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SPARKIN is an executive recruitment agency with a difference. We care more about your optimum fit than about making a placement! We are focused on aiding and abetting your career progression and optimization. Our primary target audience is strategic planners of all persuasion. We work with allies in key centers in the United States and around the globe. Our experience is based around the importance of relationships and becoming an expert at building them and through them attaining personal and career goals.

Being Positive About the Future of Advertising

Does advertising have a bright future?  If we’re talking about doing things the way they have always been done without changes, then yes, the future is bleak. And where change isn’t happening fast, that’s because the agency still makes enough money doing things in the same old way.

If however we’re talking about ‘back to the future’ on some level, where agencies focus more on investing in talent and culture, things are a little less transactional and about hiring and firing at will, things can be good.

There are some agencies that have found more balance between short term profit and creating a great place to work. These are also places that have crossed the rubicon and evolved a new way to make money, one typically either more integrated in the focus of the outputs or have a brand experience focus in mind, typically the same thing.

So what degree of confidence should you have in your current role?

Some of the questions that will clarify this for you. What are the outputs of your agency? What does it offer and how well does it deliver on the promise? And, how committed it is to a short-term P&L versus investing in the medium and longer term? Is it an agency more focused on relationships and partnerships than making the next quarters’ numbers? Of course whatever the place you work, how positive you can be does depend hugely on the value you provide.

The Market

Companies/In-House Agencies – There are some solid examples where in-house  works but in many more cases it hasn’t in large part because the move to developing in-house agencies has been driven by procurement. The reason why most companies work with agencies is because they are seeking creative thinking borne of creative cultures. Simply bringing creative talent client-side does not in itself make for a create environment and so agencies will still be needed.

Consultancies – Perceived as a short-term threat to agencies, they have compelled the agency business to become more business focused. Even without consultancies, the emergence of digital channels created the transparency and immediacy of results for clients which called for a transformation of the agency business.

Agency Leadership/Quality of Thinking – The reason why the agency business hasn’t innovated is not because there isn’t the strategic thinking to know what needs to be done; It’s not due to a lack of strategic or business savvy. It’s actually because the agency business still makes a lot of money, particularly the holding companies, that don’t want still very profitably run agencies to change, even if their focus is one or a few channels. (This hasn’t been without huge impact on employee salaries and job security). The good news is, the business does have the quality of people needed to successfully navigate the business forward. It’s the business model that’s the problem.

Creativity Rules – There will continue to be huge uncertainty over the next few years as agencies adjust. That said, there is a greater need than ever to find creative ways to get people engaged with products/services. New integrated marketing agencies will and are appearing. Ones that are as much about targeting algorithms as they are at impacting consumer actions. But above all else creative thinking will remain key.

Why I’m Optimistic?

Consumers – Are not going away. People still wish to be made aware of new products and services; There will always be a need for storytelling, the essence of great communications; And creative engagement, whatever the channel (pre/at/post sale) is as much about the future as it is mobile.

How Well Positioned Are You Where You Currently Work?

Your Organization – If it’s an integrated agency, you are much better positioned than if it’s not. Conversely if there is a focus on one or more channels, pick a leader in the field.

Your Expertise – If you are an effective strategist or creative, great at understanding consumers, great at building business, you should be good.

Timeframe – In the short term, whatever you do there will be uncertainty as even if you do a great job, and even if you are part of an integrated organization, it in turn is part of an industry and culture experiencing seismic change.

Personal Growth – If you are someone that welcomes variety, constant learning and new challenges, you are more likely to successfully navigate forward. If you don’t know what skills you should develop/what makes you most marketable, contact me and I will try and help.

Travel at Home..

