[I’m INFECTED: Life As a Virus, Inc. Intern] Never (Over)Think

Quickie update, guys, since I have three (now two!) more of these to hand in, but no less an important one.  Remember when I talked about having a difficulty coming up with ideas?  Well, I have just discovered my idea-killer.  


We’ve established in my previous intern blogs that overthinking has been responsible for a lot of my early difficulties, such as my email paralysis and the fact that I say “Sorry…” all the time (seriously, no one is mad at you, Torres!), but apparently it has had one more side effect.

…Idea block.

A bit of background, first.  Part of my Virus, Inc. duties include a significant amount of interfacing with the Strategy Department, headed by Rashmi.  It’s a duty that I take a lot of interest in, because strategy has always fascinated me and, to be honest, has always been one of my weaker points.  In many of the pitches of my pre-Virus life, the comment has always been that while my ideas are good, they lack a “tuhog“–a unifying thread–that would ultimately mean a good campaign.  Such is the role of strat: knowing your (potential) client well enough to craft the perfect storm of a story for them, told in executions.

I guess the constant repetition of that comment–this lacks tuhog–has become a personal challenge for me, but I’ve always been at a loss as to how to learn it.  You can only get so much from books and articles–the only way to actually learn strategy is to be exposed to the process, until the flaws in my thought patterns can be troubleshot (is that a word?).

I brought up these concerns with Rashmi quite recently–I think it was two weeks ago–near EOD (neat little agency shorthand; it means end-of-day), and she was quick to diagnose what was wrong with me: I overthink ideas, building and building and building on them until they become, at best, only tangentially related to the problem they were supposed to solve.  The one thing I’ve tended to forget when trying to come up with campaign ideas is that it’s not always about dazzling the crowd with feats of digital wizardry.  Though it’s really important to stand out and be creative, the main point of a marketing campaign is to align with an overall marketing objective, one which at its heart is connected to a client’s strategic business objective.

…and this is where my MScM life suddenly intersects with my Virus one.

The point of marketing is to solve a problem by telling a story.  I knew that–I could quote it–but I never really understood it until now.  I confess that I sort-of bought into the whole “give them the old razzle dazzle” stereotype for a while, and that’s led to my mental block.  If I had just learned to return to the problem, to start from there and move forward, instead of diving into “What’s the most amazing idea I can come up with?,” I probably wouldn’t be as paralyzed as I sometimes (often) get.

It’s a process, not a eureka moment.  It’s intelligence, not necessarily just inspiration.

I’m beginning to see the science and the discipline behind creativity in Virus, and that has somehow made the work more rewarding, rather than less.  With science and discipline come substance and rationale: we are actually contributing meaningfully to the client and their consumers, rather than just making pretty distractions like so many think we do in advertising.  I’ve been erring too much on the side of novelty, and not enough on the side of purpose.  When you zero in on the purpose–the plot points–there you find the story.

Now I know where my problem is.  Solving it, though, will require practice–I haven’t even gotten over the whole “I’m sorry” habit yet, and here’s yet another one I have to break.  I guess this is another one of those moments where I’m beginning to realize I know absolutely nothing, really, but am really excited about that fact.  After all, discovering one’s ignorance doesn’t mean one stays ignorant.  If anything, it means a greater opportunity to learn a whole lot more.

And I’m pretty sure I’m not overthinking that.



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