Why professionalism matters

By Leslie Galbreath 

Seems pretty straightforward, right? Wrong. I find myself musing on this subject after recently receiving an outlandish pitch from a sales representative. The pitch was comprehensive in the sense that it included insults, sarcasm, sexism, threats and, most importantly, inaccurate and half-formed data. Basically, the message was, “You better buy my stuff you silly girl or you’ll be sorry.”

Those of you who know me can imagine my response to a sales pitch like this. But it got me thinking about the importance of qualities such as transparency, accuracy, fairness, honesty and diplomacy in the workplace – essentially, the professional values that make up the code of ethics I and my agency adhere to in our daily lives.

To me, these are not just words, these are guiding principles that mean something. They mean something in terms of the way we work with our clients, our media partners, our vendors and most importantly each other. Applying these values to the work we do creates trust and confidence. It ensures that we can offer the objective, informed counsel our clients expect from us. It makes it easy to avoid conflicts of interest. It allows us to advocate for our clients in a way that always serves them, the industry and the public interest at the same time. Applying this code of ethics improves our profession, and creates standards against which we measure ourselves. In other words, it keeps everyone accountable.

The pitch also got me thinking about the pragmatism of an approach like this. Who did this person think he would persuade? What meeting did he have with his advisors that they emerged with this as their best idea? Who are his advisors?

Chief among my responsibilities is loyalty to my clients and the brands they hold dear. At dgs, I make decisions and recommendations for my business and my clients based on key factors such as research and objectives. But I also make decisions based on professionalism and what is in the best interest of my clients and their reputations. I take this very seriously, as if each of them were my own company.

It used to be said that manufacturing was a relationship business. As communication has become faster, more digital in nature and broader in scope, it’s also become a numbers game which allow us as marketers to target our actions and measure out the fluff to the benefit of our clients. It’s hard to argue with data. But no matter how you look at it, at the heart of every industry and every company is people. All the data in the world means nothing if you can’t trust the messenger.

No one likes a bully, and in the end, the truth always wins out.


What’s happened to kids’ sports?

By Polly Bonacuse 

I come from an athletic family. Growing up, the more sports we played, the better – it was fun. So it’s no surprise that I have an athletic son, who is approaching the age group where sports are getting more and more competitive.

And I’m nervous.

In this past week alone, I’ve talked to a parent thinking about sending his kids to boarding school, in hopes that they’ll get a scholarship to a division one school. Another parent whose 5th grader is at school or a sporting practice/event from 6:30 am to 8 pm every weekday, with multiple games on the weekends (many out of town) and is trying to figure out how to make time for private lessons. Another family whose child has spent close to a year at required practices and camps, and has already sacrificed spring break, just to try out for the sport he wants to play.

What is going on?

I get that we parents all have high hopes for our kids and want them to succeed wherever their strengths lie. But my expectations are simple: I want my child to be part of something, have a sense of accomplishment and above all, have fun. (And as he gets a little older, stay out of trouble!)

Through sports, he is learning skills such as setting goals and working toward them. Learning how to lose, and also learning how to win. Participating on a team where teammates and coaches count on you. Knowing what it’s like to be the best player on a team, and the worst. He’s being physically active and making lasting friendships. These build character, which he will carry with him through life after sports (which, realistically, is after high school, as the percentage of high school athletes that go on to play college sports is in the single-digit range).

So, I’m nervous that my expectations aren’t high enough. That I’m doing him a disservice by encouraging him to play sports for fun instead of scholarship potential. Giving him free time to play outside with his buddies instead of paying for extra coaching. Allowing him to be a kid.

And a little weather Haiku to brighten your day:

Spring. How you tease us.
60 degrees, then it snows.
Let’s get on with it.


A woman’s place is everywhere.

By Leslie Galbreath 

International Women’s Day is an opportunity for the world to celebrate women’s achievements – and our achievements are many.

There are a great many women who have achieved a great many things in history, social movements, politics, business, science, engineering, education, the arts, communications, as daughters, sisters, wives, mothers, partners, friends, and the list goes on and on. Today we celebrate them.

