There are times in many individual careers where we have to step outside of our comfort zone and do something we aren't co...
Stories of personal growth
Stories of personal growth
Stories of personal growth
Stories of personal growth
Stories of personal growth
Stories of personal growth
Stories of personal growth
Stories of personal growth
Stories of personal growth
Stories of personal growth
Stories of personal growth
Stories of personal growth
Stories of personal growth
Stories of personal growth
Stories of personal growth
Stories of personal growth
Stories of personal growth
Stories of personal growth
Stories of personal growth
Stories of personal growth
Stories of personal growth
Stories of personal growth
Stories of personal growth
Stories of personal growth
Stories of personal growth
Stories of personal growth
Stories of personal growth
Stories of personal growth
Stories of personal growth
Stories of personal growth
Stories of personal growth
Stories of personal growth
Stories of personal growth
Stories of personal growth
Stories of personal growth
Stories of personal growth
Stories of personal growth
Stories of personal growth
Stories of personal growth
Stories of personal growth
Stories of personal growth
Stories of personal growth
Stories of personal growth
Stories of personal growth
Stories of personal growth
Stories of personal growth
Stories of personal growth
Stories of personal growth
Stories of personal growth
Stories of personal growth
Stories of personal growth
Stories of personal growth
Stories of personal growth
Stories of personal growth
Stories of personal growth
Stories of personal growth
Stories of personal growth
Stories of personal growth
Stories of personal growth
Stories of personal growth
Stories of personal growth
Stories of personal growth
Stories of personal growth
Stories of personal growth
Stories of personal growth
Stories of personal growth
Stories of personal growth
Stories of personal growth
Stories of personal growth
Stories of personal growth
Stories of personal growth
Stories of personal growth
Stories of personal growth
Stories of personal growth
Stories of personal growth
Stories of personal growth
Stories of personal growth
Stories of personal growth
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Stories of personal growth

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Answers to the open-ended question in the 2011 Planner Survey asking planners for stories of stretching beyond their comfort zone.

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Stories of personal growth

  1. 1. There are times in many individual careers where we have to step outside of our comfort zone and do something we aren't completely sure we can do. I have a feeling these stories will inspire other planners. Perhaps you enjoyed the experience or perhaps you didn't succeed at what you set out to accomplish, but if you have a story of personally stretching yourself beyond what you were certain you could do, would you please share it here?When you are sure of your potential, do it! Grow up! Sometime my boss said Giiiiz, I don't know if you ready to be promoted... After all the hard work together I begun felling bad, about myself, my job and my career. So, I come to talk with my ex-boss and mentor and she said: Intelligence, Capacity, Hability, Experience, this you already have. I just miss you something... Cojones! So, I took off my ex-agency and looked for a new opportunity. Now, I finally can say: I'm happy with my life and to go to work everyday.We often try to force people outside their comfort zones. While trying to create a maniacal following for a particular brand, we immersed ourselves in a specific fringe religious group in order for us to analyze what the emotional triggers were that necessitated membership and devotion. One of our staff unfortunately became inseparable from the group and had to be deprogrammed.Well, I guess it would be the process to becoming a strategist/planner. I went through a very long process to become an architect no less, with a masters and 3 years of experience, ready to sit for the licensing exam. I hated every minute of it in practice, but liked it in theory. So for over 2 years, I set out to switch my career path, causing everyone around me to ask 'what the hell are you doing?' It was one of the most frustrating points in my life that I can remember, however I think it gave me the courage (and personal confidence) to learn how to trust myself and my gut, even when everyone else is telling you what you should or shouldn't do. On the job, that feeling is one I draw from on a daily basis. I'm constantly challenged by clients, by coworkers as I have to essentially guide people's businesses and how should I know better than them? Speaking from the place of authenticity and confidence is the only way to succeed in this business and my experiences early on gave me the courage to trust myself. I've had to manage a biz dev platform for sale force initiatives at a small strategy firm. I wasn't sure my skills were up to this, but learning and master a program, especially one that forces you to think LESS creatively was a challenge. Not that I loved it, but I did learn something about how I approach problems. Not to be trite but personally I hope each project pushes me beyond my comfort zone in some way or another, otherwise I'm not growing or developing in a meaningful manner. So I try to look for an opportunity in everything I do and that makes my job all the more exciting/rewarding.Ethnography work in weird places with people I'd never meet otherwise. At the same time it can feel challenging, scary, thrilling, and fulfilling. Client screamed at me, under our roof. Big no-no... I stood up, and screamed back at her that I was not impressed 'cos my I had been raised by a woman that screamed louder than her...don't worry, in a way, you're always making it up as you go along, because as much as we would like to generalize, most situations are different and require stretching.We ran a morning drumming session to loosen up and bond a group of Swedish clients, before a radical brainstorm. It had the reverse effect. However, copious vodka and a late evening fire walk did the trick - eventually.Leaving an industry to join another Leaving a country to go to another Leaving a company to start anotherYes, and that was the hardest time of all, that we have to step out of our comfort zone. The best thing i can share is that i was born and grew up as an introvert person. But at my work right now i have been pushed out from being introvert to an extrovert person. to be a public speaker, to be a coach and a leader. that was a hard thing to do, and i right i'm still in the learning process. but what i can share as a planning person it can changed our mindsets to think global to details, so you can change yourself or even make your life better than others because you do plans :)The best advice I can offer is to not lock yourself into certain categories or types of planning. The best way to keep yourself at the top of your game is to never stop learning.share my knoledege not only national but international level.I recently had to step up and do some impromptu moderating for one of my projects. I wasn't anticipating having to moderate but I jumped in and did my best. I had been attending the groups and wrote the discussion guide so I felt prepared but feeling prepared and doing it are two different things. It was exhilarating to get in there and talk to folks. I loved it and the client was really happy with my work. I ended up getting to moderate many of the following groups in 5 more markets!Usually it comes from a gut feeling or intuition. Sometimes you just have to experiment or try new things to have an objective point of view. It usually comes from re-framing the question at hand, which can feel very abstract at times. After five years of long working hours in frantic (and fun) ad agencies, I decided I needed to step out of my life for awhile and re-evaluate if this is what I wanted to continue doing. I left my job voluntarily and traveled to Ethiopia, where I initiated, applied and supervised a management and communication system for a local fashion design college and workshop. Then I backpacked through Southeast Asia for six months. When I got back home, I promised myself the following: I wanted to continue to work as a planner, but in an open, stimulating environment which would permit me dedicate time and energy to other projects in order to grow as a professional and a person. I made it! (for now)i have only worked agency side and have much to learn about the business side of our clients but i was asked to put together a strategic argument about a brand's on and off trade strategy, nothing to do with design or packaging but more about business strategySorry, haven't got one of those yet. But I'm sure one will come around soon.Clients I don't relate to - it's a huge stretch to present to them with a smile.Yes, I have one. It was my firts month as an intern in an agency. I didn't even know what a planner was, but my boss sent me to do a presentation in front on the client. It was very scarry but I learned a lot from that.Setting up my own brand consultancy and winning a major project was a big win for me personally and professionally. I won this when I was 8 mths pregnant with my third child. I set up 7 phases of internal and external research for the Client, and sub-contracted consultants to undertake the research. I completed all reporting and recommended brand strategy for the Client, all with a tiny baby at home. I can't believe I did it now as I write this!Create my own businessI started my own brand consultancy after being laid off from a larger agency. It was scary to think that I had to rely solely on myself but invigorating to know that my work would finally benefit me!I love breaking new ground, tackling difficult objectives that are not a repeat of the last 10 projects I did. That said, this only happens about 40% of the time, and only that much because it is what I am good at. I started a web software/services company before this job and ran it for 3 years - it was hard every day, but the learning from that guides my whole perspective, because everything I work on I know how it feels to think of it as ""my business"".I once had to become a food and beverage trends expert in two weeks, and presented to a senior board at an FMCG giant. There could never tell I have not been immersed in their industry for years.Started a Brand Entertainment and Content group working with film producers, web developers, media outlets and Brand owners. Much harder than I thought it was going to be. noTravelling to the NZ office of a previous Australian company that I worked for to act as the planner on the account for a new business pitch only six months after becoming a full time planner. We won the pitch.not sureIn the age of New Media - this is a daily occurrence. Just when we think we are expert - another challenge emerges. Currently, we are working with the theatre world in London and are planning an experiential, performance type event to be presented via (a) website on the Internet. Very exciting.I was made redundant from a design consultancy and found myself with an opportunity to do some interim change communications work for a retailer. The money was good but I had no experience of retail, change management or internal communications. Putting on a brave face and trusting in my ability to adapt I fell back on tools and thinking that had served me well. By understanding the audience and defining a simple and compelling idea I was able to help the client get their previously complicated message across in a compelling way. The lesson I took away from this is to trust that what we do best is understand people and that with a bit of courage (and some bravado) we can help in most situations that involve getting an idea across.I don't have any ""case"".I was asked to lead a small project with a short turn-around that had some non-traditional methodology. I really didn't feel like I was qualified to lead the project, but I gave it my best effort and it was really well received. I think I'm able to stretch myself even more and I look forward to doing so.managing employees is always a challengei recently took on a management role that is unlike any i've had before. for the first time i'm responsible for an office, for the P&L, for the management of an entire set of strategists, project managers, designers and writers, and a new business team. Basically, everyone. It's about running a