How do I corrupt you (not)?

A 16 yr old decided to stop by at an advertising agency. Well it was a short and sweet stopover you know. Just a 10-day stint. I bumped into him and he had plenty to ask. So much, that before I would finish speaking, his next Q would come my way.

LESSON #1 FOR THE FUTURE: Curiosity doesn’t kill. It simply lets one eliminate the weeds & keep the seeds

LESSON #2 FOR THE FUTURE: A 16 yr old will be a 23 yr old soon & working at a desk near you. Be ready to KISS (keep it sticky & short)

Now his Qs were cool. After all he was asking just the fundamental stuff. We know all the answers, right?! Of course I had the answers, but I had to make it interesting. The truth is, school & college are already so theoretical. So at least when one is in the practical world there should be some ‘drama in teach’ no?

LESSON #3 FOR THE FUTURE: There is plenty to learn from Montessori. We professionals need a crash course.

As much as I tried to flood him gently so, with my style of approaching something, he’d circumvent and ask it in another way. The point I realized is, that he was often asking the same questions over and over but in different ways. Voila! The making of a researcher! It was intriguing me as to why he just wasn’t getting the point. Wasn’t I articulate? After all I am the resident guru of all things small & big. At least in nomenclature.

LESSON #4 FOR THE FUTURE: Overexposure doesn’t work, especially when the messaging is wrong for the right audience. It’s time to change your story, dear morning glory.

What that means is really this. What he wants & what I have to offer don’t see eye to eye. Maybe it’s time for me to adapt at least a bit to how he wants to see life, rather that slapping the experience & systems card onto him. Maybe it’s time to reboot our processes Maybe.

And then he did the inevitable. He asked me why advertising needed so many hubs & spokes & wheels & heels & departments & apartments in every region…Now that was dangerous. My job was at stake. He was asking me innocently (not so) why I exist. And what do tons of people in advertising do, when the only job in reality is to create a brands’ fantasy world. Was that my job description? Well, err…I supplied the ‘world’. The corporates supplied the ‘brand’. The creative painted the ‘fantasy’ and well the all powerful business management team made the ‘fantasy accessible’ to scores of needy disillusioned, gap-filled people. Now that justifies it right?

LESSON #5 FOR THE FUTURE: Don’t ever be under the illusion that just because you are attractive, smart (by most rating scales) and have a cabin that reeks of  envious travel destinations, you will be automatically attributed with  laudatory adjectives by 16 yr olds. Or even 23 yr olds.

Well I had to change tack. Don’t ask me how, but I did.

LESSON #6 FOR THE FUTURE: A fresher, uninitiated advertising type, a 16 yr old…is not a virus. He mustn’t be found and squashed. For the sake of our own jobs, all significance must be erased & all classical theories re-visited through the eyes of every newbie. It’s fresh. Really.

So in 10 days I learned a few but big lessons. The biggest was that we mustn’t corrupt young nubile minds, even before they have got onto the bandwagon of business. And all ye 16 yr olds! Never stop asking questions. Because if you take the given for granted at all times, you join the corruption brigade too. You are our ticket to keeping the youthful energy of the organization alive & kicking a$%.

And for the rest of us, it’s time to wake up & smell the kopi luwak

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5 Comments

  1. Nice one.. very true and very interesting… :D

  2. Sandhya Srinivasan |

    Thanks Richard. It is based on facts. This young man was here and was a pleasure to just listen to.

    And about the vicious cycle, well I think sometimes we so absorb this hierarchy story we grow up with that assertive questioning creates a sense of displacement.

  3. Brilliant. Enjoyed it. Keep the humor intact.

    The truth is forever as teens & adults we have tried to prove our seniors wrong. So when we finally get the chance as seniors we are all to quick to snub them. Its a vicious cycle. Beware.

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