Can I get a grant

Paco plus MJ

And study the effect of Michael Jackson music being played in stores on purchase behavior? I think this factor alone will pull us out of recession. I hate shopping in Amsterdam because the stores aren’t open after work or on Sunday (generally) so every Saturday is like being in a Wal-Mart the day after Thanksgiving. And yet, even I linger when I hear a little MJ in the air. I didn’t notice it at first, but now it’s just too obvious that I’m being manipulated.

Navel gazing

I received an email yesterday from Wouter, a fellow Amsterdam planner, and he thought it would be interesting to know all of our definitions of planning. Several other people mentioned this in their comments as well.

I think there’s a bit of a hole in our collective psyches for much of the navel gazing that happens at the planning conference or when we’re lucky enough to speak to a group or interact with student planners. So if you’ll indulge me, I’m going to wax poetic on the topic today.

There are a couple of core ideas I have about planning. The first I took from Diane Miles, the VP of Human Resources at one of my first jobs between undergrad and grad as an HR recruiter at SicolaMartin in Austin. A really beautiful person, she had me screening resumes, scheduling interviews and checking references. Seeing all those resumes for jobs across the agency really helped me with the soul searching I was doing at the time to find where I fit in to adland. She taught me a lot about proactivity with this great Texas phrase – “get your fingers in the chili.”
Just get started, make some noise, offer to help. All those kind of projects and directions were followed by “you know, get your fingers in the chili.” I think planning is a lot like that because ideas are going to happen without us. Anyone too full of themselves to see that is plain wrong. If you read any London creatives’ blogs it’s their position that better ideas WOULD happen without us. Planning is about adding something to the chili to make it better. Hopefully you all know that chili is this Texas stew-type food, made of tomatoes, meats, beans, other veg, spices. There are all kinds of variations inspiring many a chili cook-off to find the best. Every Texan has strong opinions about what makes for good chili.

If planners come from the perspective that we are additive and unnecessary, I think only then do we have the proper mindset to really make a difference. I’ve always seen my role as a muse. Not the fickle ones that poets bemoan the absence of, more a modern muse who can actually see the synapses fire in the minds of others and adapts her methods to provide inspiration.

Posted to Flickr by Elana777
Posted to Flickr by Elana777

And hand in hand with that is the need to be a magpie, collecting stories and thinking from across your world experience, finding joy and purpose in that collecting, so that you have the ammunition to change the way other people think.

Wrong, right?

Take a look at this video. Now this is a tempting if morally questionable idea – if I skim off even 10% of my salary could I get someone else to do 80% of my work? Could be awesome. But wrong, Heather, wrong!

Could it actually be done? I looked at the salary data and though there were only 19 Indian planning brothers and sisters, the salaries varied widely. I don’t think it will compromise anyone’s anonymity to say there’s a planning director making 12 million rupees (approximately €175 thousand) but there is also a planner level person at 600,000 rupees (approximately €10 thousand). So any takers?

(Please note, I’m not – generally – a sick person. Just thought this would be a fun way to share a taste of the information from India.)

Survey Results!

Fresh as they come people. I’ve just emailed the I’s through the M’s, I’ll email the other parts of the alphabet in the coming days.

Lots of news in here. I’m starting a competition to select two additional authors for the survey, I’ll write more about that later. And the survey is crossing disciplines. Mariota Essery is taking on an Art Director Survey. See her note:

Hello Art Directors,

I’ve created a survey that’ll hopefully be useful to all of us. Have you ever wondered if what you are making is fair? Who we all think does the best work, and who we all want to work for? How about how many years it usually takes to get to the top and if your agency has cool benefits compared to everyone else?

My friend Heather has done a planner’s survey for the past 5 years and it got me wishing there was one out there for art directors… I know surveys are boring to fill out, but there are only 22 questions, and it’ll take about 5 mins.

Please could you fill it in, pass it on, tweet, blog and facebook it. The more people who take it, the better info we’ll have. If you’ve been sent this link, pass it on to any art director you know!

A big one to remember – send me your email if you want the results ( – and THE SURVEY IS ANONYMOUS – I won’t even be able to know who has filled this out.

Please note – if you are an intern, a freelancer, a recruiter – the survey isn’t designed for you, but I am happy to share the results so send me an email.

Thanks for playing 🙂

Mariota Essery