Demonstrate your value rather than talking about it.

Luis Miranda, Strategy & Innovation Director at Grupo Gallegos on the importance of showing & proving your understanding of human nature.

May 19, 2014 · 8 min read

BRANDS ARE CONFRONTED WITH MANY CHALLENGES TO STAY RELEVANT. From demographic changes to technology disruptions and new preferences and behaviors from people buying their products and services.

Helping brands deal with these new challenges is one of the tasks of Strategy & Innovation Director at Grupo Gallegos, Luis Miranda.

We caught up with Luis to get his views and thoughts on how to prosper in the creative industry.

To a certain extend Dj’ing and planning were about observing people’s behaviors and applying psychology.

Luis Miranda

Q:How did you get started in advertising and specifically planning?

Luis Miranda: “In baiting a trap with cheese always leave room for the mouse.” This quote from “Truth, Lies, and Advertising” inspired me to jump into advertising and try a role that John Steel’s book described as inspiring and fun.

At that time I still didn’t have a clear career path. I had changed from studying Maths to Marketing while working professionally as DJ in radio stations and clubs.

I felt there was a lot similarity between what I had read a planner did and what I did as a DJ, so I decided to try it out. To a certain extend both were about observing people’s behaviors and applying psychology.

Luckily, I started in advertising in JWT Madrid, where a team of 5 talented planners were my first contact with the planning world, but where I really got my hands dirty was at a small creative shop called Publicis Lado C.

I owe a lot to Laura Sampedro, to whom I’m eternally thankful for that opportunity. After Publicis Spain, it was a journey full of different experiences.

I moved to Singapore to taste the multicultural richness of Asia, then back to Spain for an immersion in the digital world with Wysiwyg Razorfish.

Finally, I landed on the beaches of California with my current agency, Grupo Gallegos.

Q: What are some of the risks and opportunities facing the creative industry?

Luis Miranda: Losing relevancy is a big risk of the ad industry. In order to remain central to culture the industry needs to maintain relevant among the talent who move our industry. The escape from talent is there.

People are more aware of other great opportunities beyond working for an advertising agency where to invest and develop a career or (even more relevant) to become an entrepreneur.

With agencies focused on creating stories for products and start-ups on creating products with a story, more agencies should play in between both worlds. That could help to retain and attract talent as well as keep it exciting.

A second risk are “shiny objects”, like Big Data.

Nowadays, there is the risk of misusing big data. It should help us come up with great ideas instead of being used as a substitute for great ideas.

A third risk is to turn our near future into a world of Phygital Spamming, like the one in the famous scene of Minority Report.

Today, pop-up notifications are becoming the new spam, together with facial & retina recognition.

I know in theory all of us will be able to control our feed, that we will live in an economy of privacy and that content is going to be personalized for your interests but even so it sounds a bit scary, overwhelming and too much to a programmatic creativity without emotion. Hopefully the functional part will be invisible.

On the other hand, technology has created a new canvas for opportunities, inventing the future of storytelling. Interactions, products and businesses just need to follow the new behaviors and cultural dynamics.

Enabling external innovation through I.P. (Innovation Partnerships) is a great opportunity for the creative industry.

We’ve already seen brands and some governments reaping the benefits of opening their API’s, building relations with communities of developers and organizing Hack-athons.

Making the most of the collective creative energy for good and influencing a better future is as huge an opportunity as it is a challenge. That’s the exciting part.

Q: What qualities do you look for in a successful Planner?

Luis Miranda:

  1. Curiosity;
  2. Imagination;
  3. Ability to defend a position;
  4. Useful collaboration.

I look for people passionate about life and who live to explore culture. People with a zeal for understanding human behavior and culture.

They’re always in a “beta mode”: learning and getting better. Citizens of the world who combine book/blog smarts with street smarts to reveal and re-frame interesting tensions and truths.

I look for people who dream of inventing the future and apply imagination to solving problems.

Those who look at things beyond the obvious, who ask different questions to get to different answers.

I look for people with criteria and a point of view, among other things, because they will be more likely to apply the rigor and precision of thought the job requires while having the guts to trust their instincts.

