This is a very personal article, thinking aloud about where my professional future lies in the wake of recent decisions concerning my personal life.
A few months ago, I decided of my own accord to leave Havas SE (Havas Media Group), the company where I worked. Usually this is something that just isn’t done in my profession. Either you negotiate a way out (in other words, force them to sack you) or they dismiss you directly. There is a third option (which is also very common in this sector) which is to go to another agency. But I know very few people who just leave of their own accord without previously firming up something to move on to.
A lot of people told me it was madness. We’re talking about the most important media agency in Spain and one of the biggest in the world! Just a few months ago they promoted me; I was on the management board, and some of the senior figures in the company had put their faith in me. But I was a fish out of water there. The fact is, I never felt comfortable or managed to find my niche.
I gave a lot of thought to my decision. And I always came to the same conclusion: I am completely happy with it. If anyone comes looking for recriminatory words directed at Havas, they won’t find them here. It is –by a long way – the place where I have learnt the most in my professional career to date. And it even helped me realise that my future prospects and happiness lay elsewhere, with my own venture.
Ever since I started working in this field ten years ago, I sought to work for a variety of companies, a variety of industries and in a variety of positions with the express intention of getting to the point of having the maximum possible confidence in myself. And now the time has come to create my own company.
And so, having given it a lot of thought over many years, this is the company model that I would like to establish right now:
1. A company that focuses on innovation
One that obliges us to be au fait with the latest trends and in which we genuinely do things differently. Where I can explore new horizons and do absolutely anything. I hate hyper-specialization. When they take you out of your own sphere you’re dead. We want to be the people who get called for projects that will make a difference. False modesty is also useless to me. We want to do big, innovative projects. For me it is essential to get back to innovating.
Over the years I have come to realise that the multinationals, purely because of their own structure, find it impossible to innovate. The nearest they get to it is when they come across something outside the company and buy it. They are completely different models, and I now want to start my own version from the outside with more room for manoeuvre.
2. A company of multitalented people
People with multidisciplinary profiles whose working philosophy is ‘Connect and Develop‘. We like saying that we’re going to be the biggest agency in the world. And it’s not that we are aiming to be the team for every project but rather the most appropriate professionals according to the nature of the project. So we’ve got many millions of people from which to choose. Senior professionals and teams connected worldwide through a network of joint collaboration in order to come up with the very best ideas and results. Innovación Audiovisual (the project I founded 18 months ago) is, without a doubt, one of the seeds.
This is 2015. We don’t want to build structures that are impossible to maintain or find ourselves obliged to confirm projects simply to be able to cover the wage bill. We’re going to be low-fat.
3. A company that shares knowledge
One that has a presence in forums, debates and congresses. One that is committed to teaching and that pauses to offer assistance to those who need it. If I have gleaned anything important out of all these years, it is the chance to have taken part in so many courses and presentations. I have met some fascinating people who have helped me to see things from very different perspectives. We need to continue with a commitment to training and, leading on from that, networking as a generator of highly qualified New Business leads.
4. A people company with good people
And if they also happen to be friends on specific projects, then so much the better. And in this case I’m talking about clients as well as staff. Why, as a general rule, do clients hate agencies and agencies hate clients? Both sides think the other is taking advantage of them. Herein lies a major topic of discussion, because humans are suspicious beings that find it hard to switch off and relax.
A company that avoids the word “supplier” (what an ugly, submissive term that is) and replaces it with “collaborator” (or even partner, if we want to be more cool). One that values the strength of teamwork over individualism and that is totally against those who elbow their way to the top and play dirty (which is something that regrettably we see a lot of in this industry).
There is even an amount set aside in the annual budget to celebrate a summer party all together. I want to work and continue to share my life with good people.
5. A company that balances work and family life
Where you don’t have to waste time filling in forms to request permission to go to the doctor’s but rather gain time by helping out those in need at any given time. And where teleworking is not seen as a reward (or worse still, viewed suspiciously) but as an option for greater productivity.
6. A company that lets me be truly free
Nobody is truly free when they’re working for someone else.
7. A company with its own manifesto
A mantra that defines us and that we actually adhere to. And one that is made public and available to everybody.
8. A company that moves at the speed required of it
What we are putting together could end up being very big. But we’re in no great hurry to get started. We’ve already gone too fast in other projects. We’ve all experienced the sleepless nights to hand in projects at 9 o’clock that we only finished at eight o’clock. We’ve all seen interns with occupational stress (unthinkable) and even we ourselves have had to step back to avoid burn-out. And we’ve also seen projects being won without knowing who is going to take them forward, the ones that end up being dumped on the youngest and most inexperienced.
This is the company we’re creating, which will start operating shortly. Our services: a consultancy and agency focusing on innovation. In whichever field it might be.
Meanwhile, these months since February have given me time to watch the growth of something as wonderful as Innovación Audiovisual (already nearly 90 authors involved in one of the largest current Transmedia projects in Spain: a blog, a monthly forum, a collaboration group and a podcast), finalize the latest editions of the Postgraduate Degree in Branded Content and Transmedia Storytelling that I give at Inesdi (enrolment is now open for the new courses in Madrid and Barcelona), organize my own Transmedia wedding (this really is the best project of my life which I have found incredibly rewarding) and develop, together with Wildbytes, a campaign for the first European launch of a Sephora product applying technology to creativity in a way that has never been attempted before (more information soon!).
All I need to do now is to get running and upload photos on Instagram with my times whenever I go out for a jog so I look like one of those entrepreneurs that are so fashionable right now.
I don’t know if it will turn out well for me, but what I am sure of is that it’s something I’ve been searching for over many years, that I’ve covered all the ground I wanted to in order to get the widest possible training, and that I’m going to give it my all to make sure it’s a success.
Further updates soon. If all goes well, the official launch will be at the end of October. Naturally, you’re all invited to be with us on that day, I’ll let you know in good time so you can put it in your diary and join us if you’d like to.
All the very best.
Photo credit: Jenson Lee in Flickr