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Ask anyone in advertising what agency life is like and they will tell you that it’s crazy busy and super stressful. The life of an advertising professional can be extremely hectic, chaotic, tense and pressure filled but also really cool, fun and fulfilling.  Why else would we stick with a job that can literally drive us crazy unless it was rewarding at the end of the day? We work hard and love what we do. But, for spending so much time trying to do the best work we can every day, our coworkers don’t always know who we are outside of work, debatably the “true us.”  If we spend more time at work than we do at home with our family and friends which “version” of ourselves is really the “true” reality?

The things that make us most interesting come from our lives outside of work. When we aren’t at work we interact with people in different industries, who have different passion points, perspectives, and beliefs. We have conversations with people of all ages – kids, teenagers, parents, and grandparents – about current events, history, memories, life experiences. We laugh and we cry, and we think and ponder and learn. We watch movies, read books, listen to music, try new food, shop, exercise, rest and relax. We travel, immerse ourselves into new places and cultures. We spend time with people we love and care about and get to do our favorite things, hobbies, and activities. This is what make us unique. We then go back to our jobs every day with energy and, whether we know it or not, we apply all of our experiences and interactions to the work we do.

Work is, or rather should be, an output of who we truly are.

The beauty of the advertising industry is that we get to channel our experiences into creative ideas and (with a really great account team) get to figure out how to make them come to life. But do we really know the people we work so closely with to come up with these big ideas? The answer is no. No, we don’t.

Most of my coworkers would say I’m cheery, optimistic, boisterous, fun and hardworking.  While those things are true, they don’t know that I’m very much an introvert and enjoy my alone time and can be very shy in a group setting and get overwhelmed with sounds and people. Case in point we only know certain aspects of our coworkers, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. We each have our own unique “work personalities” we push out into the world each day. We want to be perceived a certain way amongst our coworkers, so we are taken seriously and are viewed as capable and smart. Why you ask? Because we seek approval for the work we do whether it be from our teammates, our boss, our clients or all of the above and our “work brand” plays a part in that acceptance whether we like to admit it or not. Who we are at work plays directly into how our work is analyzed so we want to ensure its memorable. Sometimes though, it’s nice to remind ourselves who we truly are IS what makes our work good, so we shouldn’t try to stifle our “outside of work personas” inside the walls of our office.

We go out into the world, live our lives, have interesting experiences, apply those experiences to our work and then go back and do it all over again. All of this plays into who we are as people – each unique in our own way. It isn’t “who am I at work” and “who am I outside of work,” it ALL makes us who we are. Workplaces would be more positive if we all took a minute to better understand our coworkers, got to know who they are and why they are the way they are. Be curious and kind to one another. Ask each other questions and approach one another with compassion. I for one want to get up every day and spend most of my waking hours at a place that sees me for who I am and allows me to be me.  Maybe we can get to know someone we don’t typically converse with at work and ask them why they wanted to get into advertising? How they got this job? What’s their favorite part of their day? Where do they see themselves in 5 years? What’s the most important thing in their life?

Start asking questions and see what happens, maybe people will surprise you.