What’s the Adman’s Greatest Weapon?

In Small Man, Big Ideas, Wannabe CEO on January 4, 2011 at 9:26 am

It’s not his set of magic markers.

Nor his copy of Vance Packard’s Hidden Persuaders.

Not even his super PA (though my Helena is almost equally indispensable).

Are you sure you’re ready for the big revelation?

It’s his ears. Used properly, they will pick up countless throwaway comments that could turn into that great, big, beautiful idea we’re all desperately in search of. I know, because I’ve been there. I’ve been in those brainstorms and rescued the unheard, unwanted nugget. I’ve had lunch with the in-laws where I’ve swapped Yorkshire pudding for dictaphone. I’ve loitered in the shopping mall and eavesdropped on teenagers’ private conversations. You should too. Here’s a simple exercise to get you in the groove. Practise cupping your hands behind your ears in your bedroom just to get you used to the fact that from now on you’re going to be using them as satellite dishes. Even rotate your head from side to side to remind you that the answer can come from any quarter – often from the quiet soul in the corner of the meeting room. Learn to sort the wheat from the chaff. This takes time and you may accumulate a couple of barns full of drivel before you find the germ you’re searching for. Just be patient. Meanwhile I suggest investing in a pair of ear muffs or a woolly hat to protect your prize possessions in this Arctic weather (For all you Antipodeans, it’s bloody freezing up here). In fact, don’t stop at the headgear. Go the whole hog, like I have, and get them insured. If you had a CEO as enlightened as I am, you could put it through on expenses.

  1. We should be listening more. As for putting it through on expenses, I might give that one a miss…

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