Bits & Pieces?
Our friends at Hunger Task Force here in Milwaukee are encouraging people to have peanut butter drives. At the time I’m writing this, Milwaukee has stepped up in a HUUUUGE way, donating 95,156 jars. Yep. Milwaukee pretty much rocks.
We caught wind of this on Twitter, thanks to Julie Larsen other local organizers of #PBrally, an event at AJ Bombers next Monday, February 25, 5PM-8PM. So we’re collecting jars here at Jigsaw, to take to the event. Join us!
Not only is this obviously a great cause…it is also a super smart strategy for Hunger Task Force…focusing people on one simple, attainable item that is very tangible and loaded with happy associations for most people. “Oh, peanut butter? I love peanut butter. And I can do that.” Sticky…memorable. And therefore brilliant. Super smart nonprofit marketing strategy…50 thumbs up (from all of us here).
Props to Hunger Task Force in every way, for all they do, and to all those like Julie and AJ Bombers who are helping organize the community to respond. We’ll see you at #PBRally!
Bad things happen. But then 140 characters make the world seem good again.
RT @AnnCurry: Imagine if all of us committed to 20 mitzvahs/acts of kindness to honor each child lost in Newtown. I’m in. If you are RT #20acts.
Her followers changed #20 to #26.
#26actsofkindness celebrates good deeds people are doing like tipping the mailman, shoveling a neighbor’s snowy driveway, or handing dog treats out at the park (our favorite tweet we’ve read so far), without expecting something in return, to honor the children and adults killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School on December 14, 2012.
This month we challenged ourselves to participate and together we completed several acts so far. Allison L. helped a person with disabilities grocery shop, donated winter gear to the Salvation Army, and paid in advance for coffee drinkers. Sue S. treated veterans to their next round at Stone Creek Coffee, helped her son’s teacher prepare for a new month, and offered to help a family whose daughter is receiving treatment for cancer. Steven W. paid for another person’s gas at the pump, and last week I shipped 26 baggies with crayons to the Make-A-Wish Foundation for their kiddos.
Fred Rogers once said, “When I was a boy and and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’ To this day, especially in times of disaster, I remember my mother’s words and I am comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers — so many caring people in the world.”
Follow us @Jigsaw_LLC to see how we and others continue to find joy in random acts of kindness.
We all are guilty of succumbing to procrastination now and then, especially when we have to complete a task that we are not particularly excited about doing (and any job comes with some of *those* tasks). Our level of motivation to achieve a given task and our perception of the reward both play integral roles in our likeliness to put off the task.
The following video explains the science behind procrastination in a light (and entertaining) way.
As the video explains, our human tendency to over or underestimate the value of a reward that completing a task will deliver is based on its temporal proximity – or its closeness in time. If a deadline for an undesirable task is far away, say two weeks as opposed to two days or two hours, our brains are likely to “temporally discount” it in favor of working on other tasks that will provide us with more immediate rewards. Which leads us to procrastination.
Human motivation is highly influenced by how imminent the reward is perceived to be. The further away the reward is the more you discount its value. This is referred to as hyperbolic discounting, or present bias.
When we experience something positive, our brain sends a dose of dopamine, which modifies the neurons and makes you more likely to repeat the behavior that brought the reward. Reading an article on the Internet, for example, provides a small and continuous reward that we can achieve quickly rather than a one-time future reward.
Think studying for an exam. Until temporal proximity increases the value of the reward that studying will provide (a good grade on the exam), we are likely to discount its reward in favor of more immediate rewards that we can achieve until the exam date gets closer. (Cue pulling an all-nighter 24-hours before the exam).
How does understanding the science behind procrastination actually help us improve our productivity?
- The Pomodoro technique suggests that we can be more efficient by breaking our to-do lists down into manageable, definable tasks that can be accomplished in 30 minutes or less (“Organize outline for annual report” as opposed to a more daunting to-do of “Write the annual report”). Creating self-imposed mini-deadlines improves your work habits and helps you manage deadlines that are farther away.
- Giving yourself 5 minute breaks or simple rewards in between tasks, such as taking a brief walk, can help you stay motivated among varying tasks by breaking down large projects into smaller to-do’s that provide more immediate rewards. By gradually increasing the amount of work time you put in, you will improve your high-level functioning.
- Instead of looking at a task as “25 minutes of doing something I don’t want to do,” focus on the enjoyment of achieving an unpleasant task – or the reasons that accomplishing the task will help you to achieve a higher goal that you are working toward.
- Avoid distractions – and avoid unnecessarily distracting others. Procrastination is a symptom – not a cause – of being improperly motivated. Putting obstacles in the way of your procrastination habits can help keep you on track. Turn off the Internet, shut your office door or get out and work elsewhere from the office for a few hours in a new space to break the habit of distraction and stay on track.
