July 21, 2015

What’s your best sample? What are you proudest of?


Do prospects or interviewers ask you this from time to time, hoping you’ll produce something out of your history by which they can judge you? Preferably stuff in their category, something shiny they can say “wow” to, rather than “geez, is that the best you can show?”

It’s understandable.

In that dance/dialog to reveal “Whatcha got?”, a case history can provide an objective example to inspect. A way to kick the tires. (We privately tend to dismiss samples as the doctor’s old prescriptions, not really relevant to a prospect’s particular needs, but probably we’re just cranky that way.)

But yes, we get asked.

Our consistent answer to “what’s your best sample?” has been, year after year: “the next one.”

That’s not a smartass way of avoiding the issue: it’s heartfelt, aspirational and true. We fervently believe that the creative problem we’re wrestling with today will yield the best solution. Ev-uh.

If I may be so bold, I suggest you should believe it about your own work. Whether you’re a dancer, artist, mom, writer, pastry chef or something in between, looking back on that amazing thing you did last month or last decade is a surrender to self-congratulation, the enemy of growth. It saps your creative energy, and is as sad as the ex-high-school-quarterback working at the Taco Bell.

Get your eyes off the rearview mirror.

You have to commit yourself to continuous improvement, to the challenge of blowing up assumptions, to the shock of the new, to the engagement caused by disruption. Everything you and I did last year is soooooo last year. Upward!