1. Creativity in Structure: Matt Eastwood, CCO @ JWT

    Digiday recently interviewed J. Walter Thompson's global chief creative officer for their agency leadership series View from the Top

    Click here to read the full interview.

    It ends with a comment on creativity that I cannot agree with more:

    I think that — and this might sound weird but — creativity sort of thrives in an environment of controlled systems and organization. I’m putting a lot of structures around approach to creativity. We already have a global creative council. But sometimes councils don’t take responsibility. My thing is, I really want them to take responsibility for the mission of the company and put programs in place to help us with our creative goals.

    I feel that the collective view on creatives is that of disorganization, messes, brainstorms, and crazy ideas. Structure gives creativity direction - this type of creativity produces ideas that are feasible and help meet the organization’s strategic goals. The ideas that inspire me the most are those that are integrated with a series of factors, be they an organization’s budget, multiple strategic goals, audience targeting, emotional appeal, and more. In my opinion, these fully integrated webs of ideas can only be born from a structured organization.

    The quote also strikes me because I personally find it difficult to operate in an environment that is disorganized and unstructured. For example, you can come up with a billion creative ideas, but the effort is wasted if none of them help fuel a longer term goal. Organizational inefficiency leads to a lack in productivity, which creatively speaking means that your ideas do not get realized quickly or are implemented slowly. Motivation dies, the spark burns out. 

    Lastly, this quote also gave me hope for the advertising industry that (maybe? *prays*) I hope to enter (eventually). My thinking is very structured (1,2,3s, to-do lists, flow charts, diagrams), thus so is my creativity. Mr. Eastwood, thank you for shedding light on the messy (literally) stereotypes of advertising creatives!

     

  2. 6 Things I’ve Learned In My First 6 Days

    After a few very short weeks of post-graduate vacation, I started my first full-time job as a Marketing Coordinator at Clair de Lune, a national 18-year old retailer of home decor and fragrances conveniently located 10 minutes away from my parents’ home. 

    As Marketing Coordinator, I’m able to explore the many facets of marketing beyond my comfort zone of digital/social media marketing. In 6 days, I have:

    • Analyzed spreadsheets of sales and inventory numbers (panic attacks ensued)
    • Refined our social media content strategy and calendar
    • Suggested and implemented many changes to our website
    • Met our social media/web and PR agencies, and coordinated so many things with them
    • Thought of offering an additional coupon to Facebook contest winners to boost store traffic, then implemented it in that same day
    • Coordinated the logistics of getting prizes to said contest winners
    • Sent a BILLION e-mails (McGill’s puny 300MB limit would spontaneously combust)
    • Ordered signage for stores, and learned the lingo that comes with it
    • Created a report on website traffic (Google Analytics), and learned the lingo that comes with that
    • Coordinated sponsorship for a community event
    • Acted as a customer service rep for customers

    As you can see, I have learned a wonderful amount of marketing and coordination over the past 6 days. Below is a list of the top 6, that you might not get from the typical resume-ready bullet points. Here they are:

    1. Graphic designers are badass, magical, and talented creatures that churn out eye candy every hour, .psd by .psd.

    2. Putting the word “URGENT” in an e-mail subject line will get you a response in 10 minutes. Max.

    3. Beyonce is to Nicolas Cage, as my work e-mail inbox is to my student e-mail inbox.

    4. Getting less than 7 hours of sleep will get you a Walking Dead-esque look by 3pm (even with the help of your BFF caffeine).

    5. The ultimate struggle bus is learning how to be productive without a permanent Facebook tab and/or music blasting into your ears.

