Desperately Seeking Change

POSTED BY on Nov 4, 2014

I returned from Seattle knowing I had experienced something special, and convinced I needed to do something with that feeling as I set out to build a studio in NYC. But I didn’t know where to start. I’m sure, reader, you’ll appreciate the paralyzing moment when you are a bundle of thoughts, impressions and ideas, but they still feel like a mess. Or just not strong enough. It is certainly a familiar feeling to anybody in the business of creating.

There are tons of articles out there right now about talent retention and the role culture plays in the matter, but it also seems like few places are nailing it. So I needed a vision. An idea that creates something new in New York that reflects the culture of Seattle. So I did what I know how to do best, which is to start a conversation with people whose opinions I highly respect and trust.

Kristin and Kaz…and the white furry thing is Gray – friends reunited.

Kristin and Kaz have both been exposed to a lot of different agencies and put a lot of thought and consideration into where they spend their working hours. We have commiserated about the state of our industry, and that beast called agency culture, many times in the past.

For me, what came out of our afternoon of catching up were the seeds of the way I want the studio to feel. When I described my immersion into HA, the people I encountered, the interactions, the philosophy, the reaction was that it sounded like something different. Not only for employees, but clients would certainly feel it too. It could just be me, but there seems to be a ripple of discontent here in NY that I know we can change.

Some fresh air is coming.

What I heard loud and clear is that there is more to building culture than ping-pong tables, outings, happy hour and fashionable space. To me, you don’t manufacture culture; rather culture is a by-product of collective happiness, non-forced bonds, and mutual respect and trust.

A rant about NY, which has some truth to it but perhaps not ready for primetime.

Love the edge/Lose the bite

Love the bullishness/Lose the bullshit

Love the style/Lose the attitude

Love the freshness/Lose the hot air

Love the bullishness/Lose the bullies

Kathy Soranno is the Executive Creative Director and Managing Director of Hornall Anderson's New York studio. You can contact her at: k_soranno@hornallanderson.com.

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