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Love the Jump

Posted on January 8, 2013 and read 3,633 times

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jordanatlas Love the JumpJordan Atlas
SVP/Executive Creative Director

I caught up with my brother-in-law a few days ago after not speaking with him for what seemed like an eternity. After we got past some of the obligatory updates on what we’ve both been up to, the conversation quickly moved to what our collective plans, hopes and dreams will be for the upcoming new year.

A quick bit of context: my brother-in-law is one of the sweetest, funniest, most honest and creative people I know, and the time we spend together creates some of my most cherished moments. In this particular moment, he looked at me, raised his eyebrows and asked this deceptively significant question; “What do you think about spending another year in advertising?”

He knows full well that I love what I do, but I’ve often shared the frustrations that anyone in a field where art and commerce share a bed will tell you — mostly that the “effort to success” ratio at times feels comically, perhaps even tragically, disproportioned. I proceeded to tell him that sometimes what I do feels a bit like jumping and trying to grab the most deliciously juicy red apples that are hanging from branches just out of my reach. I measure the distance, make sure I’m standing on firm ground for a good jump, adjust for the proverbial changes in which way the wind is blowing and take heed in how others similar to myself have fared in this same endeavor.

Then I just leap confidently knowing that there is only so much you can do to prepare and that some things are just out of your control. Taking in the metaphor, he simply nodded to himself, letting its meaning sink in. He then said, “Wow, you must really like apples.” “I definitely do,” I said. “But, more importantly, I freaking love the jump.”

2013 represents my 18th year in advertising and my passion, enthusiasm and curiosity for all the possibilities ahead are still intact. And with this the first official work week of 2013 (c’mon, with a ton of people still out of the office, last week was kind of a dress rehearsal), I thought I would try to articulate some of the new year’s aspirations I have for myself and those I am fortunate enough to lead and influence.

#1 Less Talk. More Do.

I know, I know, the irony of a blog post that “talks about not talking so much” is not lost on me, but you have to start somewhere. Look, we all want to talk about the things we are planning. There is comfort in that. There is also great value in discussing “what’s next” and filling digital columns with prophetic notions of what changes are abound.

I know I will continue to write my fair share and read more than my fair share of the magnificent and profound cultural shifts that are certain to take place in the coming year. But it’s also my personal goal to balance out the talk with quite a bit of action. In other words, there needs to be tangible proof in order to substantiate all the talk. As Ignited’s SVP/Director of Client Services, Robb Hittner puts it, “With so many people perfecting the art of talking, we have somehow lost the art of doing.” (For more on him, see point # 3).

I, for one, look forward to “doing” my part to inspire, produce, curate and compliment the amazing pieces of proof that will be generated by the extraordinary minds that populate advertising’s ever-expanding creative platform. To be clear, the proof isn’t limited to just the successes. Far from it. Even the pieces of proof that fall short of expectations and/or results will ignite potentially more exciting avenues to explore and more fruitful iterations for the future. Either way, the more proof we succeed in generating, the more collectable things we will have to write and talk about.

#2 Focus.

Figure out the things we want to do and separate them from the things we really want to do. This doesn’t mean we can’t do it all, it just means we can’t do it all right now. This requires more discipline and practice than one might think. A perfect example: when I started this article, I had 10 resolutions and now I have just 5. Focus, focus, focus.

#3 The Company We Keep.

Surrounding ourselves with people who believe in what we believe is the single most important thing we can attain. Smart, kind, supportive, inherently curious people that share both your vision and the methods to accomplish that vision are the load bearing walls that no enterprise, be it professional or personal, can do without.

#4 Assume the Best.

In the absence of information and clarity, it’s easy, tempting and completely understandable to assume the worst until proven differently. We can and should avoid this as much as possible. Extending the benefit of the doubt and suspending judgment to those who have earned such courtesies will pay dividends almost immediately.

#5 Embrace Limitations.

There will rarely be enough resources, money and information to accomplish all the things that need to get done within an optimal timeframe. Accept and own this. These limitations are quickly defining the new frontier and the sooner we all get our sea legs within this turbulence, the sooner we will begin to feel like natives within this new normal.

Two inescapable truths happen from embracing limitations. One is the badge of honor and sense of accomplishment that comes from pulling off amazing results in the face of seemingly insurmountable obstacles. The second is that if the day comes when a creative opportunity presents itself that is void of such challenges, with it will come an unbridled sense of appreciation and gratitude for having previously accomplished greatness when greatness seemed so very far out of reach.

2013 has only just begun but it already feels uniquely alive with excitement and possibilities. Who knows, with a little luck, maybe we’ll even get our collective hands on a few more of those juicy red apples.

And if we don’t, well, at least we’ll make certain to love the jump.

  • Lynn Wolf

    Our professions are ostensibly very different, Jord, but your reflections–vivid, eloquent and real–apply equally well to my job as an English Professor. Not incidentally, they also apply very nicely to my life!!   And when I go in to my second day of class of the new term tomorrow morning, I will remember your tips–especially assuming the best!  Thanks for inspiring me! 

  • Lynn Wolf

    Although our professions are ostensibly quite different, Jord, your reflections–vivid, real, and eloquent–apply equally well to my job as an English Professor. When I go into class tomorrow morning, as the new term begins, I will be buoyed by extra energy. Thanks for inspiring me, now and always!




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