Always be Prepared: One Account Director’s Motto
I was never a Boy Scout. And I’m pretty sure my second grade self only went to Girl Scout meetings for the cookies (because who doesn’t love Thin Mints?), but, in my years in account management, I’ve learned to live by the Scout’s Motto: Always be prepared.
I’ve always been a classic Type A personality (this won’t shock those who know me), but it was my first job as an Assistant Account Executive at a major advertising agency in New York City that engrained preparedness into my mind as a true necessity.
Being prepared was more than a request; I quickly realized it was a requirement to be able to support my team and do my job effectively. I tackled the basics with relative ease: my notebook, pen and Blackberry were pretty much superglued to my hands, I always had the right documents with me for my team to reference, hard copies were printed before meetings, client-facing documents were checked no less than 10 times before they were sent… the list goes on and on.
It wasn’t until our L.A. based client came to town for the first time though that I truly understood the value of being overly prepared. In the weeks leading up to their visit, my team was on edge. It was our first shoot as a team and we were up against very demanding clients. There was building pressure from the client’s senior management, complex shoot logistics and celebrity talent that was challenging to say the least, and I was tasked with coordinating the schedule for 2 clients across a 3-day print shoot. I knew that we would be under the microscope more than ever, and that being impeccably organized would be crucial to our success. I successfully wrangled the barrage of requests for meetings, meeting rooms, hotel reservations, and transportation like usual, but like any good wannabe Boy Scout, I didn’t stop there…
I thought through what else the clients would need while they where in town and I prepared for just about anything I could think of. When my boss asked, “what are we going to do about dinner on Tuesday?” I had already made reservations at 3 different restaurants so the clients could choose where they wanted to go. When the Client asked for a quiet place on set where she could make phone calls throughout the day, I already had a separate room with a speakerphone booked. When I arrived on set to meet the Client and she was frantically looking for an iPhone charger (she had left hers on the plane), I had already thought ahead and borrowed one from someone in the office, just in case anyone needed it. For the rest of the week, anytime anyone needed anything, from gum to Advil to Band-Aids to phone chargers, I had it with me. The Clients couldn’t have been more grateful, my boss was thrilled, and I realized that making this extra effort for the Clients really made the difference in how they valued our team.
Preparedness soon became like second nature to me, and to this day, it’s something that is ingrained in the way that I work with clients and my team. I’m always tracking at least one, if not two steps ahead, and thinking about who might need what in order to be successful, whether it is a senior client or an intern in our own company.
It not only helps keep me on track personally, but it helps my team as well, and it means that we’re ready to handle just about anything that anyone throws at us.
Being prepared is hands down the best lesson I’ve ever learned, Scout’s honor.