My secret work weapon is something very close to me. It’s actually my daughter. Or, more specifically, it’s a picture I have on my desk of her when she was a toddler. In fact, it’s three pictures of her in one battered blue frame.
Bear with me on the schmaltz, because simply looking at it each day gives me several vital advantages. For a start, it never fails to make me laugh. Not simply because she’s grinning like a demented loon but more the circumstances of how it got there.
A couple of years ago, she did a week’s work experience at the agency. Noticing that my desk was devoid of personal items, she took it upon herself to bring in the battered frame of pictures of herself. Just herself, mind – none of her brother or my lovely wife.
It was only after some heated debate that pictures of my wife and son begrudgingly appeared too. So five great lessons right there.
One: Actions always speak louder than words – she saw a perceived problem and did something about it.
Two: Bitter (in this case sibling) rivalry is the dark side of ambition. It always exists in talented teams, however seemingly harmonious they appear, and needs to be mediated and channelled.
Three: Keep your sense of humour at all times – take the work seriously but yourself not so much.
Four: Let your personal life into work a bit more. It keeps your humanity – and your sanity – more or less intact. It helps remind me that, in the business of influence we profess to be in, it’s the emotional and personal that really count.
Five: Take the long perspective. It’s 16 years since these pictures were taken. Whatever happens today – good or bad – a day represents the tiniest speck in my entire career and helps me exude a sense of calm fortitude at all times.
Or as Kipling more eloquently put it, "if you can meet with Triumph and Disaster, and treat those two impostors just the same", the world will be yours.