The recent episode on Mad Men rang true in the world of communication and much more, that having skills and talents, developing them for the long haul, are much more important than social skills.
In the fictional story of Mad Men, which is about the world of advertising, the tussle between “creatives” and “suits” are often seen in sporadic parts of the episodes. In real life too, there is often a disconnect between those with the skills and talents, and those who connect with clients.
In Series 6, the fictional firms of Sterling Cooper & Partners merged with Cutler Gleason and Chaough to win an automobile account together. It seemed strategic at that time, even though there was much more at stake under the surface.
Nonetheless, the two top creatives from both agencies went on to meet a client without involving the top account director responsible for that client. The account director felt sidelined and angry.
That is not merely fiction, but increasingly, happens in real life. Clients are increasingly demanding, and rightly so, that the people meeting them should be the very people who are to be hands-on, doing the work, dreaming up the creatives, coming up with the smart strategies, and helping them grow for the long haul. The age of just being a “suit” to be diplomats and messengers between creatives and clients is fast diminishing, if not already gone.
When Twitter launched Vine against the runaway success of YouTube and Vimeo, the writing is on the wall that video is the new paradigm, and that other forms of communication have receded against this medium. After all, the emerging generation of people have short attention spans, and I struggle to find commuters on buses and trains reading non-fiction tomes, compared to many young people viewing the latest videos of drama series and comedies.
Therefore, in the same light, as communication practitioners, our call to fame, or our tools of recognition, must come from our relentless pursuit of honing our skills, expertise, knowledge, and for the rare few of us, a refinement of gifts of talent. The market is getting more competitive, clients are getting leaner and fewer, and we owe it to ourselves to transform our teams to integrated personalities who will carry the full arsenal of skills, talents, knowledge, and communication on each one of them. Clients and their executives demand sustainable results, and no amount of soothsaying and courteous service can change the real business needs.
It is about survival. We would never venture into the deep jungles without carrying a good supply of food, water, tools, even weapons, and have the physical strength and endurance to carry them. Likewise, the world of communication, or any arena for that matter, is the same.