business, not just running a group. it's a great opportunity but utterly overwhelming. Glad i did it, or rather, i will be when everything is running smoothly and i can breatheI started at my company 1 year ago and had to moderate a focus group the first month having never done it before. Terrifying but thrilling experienceI called myself a brand consultant without having any clients. Then they came!Tried to interview individuals in India and Brazil, and even though they spoke English, I couldn't understand there words clearly. I'm sure I lost some of the meaning. Next time I'll be more cautious about these types of assignments.presenting to a congressional hearing in washington dcI took a complete risk by asking for a 3 month extended leave of absence to travel to South America for a non-profit my boyfriend and I started up. Now that I have been back for 3 weeks, I can tell you that putting yourself out on a limb and taking time off (esp for a good cause) will never be looked down upon.Maybe next year I'll have a great story about how I left the agency I was working and decided to build my own business.. for now, I'm just starting and there is a long road ahead. :-)I just realized with that question that I've never stepped out of my comfort zone. Confessing that is stepping outside of my comfort zone, though. But regardless, I'll have to get back to you on that one. I took a job that was 100% Digital. I am not a ""digital guru"", so I was worried that I'd be over my head. I have found I know so much more than the average collegue (I'm now client side) and I also know how to find the information I need so I never look unknowledgable, just resourceful.can't think of anything i would be comfortable sharingI left advertising and went client side. I didn't think I could. I don't have an MBA, I wasn't a great student in college, and I didn't think my ego could handle the blow. On the agency side, I often thought I was so much ""cooler"" than my clients -- even thinking I knew better or that my creative instincts were so much more accurate. Sometimes that was true, sometimes it wasn't. Client side felt like ""giving up"" in a way -- the whole ""those who can, do. those who can't, go client side."" It's actually working really well. First, I have work life balance for the first time EVER in my professional career. Second, I don't have to deal with trying to invent benefits for crappy products that have no reason for existance. I'm the one who helps come up with the crappy products, so if I'm in that situation it's my own damn fault. When I made strategic or creative recommendations as an agency planner, you have to give up control. Sometimes the recommendations would be implemented, sometimes not, and sometimes implemented in a half-assed way. Now, I'm a key member of the decision making team. I can represent my own ideas up the chain of command. I can make sure that what I believe is what the company gets behind -- or bug the shit out brand managers/marketing until they get to tired to protest. The things I am passionate about, I can make happen -- for the most part.I'm working on it =)My first relevant change is related to my personal life: after twelve years working in the same company and, the last five years playing as graphic computer manager, living by myself and wearing high heels all the time, I find myself working as cleaner and not understanding almost anything from people. I had decided to improve my English living in Australia, where people talk a very strong-English-accent. That experience was amazing due to the cultural exchange and the benefits of get friends all over the world. However, I had to make a hard decision: choosing still living in my own culture, which meant stay among Brazilians, and not improve my English; or keeping me far from Brazilians to reach my initial goal and living lonely, missing my culture. My choice was the hardest one, but the best decision I have made in my life. I was able to improve my English, make many international friends and, even so date an Australian guy; which meant to improve my language skills in a broader way. The price for it was equally high: strong loneliness and low self-steam, due to the level of my job (cleaner). Even having many friends, all of them were there for a short period, so friendships do not have enough time to make strong connections. One year later the results were: lots of international friends and the so wanted goal: my fluency in English. Better: taking my MBA delivered in English. Further: the last 5 years I could improve my personal strenghs and professional life much more than my 12 years comfort zone job. I am still struggling to reach my ""new comfort zone"", one more healthy due to the careear change for a more appropriated one, according my professional and personal profile. Moreover: I have been facing one of the hardest time in my life. Couching is being the key point for my personal and career development. I recommend. I did this early in my career, leaving law school and becoming a planner.I like to plan everything in my life, including relationships. My last boyfriend was a 12 month-planning job.Planners begin to believe their own hype way too quickly. I recently spent the day at one of the retail outlets for the company I work for, learning from the crew and seeing the daily operations in action. I've decided it's critical as a planner, or anyone curious about how to better understand people, to spend time deeply ""embedded"" in your clients' business. Seeing how consumers interact with the brand and learning that my tightly held assumptions were mostly baseless was an amazing experience. I just gave notice (3 months) to this total fatcat Corp job that pays me oodles of cash because I'm bored with it after 1 year. My mom cannot stop shaking her head - what did she do wrong!!!! I'm going to start my own little company - an idea I've had baking for years - and I'll help my brother put up his gallery show and I'll take a consulting project or 2 and I will be FINE. I freak every so often about the financial folly but I think I've finally come to terms with the fact that I am a square peg and that's ok. I can do the ""serious job"" but I hate the political crap that's unavoidable at more senior level. I can do the job, I want to do it on my terms. It's certainly not a ""success story"" yet but I hope it will be!see my wedding as a communications platform is very inspire for me. We have a relationship territory and this grow and make tangible with all the impacts (menu, invitations, decoration....)On a daily basis we take on new challenges and learn new things...getting out of our comfort zone is the best part of the jobMy whole career so far was a succession of challenges, were I asked myself: ""Oh my god, how shall I possibly do this..."" and then I just did it somehow and things worked out alright.Since this is my first planning work most of my experience for the first 2 years was like exploring the new frontier, outside the comfort zone.Sure. Two stories. 1. My first job involved me being thrown into a lead strategic position in planning a global social media process for an enormous CDR client. I was 23 and had no idea what I was doing. But, I spent a lot of time reading up on what needed to happen, what a good process would be, and what I wanted to do. Then I just went to town - I spent hours developing the strategy and the process and I decided that failure was an awesome option. Basically, to succeed you sometimes need to believe in not playing it self. I confidently sold my ideas in. 2. My current job focus is on analytics. My last job was in content strategy. I believe that the best planners and the best thinkers are generalists. So I took this job knowing I was going to be running a practice that is very young and that I know litte about. It's been challenging at times but I'm growing and one day this will all pay off when I can tackle any project from any angle. Wow, I would say this pretty much describes my every day. Its full of experimenting and improvising because everyone thinks the planner can lend her/himself to anything! I did a piece of research with a load of car dealers recently across a few different countries who are notoriously difficult to work with and the client told me that they would resent the work. But I found out that they just wanted to have the chance to talk to someone who had no agenda other than to listen to them and it turned out to be a really successful and productive piece of work. On the flip side, I've had to spend a week on a mine in a remote part of Canada with a load of miners to learn about their safety habits (or lack thereof) and it was really hard to get them to open up or to make it insightful. I kind of failed at that.I try to do this every single day so I can get better.Here at my agency I have a boss that is also the owner and a partner that is responsible for the social media analysis, we sometimes get to work as a team and lately we have gather to talk about some specific job. I get the feeling that my boss is stepping out of his duties and I have to complete it. As a Junior Planner I'm not prepared and getting to learn a lot to be kind of the head of planning when it comes to lead projects with other areas. This is a challenge and an accomplishment. Graduatly i've become a two headed monster, I work within both strategy and creativity, and working with the latter have seen become confident in owning not just insights, but also ideas/concepts, protecting and nurturing them like my babies.When I first started in planning placements, I got my best ideas during my evening jobs as a courier and behind the counter of a video store.I am still at early stages of my career so as I learn I have to confront things that are outside of my comfort zone, public speaking is one that I am struggling most with. I was invited to speak at a class at college and I used this as an opportunity to learn and grow. So I worked hard in preparing the class. Although I am sure I wasn¬¥t the best speaker, the students response was great and in the end I am glad that I did it. Running a design companyLike I said, I recently joined a initiative group aimed at setting up a community foundation in my hometown. I ended up being the executive director of the CF. And it is the most rewarding experience of my life, besides having my 2 yrs old daughter.Nothing as of yet, but best of luck!I've got to go to a meeting! Out of time!Working on 3 pitches at once. I don't have a story! I hope I have!Thanks, but no thanks.I changed career paths from market research to planning and there are learning curves associated with this.I stretch myself everyday as a planner. Solving problems, learning new things, sharing and presenting ideas. That's what I love about planning.Know the feeling but can't think of an example right now, soz.I really enjoyed the experience of leading and implementing a digital strategy for a financial services brand. Get stuck in!Every damn day I am outside my comfort zone, leading a team, managing a business, advising clients and battling with my own self confidence and internal voices. I embrace working outside my comfort zone nRun business workshops for product issues with clientsDeveloping business strategy for the agency on how to evolve our offering falls into this category. It's been rewarding so far and I'm making strides but it's very uncomfortable along the way.I challenged portuguese planners to create APG Portugal and eventually we did it last year. :) I was able to move from the account side into strategy and nowadays, after 4 years in strategy (8 in total), I'm the new Planning Director of a Digital Agency here in Lisbon, Portugal. This is also a challenge for me because this is a complete new discipline for me. My background is Advertising, then PR agency and then I spent the last 3 years working in Branding & Activation. Now is time for Digital.I'm planning to step outside my comfort zone. I'm pretty happy about it cause the market is very good here in Brazil. I'm young and the best time is now for me, cause if doesn't work, I can came back to the market with no problems. I did a campaign for a new client which was not well resourced enough at the planning phase, and research was thin on the ground. The creative work that ensued was weak, but as a relatively junior planner I thought I'd let the creatives make their vision. I learnt from the experience that it's easier to be firm with a client upfront on how much thinking time is required to do good work, and if you have a lingering feeling that the work is not