The Importance of Being Brave and Being Heard
A reflection from AdWeek New York, through the eyes of a millennial woman.
I looked out the window from my seat on our flight, taking in the first sighting of the New York City skyline. I’d been up since 4:00am, traveling all day. I’d been feeling anxious, nervous, and afraid of the unknown that was ahead of me for the next 7 days. The sun was just starting to set as we grew closer and closer to the ground. The song “Brave” by Sara Bareilles filled my headphones (later to become the anthem of my trip) and it hit me: I was 23, sitting next to our Executive Vice President on the way into the heart of Manhattan to attend Advertising Week. It was so surreal.
Hot topics and inspiring takeaways.
I dove into the week-long adventure with some of the best and brightest from the advertising industry. The first day’s sessions I attended were part of a string of events focused on gender equality.
Diversity was one of the most dominant topics discussed throughout the week. Brands are rethinking the way they represent both women and men in their advertisements.
I was introduced to #Femvertising, a new movement making its way through the advertising world focused on women’s strength and empowerment while still selling products. Angelique Roche, VP of External Affairs for the Ms. Foundation for Women, highlighted how ads are moving to be more purpose-driven. Brands are rethinking the way they represent people. The mindset that “any brand coverage is good coverage” is gone. It’s about authenticity.
“Ads go viral because people can connect to them, they’re real, and they tell real stories about how that product can fit in people’s lives.” — Angelique Roche
Many of the speakers commented on what they felt was the key to pushing through this positive change. And while the industry still has work to do around diversity, equality, and inclusion — it was clear that there’s a collective shift towards empowerment of people from diverse backgrounds. (“Say what you want to say!” rang through my head.)
Surrounded by trailblazing industry leaders sharing personal experiences and advice to challenge stereotypes and pave the way for future generations, what I was feeling was almost indescribable. As a young woman just starting out in my career, I was overwhelmingly inspired by their passion for change and their drive to use advertising power for good. Jodi Harris, VP of Consumer Strategy & Insights at Anheuser-Busch, made a comment that really stuck with me:
“I’ve got one powerful tool, and that’s a voice. And if we want to be heard we have to use that voice to make a difference.” — Jodi Harris
(Those song lyrics quickly filled my head again. “Be brave, I thought, ‘You can start speakin up…”)
Here’s what I want to say.
Adweek opened my eyes to how much power the advertising industry holds. P&G’s Marc Pritchard mentioned that their ads touch 5 billion people around the world. “For P&G,” Marc said, “that’s an opportunity alone for us to express diversity.”
Over the past week, I realized more and more that we have a responsibility to contribute to the conversation.
Together, we can collectively lift each other up. We should stop just talking about creating change, but actually do it.
To say Adweek was an experience that I’ll never forget is an understatement. I often find myself in a constant state of unfamiliarity, being so young in my career. Few people can really explain what life is like after college. However, as much of a whirlwind of unknowns your early career can be, experiences like this are significant building blocks.
Not only was I exposed to the industry’s most notable speakers, but I experienced Adweek with our CEO, EVP, and Client Services Director right by my side. We talked daily. We reflected on the speakers. We shared our own personal experiences. Hearing from them about their career advice and their unique perspectives on business and individual growth gave me confidence and was half of the excitement and impact.
While diversity, inclusion, social good, and empowerment were all hot topics during the week, so was the huge impact that millennials can have. As a millennial myself, hearing over and over about how influential my generation is becoming ignited an eagerness in me to use that power for good, and to make a real impact.
My advice for those twenty somethings out there who may find themselves in similar shoes, faced with an incredible opportunity:
Take every opportunity that’s given to you. You won’t regret it. Be bold. Be brave. And embrace the unexpected. You might find yourself caught up in nerves, emotions, and questioning your next move. Always keep in mind there’s nothing stopping you from achieving your dreams other than yourself.
When you start to doubt yourself, remember you’re here for a purpose and let that purpose guide your future. When you dream, dream big. Find your passions, embrace them, and use them for good.
I want to see you be brave.
We recently sent two people from the Level team to #AWNewYork. They took us behind the scenes of the New York hustle on Snapchat and captured live, inspiring chats from industry leaders like Sheryl Sandberg on Twitter. These are thoughts by Andria Posmoga, a Producer at Level, a purpose-driven digital design firm. Connect with Andria on Linkedin to continue the conversation.