A couple of months ago, I was sat with my team battling a creative brief and I realised that the entire focus of everyone was on the work.
We argued, tore up our ideas, but we laughed… a lot.
The industry has shifted with pace in the last ten years but one thing that remains is the clique-like behaviour of those that think they are in the gifted minority. We know them. The ones who won’t look at you when you walk in a room, won't pour you a glass of water in case it undermines their authority or worst of all, they pretend they’ve never met you before.
The problem is these people have confused ‘survival of the fittest’ to be about their own image, totally self-serving in their mission to out-stage and win. The thing is, humans have survived because we are social creatures by nature and our survival has come from partnership.
People operate best when we are shame-free and untethered. That can only happen when you leave the assholes at the door. As Adam Grant in the New York Times said last year: "Disrupters are often disagreeable. But you can be disagreeable without being an asshole."
Fleishman has often been described as a ‘kind’ company by those within its own four walls but for some reason kindness has also been a dirty word in the underbelly of London’s creative scene. I used to think it too. I used to think ‘kind’ meant ‘slow’, ‘old fashioned’, ‘past it’. I was wrong.
We know that consumers are searching for happiness. Yes, kindness and happiness are inextricably linked, but happiness is passive and kindness is active. To make an active choice daily to be kind takes a strength of character that leaves the ego at the door. My clients get more coming from that starting point, than one coming from creative annihilation.
The tide is turning and seating at the table for these ‘assholes’ is becoming limited. Young people want to go back to doing good, which in turn means they want to work for people who care about them. Clients recognise the need for their brand to weave into culture and not shout through broadcast straplines. Media, in turn, have less and less time for soulless stunts. All of these elements mean better behaviour, to actively care what others are saying, doing and thinking.
As Reed Hastings, Netflix CEO says: "You don’t have to tolerate brilliant jerks." I think my team are brilliant without the jerkiness.
Why can’t you rock the boat but be kind with it? My life’s too short to dance around rudeness any longer. I want to have debate but not exhaustion from constantly battling the elite egos. There are worse things to be known for than being kind… oh and brilliant.
It’s true that kindness is still one of our greatest delights and I’m proud to say, at Fleishman, we sell it for free.
Lauren Winter is head of brand and consumer marketing EMEA London at FHF