“Please don’t hire anyone else.” This was the plea of a colleague many years ago when I traveled north from California to Oregon to a production company known as Tyee. Tasked with building a media planning and buying arm, my job was to transform the business into a full-fledged advertising agency. As someone whose ambition was intent on growth, I was, needless to say, taken aback by this comment. The person making the appeal wanted things to be the way they used to be, when the organization, led by a handful of partners, was small and family-like. This individual was opposed to the one thing that we all know is constant: change.
That comment was made over 20 years ago, yet it still haunts me. Why is it that some people embrace change, while others resist it? I suspect there are a number of reasons. Change represents a threat to the status quo; it is disruptive and can be confusing. It can make one feel as though they have lost control. It invites skepticism. It involves risk.
Change alters the narrative that one may have been telling for some time, upending identities. Let me illustrate by example: A colleague once worked at a local PBS affiliate during its annual fundraising drive. He suggested embracing a few direct marketing tactics that had been effective in the for-profit world to promote what was a nonprofit, public broadcasting affiliate. Management resisted, I suspect, because the idea of thinking like a capitalist was off-brand for the organization, its pervasive “altruistic” culture, and their own egos. In other words, thinking like a rational businessperson seemed too unsavory to embrace. But from the perspective of our colleague, they “just didn’t get it.” Out of frustration, he left and started his own agency to take advantage of his knowledge. Today, that trailblazer—Andy Latimer—has built one of the most innovative, successful, and award-winning direct marketing enterprises in the country: Bluewater Media.
This article originally appeared on Electronicretailermag.com. You can view the full version here.