Just Ask Gill

Sep 30

100 questions asked. 100 questions answered.

Back in June, I started Just Ask Gill. As a kind of sharing of experiences gathered through the years but also as an open way of doing what I was doing offline in the real world anyway. And also to try something new as I was getting a little jaded in my blogging exploits (since rectified, I hope). And 100 questions have been asked. Wowsers. I didn’t expect that. Yes,a little prodding and promoting on Twitter helped but 100! Crikey. Some silly ones too but that’s perfectly acceptable in my world. I shall stop yakking on about it now. I’ll leave the Ask function open if you want to ask anything. But I’ll let it collect a bit of digital tumbleweed as I have a few other thoughts mulling around. So thank you for asking. I hope you enjoyed it. In the meantime, here’s a selection of my favourite questions that (mainly) pertain to the original mission to save you trawling through the lot:

Do you prefer flying solo or managing a team?

In the context of account planning, how do you define strategy?

I truly hate my job, what should I do?

Why are there so many levels in account management? Do I have to keep moving up the ladder?

If you are a young planner with little/no L&D structure in your agency, what should you do?

What makes a good leader?

Who or what inspires you and why?

What do you think makes a good account manager/director in an agency?

Through a mind-bending set of circumstances a medium sized purple sparkly strap-on dildo has become locked in the middle drawer of my client services director’s pedestal. She has been on holiday for two weeks and is back on Monday. Could you advise me on the suitable reaction when confronted with the inevitable questioning?

Rowley’s has been closed down. Where’s John?

What is your definition of a creative team within an agency?

weeeeden said: Is this question 100?

Ah, Weeden. You beautiful man, you. It is. 100 questions asked and answered. And a prize will be on it’s way to you at your official residence by way of thanks. A fitting, random finale to this blog’s journey. 

Anonymous said: Do you prefer flying solo or managing a team?

Managing a team. Has to be. You get a greater sense of satisfaction and fun. People are hard work though and dealing with the personal as well as the professional can’t easily be split. I’m proud to have worked with and touched (fnarr fnarr) some very talented people in the course of my career. Some are now GADs at leading, world-respected agencies. Others are taking bold, exciting steps heading up new departments that will see them learn far quicker than they ever thought possible. Some are rejuvenated and doing more interesting things than the path they were on. Some have altered career completely and made a very successful and happy life doing what they really loved and you helped them make a decision - if even just a little. But more than that it’s that you hopefully help them on your journey. And its not easy. You learn from your mistakes. Hiring the wrong people for the right reasons. Giving overly harsh reviews because that kind of thing worked for you or someone else. Giving too much rope when the person already has a handgun to shoot themselves with. Not literally, obviously. Learning that you need to deviate form your own “doesn’t suffer fools gladly" outlook. Learning to deal with a new influx of younger employees who’s attitude, demeanour and outlook is almost the complete antithesis of your own and your peer’s attitude and outlook when you started. But then when you get it right it’s amazing to watch. Confident people, creative people, happy people, rewarding people. To get a great team you have to understand yourself and how you work. Never be afraid to hire people smarter than you but who you know you can work with and develop, sharpen and craft. Hire the ones with desire, ambition, differences. The best hire I ever made was on gut feel. She had less experience, didn’t interview as well with the senior people and wasn’t nearly as confident. But there was a connection. I knew she’d be brilliant in the role. And for me. And for the team. She knew it too and set out in the 3rd interview which was a presentation to blow us away. She did. And I fought. And won. And she was brilliant. And the world is still her lobster. It’s nice when things like that happen. 

Sep 28

Anonymous said: Tevez. Discuss...

Where do you begin? What a tool. I think Souness summed it up well. He really is a nob. Tevez, not Souness. 

Anonymous said: Will you be getting iPhone 5?

Probably. Need to find out when I can upgrade.

Anonymous said: What was the last book you read?

I have just finished Dawn French’s Dear Fatty. A wonderful book that made me laugh and cry and cry laughing. Some very touching moments in it.

Business booky wise, the last two I read were:

John Hegarty’s which is filled with nuggets, gems, inspiration, advice and reassurance for why we do what we do. When you’re feeling jaded, read the parts about this being the most exciting time to be in this industry again. 

Greg Verdino’s Micro Marketing. I’m a big fan of Greg. He is someone who inspired me and continues to despite him not knowing. It’s a totally different style of book than Hegarty’s and much more trad business in approach and structure. Also very American with take-outs and recaps everywhere. Cut through that and there are some excellent case studies, approaches and insights about how changing your perspective and approach to doing things small can lead to big things.

If you want to borrow them (the business ones, Dawn’s belongs to Mrs. Gill and is unavailable for lending), ping me a line. I will need a family member for a deposit. 

Sep 27

Anonymous said: Nirvana's album is 20 years old this month. Did you buy it first time round?

I did. And 20 years makes me feel old and gnarly. 20 years! I remember distinctly heading off to my then girlfriend’s house in Brockenhurst after college lessons and loading up the CD in her dad’s spanking new separates kit. He had decided he wanted to get into classical music and part of this required him to purchase a ridiculously expensive separates. I remember the Marantz amp was the nuts. All shiny and a gold Marantz logo. The mechanisms exuded class. And the speakers were massive. The poor machine had only ever had classical stuff on it until that day. With nobody else in the house, Nirvana was loaded and we sat there agog listening to this cacophony of music that was just amazeballs through an incredible sound system. Still sounds fantastic today.

Sep 23

Anonymous said: What is the difference between a planner and a strategist?

In true Blue Peter style, here’s one I prepared earlier. Drop down to the link where former colleague and all right clever chap, Tony Effik talks about this more eloquently than I could. My take: strategy is more upstream and about solving business problems, planning is more downstream and about how communications can solve those problems.

Sep 22

Anonymous said: The kids today know how to drive computers. I don't. I still get my PA to print my emails out for me. Am I a dinosaur?

A little bit. Printing out your emails is a bit rubbish. Not to say an environmental waste. Learning the basics of operating a computer is quite simple and at the very least your company should be helping you do that. But you don’t have to know or use every single piece of technology that comes out, seemingly every day. Leave that to the people you hire. But get them to brief you on “what it means”. And by that, I mean what it means to your business, your employees and your customers. A lot of CEOs use blogging effectively to convey their vision to the organisation. There is a growing trend for corporates to use iPads at board level to share content and prep for board meetings without having to print off 3 inch thick documents every time. And don’t forget, your experience is why you’re in your role. The kids don’t have that. 

Sep 20

Anonymous said: What does one to do get over guilt? Over say, making an inappropriate arm loss joke?

You should develop the ability to have a box in your mind that is hidden away and locked. Hide these things in there. It comes in handy in this career choice.

Alternatively there is beer. Beer to console yourself with and beer to offer by way of apology for any indiscretion. Such as an arm loss joke for example.

Beer can also be substituted for decent wine or extravagant coffee.