Leading By Example


group-workYou know what really irks me about our industry? It’s a myth that too many buy into, and something that holds too many of us back.

“No one likes creativity by committee. It never works.”

This is so not true! Collaboration can and does work. In fact, it’s the best way to work. But the onus is upon us to make it work. Successful, creative energy requires strong leadership, clear direction, and a commitment across all levels. Seeds for great ideas can come from anyplace, at any time, and at any level. From there, it is necessary for every leader to check his or her ego at the door while guiding and nurturing—not dictating—these ideas as they evolve into something fully realized. Collaboration is about equal partnership—between staff, with clients, wherever ideas can blossom.

I have had the good luck to work under some great leaders in my career. One of the greatest was Jim Dale, the creative director I first worked with at Doner 25 years ago. Jim used to say, “Advertising is a simple business. Not easy, but simple. Advertising is what we get paid for, but ideas are what we get paid more for. Because ideas always get funded, whether they are in the budget or not, and, because ideas generate energy in a way that advertising alone cannot.”

This has been one of the guiding principles of my career, and something I have always fought to instill in those who work with me and for me. The agencies that are successful today are the ones that have clear leadership, and are unafraid of embracing who they are and what they stand for. These are the agencies that meet their clients and dare to collaborate on big ideas and valuable partnerships, not just the quick fix in reaction to a demanding RFP.

It’s not just about talking the talk, though. It is equally important for the 4A’s to walk the walk. So, how does an association created in 1917 update itself to help its staff and members perform more effectively? Collaboration, cooperation and creativity have been a key motivation for our move to a new, open environment on Avenue of the Americas in New York City.

We are now poised to do even better, more proactive work for our members. With our renewed energy, we can respond more nimbly and guide more ably in an ever-changing marketing landscape.

As I walk through our new office, I am reminded so much of my days at Doner, where the hallways were filled with creative and cooperative spirit, and which led to the formation of some of the greatest, most iconic ideas the business produced at the time. We welcome and encourage all of our members to stop by 1065 Avenue of the Americas (or Sixth Avenue, for die-hard New Yorkers!) anytime they are in the area.

About Nancy Hill

Nancy Hill is the President-CEO of the American Association of Advertising Agencies. Nancy’s background is steeped in technology experience from work with clients like Cisco, Microsoft, LucasArts, Sybase, Sony and Verizon. Honored as a Woman to Watch by Advertising Age in 2008, Nancy has been named by both the Arthritis Foundation and the Girl Scouts of New York as a Woman of Distinction.


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