Digital Reflection

In October I attended a 3-day Hyper Island Master Class (#himc) in New York City. It’s pretty much a boot camp to help marketers like me, who didn’t grow up on a computer, help catch up to the world of “digital.”

The class had a very diverse group of people: from agency account management and planners to art directors and copywriters to VPs of marketing and brand managers ? and one, lone economist. They came from South America, Central America and Europe, from the East Coast to the West Coast.

Hyper Island utilizes a reflection-based learning methodology. One to two times a day, we would reflect on our discussions, our presentations and our group work sessions. Reflection is NOT something I do on a regular basis. I have very little “thinking” time during my typical day. The only real time I get to think is when I’m going for a run ? and I usually spend it planning for what’s coming, not reflecting about what I just experienced.

The class was almost two months ago. I reflect back, and a few points have become clearer:

  1. We’re all in this together. The one common factor among all of us at Hyper Island: we admitted being overwhelmed with trying to keep up with digital. Whether on the agency side or the client side, many of us subscribe to newsletters and blogs, but don’t read most of them. Many of us question the long-term viability of social media platforms. And for that reason, coupled with having no free time to figure them out, we aren’t on them or we sporadically use them. And I’m by far not the only one who loses the vast majority of my time to email. From the agency side, I always think that we have to be the experts, and it worries me that I feel like I don’t know enough. The reality is, nobody will ever truly be the expert in everything “digital.” It changes too fast. Tim Leak (@timleak) started our first day with the session, “Change will never be this slow again.” It’s true. If we feel like it’s moving fast now, wait until next year. It takes a commitment ? we all just have to dive in together. We’re all learning as we go. And that won’t change. Some will certainly understand it and apply it better, but that’s because they are investing in it ? and their brand partners are investing in it with them.
  2. Digital truly is a mindset. This was the premise of our three days at Hyper Island. Digital is not a group of people. It’s not a title. It’s not a medium, a tool or a channel. Digital just is. It’s how we communicate. It’s how we work every day. It’s how we interact with each other. Everybody needs to think “digitally.” From the “digital” team to the copywriters to the designers to the account coordinators to the president, everybody needs to think about how technology can help solve problems for their customers. Ad Age recently wrote about how the Swedish agency Honesty stripped the title of “digital” from all roles to make it everyone’s responsibility. It sounds like they went to Hyper Island. In any case, I think many will start to follow suit.
  3. At Symmetri, we’re on the right path. At times it feels like we’re not on the right path fast enough. But I think it will always feel like that. We’re making the right investments. In people. In training. Leadership believes in it. We have clients that are investing in it with us. And we have the right mindset. Now, I just need to figure out how to not lose all my time to emails.