Now's a Good Time for Self-Examination

Check Out Your Last Year's Efforts; Are You Moving Forward?

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Bart Cleveland Bart Cleveland
Economic woes, new government leadership and the advertising-show season are all good reasons to look forward to the ball dropping Dec. 31. It's been a pretty negative year. Negative politics, negative business news and negative consequences to a world of trouble have made a pretty deep thirst for something positive to happen. Rather than sit and wait, it is important to prepare for the inevitable better days ahead. It is important to invest in yourself and your company when times are bad. If you do, when things turn around, you will shoot ahead of your competition and quickly leave bad memories far behind.

Check out last year's efforts. Is your work getting better? If you're not moving your capabilities and improving your portfolio, you're sliding. There is no status quo in this business. There is only moving forward. Here's a good way to test whether you've had a good year creatively: When you describe work you're doing to peers, do you mention something you recently did, or do you talk about something you did over a year ago? If you're going back that far, you need to get some things that excite you going now. Don't let the daily grind get in the way.

Check out your client roster. Do you have new clients? Do you have more clients? Do you have new category experience? If you answer no to any of these questions, you have work to do before the end of the year. Begin implementing a more aggressive and strategic business plan now so that you are running on all cylinders by January. If you are not growing, you are dying. Your efforts should always have the same sense of urgency you have during a bad economic period.

Check out your employees. Are they laughing or whispering? Are they scared or energized? Are they talking to you about what's been going on? Your actions and attitude will have a lot to do with their behavior. Have a plan to move your company forward and communicate it to your employees so they can be a part of bringing it to fruition.

Check out a mirror. Really take a close look at your own efforts over the past year. It's easy to go into a shell when you don't want to think about the tough times going on. It's easy to get tired of banging your head against the wall to do better work and actually get paid for it. It's easy to become satisfied with yourself and think a little more of your accomplishments than you should. If you're in a rut, climb out now and get back in training for the next year.

Check out your imagination. What's going on in our industry is more exciting than ever. Opportunities to communicate with consumers have more potential through an increasing number of channels. Are you on a treadmill or blazing a new trail? Do you know what's going on in the world? If you don't know what's going on today, there is no way you're going to invent tomorrow.

So get busy making something new. Study the world and then daydream a little. This industry could use a change for the better. There is no reason you can't be the one who makes it happen.
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