The ones who stand up for their own ideas about what works, what doesn’t and why, without fear to embrace failure and learn from it.

However one of the most important qualities is his/her personal attitude.

I look for enthusiasm, especially because we play in a fragmented strategic world with the need to persuade, partner with, and inspire an increasingly diverse group of people.

Regarding this, I love this observation from spiritual teacher Eckhart Tolle:

“…with enthusiasm you find you don’t have to do it all yourself. Sustained enthusiasm brings into existence a wave of creative energy and all you have to do then is ride the wave.”

Therefore I look for positive collaborators who know that being useful is better than being smart.

To sum up all while stealing from Richard Huntington, what I really look for are forward-thinking motherfuckers.

Q: If you were to test a candidate’s skills by giving them a small project, what would you ask them to do ?

Luis Miranda: I don’t know it depends on the seniority of the candidate and the position that needs to be filled.

It could be as simple as role-playing exercise on selling a strategy or deconstructing a campaign and writing its creative brief or a SWOT analysis on a brand.

Q: What should students and graduates, looking to up their chances of breaking into the industry, focus on, in terms of skills and knowledge topics?

Luis Miranda: Nowadays the role of planning is getting even broader, I like to call this “Augmented Planning.”

I think most of the classic basic skills are still needed and valid, but we are not in the business of communications anymore, but in the business of Creative Marketing. This opens up an array of broad and inspiring areas of skills and knowledge for newcomers.

Some of the new key areas of knowledge and experimentation are:

  • Product & Service Design;
  • Data Science;
  • Digital Transformation/Responsive Business Design
  • Business Strategy & Models;
  • Start-up Marketing.

However with so much change, it is key to stop from time to time and evaluate your thinking. Filter what works from what doesn’t and what is important from what is not.

Regarding skills, anything that helps you to persuade by doing and showing rather than just talking, like experimental approaches, coding, or prototyping, will help graduates.

The best way to break into the industry is to apply these new skills to yourself and find ways to demonstrate your value rather than talk about it.

Show how you think and make things

Q: In his essay on how to build brands in the digital age, Martin Weigel writes: “There is as much to unlearn as there is to relearn”. What are you unlearning and relearning? Why?

“Relearning: How does communication really works

Learning: Aurdino & Code”

Luis Miranda

Luis Miranda: Well first, thank you Martin for the inspiring work. I’ve unlearned some harmful wisdom of our industry.

With so much short term results pressure, it is good to relearn the work of Les Binet and Peter Field “The Long and the short of it” to remember a key aspect of how communication works and to explore ways of taking a similar approach to digital experiences.

I’m relearning about the idea of top of mind. How the role of apps, weareables and closed ecosystems can move the nature of “top of mind” from an intangible to a tangible place.

Also, working in a Hispanic agency makes you relearn approaches to market from a cultural perspective, especially looking at the future of the US where the new general market is turning into a Multicultural market.

But my current area of learning is related to Interactions: I started to learn Arduino and Code.

  1. Firstly, because Robots are going to dominated the world…kind of ☺.
  2. Secondly, I see it as an exercise in Selfnography. If we work in a creative industry we should at least play with and understand the toys and the language.

Q: With the way that tech, design, comms and product development are merging, what would you advise 20 year old self, if he asked you where to work?

Luis Miranda: I don’t think the 20 years old Luis would focus on something that wasn’t following a passion. It would definitely be something related to electronic Music.

I would say in product/service design in the music industry, maybe exploring new ways of physical/digital interactions for live music or marketing your own idea.

There’s a lot of room for innovation and invention in the DJ & clubbing industry and it sounds really fun.

Finally, I would remind him that beyond technology, this is and always will be about people’s behaviors, so go beyond digital planning and do planning for a digital world.

Thank you Mr Miranda.

“Where the puck is going” is an interview series by GapJumpers. We ask people we like and find interesting to share their thoughts. Whenever we find someone willing to answer our questions, we’ll feature them. If you’d like to stay updated on more stories, please follow the collection.


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