right, you should voice it clearly before anything gets shot and made. Needless to say the results weren't terrible, but weren't great - but I learn't from the experience. when I broke up with my associates to have a lifethat's part of the everyday job here.Digital planning is always a mix of two things - the digital articulation of the brand strategy, and helping plan the execution, because the execution is so tightly woven with the strategy. I feel like digital planners are getting more out of the execution, and more into the big thinking of the brand planning, which has been a great challenge. I've always admired brand planners for their ability to articulate powerful ideas so simply, and am glad to finally have that opportunity, and get out of the purely executional side of things.This happens all the time, doesn't it? If it doesn't you should do something else maybe.Still working on my story.Since I was 20 something I have owned the companies I worked for (always with some other partners). And I think that more agencies will be headed by planners in a near future.Almost every month there are meetings where we start to talk about new projects and I'm not sure how I can get it all done. When I got this job as head of planning I wasn't sure I was good enough. I've learned to stomp on that impulse and watch as everything unfolds and nobody dies or screams at me.creating a pet project that someone pays me to doHow can we not stretch ourself in the ever evolving era we live in? I mean there is no such thing as social media experts or interactive art director nowadays. You need to be curious, be ready to explore, and be ready to feel some discomfort or you don't belong in this industry anymore. Same with non innovative clients, they'll lose the war if they dont realize there's no other recipe for success today than explore and go beyond what they did previously.starting an agency with two colleaguesImprov classI think as planners we are always having to work outside our comfort zone. Sometimes we just have to bite the bullet, and do things we dont like, but we should all keep in mind that you never know what you may learn.I planned and executed a project in which I served lunch for over 30 people.This question is stretching me.No real story comes to mind .I wouldn't recommend working two fulltime freelance jobs at once. But I did it. Megapayday.The key thing now is to be international in mindset. No matter how hard it may be, make a move overseas to work and live. And keep doing it Led a two day workshop single-handed when my MD and CSD were trapped by the ash clouda lot of short stories, but none that I could tell here I keep it within the 9-5Planning social media strategy and managing social media presencethe only place i am comfortable is out of my comfort zoneNot sure if I have one.My stretching point came when I shifted from project management into strategy. I had to train myself to think differently; things that I worried about before were no longer important, and I had to learn a whole new language and tools.I think this is my favorite part. I jump into a lot of different accounts and different industries. I take it as a personal challenge to nail their brand and talk to them like I've been a part of their culture. Some industries have seemed more foreign than others but I stick to my gut once I've done my work. I've avoided any sticky situations by listening more than I ""proclaim"" To open your businnes is the most exciting journey someone can make with the carreer, aind it¬¥s more exciting when you see that you-ve done that without some more experience, but you done that anyway anda after 6 years, making a lot of mistakes, going and coming, it steel make sense.Sometimes it happens when the agency has worked too much and feels completely convinced about a campaign but the client throw it down...can't really think of something...On two occasions, I've worked on briefs which were far beyond anything I had imagined working at an agency. Both of them involved new business development. In both situations, I've carried out the background research, identified the business opportunities, written business plans and in 1 situation, executed it. Literally creating a new business from scratch. The stress and pressure were incredible, but they're also perhaps the best things I've done. They gave me the opportunity to stretch as far as possible, coupled with the rigour of actually having to make the plan work and prove it.The first time I had to fly to a city I'd never been to, drive out to people's homes and interview them, on camera for a new business pitch was a challenge. I have always been comfortable talking to people but knowing that my SVP and other very high up people were counting on me to get what we needed, to help us win the pitch and sell-in our idea added some pressure to it. I was never worried I couldn't do it, but just really wanted to do it well. I changed the job, although I was friends with my colleagues and I could have get a good position as a junior (after my intern). But it was kind of too comfortable and I made the next step: but now the new job is sometimes too demanding (with no experience). But that's great and I'm learning every day!!!I'm always trying to learn something new, and believe that's why I've managed to stay employed during this recession. When an account planner, I learned about media. When a media planner, I learned about buying. Now, I'm an account planner/manager, and am learning the basics of programming.i am working as a strategic planner as well as a user experience strategist in a digital agency. those two are quite connected (if not technical) as both roles represent customers (or users) within the company. I’m doing the podcast of the agency I work, interviewing interesting people each week.Seems like every project I'm on. I think just putting my hand up when the tough projects come along then deep diving into the research to figure out a solution. I recently organised, planned and ran a social media training session with a client. As a recent graduate it was a fantastic opportunity and I enjoyed the experience a lot. The client was lovely and really enjoyed the experience. The session lead to the development of a full social strategy which I am now working to implement.I worked for my first year as a planner without a planning director while delivering a global strategy for a leading sector brand. I was working with senior planners for other agencies who expected a certain level of delivery from us and me, and along with help from my creative director and the support of my account managers i had to figure out what it was, do the work and deliver it. It was a baptism of fire and i felt anxious everyday, but to be honest, i don't think i ever could have learnt more or grown more in a year then i did in that situation. It's fight or flight: read every book you can; talk to every planner that you meet at events; research every case study that you can and you figure it out. Some things i learnt the hard way (like when a client hacks apart a strategy after all of your work) and other things i think i learnt in a naive positive way (such as telling a global planning director in a big integrated agency that you don't 'get' why they're doing something in such a long winded way - which lead to a long pause and a revelation on their part).I can't think of anything right now...Pitching for a CPG brand, I had to write and ""direct"" (using a webcam) a short video that illustrated the consumer target and their mindset, interests, etc. The scripts were written on the fly, the voiceover was provided by a co-worker's boyfriend, and I was also one of the ""actors"". We ultimately didn't get the project, but everyone loved the video, thought it really hit the mark, and I even got kudos from the creative department for the writing.I've been unqualified for every job I've ever held. Never let the specified ""qualifications"" keep you from trying something new.during the dotcom bust i chucked my marketing / planner career and bought a small bicycle shop -- scratched the entrepreneurial itch. a world-changing experience for sure, i bring the entrepreneurial perspective now to my agency life quite often. everyone should try it for a while...I recently had to deliver a presentation via video conference to a group of high-level client execs. It's not the first time I've given a presentation, but it's rare that I get to present to senior execs. I was nervous but it went pretty well, and it was good experience.I got my first planning job at a digital agency where 'planner' was an inherently senior/leadership role. I'd never worked at agency, or in digital, and had this naive attitude that i would 'pick it up as i went'. And you know what? I was right. Coming in from a slightly different background meant that i had to think things through really critically, rather than just doing the same ol thing. Turned out that that made me a pretty good planner!2 years ago I did a planning of myself. I did a research about what are the planners in the market, what the companies are searching, which are the trends of communication. And I positioned myself. It really works, I had a focus and goals to guide my studies. I recommend to everybody to do that!I created a brand listening report without any prior experience. I had no idea what I was doing, so I gathered all the listening report decks I could find and learned from them, and my final report was a success.jumped into a digital agency without any digital backgroundi have tried to step up my game by taking more responsibility, be in charge and commit to delivering great work even when I didn't have to. this is often frightening but i think i will have a much better return if I do try than if i don'tI started my career in the financial market, strategic consulting and private equity. With a degree in Economics and a great salary when I was 25 I have decided to change. Pack my stuff and move to the US to start from ground zero, attending Academy of Art University. Back to Brazil I have worked as an art director for few good agencies. Did not enjoy much and almost decided to change again and become a cook (chef). Step back for a while and then after a good chat with mom, decided to open my own shop. Ginga today is comprised by 35 people and is leading digital communication in Brazil. I am very grateful for my mom.Well, i had to move to the social media area because there wasnt place for me in advertising agencies. Now i do planning on a social media consultancyThis happens quite frequently, as I came to my current agency/role as a communications planning director at a media agency. So I was used to operating within that role, and had to pickup a different skill-set to become a planner. But I personally believe the best planners were never planners before. They don't have preconceived notions. In order to excel though, needs to work in that doesn't value rules, just allows you to be.I don't have a specific story, but I feel like planners in general are pushed to do things outside of the formal bounds of their job titles. We tend to be really smart, capable people so we get stuck with a lot more responsibility than necessary. There have been times when I'm left to help a floundering media team (acting like a Media Director) or made to write copy for some random Facebook campaign. Planners naturally just have to figure out how to roll with the punches and get stuff done.Try freelance. I had to, not by choice, but by the economy. It was scary but you start to learn more about budgets ect as you become your own boss and have to worry about the bottom line. In my position, as a planner from a small digital agency, a feel my self very often in situation of doing some project over my capacity, but not because we are pioneers 100% of the time, but because digital and small agencies requires as dynamic and improvise environment. My big step was planning an executing a huge brand portal that took me more that 8 months of project.I seem to be repetitively able to sell myself into roles for which I'm not properly qualified. Learn on-the-job, so to speak, but you should also, reframe the job to facilitate the needs of the business or client. I recommend pushing yourself like this, but unlike me, learning how to manage yourself better when you do it. Everyone should read The First 90 Days by Michael D. Watkins. The most important thing to remember is that Planning is a leadership role, matrixed across other functions - not really sole contributor type gig. The most important thing is to know