Our module leader has asked us to write a reflective essay on the course to post in our blog, yes a final post. Well of course she doesn’t recommend to stop posting, on the contrary a key learning from her on this class has been: “to keep networking”…POST! POST! POST! BLOG! BLOG! BLOG! TWEET! TWEET! TWEET! “Put yourselves out there” Corrine says. It sounds like an intelligent thing to do if you ask me…we live in a super competitive world, where the Internet dominates practically everything, and more online presence just opens more opportunities for you. The increase of Internet users, just translates into more interaction and more brands online; the appeal in this networking world is indubitable (Marketing in the Digital Age Market Assessment, Key Note, 2009)
It seems obvious then that one of the things that I have learned from this course is to NETWORK. And yes, I have talked about the blog, about twitter, but I have not mentioned the importance of attending to events and conferences that can be of opportunity for us (meaning related to our specialization or future career goals). Corrine suggested to us to attend as may as we could, and to do what there? Of course to network! To go and talk to people, and ask them about them, about their jobs, their interests, etc. etc. Ask for their business cards and give them ours. Create contacts. Contact your contacts. Email them. Talk to them. Again the bottom message is “put yourselves out there”. And I must to tell you, it works! My actual job (new one of course) came out from that. While I was here in Mexico for Christmas holidays, I took Corrine’s word and I contacted some of my old contacts, from the PR agency that worked for the company I used to work for, and o’voilà! I got a job from that e-mail! Basically the people form this agency would have completely forgotten me if I wouldn’t have emailed them. So to answer my classmate question “Do we really need the ideal moment to get a job?“ (Kanin’s blog, 2012), yes, completely, if I had not sent that e-mail in that precise moment I would not be where I am right now. And finally, take my teacher’s advice (now also my advice), keep your contacts, you never know when you’ll need them.
Further in the class of ‘Design Thinking’ I learned another thing: how to CREATE A BUSINESS out of the blue. Impossible you think? Well it’s not, our whole class made it! First we had to form teams, and the goal was to create a business in a few weeks. Of course for us it seemed impossible too, at the beginning we were discouraged and we thought that our teacher didn’t know what was she asking from us. Now I thank her for this. I take a major lesson with this experience: don’t wait for things to happen, make them happen. Turn your idea into entreprise (Catherine Gurling, 2011). This was the basis for this course, from then on, we just had to make things happen; professionally but fast. Think, create, promote and sell. From here on things starting to change and to make sense little by little. At the first stage we needed to BRAINSTORM. This part has always resulted fun and hardly difficult for me. I see it as the ‘creativity part’ since I think that is when all the creativity is unleashed. Words and ideas just come out of me without caring about the consequences or responses. Who doesn’t enjoy saying things randomly without caring? But as I said in posts before, there is no brainstorming like a team brainstorming. What you say to someone can unleash creative ideas in that someone’s head, and if as a team you work to look for the best joint idea and not focus on an individual idea, I’m sure you will create something 10 times better. So in conclusion, a third lesson for me in this course was the importance to team brainstorm and the lack of importance for individualistic thoughts and ideas, as my classmate Kalina clearly states “disqualifying ideas is at the core of people’s problems to communicate with each other and more importantly – to create with each other and for each other” (Kalina’s blog, 2012)
From here I can easily refer to you to the importance of TEAMWORK in this course. What would have happened if we had been asked to do a business by ourselves? Or easier, think of a business? Clearly all of our business would have extremely failed. You need a team to make things happen. You need more than one brain. There is no success without a team behind. Like Drew and Coulson (1996) clarify “new product development almost always depends on effective and high-energy group efforts”. Yes, it is also significantly hard to work in teams. Especially when individuals with different culture and career backgrounds form the team. All of us think differently, and all of us think that our way is the right way. I’m not saying it’s easy, and I’m not saying you would not encounter difficulties; on the contrary, you will most definitely have ‘double trouble’. However, you most definitely have double success too. It is known that success doesn’t come easy, and in our module no one can say it was. Nevertheless, I can affirm you that from my gratifying experience in creating sitonit, promoting it and selling it, none of that would have happened if it wasn’t for the teamwork and team effort behind it. Endless meetings, discussions, disagreements, rewards, victories, and memorable moments, form sitonit. All of that makes sitonit what it is today.