We will always remember the names of Susan B. Anthony and Rosa Parks, Elizabeth I and Indira Gandhi, Hellen Keller and Eleanor Roosevelt, Margaret Sanger and Marie Curie, Cleopatra and Amelia Earhart. We could never forget Elizabeth Blackwell, Harriet Tubman, Babe Zaharias, Charlotte Bronte, Clara Barton, Joan of Arc, Frida Kahlo or Mother Teresa. Margaret Thatcher, Sheryl Sandberg, Madonna, Hillary Clinton, Sandra Day O’Connor, Oprah Winfrey and Gloria Steinem have all blazed modern trails. These women are our history and the heroes who continue to inspire us today. Today, we celebrate them.

But who are the women who will inspire us tomorrow? Who will be our next heroes? What will they disrupt to give us a new and better way forward? What will they say that makes us think differently? What will they discover that changes the future? What will they believe that brings us all closer together? I’m excited to see them, to meet them, to learn from them, to know them. Today, we celebrate them.

And today at dgs, I celebrate the incredible team of women who delight me with their innovative ideas every day, move me with their compelling stories, astonish me with the beautiful art they create, humble me with their patience and fortitude, motivate me by keeping us moving forward and most of all inspire me to be a better person and hopefully a better leader. They are my heroes. Today, I celebrate them.

In the simplest terms, women make the world go round. Perhaps today, the world will notice. I hope it does.

Cheers to you Rebecca, Polly, Lisa, Betsy, Beth, Rachel and Mimi!


A book, a movie, an album and a game

By Jim May

I’m endlessly captivated, moved and entertained by our capacity for creativity. Whenever I have the spare time to curl up with a book or movie, listen to an album or play through a video game, I’m a happy camper. In today’s world, I think we can all benefit from taking the occasional reprieve to sit back and appreciate the fruits of creative minds. To that end, here are a handful of items that have recently cheered or moved me. I stop short of calling them recommendations, as individual tastes vary so tremendously, but to me each of the following are wonderful.

John Dies at the End by David Wong
The internet’s democratization of writing as a profession has been great for writers of Twilight fanfic, poorly plotted wish fulfillment fantasies and romance novellas starring Bigfoot. Every once in a while, though, it also gives us something truly special that might not have existed in a previous era. John Dies at the End is one such gift. David Wong sporadically wrote and published the book online, one chapter at a time, developing a loyal group of followers who would print out the entire work in progress and pass it around to their friends and family. Eventually it gained enough traction to get officially published upon its completion. It’s essentially Douglas Adams interpreted by a Gex X’er brought up on horror flicks. In it, a pair of slackers receive a drug that opens their perceptions to untold horrors that remain unseen to the rest of the world. It’s clever with its plot, witty with its dialog and one of the few books I’ve read that made me continuously snicker out load while reading it. It’s certainly not for everyone, but I enjoy it immensely.

Easily my favorite movie from the past year, Arrival is a welcome addition to the catalog of sci-fi movies that use a fantastical premise to keenly observe and comment on some aspect of the human condition. On its surface, it follows a linguist employed by the government to learn how to communicate with an alien race that’s arrived on earth. Beneath that, it’s a powerful commentary on love in general and the love a parent feels for their child in particular.

Painting of a Panic Attack by Frightened Rabbit
I’ve been a big fan of Frightened Rabbit for about a decade now and their latest is my favorite from them yet, as well as my favorite overall album from 2016. For those unfamiliar, they’re a Scottish band that’s probably safe to generally describe as specializing in upbeat songs offset by fairly depressing lyrics. They make it fairly easy to find yourself tapping your foot with a smile on your face while listening to tales of heartache, disappointment and disillusionment.

The Talos Principle
Probably the best puzzle-based game I’ve played, The Talos Principle positions you as an artificial intelligence that’s awakened in a digital ark built to contain the sum of human knowledge in case our race ever goes extinct. You navigate this environment by solving increasingly complex puzzles that unlock access to writings of philosophers and historical figures, works of art, records of the scientists who created the ark and contact with other a.i.’s in the system. The puzzles strike the perfect balance of being challenging but not overly opaque, and the story is consistently engaging as it unfolds.