‘Travel makes one modest. You see what a tiny place you occupy in the world’ (Gustav Flaubert)
So true Gustav, but living in the moment in your daily life also allows for quality of experience, engagement and thereafter, true understanding.
Beautiful Friday it is in NYC, happy weekends one and all.
#Living #Inthemoment #Understanding #Travelathome #SPARKIN


19th Derek Parkin Scholarship Winner

Congratulations Jules Shindel,the 19th recipient of the Derek Parkin Award of $1500 (plus $500 coaching).
The award goes to the most empathetic account planning graduate. Judged by the students (at Miami Ad School New York) on the course as well as the teachers, teaching the course, not the school, not me.
Of the 19 winners to date, 10 woman, 9 men.
#MiamiAdSchool #ParkinPrizeWinner #Empathy #AccountPlanningBootcamp#LifeSkills #EmotionalIntelligence #UberTeamPlayer #ParticipantsDecide#ParkinAward #Winner #Passionate #CareerOptimisation #Advertising#SparkinCoaching #Careers #KnowYourAudience #ActionNotWords#ConnectWithPeople #BetterLife #LifeSkills #Inspire #SparkinSearch#CreativeStrategy #AccountPlanning #StrategicRelationships #CoreSkills#Mentoring #LifeSkills #Action #LearnByExample#CreativeRelationshipBuilding #Planning #OthersFirst #Service #GiveBack #BigHeartAward #Diversity #Meritocracy #Inclusive

19th Empathy Award (aka Parkin Scholarship)

What a stunningly beautiful morning in New York. Looking forward to presenting the 19th ‘Empathy’ (Parkin Scholarship) later today at Miami Ad School.
#Beautiful #NewYork #ParkinScholarship #EmpathyAward #Sparkinsearch

Don’t Play The Fool… How The Savvy Select Their Jobs

More and more workers are taking the view that they are the sole drivers of their careers in what Peter Murdock refers to as the new reality of employee loyalty, in which the workplace has become a transactional environment.

Given the new employment realities, as companies require ever greater flexibility, and when headcount forms the greatest part of business costs, this trend will continue. This explains why ‘75% of the causes of employee turnover are preventable,’ (Valerie Bolden-Barrett.’ HR DIVE 8/17).

‘Most employees see themselves as being hired to perform specific tasks and, once they feel they have mastered this role, they seek out a new opportunity,’ or companies decide to let them go.

The downside of regular job changes is being perceived as a ‘flight risk’ by the hiring manager, cynical of employees not prepared to provide the commitment that agencies aren’t typically themselves making. Arguably those risk averse hirers and cultures are the ones to avoid!

Truly smart employees are not only pivoting around task mastery but they are also pursuing career opportunities which they feel will allow for their broader personal growth. For the brighter ones this is about job variety and a personal desire to grow but for many it is seen as a necessity.

A 2016 Pew Research Center Survey ‘The State of American Jobs,’ highlighted that 87% of workers believed it will be essential to get training to develop new skills throughout their working lives simply in order to keep up with changes in the workplace.’

‘We’ve learned that what really effects people is their sense of how they are doing compared with others and their peer group.’ Brian Kropp, HBR.

Smart employees are not only focusing on skills areas to develop but are selecting business areas less easily supplanted by artificial intelligence, Think: Creativity/imagination/emotion/strategy/selling. They are also seeking to be challenged and to work with others and in cultures where their values culturally align.

Looking forward, will more individuals not simply think about skills and experiential development but think that the greatest job security (and personal growth) will be realized through envisioning new business opportunities in which they become their own bosses? Certainly the flexibility required by employers is increasingly making us all more focused on one business at least, that of our own careers.

Adaptability the Key to Success 2018 and Beyond?

A 2017 report by talent experts Right Management highlighted 91% of HR managers thought that by 2018 individuals would be recruited for their ability to change/adapt. Meanwhile, 53% of employees believed that adaptability would be a key driver for success. Some discrepancy.


