MAIP DAY: Introspection, Inspiration and Celebration

My colleagues and I recently had the opportunity to take part in DAN’s MAIP 2018 Immersion Day. Essentially, it’s a day meant to give emerging college students an overview of our DAN companies and some of the respective jobs we all have in them.

These were not just any students. They were, as stated in the materials I looked up while trying to figure out what I was going to talk about, leaders in their own right. Students with top notch GPAs and a willingness to spend their time working as interns across the country and serving as volunteers and advocates across multiple causes.

It felt like maybe I should be listening to them speak.

But, alas, that was not the task.

In fact, as I stood mic in-hand with a room full of these burgeoning career hopefuls in front of me, I was sure I had little to say they didn’t already know. Or at least hadn’t recently heard – they were on hour seven of a very long day of presentations and I could feel the energy waning. My empathy could not have been higher. I crossed my fingers and hoped that they would find what we had to talk about interesting and, at the least, worthy of staying awake for.

And so, the music started, introductions were made, and our Isobar reel played.

It’s not often I watch that reel with any true attention. It plays on loop in our lobby. I can recite the case studies and our mission by rote. Yet, standing there with these students really watching it, I remembered something important. Something I say, also by rote, on a regular basis.

We do cool stuff.

We aren’t just anybody. We aren’t a normal agency, or consultancy, or whatever the term of the moment is.

We are Isobar. And, honestly? That means something. We tell our clients we’re going to help them transform – their business, their outreach, their clients. A lot of agencies promise that, but it’s something we truly live.

So, that’s what I said. And then, as I passed my mic to my colleagues to talk about what exactly we have done together, I took the time again to really listen. Not just look attentively on while they spun the stories of our clients – the case studies that I have read, designed slides for, and told myself countless times.

But really listen.

I watched the students’ faces as we described how the team donned scrubs for Integramed and witnessed the procedures and challenges our clients faced; how we used neuroscience to connect with people on Tivity so we could tell what made their hearts race, and how we didn’t just read about Zwilling’s brand and culture but lived it with them for a week in Germany.

How we redefined what it means to experience music with Aeronaut.

I watched the students’ faces as we told our story.  A story told this time not to win a pitch or add to the bottom line. Just us talking passionately about what we do every day.

And, most importantly, why we do it.

I learned a lot about my colleagues that afternoon. I heard them talk about their jobs and careers in ways we often don’t have time to in the rush of our regular days.

I watched as some of the students moved to the edge of their seats, leaning forward as my colleagues told their stories. No longer taking notes. No longer slowly drifting in and out of the stupor that comes with a day of seminars, but actively listening. I laughed with them as my teammates shared the blunders and insecurities of their careers when they were fresh out school, the same age as our audience. I sat straighter and proud as they discussed their triumphs.

At the end of our presentation, I hoped the students better understood who Isobar really is. Not just the kind of work we do, but the kind of people we are.

As I looked out over this crowd of undergraduates, about to embark on their careers, I could not even begin to guess where they may end up. Our industry changes by the day. Their futures will be filled with adventure and accomplishment.

What I hope most for them is that their careers are defined much like mine has been – with challenging work, but most of all, by amazing people. People who push you to learn more, do more, be more. People who will show up with you at the last minute to give a talk to 100+ college students and leave you the one in awe.

Our days are filled with strategy and design and technology and SOWs and clients and requirements — but they are filled, too, with amazing human beings.

Transformation is, of course, a human story.

It was a gift to be so wonderfully reminded of that.