As this is the final View from the Top [look out for a fresh format next week – ed], I can bend the rules a bit and move away from the "breakfast in Vienna, lunch in Paris and dinner in London" routine. That is for people who mistake travel for work.
Others have written about CES in the first week of the year and its huge importance. Well, it’s really just 150,000 (mainly) middle-aged men in Nevada looking at fridges and dead-eyed slot junkies at breakfast. CES is a bit like Cannes if your view is from the top, because you can spend just an hour or two at the show and then get your business done in the restaurants and bars. Not a bad life, but no point in starting "Dry January" yet because Las Vegas is not designed for detox.
I’ll move to the second week. I don’t think there is a "typical" week in my job, but this one must get fairly close. Three days in Shanghai with local colleagues and clients, and a global board meeting with Maxus.
Lots of good stuff going on and lots of ambition. Exciting discussion on how to differentiate the agency – tough in a service business because you need to be what each of your clients want you to be, as well as what you want to be yourself.
Then a big review of our 2014 budget (going to be tight, Sir Martin). Interrupted by discussions on incoming briefs for two huge global accounts that are reviewing in the first half of the year. Pitches of this scale can take on a life of their own and can drown an agency if you are not careful. One of the most depressing things I have heard recently was the client in a successful pitch telling me after we won that they never even opened the document that had taken thousands of hours to produce. Disrespect and laziness jostling with each other.
This has always been a great business to be in. The view from the top has always been great. So have the views from all the other rungs on the ladder. Actually, I think that roles all the way up the ladder are similar. Taking client problems and cracking them with a blend of strategy, creativity, research, thinking, insight, implementation, measurement and (always) collaboration. If you are very successful, you may be eligible to get this done in the newest expensive restaurant in Shoreditch or Tribeca. If your view is from the bottom, then it might be a subsidised mung bean salad in the agency canteen (falafel on Friday). But the job is essentially the same.
The thing about views is that sometimes there is an interrupting cloud. And the thing about clouds is that they come and go. On the way up the ladder, I have come across more clouds than Michael Fish.
Recessions, maverick (desperate) competitors, stupid government policies and legislation, procurement departments, aggressive retailers removing funds from brands, economic uncertainty. Lots of clouds, but even more silver linings. A ladder worth getting on.
On our ladder, we have room for iconoclasts, scientists, creatives, investment specialists, mathematicians, film producers, managers, finance wizards and IT experts. And many others all working together in teams.
So I spend a lot of time encouraging and helping people get on the first rung for their first view. For those with the restless energy, enquiring minds, discipline, boldness and sense of team and fun, it beats most views.
Like Elle Shaps below, who is looking up at this full stop.
Dominic Proctor is the global president at Group M