- On the reverse side, respect your co-workers’ time the way you’d like them to respect yours. If you appreciate having an hour to focus on a task without being interrupted, do the same for those you work with to enable them to be their most productive as well.
In the end, it simply comes down to managing your intrinsic motivation and perception of reward to overcome the habit of procrastination.
If you’re interested in learning more about the psychology behind motivation, check out The Willpower Instinct by Stanford University psychologist Kelly McGonigal, explaining the science of self-control and tips for improving your happiness, health and productivity.
In just a few days, Mad Men is (finally) returning with new episodes. As we get ready to travel back in time to the 1960’s, I started to think about what’s changed in the world of advertising and what’s stayed the same. Has the advertising world of Mad Men ever really gone away?
The rise of billable hours
In the 1960’s, advertising agencies made most of their money from media commissions. Today, agencies increasingly depend on billable hours to keep the doors open and paychecks from bouncing. Which leads us to…
You can’t do a full day’s work after a three-martini lunch. That’s not a big problem if you get big media commissions. It is a problem if agency revenue comes from billable hours or value/performance-based billing
The elements of a campaign
The very act of reading this blog on our agency’s website illustrates a fundamental change in advertising since the 1960’s –– even since the early 1990’s. In the Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce Creative Department, a campaign consisted of television, radio, print and outdoor. Today, our campaigns have all of those mass media elements plus online components, social media strategies, smart phone apps, experiential marketing and guerrilla executions.
Don and Peggy were creating one-way communications that pushed information out to people. Today, thanks to technology, we are creating two-way conversations. Now, we both create content and curate content created by consumers.
When we first entered the world of Sterling Cooper, everyone in creative and account service had a secretary. (Can you picture Don Draper making copies?) Today, it’s increasingly rare for even a partner to have a personal assistant. It’s the DIY era.
Thankfully, overt sexism has gone the way of Joan’s girdle. Today, women aren’t let go when they get married or have a baby, and the majority of us are not called “Sweetie.” Now, women of all ages and family status make valuable contributions in almost every agency in every discipline, and some agencies have women in top leadership positions.
Advertising has made huge strides in improving gender equality, but, like every industry, it still needs to improve. For example, women are not equally represented in the top creative leadership roles or in judging panels at award shows. This equally applies to minorities.
What’s stayed the same?
Advertising is still a competitive field that attracts some of the same personality types represented on the show. You’ll still meet Pete Campbells who will do just about anything to get ahead. We still have Joans who understand the system and masterfully work every angle as much as they can. We still have Peggys –– young, ambitions, smart women who defy traditional gender roles. And, as the grapevine can attest, we still hear whispers of illicit affairs. (Then again, what industry doesn’t?)
I found a conversation with Berny Brownstein, Chairman and Chief Creative officer of the Brownstein Group, about what’s changed and what’s stayed the same since the Mad Men era.
At the most fundamental level, advertising hasn’t changed. Berny Brownstein said it best: “Our job is still to motivate people. We motivated through creativity, emotional copy and dramatic graphics. That is still prevalent today.” Hear the whole interview at:
I think this is why so many of us in this industry connect so deeply with the show. Our bond with all the people at Sterling Cooper is our work. Just like Don, Pete, Peggy and Roger we are all in the business of selling good ideas that are based on truth and authentic emotions.
How do you think advertising agency life has changed in the past half century? How do you think it’s stayed the same? We’d love to read your comments.
We all come up with good ideas and executions all the time. If we didn’t, we wouldn’t make it in advertising for very long. Every once in a while, good work becomes great work. That’s the work that wins awards, grabs the attention of the media and may even become a part of pop culture.
What factors differentiate the merely good from the great? A lot of variables affect the outcome (client relationships, agency culture, budget, attitude – just to name a few), but two play a larger role in success than all the others: the idea and the execution.
You can have a fantastic idea and an OK execution, and your final product will be good, not great.
Or you can have an OK idea and a fantastic execution, and your final product will be good, not great
You will only have a great final product if the idea and the execution are both outstanding.
Here’s an example. Dolly Parton had a fantastic idea for a song.
Her execution of the song was good, but it wasn’t great.
(I may not have loved her version of this song. But that doesn’t mean I won’t always love Dolly.)
It took Whitney Huston’s execution to elevate the song to new heights.
By collaborating, Dolly and Whitney achieved success that went beyond what each could have reached alone.
This song is a lot like advertising. Except in our field, the person who most often gets all the credit and glory is the one who comes up with the idea. But, as we’ve just heard, the idea is only half of what makes something exceptional. Even if you don’t come up with the idea, it’s important to remember that the execution is just as important. You can take a great deal of pride in what you can do to transform good into great.
As you get your next assignment, be inspired by Dolly and Whitney. (Just don’t sing to your partner too much. I’ve been told that’s annoying.)
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