August is a particularly delicious time of year in Paris. It is a month where it feels like the entire city has gone on holiday. While it is not a national holiday as such, it is part of a way of life and, for many, five to nine weeks of vacation a year are sacrosanct. For us lesser mortals crammed on the Tube or, worse still, at the mercy of the rail companies on our unforgiving and often un-air-conditioned commute, the prospect of such an extended break is tantalising; yet often out of reach.
For the marketing industry, which is ever-more enamored with and enslaved by technology, carving out the time and space to mentally and physically recharge is challenging. With this in mind, here are five ways to reboot your mind and your strategy this summer, which don’t involve taking nine weeks holiday.
1. Make happiness your KPI
Happiness is the most misunderstood driver of performance in business; yet very few employers or employees spend enough time focusing on what increasingly feels like the most elusive of goals. Nothing is more effective at rebooting your thinking than investing the time and thought necessary to discover what it is that truly drives your happiness.
This is not necessarily an easy task. According to recruitment consultancy Randstad, 53% of workers in the UK say they have to do the work of more than one person, and the average UK employee has to do the job of 1.4 people – the equivalent of a seven-day working week. In such an environment, it is easy to see why it is so important to take the time out to reboot your thinking.
2. Embrace health as the ultimate wealth
The easiest route to rebooting your thinking is to recharge your energy. For example, the simple directive to "move more", whether that’s embracing meetings on the go or scheduling more time for exercise, should not be ignored simply because it is so painfully obvious.
Cate Murden, founder of Push Mind & Body, which runs wellness retreats billed as "reboot camps" as well as working directly with businesses, says the simple truth is that life is better when you exercise as it improves every aspect of your life. "No one wants to be preached at," she adds, "but there are little things you can do to improve your health." Murden advocates a programme based on seven "primal movements", which enable clients to do an exercise session anywhere and at any time.
3. Set your own boundaries
Working where technology, culture and communication meet, marketers face particularly intense pressures.
Shawn Achor, chief executive of research consultancy Goodthink Inc, and one of the world’s leading thinkers on positive psychology, says we have reached a unique tipping point when it comes to the nature of work.
"We can no longer increase hours and workload and expect to see higher returns," he says. "In fact, we are finding that that those people forced to work the longest without feeling happy at work are getting the least done."
Yet Murden argues that we are in the midst of a significant shift, as more individuals recognise the degree to which stress narrows their choices. In light of this, executives are taking the time to identify their pressure points and set better boundaries. "Work/life balance is rising in importance and I see more people wanting to reclaim their lives and prioritise flexibility," she adds.
This trend is particularly pronounced among millennials, making it important for brands to ensure their leaders embrace and encourage this focus on flexibility. Indeed, this appears to be a factor in the success of marketing leaders such as Procter & Gamble’s Rosin Donnelly, who hasn’t had a breakfast meeting in 15 years.
Earlier this year at the 3% Conference in London, which championed creative female talent and leadership, delegates recieved an invaluable practical tip on how to enforce their boundaries. Namely, if you have a definite time to leave at the end of the day – whether due to childcare arrangements, or you have a dog to walk, a triathlon to train for or a life to live – take a page from the smokers' playbook. They don't usually announce that they're going to take a smoke break; they just get on with it. Once you've alerted management to your schedule, live by it without apologising for it every time you leave.
4. Empower yourself and embrace ‘eternal education’
In a world of constant flux, investing the time and energy necessary to keep abreast of our ever-changing media ecosystem is a vital ingredient of any marketing reboot. It is all to easy to conclude that you simply don’t have time to attend this conference or that training session. Nonetheless, our industry demands that we make the time to continue to learn and, as individuals, we have both the ability and responsibility to take control of our own professional development.
Julia Ingall, HR and talent management director at Ogilvy & Mather Group UK, says that individuals feel far more empowered when they are given control over their own development. She explains that her agency network runs several initiatives designed to give employees that ever-elusive ‘thinking time’.
Ingall adds: "It’s important to provide a variety of options, whether that’s a lunchtime running club or weekly mindfulness session, so that each individual can choose which activities suit their personal development goals."
5. If in doubt, kick the shit out of option B
It is all too easy to place a much-needed reboot at the very bottom of your seemingly endless to-do list – to treat success and happiness as something constantly out of your reach; a destination rather than an essential ingredient, the very lifeblood, of the here and now.
So let us not turn to a business book or life coach to provide the final fuel for a summer reboot, but instead a eulogy. In a moving essay penned after the sudden death of her beloved husband, Dave Goldberg, in May this year, Facebook chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg delivered a poignant wake-up call to us all.
Complacency is an intrinsic part of the human condition, something we are all prone to on both a personal and professional level. As Sandberg explained so eloquently: "I have learned how ephemeral everything can feel – and maybe everything is. That whatever rug you are standing on can be pulled right out from under you with absolutely no warning."
She went on to recall talking to a friend about a father-child activity that her husband used to do, and how they had come up with a plan to fill in for him; Sandberg cried: "But I want Dave, I want option A." To which her friend replied: "Option A is not available. So let’s just kick the shit out of option B".
Whether you are lucky enough to be holding on to Option A, or coming to terms with Option B, the time for a reboot has come. It’s a uniquely compelling assertion and one that has inspired millions to shake off the complacency and to embrace the possibilities of now – whatever roadblocks stand in the way.