We all seek inspiration. We all want a new perspective. We’re looking for that certain something that helps us start the day with fresh eyes, look at things differently and rekindle the fire we had when we first started out in this business.
Several months ago, I was lucky enough to find mine.
Our agency was being honored by New York’s Coalition for the Homeless for our ongoing support of its First Step program—a workforce development program for women who are, or once were, homeless. It includes an internship, mentoring and job placement assistance, among other valuable support.
As I met the women we had hired full-time as a result of the program, I began to wonder why we were the ones being honored. In my opinion, we were the ones who owed the Coalition a huge debt of thanks.
The Coalition is providing women with the opportunity to get job training that helps them provide for themselves and their families. They are opening doors and allowing some truly remarkable women to show the world what they can do. They are providing these women with the practical skills needed to get off the streets for good.
But I heap even more praise on my Draftfcb colleagues who participated in the First Step program. They were bold enough to raise their hands and say, “I need help.” They entered an internship without pay, realizing that the training and education were worth much more than money. They realized that while First Step is an opportunity, they were the ones who would have to prove their initiative and truly show the world what they could do.
And this is where I found my inspiration. Each of these women is a shining example of one of my closely held beliefs—that life is all about seizing opportunities. These women took a chance, and now they’re thriving. They are smart and driven and talented and persistent—and we're a better agency for having them on our team.
When you look at our industry, it has been said time and time again that talent comes in all shapes and sizes and from all economic backgrounds. But when it comes to hiring, we all go to the same places to find our latest crop of talent, whether it’s the ad school du jour or the latest ad organization-sponsored internship program. It was then that I realized that very few agencies are willing to get creative when it comes to hiring new talent. Programs like First Step would not exist without the companies that agreed to take a chance and try something new.
We all know that on a business level, it is our job to embrace talent and to nurture it. But more importantly, on a human level, it is our job to reach out to those people who may not have the opportunities we had, or who may never have had the chance to be exposed to our industry.
If we’re truly committed to creating an industry that mirrors the very consumers we’re trying to reach, then we must help more, new and different people seize opportunities within our industry. I’ll continue to bet that they will have so much more to offer us than we have to offer them, including the inspiration we’ve been looking for all along.