The courage to evolve

How can we truly evolve from the challenge at hand, if we simply go back to what we were doing before?

There’s a great quote often attributed to Einstein that I’m sure we have all heard – "The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results."

There it is. The obvious, staring us right in the face. 

The perennial elephant in the room.

How can we truly evolve from the challenge at hand, if we simply go back to what we were doing before?

Change is hard. Really hard. 

However, there is nothing to fear from evolution. If that were the case, we would still be living in caves, wondering how to start a fire. It takes courage and an irrefutable inner knowing that something great and powerful is waiting for us once we step out of the known, into the unknown.

And when it comes to our industry, one that I’m incredibly proud and thankful to be a part of for the past 30 years, there’s never been a better time to evolve. And I’m not talking about a minor adjustment, but rather a seismic shift that puts a formidable stake in the ground, a shift in thinking, intention and action. 

That is the opportunity at hand. A tipping point that can go either way – back to the same old business as usual, or forging ahead and creating a more inclusive, inspiring and socially aware industry. 

Based on the past few weeks, I’m seeing the results of a more evolved industry, as brands and people band together to take on one of the greatest challenges of our time. It’s an amazing feeling to see it all unfolding right in front of us. Pure humanity at its best. 

But it’s just a start.

The side of us that is at work right now is our true authentic selves. The side in which our motivation is to help each other, and when we do that, we all rise. It makes me wonder, what side of us was in command prior to the crisis happening?

This is not an exercise in finger-pointing or blame. It’s an honest look that begs the question, "Why can’t we be this caring all the time?"

The answer is simple. We can. 

But it starts with each and every one of us reaching deep within to tap into our courage to evolve. Not just because something is forcing our hands to do so, but because it’s the right thing to do now and moving forward.

This situation is new to all of us. How we respond will define our industry for decades to come. 

With that, here are 10 thought-starters for a more evolved industry:

  • It starts with you. And how you see the world. If you want to be part of the solution, set aside your own private interests and come up with ideas for a more evolved industry. Only then can we all rise together.
  • Truly stand for something. For years, agencies have been defined more by their clients and their work, as opposed to their true purpose. There’s never been a better time to look ourselves in the mirror and define the "why" behind it all. But don’t just talk about it. Live it in everything you do. Because it’s only when we live our authentic truth from the inside, that we can ask our client partners to do the same.  
  • Shift the way we look at brands. Let’s not look at what they can do for us, but rather how together we can better help serve the world. Help them see the value and infinite impact of living their authentic truth. When they know that together you are serving a higher purpose, the relationship changes. 
  •  Let’s make corporate responsibility everyone’s responsibility. Gone are the days of making it a sidebar. Let’s turn purpose into action. Let’s make our motivation for messaging one that helps the whole and not ourselves. People will feel it the same way they are feeling it right now. The impact will be the by-product of brands and people living their authentic core and caring like no other. 
  • Evolve the industry awards process. Let’s create a new standard that measures work based on lives and communities positively affected by it. Instead of an actual statue, let’s award grants that help a much-needed cause. One that won’t gather dust on the shelves, but actually fuels change in the world around us.
  • Big helps small. What if the large agency networks banded together to create a relief fund for small agencies in danger of shutting down because of the crisis? A small loan with no strings attached. Imagine the positive ripples it would create around the industry.  
  • We are all human. Let’s create a more inclusive, sharing and inspiring environment. Let’s continue to evolve and use this opportunity to usher in an even more diverse and united industry. Because great ideas don’t know how old you are or the color of your skin. They only know how committed and passionate you are to creating change. 
  • Change what we call ourselves. Let’s face it, today’s consumer doesn’t want to be sold to any more. And as long as our name is referred to as "advertising," there will always be a negative connotation. Let’s consider changing it to the "Creative Impact Industry." It will usher in a new North star as well as inviting others to join in the pursuit. After all, brands are on the forefront of pop culture and they have a platform to create even greater impact within the people and communities who proudly support them. 
  • Be the Industry of the Year. Let’s collectively work towards the single goal of being "Industry of the Year" as opposed to independently striving for "Agency of the Year." It will shift the industry perception and serve as a blueprint for other industries to follow. 
  • Never forget. Let’s keep a record of the great innovations that are born from this crisis. It will enable us to stay ahead of the curve next time. We’ll look back at this time as a moment of inspiration that brought us all together and shifted the industry for the greater good.

Change is not easy. We all know that. The choice is ours. 

We can either ignore it or fuel it for a better world order. 

And it starts with having the courage to believe that we all have it in us to evolve. As an industry, and as people.

As poet June Jordan wrote, "We are the ones we have been waiting for."

Our time is now.

Those are my 10.  I would love to hear yours.

 

David Angelo is founder and creative chairman at David & Goliath

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