“Stop being so bloody busy” The best advice I’ve received
When one of the most impressive advertising leaders in the world told me to “Stop Being So Bloody Busy”, his words had a profound impact, and changed the way I operate.
Miles Young, now the global CEO of Ogilvy, opened his speech to the regional PR leadership meeting in Cambodia with: “Now- here’s my message: please, stop being so bloody busy.” When he explained what he meant, it was clear his advice was invaluable.
It’s advice that has made me learn to slow down periodically… to stop and think…and has helped me become a better Trusted Advisor, and indeed friend. Here’s how Miles explained himself.
“Each of you has an enormous amount of value to bring to your clients. You are expert and have much to offer. But you allow yourselves to get so busy on ‘stuff’ that you lose touch with the value you can bring. Slow down a bit. Find time to think calmly. Find ‘no agenda’ time to talk with clients; to really listen to their issues, fears and aspirations. Find time to use your knowledge to provide thoughtful counsel and solutions. Slow down; think more; leverage what you know.”
There are two ways I have since learnt to ‘slow down’ so as to deliver more value. Both are invaluable and have fundamentally changed who I am and what I do.
1. I visit my Third Place once a week.
Starbucks built its business on the concept of a Third Place. We have home. We have work. But where is that Third Place we can escape to, where we feel ‘at home’, and where we can spend quality time ‘thinking’?
For me, it’s a café in Crows Nest in Sydney. I go there once a week on the way to work. They’re just bringing in the milk when I arrive. I read the papers, thoroughly (online and off). Then I start thinking about my life, and my work. What am I spending my time on? Is it the right priority? What are my Big Rocks for the month ahead? What should I spend more time on? What are the major issues? How best to solve them? I scribble, draw, make lists, map it all out on a big piece of A3 paper. Two hours later, I have clarity- on my priorities, and on my direction.
I always leave my Third Place with a spring in my step.
2. I meet clients and other important contacts for breakfast.
I try to have at least two breakfasts a week with clients and key contacts. It is an excellent time of day to have calm, thoughtful and inspiring conversations. And it rarely takes more than an hour of our time.
There is never a firm agenda. Just “Let’s catch up for breakfast.”
I know these contacts (friends is a better description) enjoy them too. If I don’t set one up for a while, they contact me. I’m getting tearful now just thinking about some of the great, deep, genuine, meaningful, profound conversations I have been privileged to have shared with wonderful people over breakfast.
Great ideas have come out of these sessions. Big solutions to client problems. Most often, it’s an opportunity to share real feelings and fears, to be an outstanding listener: and sometimes, to offer counsel. Try it. Please. It’s a habit I am deeply grateful for.
So- stop being so bloody busy. We all need ammunition in our bag of tricks to keep ourselves at our best for clients and others we care about. I’ve outlined two that work for me. How do you slow down to think and connect?