SELLING AND PROMOTING the business was also a challenging but rewarding task. Once the product was done we had to decide our targeting and positioning (Catherine’s Morel lecture, 2011) , that resulted harder than it look, since it changed over time quite a few times. Then we had to promote our product to this target through social media, which resulted easier. And at some point of the course we were asked to create an advertisement. For me, as an advertiser, making the ad was probably the most gratifying experience of the whole masters. We had total freedom to create a 30 to 60 second spot for sitonit, usually a rare thing for an advertiser (total freedom to work is not something we advertisers enjoy from). In the end we didn’t have the quality and budget that we needed of course, but for a homemade ad I have to say that the idea its what counts, and our spot I’m proud to say that it was the result from a fun and amazing idea; the alive sitonits being the protagonists of the spot. Of course, promoting sitonit and its ad through social-media was key for us as entrepreneurs without a budget. And now that I think of it, I don’t know what would this have been without social-media. Again, the importance to network, and in this case is seen not only for individuals or entrepreneurs, but also for companies. As Rodriguez (2008) states the Web has become a force for change in the relation between consumers and companies.
CREATIVITY has also been encouraged and impulse by most of our module leaders in this MA. From essays, to art pieces, to businesses, this master has definitely detonated my creative side. Plus now I can differentiate between creativity, innovation and entrepreneurship, which it may sound weird but it’s not something I used to think of consciously. Now I can distinguish if a person is being one or the other, and I know the importance of doing the three of them if I want to create my own business in the future. Since creativity is considered the generation of new ideas, innovation the successful execution of those new ideas, and entrepeneurship the act of coordinating and leveragingmanagerial resources (Wilson and Stokes, 2005). Also, observation and awareness are some of the skills that I have gained from the course to achieve a creative mind, or more ad hoc a design thinking approach. I have learned to be aware of human needs, to observe people with different products and to categorize and segment groups of people. All of this is extremely important for an advertiser’s career in my opinion, given the diversity of product categories, markets and clients that I will be working with. So I can say, that for me this course has been key to construct my creative career.
Another thing that I can observe from what I have learned on this master is from my classmates. DIVERSITY in cultures and background was a major factor in making this experience what it was. A completely different story would have happened if we all had been from the same country or the same career background. Honestly, at the beginning I was a bit deceptive with the whole ‘different specializations’ type of program, but in the end I learned from each and every one of them and that makes my experience and my build up of learnings a completely different thing. However, being open is not always easy, like my French classmate says “our country of origin, the country in which we evolve generate and predestine many preconceived ideas about other countries” (Benjamine’s blog, 2012), this is typically known…you always have some kind of idea of foreigners, most of the time we judge people for where they come from and not what they are. But breaking with this stereotypes and thoughts has changed the way I learned and appreciate the course. And now I can say that I have friends from all around the world!
Another important learning from the ‘Design Thinking’ experience was to always DO THE RIGHT THING. Our module leader, Corrine, has encouraged us in a non-verbal way to look for the right thing to do. She has never said so directly, but with her example I have learned to care more about others and to care to take the right path for our business and for our lives. When we had a lesson on ‘stop human traffic’, all of this ‘doing the right thing’ or ‘caring for societies problems’ started to become food for thought. I am not the type of person that thinks that these things can’t be taught, on the contrary, society needs to teach this. In this lesson we were asked to go ahead and question people around Kingston on human trafficking, and the shocking result was that no one really knows or in fact cares. Human being’s tend to not be affected by a problem that is not there, not always because they are selfish, but because they don’t live with it, and it’s hard to be truly aware on something you don’t live on your day-to-day basis. At the end, in this class of ‘stop human traffic’ we got to put to practice all of our ‘Design Thinking’ skills; brainstorming, teamwork and social-media skills all formed part of this session. It was exciting to do something new and different for all of us I think. And I felt like we were making a difference, a tiny one but we were. Our ideas and proposals were listened and taking into account by a detective in London specialized in human trafficking, and by the high management of a truly important NGO on human trafficking, who clearly state that by creating awareness and understanding of human trafficking then you are already doing something (Stop the traffik, 2012). And this is why I thought we made some difference, just by being there presenting our ideas to those judges, and understanding what human traffic is about, and of course by helping others understand too.
Now that this masters has ended, I have to ask myself WHERE TO? Even if I’m already settling in here back in Mexico, and in a new job and in practically a new life, I still have the long-term goal to create my own advertising agency. And I can gladly say that this masters, and specially the experience of creating and managing a business, have been extremely useful for me to achieve my goal some day. Now at least I know the basic steps to get there. I know the do’s and don’ts, and the rules for a business. Of course the agency will happen in a completely different industry and market than sitonit, however all the key learnings and experiences will definitely help me in a future entrepreneur experience. Not to mention the acquired social-media and networking skills. I’m not saying it will be easy or that I have all the skills I need to achieve my goal of becoming a businesswoman or for creating my own agency, but I do believe that this experience in Kingston University has given me the chance of opening a door of opportunities thanks to the gained skills along this year.
To end this post, I will like to profoundly thank our module leader Corrine, for being a fantastic teacher and from showing us the world from a different aspect. Of course, I will also like to thank my classmates and friends from having given me the best moments of the course. And last but not least, to thank Catherine Morel the course leader, which has always lead us into a free spirit. Now I can say I’m proud to be a MACER11!