    6. Medium-sized companies: where the co-founder says hi to you everyday, and asks you how you’re doing. Also, where you can actively discuss higher-level business strategies as a fresh graduate, because you have a pair of “fresh eyes”. *_*

    I know it’s a little soon to say, but I’m really enjoying this job. It’s also allowing me to practice French, which has accumulated several layers of dust after 3 years of inactivity. My parents are happy that I’m back home, and honestly I’m happy to spend quality time with them too. The culture there is great - employees are extremely loyal to the company, and enjoy their work from what I can see. And most importantly, despite the massive change from student life, I’m loving what I’m doing. :)

     

  3. "…it occurred to me that the voracious ambition of humans is never sated by dreams coming true, because there is always the thought that everything might be done better and again."
    — Chapter 25, The Fault in Our Stars - John Green
     
  4. As of March 10th, I began to document my last month before graduation through a “G minus” countdown, whereby I would capture a picture a day with the same text. The name came from the commonly used “T minus” to denote the time until a certain date (usually a bomb? :/ ). I chose March 10th because it was the Monday after Reading Week, and as a result was a marker of the last stretch before graduation. Also, that was the day of my last midterm, which made me realize that the “lasts” were beginning. 

    Though it is clear that my intention with this project is to capture the last memories of Bronfman, I also intend to capture authentic moments. A lot of what’s on social media is glorified to represent only the best of people’s lives. I want to take pictures of moments in my day that I would make an effort to remember - be it an awe-inducing free speech by the co-founder of Reddit in our very school, a team picture of the students that made my year so amazing, or staying up late on a Friday night to watch marketing case presentations. Hopefully this means you won’t be seeing Instagrams of nail polish, clothing, or plates of food.

    …My only regret is not having a better quality camera (damn you, iPad camera!). 

     

  5. Whiteboard Diagram: Why Work > School

    Disclaimer: the set of categories for school is entirely my own (some students aren’t involved, or have different priorities), and I don’t know what working full-time is like yet. So this can be ENTIRELY wrong. This diagram is only a current theory that shall be revisited.

    Don’t get me wrong, I love school. I’ve learned so much, and been exposed to so many opportunities because of this wonderful institution. I just think that I’ve lost a significant amount of efficiency, efficiency that I hope to gain working at a job. 

    Each arrow is a certain task that needs to be completed, and each set of arrows is the share of my mind. Their length denotes the important of the task. The numbers they point to are the different goals. For example, my goal with building my school club is completely different than my academic goal. Sometimes (more like all the time), these goals go against one another when I’m strapped for time, which forces me to prioritize and sacrifice an arrow. Another dimension that isn’t drawn out is that my favourability: how much I like or dislike a project. To top it all off, all I’m losing money while doing all of this.

    At work, I believe that the whole is more than the sum of its parts. Though there will be quite the wide variety of tasks, they will all have the same goal: contributing to the company. Furthermore, these tasks will be performed in an office environment (and not at my own leisure, where I can get insanely distracted), and they will all hopefully be tasks that I enjoy and excel at performing. Motivation also comes into the picture. At school, our motivation to perform is quite short-term: our courses end in 4 months and our extracurricular involvements last up to a year. But a job? If you screw up, it will stay with you for the rest of your 45-year career. And oh yeah, salaries!

    Realizing this has made me all the more excited to work. It also brought out the importance of working for a company you believe. If there is only one goal you’re working towards in the office, and it better be one that motivates you. 

     

  6. Job Search Strategies: Standardized or Customized?

    I have been building up my career, activities, internships, and resume for this time of year: recruitment. However, with five courses and a club being current priorities, job applications have taken the back burner. The two main roads to take with regards to job search strategies are the following:

    1. Apply everywhere with the same cover letter
    2. Spend a lot of time on the few jobs you really, REALLY want

    I had been trying the latter because, as someone who has been on the other side of the table, I know that creating a convincing, customized application highly increases the chances of getting the position. But there are so many steps in the recruitment process - what if they’re just looking for the key words? What if they don’t even read it? Wouldn’t you rather just get your foot in the door? With that in mind, I had spent the last week crafting a sample cover letter (which I did not have) to send to any and every marketing position demanding 3 years or less of experience.

