Close your eyes and image going into your office...
Dragging your feet, you drudge over to your desk, plopping into your semi cushioned swivel chair. After a short reprieve in energy you walk over to the kitchen and load up the good ol' Keurig. Popping in the pod you suck in a deep breath and exhaust in frustration. You get back to your desk to sip your coffee - digesting the morning news. Ah, the New York Times. Get up to go pee. Type and email. Engage your coworker in monotonous conversation about last night and end up plotting plans for the summer. O no, its 3:00pm? How did the day escape you? You write another email. What did you do with the time? What do you even do?
Sounds like a bit like the Mike Judge film "Office Space" -- the horrifying tale of a man stuck in work limbo.
While carrying the title of millennial doesn't always constitute as a positive description of oneself in some ways I think millennials are the answer. So what the hell is the question?
We've all heard the term "business as usual" referring to a state of standard functions and processes within an organization. While some may long for this structure of business as usual promises one thing. Stagnancy. It removes the aspect that most businesses crave, but few are bold enough to make the leap towards. CHANGE. I feel growing up in an error of predicted doom economically with the financial collapse and an uncertain recovery, severe climate change, education underfunded and prisons overcrowded, Millennials are keen to the fact that something needs to change. And whether its wanted or not change is coming and in a very big way.
Change comes in all forms, but undoubtedly is a necessity when growing a company and imperative to the success. Take the companies we value most in our society in terms of financial success and innovation and they have clearly followed the mark. From a company who began with computers and last I heard is now in the watch business, or a search engine that wants to sell me glasses. Or look to the latter with once inventive companies like Facebook, whose popularity still proves to be a driving force for the company but a staggering lack of change and a lackluster CEO has continued to drive shares down.
Change resolves the age old power structures and destroys the notion that scarcity is a means to build a successful business. (scarcity of information, distribution, market reach, choice, and shelf space) How Google Works, Eric Schmidt.
This revolution in mind set is not only coming from vets like Apple or Google, but is followed and repeated in newcomers like tech giant Elon Musk and his groundbreaking Tesla. And believe it or not it looks to be the future of tried and true classics. You can't teach an old dog new tricks, and maybe thats true in some cases, but you can get another dog. And run it alongside the old dog. Hell maybe they become friends, learn from each other, and open the door to new possibilities.
Fortune Magazine recently reported this occurrence in the May 2015 Issue in the article Startups Inside Giant Companies where we are seeing big companies fund and seek the next big thing within their own four walls, attracting new talent and letting creatives run with ideas that may have otherwise not seek the light of day outside of moms garage in the front and center stage with the funding of a corporate giant such as Coca Cola.
"For now, the Silicon Valley mind-set is in. GE has enlisted 500 coaches to train executives to embrace concepts like risk taking and learning from failure. Mondelez sends its brand managers to work inside partnering startups to learn how they operate, while Tyco, the fire and security giant, invites venture capitalists to speak on behaving like a startup. “It’s the new way of working that eventually every large company will embrace,” says David Butler, Coca-Cola’s vice president of innovation." (Fortune Magazine, Startups Inside Giant Companies)
It’s not that big companies don’t get what startups do, says Coca-Cola’s Butler. It’s just that replicating the unstructured, unfettered moves of, say, a five-person outfit is difficult to do with the systems and vast teams needed to operate on a global scale. “Big companies tend to hire managers, not explorers,” Butler says. “You tell them to do this and keep doing it, not explore new ways to do it. Early-stage companies employ nothing but explorers.” (Fortune Magazine, Startups Inside Giant Companies)
Startups offer revitalization, newness, potential, and a alleviation to that age of fear of sitting at a desk working for the weekend.
Close your eyes. Slug back into that desk. Wow you've been reading this and let more time slip away. You forgot to send that email. And left the coversheet off your TPS report. Lumbergh is very disappointed. Get back to work.
Mad Men has played an integral part in my life. I know. It sounds silly. It’s a TV show written about a 1960/70’s advertising agency, a time period I did not live in and a job description I am not currently pursuing.
To describe the show in its entirety in the scale of a few paragraphs is almost an impossible task. Is it about advertising? Certainly. For anyone working in the field you will no doubt relate to the pace, the types of people, the day to day of the Accounts, Media, and Creative Team that you either love or hate. But beyond the front facing theme of advertising Mad Men is at its core about people, our relationships with them, and an attempt to understand human nature.
So who is Don?
Why is Don?
I had a conversation with one of my best friends the other day. It began in the day to day and as per usual drifted much deeper. Relationships. The way we were raised in the Midwest. How the neighborhoods we grew up in shaped our definition of self into manhood. Family. The recent riots in Baltimore and race relations in America.
The beauty of Mad Men is that the messages and symbolism aren't as blunt as other shows and not easily deciphered. I . We are merely guided through the through a series of complex events through the eyes of our lead (protagonist/antagonist?). That all comes from your perception and how you see things. The show is very similar to the conversation I had. Not objective. We weren't solving any problems --we weren't doing it the sake of narrative -- we were just recounting our tale, the lives that we lived, the ups and the downs. And in the process understanding who we are in the process. Thats how I view Mad Men.
So what have I learned from Mad Men, what is my personal take away that can make you understand why I liken Mad Men to a some sort of life epiphany. Here it is in 2 short bullets.
- Your family is everything. And there are those who will stop at nothing to escape them. But what makes life so much more sweet is when you realize that they are the key. Cheating will catch up to you and never worth it. Cherish your kids. And be there for them.
- Your job isn’t everything. I think it can be glamorized that when one attains x,y,and z you have it all, whatever that all might be to you -- power, money, women.. Mad Men showed me that you can have all of those things and still be left alone. From the outside looking in Don is everything we want to be -- smart, handsome, charismatic, charming, cool calm and collected. But after spending the time to look inwards Don is lost. But with hope, Don is searching and with some hope he will find what he is looking for.
Mad Men really is the end of an era.
And wherever Don choose to go, I wish him the best. I hope that he continues his pursuit to find himself and what he truly wants. And I hope above all it leads him to a sense of happiness and purpose that money and Madison Avenue could never provide him.