The New Club: An Open Letter to the Industry
I just finished reading the Steve Jobs biography, and the one thing I picked up from him is that sometimes organizations have to believe in something that is not proven and gamble it all. It is my feeling that the members of the Art Directors Club want a resource that forces them to become better creative professionals. As the new Executive Director of the Club, I will be betting all my chips on the future—studying, learning, exposing and embracing the changes we face now, and will face in the years to come.
For 92 years (which is older than most of your grandparents), the Art Directors Club has been at the center of the advertising, design and visual communications industries. Huddled around this core, have been agencies and creative professionals that came to the Club for two main reasons: to network and to celebrate the best work created by their peers. It was an easy formula for the members, and an easy matter for the Club to implement year after year.
The social, technological, and interactive environments have instigated substantial change in the industry and in our lives, and this change has forced everything and everybody to evolve. Some of us resisted, some embraced, and some of us are still trying to come to grips with it.
Moving forward, The Art Directors Club is going to be different. We are not going to keep on doing what we have done in the past, rather we are going to throw ourselves headfirst into the uncertainty of change—and revitalize our mission to Connect, Provoke and Elevate. It’s easy to see where the industry is going to be tomorrow, but can you see a year into its future? Three? Five? The role of the new Club will be to start focusing on predicting the things that will come tomorrow, and to empower and educate our members to face these changes.
In an industry that doesn’t really believe in career education or training (ask most creative directors if they have taken management or technical training courses lately), the Club will become more than just a meeting place. It will become the place for our members to learn—and be exposed to topics, technologies and thinking that they won’t find in their day-to-day work experience. The Club will become your part-time University. Whether you drop in for a drink at one of our many events, or visit the websites to read an article or watch a video, I will make sure you come out a changed person and a better professional.
Sometimes you will come out with answers to your questions, sometimes you’ll come out with more questions, but I promise you won’t come out the same. It’s our obligation to you, and it is the challenge I have set for the Club.
Before online social networking came along, people actually used to meet face to face. Those were the days of ‘Humanbook.’ Call me old school, but I plan on bringing that back big time. Most people change jobs like a frog jumping lily pads in a storm, and I have discovered that the best business contacts throughout my life were always the ones that came through unexpectedly at events where I wasn’t expecting to meet anyone.
Our industry is changing so fast that you can’t even buy or write a book about it, because by the time it is published, it’s old news (imagine buying a book on social networks a year ago). The only way to pick up the freshest, latest know-how is to get it straight from the source of the river. The fact that this is usually done over drinks at the Club can’t hurt! Anybody want another cocktail alongside your web 2.0 know-how? I’m in!
You will notice that the Art Directors Club will be focusing a lot of energy on creating new content for the industry. Most advertising associations, non-profits and award shows tend to steer clear of controversial issues. But topics like racial discrimination, the role of women in our business, the debate of comp and agency pitch work, crowdsourcing and the role of award shows should be topics that are dealt with directly, openly and perhaps even harshly. The Club should be the neutral stomping ground where these debates take place, and I plan on facilitating that for all of us to talk, debate and learn from each other. Like Ken Blanchard, a world-renowned speaker said, “None of us is as smart as all of us.”
I know all our members understand that change is here, and instead of shielding you from it, we are going to hold hands together and step forward in unison like an unstoppable force towards it.
I hope you’ll join me.
ADC Board members Rei Inamoto, Robert Wong, Brian Collins and Board President Benjamin Palmer speak about ADC’s new direction and leader.