Who should our role models be? That’s easy, right? They should be people we admire, people we idolize. And we all have people we look up to. Even as adults, we have people we aspire to be like, either in our professional or personal lives. This need to have role models is a human truth. Children talk about it most openly, saying, “He/She is my hero.” They unabashedly tell us why we all have role models —I want to be like them.
We find people we admire and we try to behave, look and act like them. Sometimes it’s a futile effort. Nonetheless, we try.
But Millennials are their own biggest fans. They are their own idols, their own admirers. Millennials are their own role models.
Strength in Self-Admiration
Now it’s probably best to admit, I’m Gen X. I’m supposed to hate everything. Most of all, myself. So I admire the endless possibilities of looking to yourself as a role model. Especially in marketing. It’s a creative field and you have to believe in possibilities, have a thick skin, and when you fail, get back up.
Daily, we are tasked by our clients to figure out problems that others haven’t been able to solve. When pitching a new piece of business we’re asked to solve a business problem, using the same inputs and coming up with new solutions —it‘s like looking at the same puzzle pieces and creating a new end product. And let’s face it, its not just coming up with a single solution. You have to come up with 300 solutions to get to one great one.
All that work just to have the opportunity to put your one, great, new idea in front of a client. Then they have to approve it, their boss has to approve it, and it needs to be produced and activated all before it ever sees the light of day. The odds aren’t great. And to do that every day takes a great deal of confidence and persistence; you can’t get discouraged by “NO.” In fact, it has to motivate you.
To do that day in and day out, it helps if your biggest role model is yourself, because despite what anyone says, you believe wholeheartedly that you are the best man or woman for the job. You are the one who can and will solve the problem.
Don’t Like Yourself Too Much (Says the Gen X Guy)
You can be your own role model, but know that you may be your own biggest fan. You have to leave room for the people to the left and right of you, for whom you aren’t a role model. In fact, the people to the left and right of you think they’re pretty special, too. They each have themselves as a role model.
Sports teams can provide a good lesson here. They are a collection of giant egos. Each person thinks he or she is the most important member of the team. Their contribution is the key to any success. And failure, well, that’s because of somebody else.
The great teams, however, are different in one key way: they make room for all of the egos. Yes, there will be stars, but they make room for others to be right and own the spotlight. Great marketing teams are no different. Sure, there will be a leader, but the success belongs to the team.
Simple lip service to this doesn’t count. It has to be believed and acted upon. Here is where the biggest challenge will come for Millennials: you’ll have to love someone else’s solution as much as yours.
When teams work this way, you can see it and even feel it. There is a heightened energy. There is a level of commitment and passion that is just different. It is infectious; you want to be a part of it. Clients can feel it, too. There is a sense of “We can tackle anything.”
That is the new challenge, to get a collection of people who have themselves as role models say, “We can solve it” vs. “I can solve it.”