How Not Working Can
Lead You to Resolve
As people who share stories and experiences with millions of people for a living, we have a special opportunity to offer some positive impact.
It’s no secret that things currently feel off-balance. We’ve made a lot of progress to bring equality and equilibrium to society and the workplace, but the fact is we’re still operating in a world where most of the decision makers, lawmakers, CEOs, CCOs, and other leaders are men. People with masculine traits are presented as the epitome of success.
As a female Creative Director with a heart for service, I’m inspired to help achieve gender balance at the top. The question is how.”
Although my title is Creative Director, a better description of what I do is Creator of Human Experiences. Everything I create is a product of connecting an audience with a relevant experience they willingly participate in. To be successful at that requires being able to step outside of myself to truly understand another's perspective.
Moreover, I have a burning desire to champion the women in my world and elevate them to their version of success. I get the opportunity to do this through a thriving women's network that I co-founded called The Broad Exchange. Our mission is to offer an exchange of information, resources, and perspective that will not only help us achieve success in the world, but encourage us to take action that is mutually beneficial to us all.
It's a lot to undertake, I know. There came a point last year where I was so overworked that my brain felt clogged and my well of inspiration was running dry. I reached a tipping point where I recognized that I needed space, time, and undistracted freedom to recharge – the often overlooked and under-appreciated "not working" part of life. And as someone who creates human experiences for a living, having experiences of my own needed to be a priority.
To top it off, I was exhausted by my work environment. I became increasingly aware of the overwhelming pressure not to just work hard, but to work constantly. Being seen felt more important than self-care. 70-80 hour workweeks were the norm. It was common to sacrifice paid leave to spend more time at work. And at “hot shops” it was becoming normalized to take a demotion when you start a new job “because the structure is different” there. Do that enough and you work your way right back down the corporate ladder. And all of this is happening under leaders we are supposed to be able to respect, trust, and look to for guidance on our way up. But the longer I’m in the advertising industry the fewer leaders I see that I’d ever want to be like–especially as a female. Yet it’s still such a mystery why there aren’t that many females at the top.
So, I took off.
I traveled and blogged my way across the United States with my husband, from Texas to Montana. We met friends and I immersed myself in connecting with people not always like me. Taking into consideration what's been happening politically and culturally, I strived to experience and understand their many different perspectives, cultures, and societies. My rule became to listen, to show compassion, and to not be so quick to judge. Amazingly, I soon became aware that everyone has the same desire. To be understood.
However, the recent events that have shaped our current political and cultural climate have been intense and too often focused on the individual, rather than the greater collective. We’ve seen–and not just in corporations, in Hollywood, in politics–a lot of selfish motives, restrictive silos, closed cliques, and a strong desire to force opinions on others. We are in an environment of polarization, with the loudest or most offensive voices getting the final say. And it is the same in the advertising industry. The loudest, fiercest voice usually wins, creating conflict is a common path to getting ahead, and any traits that smell of vulnerability leave a person feeling exposed. In an industry where understanding and lifting each other up should be part of the job, it’s every person for himself.
While it’s true that many are thriving from it, many others–me included–are so exhausted that creating positive change is daunting. Why? Because what's missing in all of this is permission to show patience, compassion, and a softer side of ourselves. But to do so could be just what we need to create a better equilibrium of energy around how we converse with each other.
We have a very real opportunity before us to champion a better way to communicate—one that allows us to use our softer reasoning along with our fierce strength as a more complete toolkit for connecting with people. That is resolve.
And, so in the space and time off that I allowed myself, a special project for The Broad Exchange was born. I RESOLVE.
Resolve is an earnest decisiveness. Resolve is the shift from dissonance to consonance. Resolve is knowing that compassionate power yields positive impact.
I RESOLVE will begin with this Broad Exchange event. We’ll gather women together for a workshop developed to exchange ideas about how our influence, backgrounds, skills, and compassion can help us better understand one another, bridge divides, and make a positive impact.
We’ll talk about what’s important to each of us, what change we’d most like to see around us, and figure out actionable steps we can take to move toward that end. Participants will write–committing to paper–a personal vision statement outlining their RESOLVE. Then they’ll sit for a portrait to commemorate it.
Every aspect of the I RESOLVE project is designed to empower and motivate women to carry out their intention, from the vision workshop to the portraits. The art direction of portrait studio–designed in collaboration with Creative Director and Photographer Subodh Samudre–uses clear quartz crystals which amplify each person's intention and to create visual radiance that symbolizes the power that individual is projecting into the environment around them. No photo-retouching. No objectifying. Just you and your intent.
The results? A fleet of women going back into the workforce with intentions set to create a positive impact NOW. Together, we RESOLVE to demonstrate that standing up for what you believe while also being vulnerable is achievable. We RESOLVE that standing up to might, and taking time to understand and respect each other, is the right style of successful leadership.
Please tell me I’m not alone in believing we're ready for some new leadership in the advertising industry. Show me that this is a new beginning. What rises in place of all the ugliness being shed can be whatever we make it to be! My time off showed me that I can position myself to create not just more, but better human experiences. I RESOLVE to be better. Come join me.