The recent OMMA Global conference in New York was a good event. There were many interesting people and great discussions, spanning every corner of the digital marketing and media world.
As the show’s emcee, I was sensitive to an undertone of uncertainty and restlessness — one that was largely driven by our weak economy and digital’s continuing evolution and disruption of everything we know about our industry. It’s exciting for some, and scary for many.
In our opening keynote discussion, Gord Hotchkiss and I addressed this state of affairs where everything seems to be changing around us. In a world lacking bearings, we underscored new mandates, such as: embracing change and acting nimble; operating according to authentic values, purpose and mission; listening closely to the marketplace with great humility; and shedding legacy.
But something else happened to me at OMMA Global that underscored a more important mandate: perspective.
By coincidence, I ran into an old college buddy, whom I hadn’t seen in 16 years. He worked in the online advertising industry in the mid- and late ’90s, but we’d lost touch. After exchanging hugs, I dished up my signature greeting: “How’s life!” Well, a few years ago doctors discovered a tumor on his spine. He had to have several spinal plates removed in order to remove the tumor. Doctors told hi
m with certainty that he’d live the rest of his post-operation life paralyzed. He was facing the end of his life — or at least a very different and challenging one.
Fortunately, he didn’t end up paralyzed. While there are some lingering side effects, he gained back most physical abilities. While that was a relief, he lost both his parents shortly thereafter. Given how positive and enthusiastic my friend was, this was clearly a case of mind over matter.
That conversation forced a lot of perspective on my day. Sure, your work and career and industry matter a ton, especially if you directly support a family or employ families. That’s a very big deal. But it’s also important to remember how fragile and unsuspecting life can be — and how out of our control it can become, instantly. My friend reminded me how important it is to balance expectations of long-term certainty with the knowledge and grounding that it can all change in a heartbeat.
Don’t forget that.
This also was my last column in MediaPost.
(Photo credit: epSos.de)