Five Ways a Junior Employee Can Be a Change Agent

Brandstream's Scott Bedbury Offers Some Advice

By Published on .

Alex Kniess Alex Kniess
Recently, University of Oregon alumnus Scott Bedbury stopped by to meet with students and swap ideas. Bedbury was the man behind Nike's "Just Do It" and Starbucks becoming America's "third place." Now he has his own shop, Brandstream. Certainly there were many valuable lessons to be learned from his experiences during his visit. But it was his short discussion on how young employees can make a splash in the big advertising pond that I found especially insightful. So, without further ado, I give you five ways to be a change agent as a junior employee:

1. Build friends, relationships, trust.
You can't expect your ideas to be listened to if no one respects you. Similarly, your ideas will likely be disrespected if no one wants to listen to them. If you build friendships and strong relationships with other members of your agency both young and old, you will not only create a better environment to work in, but you will also build a basis of trust that will give your ideas weight. It's about trust, and this is the foundation for everything that follows.

2. Make every idea a pitch.
Whether you have an incredible idea that could shake the very foundations of your agency, or you just have a coy opinion on the copy in a print ad, you should treat every idea as though it were a pitch. If you can't give a meaningful context to your idea, or if it doesn't seem like you are passionate about it, then no one will pay attention. Certainly the idea itself is important, but how you pitch it could mean the difference between brilliance and stupidity.

3. Always put the brand, consumer first
According to Bedbury, its not very uncommon at all for tired advertising execs to lose sight of the purpose of their work. It's easy to get caught up in personal career-driven motives or desires to get the next award. By obsessively putting the brand and consumer first, you retain your relevance and position yourself as a valuable asset to the agency team.

4. Remain curious
A curious person learns to see opportunities in everything. However, Bedbury believes that in order to be a change agent, junior employees must also learn how to turn these opportunities into actionable items. If you can do this, the only thing left is to motivate others to jump on board.

5. Disagree
If you want to be a change agent as a junior employee, you have to start learning how to disagree. Obviously there is a fine line between disagreeing for positive change and disagreeing to annoy. The junior employee that can walk this fine line will be the one that truly stands out. You weren't hired to agree with old norms. You were hired to help shape the agency's future. To disagree is to change.
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