Why the Agency "Busy" Excuse is BS

Initiation into the agency world includes a lot of firsts.  Your first pub dinner, your first all-nighter, and your first “sorry, I’m too swamped with client deliverables to help” email, to name a few.  

Anyone who has ever worked at (or with) an ad agency knows this phrase well.  It’s the bane of those of us who aren’t client-facing, and is responsible for everything from delayed invoice approvals to skipped training sessions.  But does it hold any weight?

Since the advertising world is a client-facing industry, it’s true that client deliverables pay the bills.  Speaking from my past experience on the media side, of course they need to take priority!  But resting on that excuse is a dangerous game for advertising professionals, and robs them of their power in the situation.

Saying you are too busy to do anything outside of client deliverables is the easy way out, but when are you not?  There’s always client work to do, and I can guarantee there’s never going to be a time that you’re sitting at your desk idly and say, “hey, this seems like a great time for me to do some professional development!”.  You need to find time for you within the long agency days.  Boundary setting is healthy, and you can’t afford to play the victim card to your clients forever. There will always be more work, more you can do, and not enough time for yourself.

Prioritizing professional development is one of the best things you can do not only for yourself, but also for your company.  The benefits to your career growth are obvious, because in a world evolving as quickly as ours if you’re not learning the newest set of digital skills or ways of working, you’re easy enough to replace with the newest college grad who thinks they’re Don Draper and can go 36 hours without sleeping.  I’d argue that this is almost more crucial for the agencies, though.  Since they’re in the business of serving clients, their employees who interface with those clients are the biggest asset they have, and it’s imperative to stay ahead of the curve.

All that said, use a logic check on this advice. I don’t encourage saying yes to professional development opportunities all the time either.  Over-committing and under-delivering isn’t helpful to anyone, and over-committing and burning yourself out is just bad planning on your part.   

Take time to step out of the cycle and view the big picture.  Maybe shifting your mindset to start prioritizing yourself isn’t all that difficult.  

Did you read these already?
Six Years Strong

smith & beta is now 6 years into our research of the capabilities and ways of working at agencies. We just released our 2018 Talent and Transformation report and we're excited to share with you what we found.

Read More...
Talent Development, Experts and Mindsets. Let's Go.

Our business at smith & beta has always been focused on the development of people walking in the doors each day. We believe that if a company focuses on the current talent, what they know today and should know in the future, it can make all the difference to the bottom line. But some leaders aren’t familiar with talent development. It’s new. It feels unmeasurable. It seems foreign compared to hiring a few new experts. It’s a mindset and strategic shift. Yet we know talent development works. We also know that experts don’t scale. Often those superheros we hire land at the new job only to find that no one at the company understands them. They get siloed into a back room. They are change agents without support. They eventually leave. It happens time and time again. Take a minute to consider your budget for hiring experts this year or even a single leader and then compare to your training dollars. Is there a big difference? Do you operate as “training is nice to have” but not required? If so, you’re missing out on a big opportunity to scale and distribute capabilities beyond a few people at your company. Digital is not a department. Digital is shared knowledge, common language and collective understanding. When we design talent development programs, we work with industry leaders directly to lead content design. They are the experts. They know what should specifics should be covered. They walk in the room and own the conversation with employees. Below we’ve included a great workshop to get started this year.

Read More...
2017 Greatest Hits

Welcome to the Greatest Hits 2017.Each year, at smith & beta, we publish our “greatest hits” for classes, workshops that we completed. This year, we noticed a preferential trend for content that focused on mindset development. No big surprise given how important mindsets, behaviors and habits are for learning in the workplace.

Read More...
What's the Difference Between Blockbuster and Amazon?

According to smith & beta’s 2016 report, 62% of industry professionals say their clients are asking for more advanced digital work from them and 43% of respondents said they were unprepared to provide more advanced work. When a company does not have the knowledge and talent to give their customers what they expect in the current technological climate, they fall behind and often cannot catch up.

Read More...