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by michelle on August 15, 2012

When I worked in advertising, everything was cause and effect. The creation of it, the measurement of it, the intricacies of timing, location, duration, message, motion, color, volume, and the impact of one thing on another. Immediately and over time. Stock was put in getting from dot a to dot b.

Often there were a few routes to get there. Most of the time, the tools and resources available and choices to be made presented themselves quite clearly. We could see the known touch points. We made impressions at intervals to produce empirical results. After the ads had run there would be a halo affect, and we would analyze integrated impact, but after the post-buy analysis was complete, it was done. We built brand equity over time. But more so we measured immediate impact. What our ads did to sales that week. That month. That quarter. That year. Lifetime value was a topic, but more in theory than practice.

In music, I make decisions every day I would never have made in advertising, and I still believe they are right. Because the road is not direct. There are no signs or maps. The road turns back on itself, sometimes years later. It’s not even paved for many stretches, if you’re doing it right.

Sure, there are times when deals are clear. Option A or Option B. Assume more of the risk in the deal and you stand to make more of the reward. Sure. Take a hit now to make a step up tomorrow. Of course. Trading money for exposure. Day of week for the right bill. Percentages for leverage.

But it is the ripples that make the most difference. The things you did or started to do years ago, that come full circle. And it’s not just karma. It’s actual ripples. The little email exchange you had in 2001 that led to you meeting so-and-so in 2005 that led to you seeing them at a festival in 2008 that led them to introducing you to someone else in 2010 that led to you doing business with that person in 2012.

The longer we work in the business, the more people we meet, and the more we do, the more ripples we create. We must nurture the currents that carry those ripples so they reverberate.

So… It’s not just about making good or bad impressions. It’s about sending out telegrams to yourself in the future via choices and relationships you cultivate now. Tuning in to receive those telegrams over time. Trusting that what you are doing today is building something for tomorrow – creatively and professionally – for yourself and for others. Aggressively pursuing your goals, but also letting things happen when they are supposed to. When you are ready for them to come to you.