As a brand and innovation strategist, I help brands define their purpose. Yet I’d never given much thought to mine. I had a vague idea that I wanted to run my own business one day but that thought had never felt urgent.
Having a baby was my AHA moment. My reality check. My wake-up call. There’s nothing like a screaming child to give you perspective about how you are spending your time.
Time, the world’s most precious and finite commodity. Time, the commodity that no-one (particularly agency folk) ever has enough of.
Creative agencies are unique beasts-- fast-paced, exciting, full of challenges and characters but also full of tight deadlines, multiple clients to juggle and never-ending pitches that result in long nights and working weekends.
It’s fun but also demanding of time in a way that, as you start to build a family, feels particularly challenging.
Sheryl Sandberg famously implored women to Lean In. But is it always enough? What if you don't like what you're leaning into? What if you don't want to deal with the stress of work and life never being in balance? Leaning out becomes an empowered choice, not a passive default.
Leaning out doesn't mean quitting your job, reducing your ambition, or lowering your standards. According to tech exec Melissa Orr, in her book Lean Out: The Truth About Women, Power, and the Workplace, it means “leaning out of someone else's story of who you should be, what your career looks like, and how you measure success”.
Advertising is a hard-working profession. Yet you shouldn’t need to bleed to succeed. Our assets are our people. Our ideas are our currency. All too often our industry uses young people like cannon fodder and burns out those with families or who have commitments outside the office.
From my vantage point, the people I see walking away fastest are women, often mothers. Too often, personal lives have to adhere to outmoded and often inefficient working structures that, in the end, can require too great a family sacrifice.
That is a shame and an avoidable waste of human capital. The truth is, ladies, we need your skills, we need your talent, we need your ideas, energy and passion. And we need to support each other if we are going to solve this problem. In her book, Orr says the future of women at work will be driven by the rising trend of female entrepreneurs as they leave the corporate world to create their own enterprises-- building supportive networks of people they can lean on.
For me, starting Studio Jigsaw helped me clarify what success means to me. It’s about feeling in control of my time and my life, choosing my goals consciously and developing my strengths. That’s why I’m re-writing creative working structures--building a fluid network of minds and makers, with stellar credentials and stand-out track records to work on client projects with me. Technology enables us to work from anywhere in a way that’s faster and better. To me, it’s not a gender issue. It's about work that works for everyone.
Come join me.