what your core competencies are, and what you need to trust others with. As a Planner, you are always working on projects that take you outside of your experience. Automotive or Financial one day, then Luxury or even Publishing. B2B or B2C, every business has nuances that its your job to suss out and understand, while always approaching the task with patience, diligence and an open mind. This is tricky, but never boring, and ultimately very rewarding. I moved from a strategy/account role, to an international product design lead role, to an ""official"" planning role at a big digital agency, to leading an internal UX/creative/development team. Knowing my strengths and weaknesses took a lot of time (and a lot of mistakes), but now I pretty much have the keys to the city. Its worth it, and it will make you a better person. My story isn't that exciting but I tried doing account management because i felt they were getting alot more power and the client face to face time. Hated it and came back to Planning :) I don't really have a huge one that comes to mind, but this year in particular has been a little out of my comfort zone. This year I started working at a digital agency for the first time. It took a while to get used to the language and the structure. For a while, I wasn't even sure exactly how to fill my days. Often times I'm the only planner on accounts, and that's really forced me to trust my gut. I worked on a global project with 7 other countries and it definitely made me realize how important it is to take the time to digest things. Making time to take things in and not being afraid to make a decision are two areas that have really grown this year.I spent nearly 4 years travelling around the world, that gave me a lot of cultural baggage that today I use in my carrer.Doing things that require talking to strangers on the streets. I am a Planner who trained in the traditional offline world. After 16 year in the business - and realizing that digital was going to rule our industry in this new decade - I prepared myself to bridge the gap between offline and online, and bring the best principles of consumer discovery to the digital world. Mission accomplished.My inspiration is the internetA 45min presentation to our client's CMO on my first official day as a planner...sink or swim timeCan't think of anything here. All I can say is that I'm in a more long term ""pushing myself"" experience right now as I moved from brand communications to deeply digital strategy. its the deep end and its the learning experience to get what i important and what is common practice and fold that into my experience and point of view. Plus there is a level of autonomy which is new for me as well so the challenge there is to not rest on doing what I do best but actually try to do new stuff in the absence of a rigid system and basically see what works and what doesnt work. Its all a big meta meta experiment right now. that part is comfortable. The area outside of my comfort zone I would guess is where I'll have to apply soe proposed technique I never tried before on a project in order to get it done. Then I'll either fail or succeed and have a story for next time.Once I managed a project in which we had to transform diferents parts of the city into totally diferent countries, we had to create and manage the production os outdoors, labels, signs, and everything so the set would look like, Italy, Japan, China and Germany in record time. We had to translate, search for references of each culture and at the end everything went very well. That was quite a chalenge.learning more about the 'hard data' side of the businessMoving to a digital agency after 9 or 10 years in traditional agencies was purposefully to stretch myself. There have been a million instances I've been outside of my comfort zone and I haven't regretted it for a minute.nothing comes to mindWorking with different areas of client's businesses really stretched me out, sometimes we have to adjust with the client's company culture as wellbuilding a brand from the inside out. as a digital strategist it happen more and more often, that it is our job to consulting our clients to manage the step in the digital age holistic as a whole company. i think this is the most exciting time right know, cause it's the right thing to do brand building and developing from the inside of a company and culture.Doing my first major ad:tech presentation to 100 people with 48hrs notice as a stand-in for my CEO.My parent are ashamed of me and my career choice as they perceive marketing as being vulgar. I ended up doing this mainly as en excuse to date a girl I thought was impressed by this line of work. She was not.I've done changed what I do on numerous occasions. Either because forced on me via redundancy or else out of sheer boredom with the repetitive cycle (and client meetings) in ad agencies. So from traditional ATL planner I been a client, a freelance brand consultant, and now I a digital planner. Each time jumping into it, thinking how the hell am I going to do this. Blagging through interviews that I have the experience or know what I'm talking about. Somehow learning as I go, and finally settling in to be a part of it. Then getting bored again, and wanting a change!Several times I have analysed my own career and reaslised I was in a role or sector without promise. To help change course I did 2 postgrad diplomas in marketing strategy (CIM), and digital strategy (IDM), spent a good deal of time networking with others - (LinkedIn is great for this), and went out of my way in whichever company I've worked at to give myself the opportunity to work on what I needed to. This has often taken up weekends and nights but is well worth it!When I was brought in to develop a social marketing strategy for a client in Chicago, I was forced to step outside my comfort zone at the time. I had no idea what it takes to develop a social marketing strategy and the client was counting on me to have all the answers. It required a lot of research on the industry, best practices, what would work/would not work for my client, to come up with an effective strategy. In the end, I was successful and I am glad I took on the project as it exposed me to a whole new world. Being in a smaller agency, you end up having to wear a lot of hats. When I was first hired here, I was functioning as a hybrid AE and Account Planner; and although I'm not out of the woods yet, it's definitely improving. Last fall we decided we were going to enter a new business pitch up again 20 other agencies for a very substantial piece of business. I was, and remain, the youngest planner on our team and assigned to the task. Round 1: the typical RFI submission and we moved forward to the Top 10. Round 2: A creative and capabilities presentation on-site at the client headquarters where we continued to advance to the Top 3. Round 3: Clients come to our offices for a day to see more capabilities presentations, get a feel for our culture and how we would work together. Now, outside of my general planning responsibilities, you know: research, identifying the consumer, brief, prepping creative, brainstorming, ensuring creative is on-brand, presenting, etc. I also assumed the role of planning the day that the client was coming on-site, and this was no easy task. At the time, we were operating in three different offices in the same town because we had grown so rapidly. We had a total of five conference rooms, that at max could seat 12 people (and not comfortably). The client was bringing down ten people from their team and we had at least 8 different people on our team needing to deliver presentations and interact with them. The entire day had to be meticulously planned; we gathered employees for practices and walked them through the offices - seeing what would work and what wouldn't. We had to account for transportation between offices in a way that didn't feel cumbersome. We knew how important it was for the day to be streamlined, on schedule, engaging and demonstrative of our culture and abilities as an agency. I couldn't have been more nervous. We had two weeks to prepare and I can't even count how many hours I worked during those 14 days. In the end, the day could not have went smoother. I was impressed with myself and my team and I think everyone shared similar sentiments. In the end, we didn't win the business, and yet, somehow no one really seemed to mind. We all knew that we had done our absolute best and that was enough: no hard feelings, no disappointment. I've never experienced anything like it. Oh, but wait, that's not the real end. The real end came when the client came back to us three months later telling us that ""the honeymoon period"" with the agency they had chosen ""was over."" And you know what was great? Instead of jumping at the opportunity, we laid out some ground rules. We told them that unless they could provide us with X, then we weren't going to take on their business. And that's how it ended. We're not working with them today, but we're still in close contact. I have no doubt that we will probably work with them in the future. But when I think back to that time and the chaos and pressure and immeasurable efforts that went into it, I feel a sense of personal and professional pride for what we accomplished. Our dignity, pride, skill and compassion showed all the way through the pitch process and beyond and I'm so proud to have been able to be a part of it.Sent to SXSW with the specific request of bringing back valuable connections or business. As a planner with about 3 years of experience this was a task I didn't feel qualified for. I was comfortable representing the agency in some capacity, but not from a business-generating standpoint. The assignment pushed me to meet more people I wouldn't have sought out for my own interest and forced me to try and understand their business and point of view. I think it gave me a better perspective on what it means to be an entrepreneur (since that's the majority of the people I met), and thinking about the future of agencies. Specifically, how various business ideas can be adjusted and tweaked to better each party.Being asked to gather data points on a consumer segment without the aid of any research and/or partner sources. Google monkeying away. Not such a great experience at the time, but in the long-term, gives great perspective to what you can do with less and how precious a wealth of information can be. Usually I feel very comfortable doing new things... a few years back i accepted a planning position in china => to bring P&G brands into tier 3 and 4 cities in china. it was terrifying! here i was, completely illiterate and unable to relate to my target, and i had to find a way to connect with them and glean powerful insights. it was a total challenge and struggle but in the end, i learned so much and grew so much in terms of my own creativity and approach to connecting with people. i learned that really only 7% communications is verbal; the other 93% transcends culture + language barriers, it's there for the taking if you hone in on it.I started my career as a planner freelancing, and throughout the years I can honestly say that practically every project I worked on took me out of my comfort zone to the point that I lost sleep wondering if I could accomplish the task I had been given. I think that if you feel too comfortable with what you are doing, you are probably not challenged enough. One can never feel too comfortable or too confident in this discipline. The less you know about something, the more you will learn about it. My first big presentation to a group of strangers.Much like people holding creative positions within an agency, I am never quite sure where my next idea or insight will come from. Dealing with this uncertainty requires a daily exercise in stretching myself to draw from a wide variety of sources. This task has been less of a ""step outside of my comfort zone"" and more about becoming comfortable with not having all the answers right away. Starting a new job and immediately being given the task to launch a popular brand in the UK across Europe (research, brand strategy, channel strategy and creative)I think I stretch myself everyday. I'm constantly doing things that I (or anyone I know of for that matter) hasn't done before. I think that helps me find new ways of thinking about stuff and new ways of telling stories and finding opportunity for clients within the work we do together.I've recently took the responsibility of managing an entire project for the agency, since we wouldn't be able to