All around the advertising industry, it’s hard not to be affected by the challenges that are in front of us.
Larger-than-life challenges that transcend the benefits of the products and services that we help promote.
From a global pandemic that is forcing us to rethink how we do business and life.
To the long-standing systemic racial injustice that has plagued our nation for nearly 250 years.
It’s the frailty of life that is waking us up and begging for us to look inward and examine where we can go—as people and as an industry.
This is a watershed moment for all. An opportunity for us to look at how we live our lives, how we move forward and how, together, we can eradicate systemic racism for good. And ultimately other unjust systems that have kept our society from evolving.
When it comes to our industry, we have to take a step back and look at the challenge at hand. How we can create a better industry for all, as opposed to just a few.
The first step is to go inward. Because before we respond or react, we need to have a clear understanding of the two main drivers in every decision.
Ego and empathy.
Understanding these two paths, these two points of direction, is the starting place for true transformation. For people, an industry and the world.
Let’s begin with ego.
For starters, it’s man-made.
It’s learned behavior that we inherited through our life experiences.
A word that fuels our desire to have it all and be it all. At all costs.
Ego’s master is fear. Fear of not being, having or achieving enough.
When it comes to our industry, it’s hard not to see the transient effect it has on everything.
From how we sell and promote products to how we sell and promote ourselves.
And when it comes to responding to a crisis, it shows its true colors.
Ego tries to capitalize and take advantage of a moment. It goes into reaction mode and is called out for forcing relevance, being inauthentic and self-serving.
Why? Because it doesn't know any other way.
The truth is, somewhere along the way, we have all experienced its solo agenda.
We have all used it to our advantage. After all, we’re only human.
But if we continue at this rate, we will not only stay complacent and complicit, the world will miss out on this transformative opportunity to monumentally shift.
The world is tired of false promises and self-serving agendas; tired of being sold to.
Crisis is putting us all in a vulnerable state. It is longing for truth, hope and lasting change.
And yet this is something ego just can’t deliver. It is the driving force that is driving us further apart.
But fortunately, the solution has been innately in us this whole time.
It’s called empathy.
Empathy isn’t a skill that you learn. That's like saying love is something that you practice.
Empathy is pure, unconditional love.
It’s compassionate. It’s unifying.
It doesn't know fear, doubt, negativity.
It doesn't need a reason to make itself feel good or make others feel less.
It has nothing to prove.
It doesn't need to.
When we act from empathy, the world feels it. We feel its hope, and genuineness. And the action is proactive, impactful and sustainable.
It’s undeniably authentic and its purpose is plain as day. Empathy is not man-made. It’s innate.
Simply, we are empathy.
And our moment has come to fully act on it.
So, we have a choice.
A choice that can shift our industry away from creating from a place of ego.
A choice that will enable a shift from shallow brand promises to authentic purpose that is born from empathy.
A choice that will activate a greater base of unity and eradicate racial injustice, not just in the work we produce, but in our actions as well.
A choice that can manifest all the promises we are currently making, into lasting, meaningful change.
This is our moment.
And the greatest opportunity to truly walk the talk.
To band together and be the change we know we can be.
To transform ourselves while transforming the industry.
To make a choice.
To let go of ego and go all in with empathy.
David Angelo is founder and creative chairman at David&Goliath and founder of non-profit Today, I’m Brave.