In the bold world of agency life, I wear a lot of different hats on any given day. From the worst (hard drive crashes, networking snafus, that sort of thing) to the best (client meetings, networking socials, that sort of thing), there are things I’ve learned from a variety of fictional characters. These are a few.
Occupation: Chief Engineer, USS Enterprise, United Federation of Planets
Trait to Emulate: Under-promise and over-deliver
Scotty is the master of making the impossible happen. When the Captain says he needs something in three hours, Scotty often informs him it will take something more along the lines of three days. In the end, though, the script is on the Captain’s side and Scotty once again earns his (other) nickname: “Miracle Worker.”
While the benefits of being the hero who came through in the clutch are obvious, keep in mind that this trait is dangerous to over-emulate. If you repeatedly tell a client that they have unrealistic expectations on a timeline and then manage to meet those unrealistic expectations, eventually they (like Captain Kirk) will come to assume that when you say “it can’t be done” you are simply blowing smoke and trying to make yourself look good when you come through yet again.
Occupation: “Troubleshooter” for the Phoenix Foundation
Trait to Emulate: Fixing problems with what you have on hand
MacGyver is so famous for his ability to fix things with simple household objects that his name has become a verb, ex. “I MacGyvered my sandal with one of those bread-clip things. Works great again.”
Anyone who has dealt with IT budgeting is familiar with the need to work with what you have on hand. Cobbling together a working laptop for a seldom-used conference room deployment out of the spare parts of three older machines which had various mechanical failures, that sort of thing.
Occupation: Royal Navy Commander, Secret Service Agent Codename 007
Trait to Emulate: Adaptability and grace in various settings
When you think James Bond, there are a lot of things that come to mind. Gadgets, perhaps. An English accent, of course. Beautiful women, dangerous men, guns, explosions, the list goes on and on. But one thing to note is what doesn’t change, no matter what sort of trouble Bond has gotten himself into – his ability to adapt to the situation and remain relatively cool and collected.
Now of course, even as bold as our agency is, I rarely find myself across a poker table from a man with a bleeding eyeball and sinister henchmen (though the guys in the A/V department are close). But I do find myself needing to switch gears quickly and remain calm, even when others around me might be in panic-mode. One morning I might be restoring important documents for a visually distraught co-worker, yet that afternoon it is time to don the suit and tie and start talking with potential (and existing) clients at a social.
Occupation: Special Agent with the FBI
Trait to Emulate: Healthy skepticism
Dana Scully is, for the first several seasons of the X-Files, the unbeliever. Every weird thing that happens to her and her partner must have a plausible explanation, or so she believes. Often she’s right. Sometimes the ending of an episode is left inconclusive. However, toward the end of the series’ run, she is convinced. She has seen too much to remain skeptical, and once everything else has been ruled out, what remains, no matter how illogical, must be the truth.
Healthy skepticism in the agency world is a must, these days. If we jumped at every new thing coming down the road and suggested it to our clients, we’d look pretty foolish. Once something has proven itself, however, we need to be knowledgeable about it and quick to get our clients up to speed so they can make use of it. Let’s take Google+ as an example. Right now the general consensus is that Google+ has a relatively limited following. It had huge growth when it first went public, but now people equate posting something on Google+ to making a speech to a huge room with 1 person in it.
That doesn’t mean things will stay that way. Change happens fast on the web, and today’s Facebook could be tomorrows Friendster. That’s why we call it “healthy” skepticism. I’ll believe it when I see it isn’t a bad stance to take on something like Google+ becoming the de facto social media outlet.
Kalvin Kingsley is the operations director for KK BOLD. He doesn’t actually wear a lot of hats, rarely even wearing one during a given work day. He says they might mess up his faux hawk. He’s also the only person on staff who knew that MacGyver’s first name was Angus.