take it otherwise. Interfacing with the client, following up on the team's work, managing the schedule, estimating budgets, charging suppliers. I needed a whole lot of help and patience from colleagues, but it was a great opportunity to have a better understanding of how we might improve our internal processes and information flow.The second job you have after school is a giant step. Nobody remembers when you were an intern or just learning the ropes, and they just assume you're qualified once you've proven yourself initially. In my first job, I wasn't used to really owning a project from beginning to end. While I was comfortable with client meetings and leading focus groups, I certainly didn't give one fifth of the number of client presentations that I do in my current, more intermediate role. Getting over my fear of public speaking (in front of my boss and larger groups of senior clients) only happened by doing it over and over again in this new role. Planners are an interesting group. We all have to be good communicators, or we wouldn't be hired, but many of us are more introverted. It would be hard to do as much research and immerse ourselves in projects like we need to if we weren't a little hermit-like. The best, most senior planners I've met have all been excellent public speakers, even if they weren't the most extroverted people each and every day at the office. The rewards that come from stretching yourself and becoming really comfortable (and engaging) as a public speaker far outweigh the immediate comfort of staying in a job that isn't pushing you to do these things.briefing traditional agenciesSometimes I think working for a big company in times of ""digital"" changes does not worth. All because this huge structures, in my opinion, are not efficient anymore. And that's why each time more I try to push entrepreneurship.Creating a social listening and enegagement campaign using Facebook and Twitter for a very conservative global insurance organisationGet out of agency management and do something that I really like doing - strategyI find that presenting is the most difficult thing to ""learn"". One tends to be especially nervous when clients are senior. However, the key to presenting well is simply to stay calm, present with confidence, and to leave room for questions. After many difficult presentation, I've learned to, instead of presenting, to have a 'conversation with slides'. This works well, and is a key skill worth learning - for planning and many other roles.Dealing with numbers. Well, that's a bit dramatic, as I took 3 stats courses in grad school. But, I really didn't enjoy cutting data, etc. However, I've learned that planning is not just a right brained craft. Being able to really understand data has helped me uncover some great insights. I think planners need to make it a point to sharpen their math skills. Playing out of my comfort zone for me involves presenting ideas to a client. You're never sure if you're going to make a fool of yourself or look like a knowledgeable asset. To an extent, I think I've probably done both of these in the past.In a recent team training exercise, there were individuals from different disciplines, but there was no one from Creative. I took on the role of copywriter on the team and was recognized for my ""creative"" writing. So often, as planners, we write in business terms and it was phenomenal to be recognized for being able to also write ""the other way.""Finding your voice and your persona as a planner is a difficult challenge. It took me a while to be confident without being arrogant (at least I think I'm not). Self-reflection and self-honesty is our most powerful tool.I always wanted to work exclusively with Branding, so one and a half year ago I quit the advertising agency where I was Head of Digital Planning to join a Branding Office. The experience was very frustrating. I found out very early that Branding Offices in Brazil are focused on Brand Identity and very distant from deep investigations, unique insights and brand building - exactly the opposite that I used to believe. I became very frustrated, because I joined the company to learn more and deeply about Branding and to do so took a step back in my career (financially and my position). At the same time, I believe the company became frustrated also, because my strategic skills weren't focused on graphic design references. After 6 months I quit the job to join a Digital agency as Planning Director, but the period that I worked at the Branding Agency was very important to help me to decide what I really want to do for living.I often say that you can't be an expert in something you've never done before but you can become very good at processes that help to make it easier and run more smoothly. I feel that most new projects are about innovation and doing something new - I've had to get very comfortable with working without a net.Our unit operates on a trial by fire system. Because we are growing and learning in the area of digital planning, we are often thrown into situations that we have not previously experienced. I try to approach each new challenge positively and form new ideas based on past errors. I try not to be afraid of thinking AND doing. Sometimes you just have to do it and apologize (or accept praise) later. In the digital world, there's no time to second guess or theorize; you must DO things to learn things. In the winter of 2010 i was over weight and felt bad for my self all the time. Destructive living in short. At that time a major change in my life made me want to lose weight and get healthy. Now 22 kgs lighter I live by the fact that I can do anything, if I set my mind to it. I'm a great public speaker, but teaching makes me incredibly anxious. This spring our director signed the whole department up to teach a class on digital strategy at Academy of Art University. I was responsible for the two classes on writing the creative brief, and I stressed about my two classes for months. I produced a 14 minute video of interviews with creatives, I gathered brief formats from 9 other agencies, and I constantly rewrote my curriculum. The day after the class, the students' advisor wrote to tell me that the kids couldn't stop talking about how much they got out of my class. What a fantastic thing to hear.I'm a people-person, which means I'm always looking for ways to connect with people. A few years ago, I was doing research for a drug company and had some pretty intimate conversations with consumers. Maintaining boundaries was really challenging and I left feeling pretty upset about the exchange. There are lot of times we just left one work and joined new place just to know there is same shit which we try ruining away. Lot of Descion were hurriedHaving the courage to tell my MD the current Planning Tool we had (from our global partners) was not very relevant for buidling the planning but was more useful for presenting to the Client. When we attended an EMEA Planning conference some 6 months later, other Planners from the head office said same - in fact only one used it in his presentation!assume strong parti pris about a brand and go to present it to a marketing director. it seems simple, when you're a planner but it's beyoond what you usually do : taking risk by affirming something the guy in front of you don't want to hear.on the first day for this job, i was set out to win a pitching for a client all alone. it means, the strategic plan and the communication plan was done all by myself. after a month, we won the pitch, it was great, but there's no time to think much. Just like a marine being sent to the middle of a war zone. For planners, that was something definitely out of the comfort zoneI have had pay all the staff 2 developers 2 graphic artists, a 2 junior marketers and do staff drinks , being all cheery but knowing I couldnt tell anyone I had no money to take home of my own and that I had to do a night SEM contract job to keep up payments it nearly broke not being able to talk about it.See above. Trying to change the culture of a firm and rebrand said firm is not easy and it may have been too much to attempt all in one go without strong enough support form senior leadershipevery brief!I left traditional advertising in 2007 because I was tired of TV spots, radio, and print executions--my agency wasn't involved in anything digital at that point. I had a feeling the ""world wide webernet"" might just be around to stay and there was more interesting work to be found in that space. So I left the comfortable job I had for 7 years and took a job as one of the first planners at a large digital agency. The only one in the Atlanta office. I had to 1. figure out the digital space, 2. figure out how I could add value to what was going on at the company at the time and 3. figure out how to explain to the other departments what I could do for them (some were open to it, others were definitely not--like UX--they thought they were were owners of consumer insight and so I was totally stepping on their toes). It was hard and scary, and honestly we still struggle in some areas to get the 'digital natives' to understand what a planner from a 'traditional agency' can do for them, and we still have creatives who think they know it all and don't need any help, but I've proven my value many times over the past 4 years--especially in new business pitches--and now it's very clear when/how/where I come in and add value. I've got a great team and I'm happy & challenged b/c I'm still always figuring out new ways to add value, new ways to gather insight, engage consumers, inspire creatives, etc. the digital space changes so often, that we're always learning something new and that's really important to me in my career.Leaving my past job in Los Angeles for an uncertain (now really good) opportunity in New York. Uprooting oneself where you are comfortable to a place where you know few people can be risky.I think all my career is outside the comfort zone!! The digital world is always changing and evolving!I learned the trapeze at age 45it was almost a year ago i was in charge of a presentation. it was the first time i had so much responsabilities so i was really enrvous about it. i kept working on and on, and little by little i achieve my first recommandation. it was when the boos approove it without criticise that i was proud. but the hardest part was to present it to the client. it was not the best presentation but i managed to do it without panicking!I began my job experience in a very big agency to learn all the basics but I wasn't really at ease (to big, to political, not very human). It was an unforgivable experience and I think I'm better now. After this experience, I wanted to go back to an agency in with which I shared some values. I'm in it right now !the desire the build brands from A to Z. (entrepreneur is a solution)""Digital"" planning is exactly this. Utilizing your ""traditional"" planning self in other arenas... We're comms planners, content strategists, stand in ux people... Everyday in digital is trying something new and stepping outside what traditional planning is billed to beI'd love to put something inspiring but my brain has died. Put that down to 8 weeks of stressful strategising on the project from hell that just got canned by the client.understanding the whole tech limitations/possibilities bit when planning for a digital channel + going too deep in digital media planning.I lean a lot on my personal background of account management a lot. It really helps when you have to articulate a direction to a client, to be able to understand their needs and where they are coming from, to the craft a discussion and story that enables the direction and intended solution to come across as one that is right for their needs. I am trained as a planner but at my current job, I'm ""in charge"" of social media strategy. This has greatly expanded my knowledge of the digital realm, in addition to giving me experience that I felt my last planning job did not require.Increasingly doing more writing that is appearing as website copy and producing long-form video contentNot a story, so much as an anecdote. I used to always looking around and see who the expert is when I was younger. Now, I realize an expert doesn't always exist, and you sometime have to pretend that you're it. Most of the stretching I do has more to do with shrinking. I'm very used to working with big budgets and lots of time. More recently most everything I work on is quick and cheap and dirty and not what I call true planning. Stretching myself to not be a pain-in-the-ass planner has been hard.I walked into this job on a Wednesday thinking it was a meet & greet. By Wednesday afternoon I was meeting with planners, account people, creatives to pull together the kernels of a creative brief. On Friday, we briefed the creative leadership. 