Monday, February 9, 2009
Four Meaningful Conversations We Might Have
By Kendall Allen
In any seven days, our conversations mix and make up the week. We cover a lot of ground -- as business world, home front, social spheres, secret lives, passions and pursuits converge. On Sundays, I like to peruse the content of the week's conversations and inventory the collection.
The week of conversation in my world mixed these threads:
Such an inventory is just a tally. Our lives and headspace contain a lot. So, as I reflected this Sunday, and looked onward, I asked myself: When it comes to our business, what are some of the most meaningful conversations we can be having right now? There were four themes that presented themselves.
1. Developers and cooks. Many of us are rethinking and recasting organization right now -- and for the future. Painful reductions, conservative builds, new ways of working together to maintain and grow our businesses, are topics on our minds. How do we hire, encourage and really draw the right blend? There is talent who knows how to develop -- opportunities, new business, relationships -- and talent who knows how to mind the store and tend to the cooking, without fail. Volume, complexity, heat -- they've got it. Both are critical, but the balance likely looks different than it did a year ago. Only your team can know where to dial it. But, engaging management teams on this theme is timely and could help unlock a new level of collaboration between those who are developers and those who are cooks at heart.
2. Actually investing in your investments. Whether we've proclaimed an investment in key hires, research and planning, an emerging media lab or competitive engineering talent -- it takes a lot of focus, in a tense and dynamic market amid the daily noise, to firm up your bets. Chances are, your threshold for investment is different than it was three years ago. But, even so, where are the best feet planted right now? This is interesting to discuss with friends across businesses:
3. The order of emerging media. One of the beauties of emerging media is that it is -- emerging. Right? There is always "new" in our business -- and always has been. Our gumption for adventure, trial and innovation tends to release or tighten with market tides. Editorial coverage of -- and chatter about -- shifting spend allocations get thick when markets shift. It seems about time we focus on the following:
4. M&A in the workaday. For most of us, it is a commitment, yet a very real challenge, to stay tuned day in and day out to the full web of marketplace news relevant to our pursuits. But even as we follow our most trusted commentators, business sections and venture wires -- it usually comes down to a few key stories. It's safe to say that we all work with staff who are engaged, stressed or just generally occupied by their daily business -- and may or may not see the value in keeping up. When they have time, they may question how much exposure to, or digestion of, news is enough.
For those who do keep up, intake will still vary. That's got to be fine. But there is value in watching market activity to develop a point of view on opportunity and conflicts of interest, reading signs on the landscape. Despite the intensity of workaday realities, staying tuned to the marketplace helps keep the stride.
These are some of the themes on the minds of people I know, the stuff of steady conversation as we launch 2009 and plan 2010. During times like these, though, I welcome a mix of threads to keep some levity. Such as -- right now, it is time to catch up on DVR episodes of "Big Love," and man, am I glad that Chloe Sevigny found work after "The Brown Bunny."
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Kendall Allen is senior vice president of Digital Marketing Services at MKTG, headquartered in New York City. Previously she was managing director of Incognito Digital, LLC, an independent digital media agency and creative studio. She also held top posts at iCrossing and Fathom Online.
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