    Plot twist: after speaking to my dear friend Andrea (who went through the recruitment process in London) and my previous boss Arjun (who is currently going through the same process for Toronto), I’ve gotten a reality check. As with any product, the more tailored to the consumer the better. My friends pointed out that, though the customized route will take longer, the results will be so much more rewarding. Wouldn’t you do everything you could to land your dream job? Given that I am (according to others) the type of person to go head over heels for something I want, the standardized approach isn’t something that fits with my profile. Furthermore, applying to organizations I wouldn’t see myself in is a waste of time for both myself and the employer, a lose-lose situation.

    To conclude, I’ve decided to focus on jobs that I really see myself in. Even if it takes me 6 months after graduation to find, I will do everything to make my first job my dream job. :) 

     

  7. Self-Confidence: Can I Borrow Some of Yours?

    What are your strengths and weaknesses?

    My answers to this age-old interview question are constantly changing. I attribute this indecisiveness to my major weakness: self-confidence. Twice yesterday, I was told that I underestimate myself. The result is that I am humble for the most part (strength!), but then I either don’t reach for opportunities, or don’t perform to my fullest due to apprehension. And because I lack this self-confidence, I never see my actual strengths (unless they are pointed out by others).

    I wonder, where was I supposed to gain this self-confidence? My upbringing and academic environment can be blamed, but what if I was supposed to acquire these by myself? Or you know what - what if it’s because I’m female? It’s known that as a gender, we put ourselves down for no reason.

    Either way, the point is that I have been living with a dearth of self-confidence for almost my entire life. The time has come for me to realize that I have plenty of strengths, and to discover them for myself. Graduation is nearing, and so is ~real life~. I don’t want to get trampled on through office politics while I try my best, just because I was too afraid to do something. It scares me so very much that my lack of confidence will have a significant impact on my being when I leave the safe, nourishing academic ecosystem.

    A mistake I’m sure I’m making is that I often confuse confidence with ego. Whenever I feel like I’m on top of the world, I tell myself to stop. “This feeling is bad, it isn’t right, don’t get too cocky”. These feelings often come through an external validation, be it someone appointing me to a position, an award, or a letter grade. I feel that this is what fuels ego, not confidence. Yes, someone believed in me and saw my strength, but those results should not be what defines my self-confidence, no?

    However, I do recognize that I am 21 years old - these thoughts are supposed to occur. I’m trying to figure out “who I am” (cliché much?), as is my entire age cohort. In writing this post, I’m trying to get myself to realize that my lacking self-confidence is real, important, and modifiable. I have to find a healthy level, and put the effort into reaching it before it gets the better of me.

     

  8. Graduation: The Bright Side

    As I research for my paper on female leadership, I can’t help but feel excited for what’s to come. My Business in Society professor touched upon this last class: “in this building (Bronfman), you’re taught to live one kind of life. Realize that when you leave this building, you can imagine and live any kind of life you want to”.

    We have decades upon decades to create our impact on society. There is so much more to life than working job after job, and I’m genuinely excited for the infinite range of possibilities. With 5 courses occupying our student lives, the days get filled very quickly with academia and not much else. But when we graduate and have a steady income, we can start our own companies, attend conferences, volunteer, have multiple jobs, and so much more! 

    This sudden surge of enthusiasm came when I came upon Lori Senecal's profile through this Forbes article. Her accomplishments and titles astound me to no end, and so do her thoughts and experiences on female leadership. Then I scrolled down her LinkedIn profile and realized that she, too, pursued a Bachelor’s Degree in Marketing. 

    It’s hard as women and undergraduate students to remind ourselves that we have endless potential. We put ourselves down, compare ourselves to our peers, and quantify our performance through our GPA. But I strongly believe that each and every one of us can make a significant impact in this world, no matter the GPA or gender. We can all be Lori. We can all achieve our goals and dreams. 

    TL;DR - Eileen can’t wait to graduate; everyone has potential to create their own life.

     

  9. Achieving Balance, Guaranteeing (Student) Success

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    Students each have their perception of the formula to success; this blog post is about my own theory. I think that there are 3 variables: GPA, work, and extracurriculars. If you a sizeable amount of eggs in all these baskets, you can achieve your career goals. 

