconceived peer opinions.
Only a year and a half into my career I noticed I was starting to change. As I became familiar with how clients worked, I began to prioritise speed over proper analysis. I discovered shortcuts, buzzy media phrases and found myself referring back to the same sources. I was getting quicker, but at the expense of original thought.
To overcome this, I have now made a conscious effort to seek out ways to combat repetitive thinking and stay inexperienced. These have been incredibly helpful and so I wanted to share them for anyone feeling the same loss of originality:
Break Habits: Routine kills creativity. If you catch the same bus every day, with the same people, from the same suburb, the insights you can gauge on humanity is limited. Instead, I constantly try to shake up the view from my window onto the world. I mix up the transport I take to work and go out of my way to talk to people I wouldn’t immediately gravitate toward. Even the types of media I consume changes day to day, varying my diet of podcasts, music, movie genres, TV channels and websites in a quest to avoid the dreaded filter bubble.
Be an Enigma: I believe there’s a reason why the most creative thinkers in history are often remembered as enigmas – but you don’t have to cut off an ear or become a hermit in the woods to live a maverick life. Recently, I visited an Alpaca farm, fought off some dingoes on Fraser Island and attended ‘Meatfest’ (it’s a thing). I can honestly say experiences like these broaden my thinking and make me a better strategist.
Worldly Experience Over Work Experience: After I finished Uni, I took two years off to travel Europe and work in a bar, and this ‘basic’ move has proved to be a launchpad for the success that I’ve experienced to date. Working in a bar taught me problem resolution, working under pressure and time management, while travelling the world gave me a sense of independence, confidence and capability. Even now I’m working, I still go out of my way to see the world, taking advantage of opportunities like Cannes Young Lions and company incentives like Initiative’s “Emily in Paris”, an international exchange program which sends me to France and the UK for a fortnight, to facilitate new experiences both from a media planning and cultural immersion point-of-view.
Prioritise Outside-of-the-Box Learning: Forget about the Mark Ritson Mini–MBA (no offence to Mark Ritson) – I prefer to deliberately sign myself up to courses outside of the media and marketing industry. My most recent ventures include courses in entrepreneurship and water colour painting, two completely different topics but both with the potential to expand my creative toolkit.
Now don’t get me wrong, this isn’t intended as a war on experience. There is a level of professional polish that can only be gained through climbing the ranks and honing one’s craft. But we need a system that balances experience and inexperience as a vital ying and yang for a company’s creative thinking.
Rather than just treating new starters as coffee grabbers, organisations need to champion young talent and offer them a platform to train their creative muscle through opportunities like Cannes Young Lions.
Only by embracing the virtue of inexperience can we truly leverage fresh, raw and unfiltered thinking.
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