My career in advertising started in a Johannesburg basement. A web developer, somewhat shy, introverted, spending his time with others of his kind. As developers do.
Not quite a Mad Man. The introvert flourished and became a client-facing strategist. Swooping in, alongside his team, with the expected flare of an advertising man. It was not uncommon for Alta, my dear friend and Creative Director, to ask, “Werner, will you come with us to present this idea. We need someone to flap-lips.” You see, talking to clients, flapping-lips, was my ‘thing’.
Things have become much quieter since. Silence, an asset; honest insight locked in the energy of the unsaid.
I recently thanked a colleague for the work he did. I followed the exchange with, “Whats on your mind?” He went silent, for what felt like ages. Me, fighting the internal voice of Werner-wisdom wanting to break free from its chains. Then. His honesty cut through the awkward silence. Sharing what he thought about the work he delivered, and what he wanted from his career.
We often speak of human-centricity, but the noise of our insecurities drown out the voice of our customer, client, family and friends. Even worse, we think we know better. ‘Flapping lips’ has become a liability.
Selling has become such a wicked word for me. Yet, when it is about identifying meaningful problems, the transfer of emotion and making change happen for someone else. I can think of nothing nobler.