How do you keep fresh?

As I approach the end of my 13th year with the brandgym, one thing on my mind is how to keep fresh. After all, this means I’ve spent half my working life here. How do you stay inspired, engaged and full of “mojo” when staying in the same business?

To get some ideas on how to keep things fresh I’ve been looking at two other worlds: sport and music. Here’s what I came up with and what it means for the world of business.

1. Stay hungry

I’ve posted before about the burning desire to win trophies of Sir Alex Ferguson, former manager of Manchester United. His passion for the game and for winning still burnt bright in his 25th year at the club, as one former player explained recently: “No doubt about it, he’s still got the passion – that’s what keeps him going in his job. This man’s desire is to win more European Cups and I’m sure that’s the reason why he’s staying on in his job.”

=> Stay ambitious and keep re-setting your targets. For example, we wrote one brandgym book and could have stopped there. Instead, we went on to publish six more to create a true series of publications addressing different topics (vision, innovation, brand stretch, growing the core)

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2. Creative collaboration

The music industry offers many examples of artists using collaboration to keep things fresh and hit new heights. For example, the French electronic group Daft Punk marked 20 years in the business in 2013. And this year turned out to be one of their best ever, thanks to collaboration with one of my musical heroes, Niles Rodgers. He helped them create the album Random Access Memories, including the global mega hit “Get Lucky”. The group won a double whammy Grammy for Album of the Year and Record of the Year. And Get Lucky reached the top ten in 32 countries, selling more than 9.3 million copies.

=> Which new collaborators can you bring in to keep the creative juices flowing? The key reason we have taken on new partners, not 7 in total, is to bring in new ideas and thinking. For example, our latest new addition brings experience in service brands and B2B.

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3. Look outside your industry

Sir Clive Woodward coached the England rugby team to victory in the 2003 world cup. To help the team raise their performance Sir Clive looked outside rugby for inspiration. For example, he hired a sight coach, Sherylle Calder, to improve players’ visual awareness and co-ordination skills. Humphrey Walters, of training company MaST International, shared experienced gained from helping a one crew of 11 yachts in the BT Global Challenge.

=> How can you look outside your industry for inspiration? At our annual partner retreat we always have a guest speaker to bring in some fresh thinking. For example, someone from Disney Television to talked about how series such as Desperate Housewives are pitched to TV stations, to help us work on wrtiting brand stories as a series of “episodes”.  

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In conclusion, staying hungry, creative collaboration and looking outside your industry can help you stay fresh, even if you worked in the same business for 10, 20 or 30 years or more.

To learn more about the importance of refreshing your brand strategy skills specifically, see this other post.