I didn't get where I am today... by having a life plan

Planning has transformed our industry, but those skills don't apply to my personal trajectory, says Steve Marinker, managing director of Havas PR.

Steve Marinker: managing director of Havas PR
Steve Marinker: managing director of Havas PR

Some years ago, I was introduced to the idea of life planning. You gotta have a plan, I was told.

Apparently some people do. They map out their future lives in detail. Five years in this job; two years in New York; get married by 29; two kids by 33 and on it goes.

You’re allowed to change the plan as often as you like (which is nice) so long as you have a plan. You gotta have a plan.

Well, I didn’t have a plan and I still don’t. Maybe it works for some people (though the idea of constant replanning kind of undermines the concept), but I have resolutely not had a clue about where my career or personal life was headed.

I got married at 38 and became a dad at 40. It turns out that was absolutely right for me; I was too selfish and delinquent to be a husband or a parent previously.

Most of the roles I’ve had have come about as the result of a headhunter’s call, not my own foray into the marketplace. 

I’ve had a charmed career and loved every moment. Please don’t see this love of the unpredictable as a rail against the art of the agency planner. Quite the reverse. The insight and rigour that planning delivers has transformed our industry in recent years and I’m privileged to be working with some of the best planning brains around at Havas.

That’s where planning belongs; addressing our clients’ challenges where it can be applied to factors we can hope to control. But please don’t let those same skills loose on my personal trajectory. I’m not ready to be segmented.

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