Last week my colleague, Sarah Campbell, and I attended Philly Ad Club’s “Six Successful Women in Advertising” seminar. After walking in late and grabbing the last two seats in the back row, we were skeptical about what was to come. Both of us are vertically challenged and couldn’t see past the heads obstructed our view of the stage. So we just listened. We heard incredibly inspiring stories about hard work, dedication, and perseverance.
Annie Heckenberger, Vice President and Group Director of Communications Strategy at Digitas Health, reminisced about the start of her career. Long before her social media days, Annie worked as a waitress and held an internship in between her shifts, often sleeping as little as 4 hours — sounds pretty familiar. While in college, I interned at a music label and thought it was the coolest gig until I realized I had no money to do anything. I picked up a job at a retail store on the days I didn’t have my internship and waitressed on the weekends.
Listening lead me to reflect on how much has evolved in work culture for women and how fortunate we are to work in a time when women before us paved a path for our relevance and success. A common theme throughout the night emerged: in order to be successful at work it is helpful to lead a full and dynamic life, guided by genuine interest and curiosity. This enables us to think outside the traditional bounds of an office or agency setting and to draw on inspiration that might otherwise be overlooked.
Caroline Kennedy captured this truth beautifully when she made the distinction between ambition and passion, noting that ambition while instrumental to our success will rarely compare to the fruits produced from following our natural authentic interests. Akin to this was the emphasis on generating quality over quantity and the fact that we don’t need to work all the time to be the best at what we do.