    GPA: having a 4.0 in business school does not guarantee you a job. The most it can demonstrate is your ability to cope with a ton of information, and your time management skills. It leaves out teamwork, exposure to the actual industry, any passions you might have, and so much more. The most important factor that I think the GPA leaves out is leadership. Those who can rise up the corporate ladders of this world have initiative, leadership, and management skills; none of these assets are shown in your 2-decimal number. However, this number has meaning to it that will (well, should) not be overlooked by employers. The professors that are teaching us are experts in their field; as a result, the marks they hand out have quite the credibility. In marketing, at least 80% of our marks are project-based because the real world works that way. If the class average is curved down to a B and your group got an A, it means that in the real world, your project would have been chosen.

    Work: some students have some insane internships under their belt, and some don’t. The internships you score could come from your family’s connections, a lucky networking cocktail, or your blood, sweat, and…cover letter. Because there are so many factors that play into your work experience attainment, I think the emphasis should be put on what was actually achieved and learned throughout your 1-4 months. In our student lives, we function in a small environment where there are only so many cause and effect relationships. We study business, but we rarely apply it. Work experience allows you to have more on the line - money, your job, your reputation, and more. You also learn to navigate different corporate cultures, generation gaps, cultural backgrounds, and hierarchies. At school, people are either young adults or seasoned educators, but nothing in between. To conclude, I think students should look for as much work experience as possible in their academic life, in order to learn about work preferences before locking oneself into a full-time job upon graduation.

    Extracurriculars: I love extracurriculars. My adolescent life has revolved around schools clubs because of the social aspect, the acquired skills, and especially the uniting-for-a-common-purpose bit. I just don’t think they should be the focus of your university life. There’s only so much you can learn from organizing events for students; after holding logistics, communications, and sponsorship positions I can say that my learning curve has plateau-ed. Additionally, the esteemed President position of any group is only as strong as you make it. Anyone can create their own club and run events, but what did he/she do to better the club? To add value towards the mission? Extracurricular life, as the MUS President likes to say, is like a sandbox for us business students. We can screw up, experiment, and learn without the consequences of the real world. The next-level extracurricular activities you can involve yourself with are out-of-campus events (conferences, festivals) or even creating your own business (which ties into work) - these are ideal, as they tie in multiple factors, and because fewer students will pursue this route.

    To be truly well-rounded as a business student, two of the three can be enough. But to have no regrets about your resource allocation, I think all three must be pursued equally. Try hard in school, have a club or two that you’re really passionate about, and get yourself some work experience to become a business student with no regrets.

    PS: The personality factor was left out of the mix because I believe every personality suits a company, or a few companies. It’s all about fit, and there is no one personality that will fit with every company. If you have enough GPA, work experience and extracurricular activity, finding companies that fit you should not be a problem.

    PPS: Staying up to date with business news becomes almost mandatory by the final year! Start early, be business-savvy.

     
  10. Sure you’d expect #hashtags to appear on advertisements, campaigns, as slogans, and on anything company-created. Over the past few months, hashtags have been appearing in the most mainstream music possible (see pictures) in song titles, music videos and album covers. Billboard analyzed the trend back in May, and concluded that its raw use is purely promotional but is not necessarily translating into sales - after all, the actual music has to be worth listening to. I can understand that hashtags are a great way to organize all current conversations with a click of a button, but is the blatant promotion a little too…overdone? Is it not more tactful to create a slogan-esque hashtag (ex: Macklemore and Ryan Lewis’ #sharkfacegang) that unites its fanbase in a more indirect way? Even #wopnation as opposed to plain old #wop is a much more clever use of the hashtag. 

    The hashtag is a useful social media tool that connects regular users to each other with a Shift + 3 and a click of a button. It’s spreading like wildfire (Faceook, Eventbrite, Tumblr, etc.). And now it’s going off the internet onto TV screens, posters, billboards, and more. Will it get overwhelming? Will consumers get tired of looking at those 4 intersected lines? That’s what I’m wondering.