I was in Barcelona last week having a few days rest and recuperation with a friend. It's the first time off I've had since May so I think it was well deserved and I took full advantage of it. I returned to the office on Tuesday and it's taken me a couple of days to get back into the swnig of things. When I was thinking about this last night the only comparison I could think of (because planners love comparisons) was the superb Michael Owen.
I'm a Newcastle fan, so I'm probably a bit biased about what's written below. I do like to think that I can be an unbiased magpies fan though, so hopefully it's a little bit on the ball... (I'm not unbiased when it comes to filhty mackems though... unless you want to offer me a job and you come from the amazingly beautiful and underrated Sunderland... what a lovely place... erm...)
Michael Owen gets injured frequently
Whilst my sick record is the opposite to his (a couple of days over the past couple of years I think), I do get distracted a lot. And yes, this is the same. It means sometimes I find a tangent and need to explore it robstly until I get back into the main gist of something. However, this is a bonus as a few times my exploration of this tangent has led to a change in the project - a positive change. There's a thing we do here at Woo towers called Parallel Problem Solving where we look at things from different angles and my thinking helps to solve problems in non-contextual, non-formulaic ways. That's when it's a benefit of having a background that isn't in the industry - your thinking isn't sullied by the same thinking that everyone else participates in.
Michael Owen takes a few games to get fully fit again after an injury
When I come back from a holiday it takes me a couple of days to fully get back into the agency mould. I plan 100% of my time, whether I'm on holiday or not. I'm always questioning things, exploring things and looking at things out of context and thinking about how they can benefit my clients. I'm the type of planner that lives the job. I can't turn it off. It does, however, take me a little bit of time to get warmed up to the agency life side of things when I come back. The hustle and the bustle and all that.
Michael Owen isn't the best striker in the world
... but he contributes to make a small team that little bit better. I see this point as being chronologically opposite to my own situation... hopefully. Michael Owen started at the top, maintained that level for a while then moved a little bit down the scale (yes, yes, I know NUFC aren't actually very good) and works his trade there giving 100% week in week out. I've started at a mid-level agency and I hopefully contribute to make our output that little bit better. I think I help give us that little point of differentiation compared to some other agencies. I'm the Michael Owen that comes on to change the game when the long ball to Peter Crouch doesn't work out. Other agencies use the Peter Crouch long ball game a lot. I'm hoping that if I can't help make this place break into the top 4 of the Premiership then someone will come along with a massive transfer fee to tempt me to join the big players... although I reckon I'll have to employ a bloody good agent to take backhanders for that to happen... or maybe not.
Michael Owen knows his roots
He still resides in the North West and is grateful for what he's got. (Mind you, if I was getting paid about £120k a week I think I'd say thankyou as well...) I'm from a very much working class background in the North East. I moved down to London by myself in an attempt to forge my life into something more interesting than building sites (my dad is a builder) or welding factories. Through hard work, dedication and luck I've turned out ok I think. I do honestly believe this background helps me improve my planning. Part of our job is to break down the boundaries between client and consumer. If the consumer is in the lower rungs of our social ladder I don't need to conduct TGI runs or focus groups, I was one, and my family still are. I of course test my initial gut feeling with research tools, but I do believe in my gut and it's rarely let me down in the past. Most other planners I know come from pretty middle/ upper class backgrounds (as do most people in agencies) and I do feel my background does give me something a little bit different that sometimes comes in handy. It's all too easy to fall into the trap in meetings of "what would I do?" when it must be "what would the consumer do?"
When he's fully fit he's deadly
Planning is living, living is planning. All animals are equal but some are more equal than others. He has a better scoring record against some teams opposed to some others. It's the same in my work. I connect better with some clients than I do with others. I think that's only natural. I'm a human and there are some clients I believe in more, some I refuse to work for and some I more easily connect with on an emotional level. Like Michael Owen I'll always give 100% but sometimes against various opposition (or for certain clients) you just seem to get more passes on target, you get into the box more, you get more shots on target.
My name is Mark, and I like scoring.