There's an old Romanian saying that goes: "When you leave a country, you leave behind something of your heart."
Young & Rubicam has been more than my country. It's been one of my families. It has been a privilege to join with each of you in leading this company, particularly during these past few years. Together, we have had our share of accomplishments. Yet, in spite of the transformation we have lived through and enabled, this is only the beginning.
John F. Kennedy once said "change is the law of life." Another great American president, Thomas Jefferson, had an equally pertinent observation that has been on my mind lately: "The generation which commences a revolution rarely completes it." That, too, is a law of life, which we are wise to heed. And that is why I feel so strongly that this is the right time for a new generation to step up to the plate.
We are at the start of yet another revolution in our business. The global E-conomy will be like nothing we or our clients have ever seen before. We must do whatever is necessary to be our clients' key partners as they master the challenges and reap the opportunities of the online world. Mastering digital branding, building database marketing and managing customer relationships are without doubt the most important tasks that lie ahead of us.
And a new generation rightfully should lead the charge. After 36 years of client dinners (that's more meals than I can count), it will be nice to have an evening or two off. And after 36 years of loving almost every minute I got to spend in this business, it's time for another set of experiences.
But, before I move on, I would like to leave you with four thoughts I have about our industry today and tomorrow.
First, success in our business will always be tied to our clients and their success -- to getting superior results for them in the marketplace.
Our business must always be about our clients' business. Not about us. That's as it should be.
What does this mean practically? Make clients your priorities. Make them your friends, your passion, your commitment. It will reflect in the work you do for them. And it will foster the strongest and most productive partnerships. The kinds you'll need in order to make both your clients and your own company successful.
Second, make teamwork work for you. Put together the best teams to serve your clients' brands -- across geography, across disciplines.
There's a simple reason behind the magic of integrated marketing. It is the focus on the consumer. Yes, the consumer -- the Emperor Rex of the 21st century business world. It's the consumer who will give our clients, and us, the ultimate rewards. Rewards that can only come if we provide superior service, communications that inform and educate, and relationship-building. Only a cross-disciplinary strategy that delivers the right message to the right person at the right time will produce that magic.
So make teamwork pay off. Put all your talent together on behalf of your clients' brands. It takes great will power, as well as attention to detail and execution, but the results can't be beaten.
Third, I think you will find that in this business, as in so many others (and, ultimately, in life), there is no substitute for excellence -- not even success.
Success is not an end product. It's almost always the result of something far more powerful: the pursuit of excellence. A commitment to excellence is what ultimately brings the greatest rewards. Passion for quality and a respect for craft -- those are the attributes we should strive for. And not just because they'll lead to strong business results. These are also qualities that feed and sustain an organization, and all of the individuals within it.
That's why in tomorrow's world a commitment to driving great creativity across all the communications disciplines is of paramount importance. This commitment will increasingly have a direct impact on not only the quality of our work but also our results.
And last, but not least, I urge you to commit to values.
The great jurist Oliver Wendell Holmes once said: "What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared with what lies within us."
Mr. Holmes was a wise man, and those are wise words. It is true that our talents and abilities matter, that they will help us shape the future. But what matters more are our values. How we treat one another. How we deal with our clients.
More than any single other thing, integrity sustains our business. It's at the heart of what we are all about. If we cannot play the game honorably, it's not worth playing at all.
In closing, I'd like to disappoint those among you who thought you'd escape one of my trademark Einstein stories. The great man once said: "Most people think that it is the intellect that makes a great scientist. They are wrong. It is character."
The same holds true for our industry. The truly great men and women in our business have something more than just outstanding talent. Above all, they sustain their humanity through the pressures, through the crises, through the good times and bad.
Client focus. Teamwork. A commitment to excellence. Values. Four powerful principles. They will guide the successful enterprise. They will provide the needed context for today's technology and tomorrow's innovations. Have the courage and wisdom to follow them -- and the future rewards will be satisfying and plentiful. Good luck.