Lessons in Life From Second Graders

growth-mindset-PAGE-2017I recently read a terrific article from Greg Hahn, BBDO’s Chief Creative Officer, called Why this Second Grade Handout Should Be Your New Creative Manifesto. Really smart stuff based on a ciriculum night visit by Greg to his second grader daughter’s class.

The document they handed to the parents simply calls for students to develop a “Growth Mindset”—to reach higher, never accept mediocrity, to make mistakes and learn and to persevere.

I don’t know Greg even though we share BBDO background. But interestingly he represents today’s embodiment of the BBDO Mission, “The Work”. It was always about the work at BBDO. What made BBDO great and still does is the third sentence of the mindset:

It’s Good Enough vs. Is This Really My Best Work?

I had the “benefit” of working at BBDO (1977-1989) and seeing the late Phil Dusenberry tear into someone’s work…”This isn’t just sh-t. It’s dog sh-t” as I recall once hearing. There were many others exhortations. He was always right. Ironically the work was never bad that got presented to Phil. You couldn’t work at BBDO and present bad work to Phil. But Phil was the original EL EXIGENTE –“The Demanding One”. BTW, that was a brilliant campaign that still fell short because I suspect even if you remembered it you didn’t recall it was for Savarin coffee. Phil expected greatness and pushed everyone to deliver at the highest level. BBDO was a big successful agency before Phil took the creative helm, but it became great under his leadership because he demanded it.

I learned a lot from BBDO, and Greg no doubt is delivering the same message to BBDOers today in his own way. I suspect his daughter is learning those lessons in school and at home as well. If those 2nd graders adopt the Growth Mindset they might become successful BBDOers some day as well.

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