10 days later, I was in a foreign country, pitching the work to the clients for a lead agency role. The campaign was undeniably mine - my insight into mobile culture, my strategy for the consumer experience, even my line (not a great line, but the clients and creatives really connected with it). Two weeks later we found out we won. Everyone was incredibly proud of the work and effort and collaboration that brought this together so quickly; our sister agencies were excited about working with us to execute the campaign; our clients were inspired by an opportunity to do something really different. It was awesome.i took a tactically-thinking creative team and tried to teach them what it meant think big branding. it took some push back with some very strong voices, but this little planner could!Put $$ aside to travel, see what's on the other side of the world. I sold my car to spend a 7 months in America (west coast and NYC). I tried looking for jobs, but the market was much better in Singapore and Asia. It turned out to be an enriching experience nonetheless. I came back to Singapore more inspired than I have been for the past few years and a lot wiser.I dabbled in the CRM world and survived just barely.I once did stakeholder interviews with high-ranking managers across all departments of huge corporation in a category and a country I never worked before. I didn't really know what I was talking about. It was not just culturally a great experience but also to see, that improvisation is probably the planner's most important skill that can never be learned enough. I think I came across quite well.I have a traditional agency background... and now I work at a digital shop... My entire perspective has changed about marketing. Opening up to new things and new approaches is AMAZING. Being involved in your first app or piece of software is much more rewarding than getting an ad on TV. Creating something that people want to engage with, or a utility that improves everyday life has a certain staying power that ads don't. I'm now obsessed with pushing things further and further and couldn't be more excited about the future, and the lack of boundaries.I always prided myself on being a ""creative"" type, not being responsible, leaving many tasks and organizational skills to the producers and account folks. The higher I got the more those things came to haunt me and I sucked my first 6 months as a Director. I was disorganized, my teams were unhappy, people were lost (process) clients were all over the place. It took a small miracle to get more focused, organized, start using checklists, getting buttoned up but in the end those skills are 50% I think, doing good thinking can't be done if the clients, folks you work with and all the other details aren't aligned to help it through. Taking my first planner job with no strict 'planning' experience except reading Jon Steele etc (I'd previously worked in other agency and consultancy roles) put me completely out of my comfort zone. I didn't really know what a digital / content / social strategy 'should look like' ie processes, frameworks, deliverables etc. This was a bit scary as suits, designers, management etc would look to you for all the answers, reinforcing the idea that strategy is a dark art that's only understood by seasoned professionals. You get there with the frameworks etc, but the important thing is not to get paralysed by not knowing 'how the document will look' or 'what the process is' right away - there's no such thing as the right way to present a strategy and getting there is rarely a linear process. Immerse yourself in finding stuff out about how people think about the category, or why they don't think about the category at all - but don't wait for the killer insight before proceeding. Get other people involved - suits, creatives, whatever. Share some insights and work with them to generate a list of lots of different ways to tackle the problem and generate some initial ideas. Sometimes doing a 'day in the life' exercise can be a good way to stimulate thinking - make sure you don't limit your scenario to their relationship with the product in question. This will help you figure out what's important and once you've got a feel for how you might motivate people, your strategy will start flowing. Recently i have had to wear two hats - as a strategic planner and content strategist including having to audit 800 pages of website content! Not for the faint hearted! This also involved confronting one of my major weak spots - attention to detail. Whilst it would have been much easier to not to it, doing it gave me access to the complete picture - in this case all their existing website content and therefore a better understanding of what needed to be done - in the context of being the digital strategic lead, this knowledge has been hugely empowering - both in front of the client and in being able to lead my internal team.Design work and development, gave me a lot of experience to work with the creative team and understand the limitations.I founded an internet startup, that was sort of successful (Biz Stone used it), but lost interest before it made any money.For me every great brief starts with not knowing what the solution is. One has to be comfortable with that uncertainty in order to suspend opinion. That's usually when something great is happening. Every time. Currently trying to start a series of ongoing innovation sessions, where the whole team gets together to jam on interesting problems outside of our normal work. It's something I'm really passionate about, but getting buy-in from others and keeping the momentum going will be tough. forget the consequences, step by step, walk into the scariest of unknowns and before you know it, you're adapting to it and thriving.had to take over the ownership of a huge project and become its ""face"" after the key acct people on it left the agency...while at the same time juggling my day-to-day and ""big-picture"" planning responsibilities.Well, media planning. As noted our shop is small and our media lead left. So I've been running that, which has been uncomfortable, but oddly enough current campaign performance is much improved.My first day on the job several years ago, the company pitched (and subsequently won) a piece of business that included a social media listening component. At that time there were no real models of how to approach it, not even best practices. We were all a little (ok, a lot) intimidated but got to work and developed an approach that has now evolved into a global practice through trial and error and a commitment to getting the job done. The important thing was just to start trying and learning from that process until we found models and practices that worked for us and met our clients needs - fear of failure would have been the one thing that sunk us.I ran an actionplan recently having no idea about the client or how to do actionplans. I made it up. I literally made it all up as I went along. I do not recommend making stuff up as a sound working method, I'll be honest, but it did give me confidence. Much of advertising is about how you say something, not what you say it. Once you realise that, it's liberating. The people I admire most and largely who I think have the most effective approach are people who don't take this industry too seriously. A lot of it is confidence and panache. We aren't rocket scientists. Nobody dies if a campaign goes wrong.I feel like I stretch myself almost every day at work. We are a small agency, but do a huge volume of work. As a junior planner I'm not always as experienced as I'd like to be at some things and am often pushed to take on more and more responsibility in my job. I love the challenge. I used to report to and support a senior planner all of the time, but now I work on my own projects for the most part and just do feedback sessions with senior planners. That's all happened in the last 5/6 months since getting hired full-time. Every new challenge - writing for new publications, public speaking, large consulting engagements - are intimidating. No matter how much I do, I still get ""stage fright"" from these kinds of things, which I assume is a healthy connection to the possibility of failure and/or my own inadequacy or shortcomings. I wouldn't want to lose that.becoming a planner is that stepTaking the lead and then knowing it was my fault when it failed. Maybe it wasn't my idea that was bad, but my other planner responsibilities weren't fulfilled to the best they could be.Every day at work I still hold true to the idea of ""fake it til you make it"" but shhhh....Always try to live outside my comfort zone.I like to' do copywritingBlowing up the brief into a full story book and taking the 20+ team offsite for a ""reading"". Was scared beyond belief that it would come over as lame. Ultimately loved by all, won internal award, loved by creative etc. Coolio.My first client-facing meeting as a junior planner was intended to be watching the account-retained Planning Director present ideas to the client. He didn't make it so I had to step in cold. It was intimidating but all turned out fine. Taught me that it's often scarier thinking of what might happen than actually doing it.The shift from my 5 years as a creative into digital strategy took a big leap of faith from my employer -- as well as trusting my own instincts and how they could translate in a new environment and a new role.I have never had a comfort zone. I am constantly redefining what I do and how I do it. We are like detectives, and this forensic approach to strategy requires the avoidance of well-worn paths. I depend on nothing and take an entrepreneurial and speculative approach to all of my work and activities. I try to work every opportunity, every activity to professionally map to my goals when possible. I left my last job in a great place - I had a good team, great boss, and big-name clients. When I was approached with the new opportunity, which was to come over and start a planning team/discipline from scratch I found it to be extremely exciting and challenging at the same time. I loved the idea of being able to build a team exactly the way I'd like to, and to be able to focus on planning as a way to improve the output of an agency. But it has also been a big challenge, as I spend quite a bit of time helping the agency understand the value my team brings, and why planning should be a core part of the agency's offering. In addition to growing and mentoring the team, it leaves less time than I'd like for hands-on work - but my hope is to fix that soon.Being assertive and learning to say no.Changing to digital was already a big change of mindset. I got asked one morning to present for our Head of Mobile at a conference that afternoon. I didn't know the subject matter and was only going to get the presentation an hour before getting on stage. Despite this I agreed to do it for the experience and after inital fear of standing on a massive stage in front of 200 people, I had loads of fun taking people through the thinking and work. It wasn't the best presentation anyone's ever done but no one left the room while I was talking...Haha. Running 11 focus groups in azerbaijan. SittIng next to a hairy smelly man screaming broken English translations into my right ear as I watched a room full of people discuss Azeri mobile phone companies. If you can do that you can do anything :)Most of the stretching at our agency is because of our quick growth. We spend a ton of time filling the gaps where others don't have time to. It's not glamorous to hand-hold a PM or write emails for our account executives, but the head of our company says ""our planners are the smartest people in our agency, it's nice when they can guide our other departments""Being very new, it often feels like I am stretching myself beyond what I can do. Working on my first brief was very difficult - it requires certain patterns of thinking that need to be practised.Running a business and product development workshop with 35 clients over 4 weeks. I then had to present our recommendations (with the head of marketing) to the Board - many of whom were non-marketing people. It was great to raise my profile, but also made me realise I could probably tackle anything.When I was still a junior I worked on a pitch which the