I realised, with a large gulp, that this year, I'll have been a strategic planner for 30 years. I've been in this business longer than many of today's top brands have been around. There was no amazon
when I started, and certainly no Google
. No one was wittering on about platforms, except for the man who told you to 'mind the gap' in the London rush hour.
I have been lucky with my work. I'm a stayer, rather than a flitter, not due to inertia, but rather due to change just happening as soon as I got itchy feet, rather as if I'd willed it. A new account, a completely different market, an international role. And then, of course, the changes in the world - through technology, which has had a huge impact on the ways of working. I remember the days when you didn't have to schedule a phone call. Yes, there were phones back then (but very few of them were mobile.)
But in terms of what I'm doing, rather than how I'm doing it, the same things are on the agenda. What makes people tick? Why do they behave the way they do? What drives them? And how can brands help to meet this infinite palette of human needs, dreams, desires, wants and hopes?
The agenda has widened for me - on top of this, what is the relation between brand and business? What role or responsibility have brand - and business - in society? These questions retain their fascination.
Back in my college days, I think I did one of those vocational questionnaires that guided me towards suitable fields of work. I seem to remember the legal profession and HM Inspector of Taxes being high on the list. Here is another kind of work-related questionnaire
, and rather a good one, from The Book of Life
. Rather than suggesting specific careers, it highlights what is important for you in your work, more in terms of what moves you.
I'm pleased to say, that for me, it was creativity. Some things don't change.