It is around this time each year that I have the privilege of being a judge for the Media Week Awards, which will be revealed at a black-tie awards dinner at Grosvenor House in London tomorrow (10 October).
These awards matter because it is when all the great performances in our industry are reviewed and we pick the very best, awarding our clients, media agencies and media owners with the highest accolades for their work in media creativity, execution and delivery.
But there is one category of the Media Week Awards, in particular, that is very close to my heart – the Rising Star awards for media agencies and media owners.
For the winners of these awards, we look beyond performance and what has been achieved to date or in the present. We also look towards potential and what could be achieved in the future.
For context, the judging process involves an initial online judging round where the full, longlist of written entries – this year, there were nearly 100 entrants – is scored by each judge and then whittled down to a final six, who are shortlisted in two categories: media owner and media agency.
The finalists then attend a judging day – sometimes by Skype or FaceTime if they cannot physically attend – where they each present for 20 minutes to a room full of industry "veterans" (and strangers!) and then take our questions.
It must be a daunting experience for these young individuals. But, each year, I am impressed again by the talent and potential within these amazing people.
They are wise beyond their years and, increasingly, we are seeing a new breed of digitally savvy entrepreneurs entering these award categories.
And the potential that they have to grow our industry and deliver great work for our clients is huge – new and creative ideas on new digital and technology platforms, integrating complex media plans across different geographies and targeting new audiences, and often with new client products and services.
The standard is constantly rising and just meeting the criteria for success is not enough any more. You have to be "standout" and your potential is the element that makes you the winner.
It is inspiring and speaks volumes to the overall potential of our industry and these talented young people.
How can you measure potential?
Now it has often been proved that past performance is not necessarily a reliable indicator of future success, particularly in an industry where constant change is now the norm.
So what is potential and how can you measure it? One definition of potential is a person’s stable but developable qualities that are likely to predict future success.
And why is it important to recognise those human qualities? Because, in the end, it’s our people – and not the technology or data – that make us different and better, and that produce the great work for our clients to win Media Week Awards and make us proud of the industry that we work in.
At Denstu Aegis Network, we use a potential model based on three core elements: judgment, drive and influence.
Judgment is about the intellectual qualities of success. It explores how we think, solve problems, make decisions and balance depth of understanding with practicality and creativity. How do we recognise all the factors, apply intellectual and analytical rigour to problem-solving and frame situations applying different perspectives? It’s about how we think more than how well we think – moving beyond IQ and bringing in other thinking.
Drive is about the emotional qualities of success. It examines the forces that motivate us to succeed and face into challenges as well as how we manage our emotions and self-confidence. It’s not just about what we want or care about. It concerns how we mange our emotions, what we aspire to be – our sense of purpose and the impact we want to have. It is about using our own initiative and taking responsibility for our own success while balancing confidence and humility in equal parts to being self-assured and resilient.
Influence is about the social qualities of success. It looks at our level of insight into ourselves and others, and how we use this information to adjust reliably to our environment. It concerns how self-aware you are – knowing your talents and blindspots and how other people see you. Knowing your own style and being able to flex, while constantly balancing adaptability with authenticity. It means having a great environmental radar and sense of all the forces at work, tuning into different perspectives, interests and motivations. And it’s about having a wide range of influence and being able to have impact with different audiences using different communication styles and messages.
So judging potential is a complicated job. Bringing together people’s judgment, drive and influence to offer a clear view on how far they could go – that is what we are doing when we are judging the very best young talent in our industry at the Media Week Awards.
So the very best of luck to all those individuals and companies that are shortlisted at this year’s Media Week Awards – and especially to the Rising Star nominees.
Because the potential of our people is the potential of our industry.
Ivor Falvey is global talent planning director at Dentsu Aegis Network and a judge on the Media Week Awards' Rising Star categories