subject was boring and difficult and related to the government and a few other suppliers and associations. Specially beacuse the subject was so different and the target was not B2C, it would never work on traditional or digital media. I had absolutely no knowledge about B2B whatsoever. I decided to go as I could. Built the project as if it was another of the big campaigns I could work on, developed a concept and so on. And then, asked for help specially with the mediums and points of contact. I was th one who presented it (with no supervision), and I only had like 1 year and a half of experience. We won the pitch.Trying to apply the ever-changing world of digital channels and social is always a challenge Well, that's the only problem I have with my current job. In the last year, I haven't been as challenged as I would like. Things have been way too comfortable. Time to shake things up. Moving from a well-known and respected agency to one that is in re-birth mode was a big deal for me this year.digital brand presence of competitors, iconic brands, inspirational digital executions, and formulation of the digital brand strategyThe past year, I've pushed back and challenged the clients in ways that I was always very nervous to do in an account driven agency. In the interval between keeping internal client relationship holders happy and delivering great work by pushing completely back on clients..... there was anxiety and internal tension, that was accompanied by amazed clients at our strategic capabilities. Worth it. Put together a full-scale strategy recommendation with no guidancesad but can't think of anythingRecently, I had a query from a client "" Can you help me understand Barcodes , my boss wants a POV next week?"" As I said earlier, I am fairly new to the digital and direct world. But here was my new client, looking to me for help and I could not let her down. I spent a weekend reading, learning and finding out everything I could about the barcode technology. I put together a quick primer on QR codes and sent it to her, so she could have an informed discussion with her Marketing head. Needless to say, the brand manager was extremely grateful and appreciative of the agency 's pro-activeness in making her look good.Well, I live by myself in Sao Paulo, which is actually a pretty good daily challenge, and I've been doing so for over 5 years now. I plan on traveling and taking a course abroad in the near future, maybe London or the US.The change of marketing planning was an example out of comfort zone. After five years working in the area decided to risk planning and had to roll up our sleeves and go deeper to understand the complex world of consumers. Then I realized that before you see them as consumers or clients, I need to see them and understand them as people first.Managing a research group.I'm not that comfortable with the notion of self promotion and would rather let my work do the talking rather than put myself forward as a keynote speaker. However, I'm at the stage in my career where I need to raise my profile in the industry and play the game a bit better. So when I was invited to join the IAB social media council I embraced the opportunity with both hands. This has opened up many public speaking opportunities including presenting at big events, joining discussion panels, getting involved in training courses and producing white papers. In fact one of my whitepapers now has 15k views on slideshare which still never ceases to amaze me! I also started writing an industry blog on interactive marketing and social media which has had 27k visitors since its inception a year ago. I'm not a quant -- my background is in journalism and communications. Yet I've had to learn the languages of analytics and statistics in order to interact with the analysts who mine data on my behalf. And I've learned along the way that I really love it -- I hated it in school, but that's because I didn't see anything I could do with it. I think that my carrer challenge so far was the change from a big agency in my city to a smaller one, focused in direct marketing. This change made me grow, because my responsibilities in this job are really bigger than in the old one. If I were worried about the size or name of the companies, I would have lost a great opportunity in my live. Every day takes me out of my comfort zone on somethingWell that's tricky. The only thing that I can think of is: after just 4 months working at my agency I was asked to pitch for new business with the CEO, Director of Planning, the Creative Director and the Client Service Director. It was full on.Sure there is something but doesn't come to mind. I got made redundant last Summer, so I went freelance. Best. Thing. I Ever. Did. Better (and more challenging) work, better clients, less stress and more money.Successfully organizing a conference in a country I had never been to, with co-organizers I had never met in person before, was a bit of a stretch. Worth the experience as it led to new opportunities and contacts..Not really, maybe I should do this!There was a client, that had contracted a consultant team and I was at this team. Then, during the job we realize that one of the biggest problems of the client was at his logistics. And then I needed to re-organize his logistics, what I havent did before. Maybe my calculations was wrong, but we presented the client a new logistic-plan about 60% less expensive and not a plan to increase sales that was what the client ask. The client liked the result and agreed that the logistics was to expensive and he didnt notice before, and agreed too about he didnt need the sales increase, because with increased sales would increase logistic and possibly dont give the result he thinked about.The biggest stretch I have ever done in my professional life was to become a planner, while I still lived in Brazil. I used to be a graphic designer in one of the largest agencies in the region I am from (Belo Horizonte, Brazil). After my masters in Brand Management, I was hired by one of the best design shops in the region to start and head the Brand Strategy department. I completely stepped out of my comfort zone and I was constantly challenged , but I never learnt so much!There are times in many individual careers where we have to step outside of our comfort zone and do something we aren't completely sure we can do. I have a feeling these stories will inspire other planners. Perhaps you enjoyed the experience or perhaps you didn't succeed at what you set out to accomplish, but if you have a story of personally stretching yourself beyond what you were certain you could do, would you please share it here? *I'm definitely an introvert by nature - I'd much prefer to sit back and observe behavior rather than get in front of people and ask them questions. I recently did a freelance project where I was dropped into a local market, all my planned meetings were canceled, and I had to improvise a lot of research. I found that people are way more willing to talk to you about their feelings about a brand than you may think. For every rude person there are multiple people who have plenty to say and are very nice about it. And sometimes the places that you least expect to find great research and insights will lead you to the best research and insights. I never wanted to focus myself on pure communication planning, so I went to college to be more focused on the business side, which is something that our market lacks a lot (most planners do not understand how clients work). If you're not feeling uncomfortable or stretched at least once a week you're not developing as much as you could be! taking the leap from being full-time employee for over 10 years to self-employment. The most liberating thing I have ever done.In my career, after 16 years, I realized that the world of advertising agencies is limited (at least in Venezuela) I decided to try out on my own business. It has been a complex experience, full of risks and frustrating moments. however, I think it is a necessary experience if you want to grow up Account planning from outside ad agencies is a higher levelquitting my job to go freelance. it was scary but it's the best career move i've ever made. I'm learning more than I ever thought possible, I'm more fulfilled, growing as a planner, doing some great work, with fantastic people - it's scary doing work outside my comfort zone but a wonderful challenge. that and I have a terrific work/life balance and I'm earning more money than I did in a permanent agency role. a big leap of faith but one I'm so glad i did!Quit a job and go freelance - even if it feld completely scary at first. Learning I can do it - struggle through tougher economic climate not giving up but using this phase to experiment e.g. with blogs and writing, expanding network. Going out and teaching planning classes even though I truly hate to speak to bigger groups - great chance to reflect on what makes up my job and how I actually go about doing it. Learning new skills all the time, step by step - exploring new territory one day at a time - e.g. with going freelance I knew I want to set up a company in the long run - taking this up very slowly with finding a business partner, making a plan, coming up with a concept etc - finding the right pace for me and us to do it - as there is no consistent plan that works for everyone. Coaching kidsQuitting my nice comfortable job to go sail the open seas of freelancing. Reading poetry out loud to others. We all present, but this is very intimate act, because it really is all you.Develop a start up company, in progress but as hard as I'd ever thought it would be and still oppressive.took over an ""internal branding workshop"" from a collegue, which included elements of communication training & team building - never did that before. surprisingly during the workshop some long-sleeping ideas from my university studies emerged and I skipped the program from team-building to organization diagnosis. very well perceived by participant. inspired by this experience, I decided to broaden my portfolio into change management etc. and wrote in for a professional advanced trainingAt very young age, I was called to work in the marketing team of a presidential election. First, I was surrounded by very experienced people in this field. I decided to learn with them as much as I could with them. It was very intense and unique.Quitting a job that wasn't right for me without anything else lined up was one of the most courageous and scary things I've done. Then deciding to take on my own side projects in that time - who knew if I could satisfy my clients or where to even start, but I accomplished my first project and got repeat business, as well as referrals. It felt great.The first time I moderated a focus group was pretty daunting. It was for a high tech client so the group was mainly comprised of male software engineers. I was a 26 year old female and I was intimidated. I went in with my moderator guide and I think they must have felt sorry for me because within five minutes they were all trying to make me feel at ease. After those first few minutes, the conversation was interesting and flowed and no one seemed to care about my sex or age. Most importantly, we ended up with some great insights.I am a Community First Responder in the UK. If someone local to me needs an ambulance and there isn't one nearby then they send me ahead. We are primarily there for time-critical, life-threatening emergencies: cardiac arrests, heart attacks, breathing problems. I have had to learn completely new skills and have faced situations I wouldn't wish on my worst enemies. It's nothing to do with Planning - it's to do with real life and real priorities, to do with what's really important to people. It makes me a better person and indirectly a better planner.sing show tunesWhen the economy tanked in 2000/01, the agency where I work closed its doors. I co-founded my own agency with two colleagues. I've since left it - it's still open and doing well - but the first year was all high and lows as I learned about IT systems, finding office space, accountants and learning the ins and outs of incorporating. Figuring out what you want your own agency to stand for is very heady and empowering. Winning your first client is fantastic. Your first check is beautiful.No inspiration here. I hate running client meetings (love running focus groups) and every time I try, I walk away reminded of why this is just not my strength. But I do it when asked and do my best each time.Freelancing itself is difficult because you have to jump in and just pick up and go. It's stressful but exciting.I never thought I could succeed as a freelancer, but these last couple of years I've actually done that. I've networked my ass off, raised my hand to do all sorts of projects (including straight-up research projects and heavy-duty financial / quant stuff) and kept the lights on at home as a result. 