Transcript of YouTube speech by Carol Williams
Max Planck, quantum theorist and Nobel prize winner said, “When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.” Max wasn’t an ad man, he was observing and theorizing about the fundamental nature of the universe. He saw that the very act of observation changes the outcome of an experiment. I found this to be true over and over again. I found that when I take the I, the ego, out of how I look at things, amazing things happen. Things change. They fit together in new ways. Metaphors, parallels, connections, links. The possibilities emerge and truly matter. People try to teach creative, but it’s about finding the mindset that works. The space where I can tap into the cultural collective unconscious and give voice to it; what people are not going to play back to you in a focus groups. Today, we have better tools that help us see through the eyes of others, like the customer journey, which helps us see through others’ eyes the moments that matter as they engage with the world, experiences, brands, products.
What’s clear to me is that long before the advent of the customer journey, I, as a creative and strategist, just did this work in my heart and head. It’s a skill that was inchoate. I was a black woman from the South side of Chicago in a white man’s world. As a matter of survival, I had to see differently, take in a very little at face value. I became adept seeing through others’ eyes to see and understand and feel life’s moments, rituals, and products from their perspective. “Finger licking good” work done that good is an index, evidence of a good time. Shades of sexuality, shades of wholesomeness, indulgence of others coming together in a powerful nexus. I took languages from one of my cultures to the mainstream audience in a way that created tremendous resonance, and the metaphor, “Strong enough for a man but made for a woman” embrace contradictions and link deeply-held-together ideas about men and women to reframe what the brand means. We framed it to embrace her reality of working hard while celebrating her femininity.
How does the product see the world? How does a brand see the world? How does culture see the world? As a creative and a leader, I’ve cultivated the power to change the way I see things. In doing so, my power was liberated. In the book. Ego is the Enemy, Ryan Holiday explains that many successful people stop being a student. You want to be challenged by the people around you. It’s important not to fall into the trap of thinking it’s all about me. What often happens to us when we get into leadership, management, we stopped doing the very things that made us successful. Your competency in other things then falls to the wayside. Leadership is not only what you say, it’s what you do.
Never give up your real genius, your real creativity. We understand potential of raw materials in the data, human capital in the culture and in creating a space to recapture it. We live in an era where everyone focuses on driving growth. I keep growing. My team keeps growing. I need you to keep growing. We America need you to grow. You are where your attention is and if your attention is everywhere, then you can be nowhere. Roger Federer is the greatest tennis player of all time because there is no yesterday in the way he plays. He fights to stay in the moment.