The power of feedback
Feedback and connection are top of the list when it comes to building both careers and companies. “What brilliant clients are great at is saying this is what I love,” explains Ellis. She believes that on the whole, clients are better at giving feedback both to staff and to the companies they work with, than agencies are.
Ellis believes that this day to day feedback is crucial to improving the work and is equally vital when it comes to career development. However, she warns, “I don’t see people prioritising that individual feedback which not only drives the creative output but the careers and cultures of the companies and individuals making it.”
It is a business shift which means that individuals and organisations need to become more comfortable with a culture of continual feedback. She adds, “For every five pieces of positive feedback you give, you can have one piece of more challenging feedback.”
Changing the ratio
Of course, feedback only works if as individuals we are open minded to change, and it is notable that Ellis is passionate about the importance of setting our individual assumptions aside in order to thrive. Pointing to the fact that just 13% of creative directors are women, she urges people to challenge their own assumptions. “What if we started with the belief that change would work; how different would your short-list look if you advertised every Executive Creative Director role as flexible?” she asks.
Ellis’ own career trajectory is evidence in itself of the power and potential of flexible talent. Yet it is to her credit that she urges readers not to focus on the “shiny outcome” of a book deal with Penguin. She explains, “Four years ago we had a conversation with an agent that didn’t go anywhere. We self-published our first book on confidence. Behind that shiny outcome there is a lot of hard work; you experience higher highs and lower lows when you are a small business.”
In a marketing ecosystem in which the majority of columnists, commentators and published authors are male, Ellis and Tupper mark a welcome change in the ratio. Despite it being 2020, women growing their careers in the creative industries still risk feeling alienated by a business press that can all too often feel rigidly masculine.
It’s an ecosystem in which the practicality and honesty of Ellis’ own career journey is so refreshing. “We are ambitious, we ae driven and we both work full-time, but we want to be there for nursery pick-ups. We know we need time for other things,” Ellis explains. The duo therefore holds each other to account when it comes to holidays and switching off. “Part of our operating system is the need to recover,” she explains.
As the conversation on the need for a new operating system for marketing continues apace, leaders must be mindful of missing the biggest lever of change of all; people.