2008-9 was kind of rough, but 2010-2011 has been a different story. People are calling ME, and I'm actually turning work down. Scary, eh? I'm currently working with an inventor and entrepreneur as well as some friends in a design agency to launch a completely new product in a new market.Moving to a new country, knowing nobody and having to start all over again is daunting.. But I will get there :)Last year I had the opportunity to work on a US piece of business while being based in Toronto, Canada. What made the project so interesting was that it would be looking at North American as a market and allow me to work with a VP at BBDO on the project as we try to street a client who wanted to head online. The client has primally been in print, radio and the odd TV spot in it's 30 years. They did do some SEO but beyond that they weren't online that much. The challenge was figuring out where the client should be online and how to focus their time along with a new website that was being taken into account. One of the biggest projects I've worked on and a strong focus on social media. As a freelancer, I try to deliberately take on clients & projects where there's a significant element i've never done before (eg. target market, product category, media channels, etc)Sometimes I need to learn procedures on the job or write survey guides in less than optimal time for me. (It's due asap because the client waited so long to start the project.) This can be stressful if the stakes are high. So far so good. It pays to know how to stay calm in a crisis!i left an amazing job at an agency to go out on my own with no clients lined up and only the seed of an idea for how i would create a business. I spent some time finding my differentiating skill set and crafting my own brand. i take risks every day. and sometimes i'm stressed out about my income. but it's the best decision i ever made.I changed my job (originally a teacher) looking for a wider professional horizon in the advertising industry. It worked, at least for the last fifteen years.The most important thing in any profession is the human being. Be accurate to understand its ways and you will succeed. Sometimes I was very successful in doing that. Some other ones I completely failure. The important thing is to always remember that you can learn from your failures. I like to think that I do.I tried to work as a part-time teaching assistant at a local university's faculty of media and communications systems. The course I taught was a simplified version of comparative Cultural Studies on ""trends and lifestyles in contemporary society"".I was an account manager and i gave up my good and comfortable jog to try planning, which is what i love to do. You have to believe in yourself. You cannot hold THE solution, you will build it on the way you go WITH your client.Quit. Don't take the next job on the next rung of the ladder. Follow your dream. Think of the way you would want to run a company or a way to work. Then go find someone to partner with and make it real. It will scare the shit out of you. Then you'll get your first assignment, and your next and next and pretty soon you'll have more people asking for your time than you have time to give. It will work if you believe in yourself and your abilities. And you'll learn more this way than at any company or agency you'll ever work at.Ever heard of the Ugly duckling turn into a beautiful swan princess for real? Well my story is on those lines except there was no crowning involved. I was on a course in england- a foreign land for me, with a different accent & I had to deliver on brands that were very british and for the british too! So automatically being alien to that culture,I was never expected to have the answers nor the understanding of that market. But I worked hard, overcoming every barrier in my head and out and concentrated on applying myself to my ultimate best. I won some projects and also lost some crucial ones. I concentrated on the lessons learnt and still didn’t show my fear of working out of the comfort zone and soon it became a habbit, which very rewardingly earned me my distinction in my MA. And now I seek appropriately challenging and fulfilling employment.Programming an event in which we asked 50+ creatives and entrepreneurs within the creative industries to share their experiences and knowledge. Right now I'm writing on a book. Taking over account management of an account for a couple of months that taught me to respect suits more and learn more about the end to end process. Moderate workshops with clients. Its easy to present and preach but to facilitate and make people DO is a lot harder especially dealing with people who are foreign to the creative approach to problem solving.After spending a year planning on a client's business, my work was done and the agency hired an account person to take over. 3 weeks later the client requested I become the account person instead because she simply liked the way I ran meetings and got things done. Although I was not qualified, she insisted I be given the support I needed to succeed. It was a brutal year but the experience was invaluable. I would have kept going but November 2008 happened and the company pulled all budgets for advertising. I guess my decision of giving up a well-paid job at an ad agency for the sake of professional and personal freedom as a self employed professional was my last risky leap. Although times are rough it was well worth doing. Never felt so much alive before: it's both a kick in the ass and a rush of blood at the same time.For me, this would be choosing to pursue a freelance career. At the onset, I can't say that I was completely sure that I was the right move and there are times when I still question that move, but it's been very fulfilling for me. I can work when I want, where and want and with who I want and am completely accountable for all the decisions made.Eight months ago I left my steady job as a Head of Planning and started my own agency with a colleague as part of a joint venture with another business. It was terrifying and exciting simultaneously. Although I had experienced redundancy in the past, this was voluntary unemployment rather than imposed. Planners have a reputation of being a little bit flaky when it comes to being organised and having a 'commercial brain' - that is, we're paid to be smart lateral thinkers but not necessarily run businesses. All that detail, invoicing, being organised and commercially attuned doesn't always come naturally. So perhaps I wondered whether I was capable of running a business at all. In the end that venture didn't work out - but not because we lacked clients. Instead we were let down by the other business owner. The lesson was not trusting instincts about people which ironically, planners tend to be good at! Now, I have my own small company, I'm offering freelance planning resource and I also have the freedom to work as a professional actor. It's a very different working life, it's undeniably difficult at first to get established but the freedom is addictive. It's still early days with this new company but I think I made the right decision. Planners are generally creative, resourceful and intuitive - great attributes in any kind of business. However many might surprise themselves at their other abilities that perhaps don't get tested in agency life. My first bit of advice is do something that really scares you at least once a year - you'll benefit from the experience. The second is don't stay in a planning job that you're comfortable with, doesn't challenge you or makes you miserable. You'll be amazed at what else is waiting for you out there.Taking the leap to become self-employeed. I could never work at a company again, but it was scary as hell making the leap. Seeing a gap and an opportunity I created the Connecticut Social Media Breakfast. While it serves a mix of small businesses, corporate Social Media types and agency folks it helped get me and others involved in thinking about how much we wanted to learn and needed to know about what was going on in social media. That has led and is leading to additional opportunities and ideasModerating both in-depth interviews and focus groups with seasoned, degreed, credentialed clients watching via remote video link. That's never easy.Every time I step in front of a class of grad students and know I need to command their attention for 3 hours I'm challenged to think bigger and inspire. I am finishing a children's book which has been completely different for me. Getting back to those storytelling genes that I may have lost amongst too many new business pitches and client meetings.I was offered with a job outside my country. I took it and directed a brand new planning area. Everything was new, from the country, to new consumers, habits, brands. It was a great experience to get out of the box and change perspectives. I interned for 6 months, without pay, and after completing my master's degree in Advertising Planning from the academy of art univ. but I really liked the place, the methodology, and most importantly the people. I am now a freelance consultant and love the people i work with and love what i do, how i do it and am happy about it everyday i do it- oh yeah and i get paid for something i would die to do anyway. worth the wait.My comfort zone is taking on anything that's thrown my way and making it work -so the hardest thing I've done is to refuse to work on a particular account for political reasons. It created a lot tension at the time but I held my ground and have no regrets. I'm writing a book - non fiction. Would have never thought I could pull it off. But it's getting there now.I think the first time, years ago, when I had to own the development of a brand's strategy. I was nervous that I was missing something that would be obvious to everyone else. At the end of the day I was really proud of what was developed... but it took me letting myself feel vulnerable before that could happen. Researching and analyzing ecommerce vendors for a potential clientThe first time I led ethnographies I thought, what the hell am I doing here? I knew I was the right person in the agency to be leading it, but there is no practice. You just jump in. I felt like a fraud the first time but it didn't take long to get used to it.No one really has cracked ""how to work' in this day and age. I'm trying like hell to figure that out and pitching that to everyone. Some of the biggest companies in the world have listened and it is cool to think somewhere in the world a group of people are working better because of my work. That feels good. I'm not certain I've cracked anything but I've asked smart people to try my way. They have. And it helps.Although I don't think this is what you're asking for. moving around N. America for different positions has been both interesting and stressful. Travel has always been a stimulator for me. Before getting into advertising, I wandered around the Far East for a year with a backpack.Working with industrial designersI was the official photographer for my last ethnographic project. It felt exhilarating, to say I'm a photographer, when someone asked at the hotel why I'm carrying tripods and other gear!I personally like to step outside of my comfort zone, it gives me motivation and I feel more courageous to move to a new step. The feeling is: ""since I could do that high jump, I can deal with this little thing too..."". For me it happened when I worked outside my country. First, I had to work in English, with people who only spoke English...Everyday it was a battle to win, everyday were new things to do and learn.my current project: create a consultancy firm. UX'ing!I guess my last book probably qualifies, here. It wasn't a business book, didn't conform to the write/speak/consult model that drives a lot of marketing writing. It was written for consumers, it shared a lot about how branding really works, and it proposed a difficult and possibly unpopular solution to what's wrong with consumerism today. It was challenging to write, more personal than I expected, and came with some risk to my professional franchise. None of the things I feared has materiali

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