Celebrating our 10th anniversary

I’ve always enjoyed reading articles about learnings by people who inspire me. It’s always surprising to see how personal they turn out to be, even when they are about professional life. After all, everything is personal….

OneBigRobot just turned 10 years old and I couldn’t feel prouder to be still around, alive and kicking, after such a long time. For anyone interested, here are my 10 learnings of 10 years at the agency.

  1. It’s all about people. It’s not about technology or design or storytelling or innovation. Well, it’s in part about that. But it’s mainly about finding people that share your values and vision. People that share your work ethic and are willing to walk together on the same path. Any success in any agency will come from the strong relationships you are capable of building. That goes for coworkers, collaborators and clients. Always look for long-term relationships that can be.
  2. Personal is political. Make choices that define who you are and what you believe in. Forget about the work-life balance. It’s the wrong question. Organize your time so that you can enjoy personal spaces of leisure, but always be ready to find ideas and inspiration. On the other hand, when you are working, find ways to decompress by laughing with your coworkers, finding perspective and understanding that this is a long game of ups and downs.
  3. Real Innovation is not about technology, it’s about a new way of thinking. It’s about creating a new society with different rules and values. That’s the innovation we look for. That is the ultimate goal to anything we do. And never settle for the easy answers to the easy questions. The questions are not about how to do the work or the technology behind a project. The big important questions are always what is the impact of this project and how are we contributing to change.
  4. Everything takes longer than expected. Patience is the key to a long relationship, both personal and professional ones. Even ideas sometimes take time to present themselves… I would like to tell you that being a creative person is the most important asset for this job, but many times I think that what I need the most is a big bag of patience :)
  5. Just try it. Just do it. If you know what you want, which is not always easy, go and try it. Contact that person. Make an appointment. Pitch your ideas. Prove your value. Just try it. Many times, people are willing to listen and give you a chance. Complicate your life by pursuing the almost unattainable…
  6. Learn the difficult art of the Yes and the No. Because I majored in Economics, I became aware of the concept of Cost of Opportunity very early on in my life. I never quite understood it until I had to make strategic decisions at OneBigRobot. You need to learn pretty early on when to say yes to opportunities and projects, but more importantly, say no when something does not fit your agency values or it comes at a wrong time. Never forget that as an agency, you are worth the products you put out there. It’s your responsibility to create the best possible projects with the time you have. Remember also that as a creative endeavour, you need to feel fulfilled most of the time. A good selection of Yes and Nos will give you a better chance to fell that way.
  7. Choose your partners wisely. Having a business partner is very similar to having a long-term relationship. Sometimes you’ll love them, sometimes you’ll want to kill them. Make sure that there is enough love so you will be strong enough when hard times hit you. A good partner will support you when you’re vulnerable, will share the hard times with you and will cheer you when success comes knocking on the door. Having someone to celebrate with or cry with is key to making it on the long run. Choose wisely.
  8. Life is not fair, but it’s still worth giving it your all. Sometimes you don’t get rewarded by what you do. Sometimes people are ungrateful. Sometimes clients can’t appreciate what you’ve done. Other times they won’t listen. Most of the times though, if you do it right, from the heart, they will. If you can, drop the ones that don’t understand the value of your relationship and your work. The ones that do get it deserve all of your time.
  9. Believe in yourself, more than anyone else will believe in you. Find ways to get better at what you do. Find inspiration everywhere and change your point of view. Everything in the world is a source of inspiration. Read, a lot. Watch movies and series. Go hiking. Have drinks with friends, often. Discuss politics, criticize what you don’t like but more importantly, try to find alternatives that would work. Help out, in every sense.
  10. Creativity can change the world. I once heard an activist say that the best way to change minds and behaviours is by being an influence on your parents, your friends, one person at a time. In our projects, we aim to target millions of people, but the truth is that a million only comes one by one. So, be political in your daily life. Speak up, don’t tolerate bullying, fight the good fights, stay away from those that don’t respect you, listen to the ones that need you, show generosity, defend your values, preach your values, keep close to the ones you love, treat everyone with kindness, vote and engage in civil and social issues that can transform society. Always take the side of those who don’t have a voice and try to give them a microphone in life. What you do, who you love and how you relate to others is what defines you. Support political options that define you, be generous with your time and spend some of it trying to make a change. What you do, who you love and how you relate to others is what makes you unique.

And I’ll add one, as a bonus. It’s a very simple one. As Chimamanda said, we should all be feminists. After 10 years working in a digital agency, there is nothing I want more than seeing a change in the way we women fit in this environment. If you’re interested in finding new ways of digitally educating people on feminism, please drop me a line.

Griselda Serra (OneBigRobot’s CEO)