Havas Chicago’s group account director on the moment he took a step back to innovate
Jonathan King is a group account director at Havas Chicago with a wealth of integrated experience across iconic brands such as Kraft Heinz, Capital One, Molson Coors and Keurig Dr Pepper.
Many start their careers emulating their senior colleagues. You look up to them, keep your head down and charge forward. And when it comes to account management, you factor in the element of process, which can yield a somewhat tight box. For years, I operated in this safe model following the ‘linear steps of advertising.’ I did a good job and went home every night satisfied with a hard day’s work, eagerly excited for the next.
And then I had a former boss give me a piece of advice that changed my professional posture and, effectively, the course of my career. She said one word with conviction: ‘innovate.’ Instantly, the paradigm in which I comfortably operated was shattered. I had always been a rule follower, but the moment I started to take a step back and innovate, my career was catalysed. Innovation, as I’ve used it as a mantra and guiding light, has been leveraged in three nuanced ways throughout my vocational journey:
1. Innovate – To fully invent and introduce something new. This could be the proposal of an annual trends presentation for your client as a means to becoming an indispensable partner.
2. Innovate – To adjust to optimise. This could be a new structure to that annual presentation that plays better for your audience.
3. Innovate – To completely zig while others zag to leverage the power of disruption. This is a radically different approach to that annual presentation that really gets the audience talking.
These definitions have become tools in my arsenal that allow me to approach each situation with the mindset to assess and confidently choose the best course — not because ‘it’s what we should do’ but because ‘this is the most dynamic path forward.’ This focus on innovation impacts how I approach client relationships, how I partner with teams to foster culture-shaking work, in every conversation throughout the day. This innovation-led attitude gives me the opportunity to show up as a bold and confident leader who’s not afraid to shake things up to empower greater efficacy for our team. It has been a career life changer for me, and it’s something that anyone can pick up and use on their own.
I’ll leave you with a powerful quote that encapsulates what can happen when you embrace the art of innovation.
“Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower.” – Steve Jobs