The Power of &

AUTHOR'S NOTE:  I suppose not many people are passionate about a punctuation mark -- but I always have been.  The first thing I did was write this to my staff.   Subsequent actions have included an & tattoo on my ankle, but that's another story. As always, confidential and proprietary information has been removed.    

Dear Colleagues,

 Here is what motivated me to write:


Why, you ask, did a gigantic ampersand motivate me to write?

Inspiration struck yesterday, as I needed to balance the working & Mom part of my life. As I sent my 16-year old son off to school (driving our car not boarding a school bus anymore) it occurred to me I've been trying to make the ampersand work for a long, long time. Trying to be an effectiveleader at work... & a loving, present Mom at home. When I’m successful, it is without doubt my greatest reward; when I am less than successful, it is without doubt my greatest source of stress.

I’m certainly not alone it that quest. We have many working Moms (and Dads!) who are committed to delivering on that & too.

But what got me thinking about all of you was not the & that is part of balancing our personal and professional lives, but rather it is the & that is required of us in our professional lives alone — and this applies to all of us — not just parents.

I suspect we all struggle with that conflict — albeit subtle sometimes — multiple times a day whether we realize it or not. For example, we are well-known and respected for our client service — which seems to suggest that we should do whatever it takes to make our clients happy. But wait: Here is that pesky &. We’re also expected to run our agency profitably. Deliver stellar client service & make a fair profit. Yup. That's our job. We have to do both. We have make the & real.

And while we are on the subject of making money, I know we all understand that profitability in the agency world equates to billable hours. But then there are those unplanned, non-billable and important things that come up – like our incredible tradition of community service. Or new business pitches. Or the colleague who comes to you seeking your ideas, advice or help on something.

How do we handle that?

Yup, you guessed it— the answer is in the &. We simply have to find a way to do both. I don't mean to imply that the answer is always adding extra hours to your day (though I know and appreciate that sometimes this is the answer for many of us). What I do mean is that success comes from understanding the importance of our growth and our culture to our future & recognizing that being profitable in the short term paves the way for that future!

I wish I could tell you I’ve picked up some secrets, or tricks of the trade over the years about how to do it all.

All I can say is that it has been helpful to recognize the power of that little symbol – the &. We will all have our greatest successes (and I do believe our greatest happiness) when we learn how to deliver on the &, whatever that & looks like to you: Work hard & play hard. Deliver great client service & a profit. Be a great creativet & a great parent. Make that deadline & contribute to a new business pitch.

I promise you that if you find a way to embrace the &,  you will accomplish your goals & feel fulfilled.