‘It is not the strongest or the most intelligent who will survive, but those who can best manage change.’ (Darwin) 



  1. Do employees truly underestimate the importance of adaptability or, do they believe other factors (such as intellect and emotional intelligence are more important?)
  2. The trend for full time roles continues to point to ever shorter tenure in advertising/marketing. The average employ of a CMO whilst up to 44 months in 2017, bucked a ten-year decline prior to last year (Market Technology Insights 3/28/18)

What might exacerbate this further?

i)   Corporate needs – Budget pressures point to constant change and push toward flexible work contracts.

ii)  Employee preferences – Flexi-work hours/job variety, which many want, provide flexibility, but the but also create much greater complexity/juggling of tasks.

iii) Rapid Technological innovation will continue – Moore’s Law refers to the doubling every two years of the volume/capacity of computer chips, which will make everything move even faster,         further challenging business and employees to adapt.

What do you think?






Increasingly It Is Your Adaptability That Will Determine Your Success


Neophilia or ‘to like anything new’, might be something we can all relate to dependent on the context. New places to visit, new foods to eat, all good when they expand who we are, sometimes literally!

But what about new things or circumstances when there is much more at stake, such as new management or new systems at work which may impact our job security? Perhaps a Luddite after all?

What’s typical, most of us don’t like uncertainty, when the stakes are high, when we have much to lose.

Should we even care about how adaptable we are unless we are explicitly assessed for it when seeking employment?

A 2017 report by talent experts Right Management highlighted that 91% of HR managers thought that by 2018, individuals would be recruited for their ability to change/adapt. Meanwhile, 53% of employees believed adaptability, would be a key driver for future success. What might explain this discrepancy? And, given the stated direction of HR managers, what are the keys to you and those you care about developing effective adaptive capability?

‘It is not the strongest or the most intelligent who will survive, but those who can best manage change.’ (Darwin)

First we need to understand adaptability or, ‘the nature of changing or creating modification in oneself to suit a new environment.’

Alessandra and O’Connor in their book ‘The Platinum Rule,’ suggest adaptability consists of two aspects, ‘flexibility’ or our willingness to change and ‘versatility,’ or our ability to change. Perhaps the latter points more to experience and intelligence (IQ) and emotional (IQ)  that people believe they possess in sufficient quantity.

Flexibility however, refers more to your willingness to pivot or, to focus your energy/ability to embrace rather than resist change. It is this ‘ability’ of acceptance, the degree to which you are more a ‘cup half full’ optimistic type, which may well explain who actually adapts. If this is true then expect people to be talking much more about optimism quotient’s, or ‘OQ.’

From a personal perspective, having clear options moving forward post-change, (internal or external) which whether exercised or not, can enhance our state of mind, can make us feel less trapped by a changing situation and therefore better able to adapt.

Arguably those with foresight, do and continue to plan for change, anticipating what might happen and prepare themselves accordingly, but not everything can be planned for.

And, even if we did anticipate, is planning and recognizing the same as the ability to actually cope and proactively adapt to change, particularly when it is sudden.

What do you think?

For more information on this subject see the newsletter on the subject and past newsletters too. Feel free to sign up for future letters.



Actions Speak Louder Than Words

‘It is not the oath that makes us believe the person, but the person the oath’ (Aeschylus)
Whether leader, part of the team and preferably both… Action stations!: )


2018 Miami Ad School Parkin Award

A fun reason to head down to Miami, to present the 18th Parkin Award of $1500 (plus $500 coaching).
Congratulations Rachel Eden!
The award goes to the most empathetic account planning graduate.
The award is judged by the students on the course as well as the teachers, teaching the course; (Not the school; Nor me)
Of the 18 winners to date, 9 woman, 9 men. Not planned, but in a truly inclusive world, this is how the numbers should be, or thereabouts!
#MiamiAdSchool #ParkinPrizeWinner #Empathy#AccountPlanningBootcamp
#LifeSkills #EmotionalIntelligence#UberTeamPlayer #ParticipantsDecide
#DerekParkinAward #Winner#Passionate #CareerOptimisation #Advertising
#SparkinCoaching #Careers#KnowYourAudience #ActionNotWords
#ConnectWithPeople #BetterLife #UnitedStates #Inspire #SparkinSearch
#CreativeStrategy#AccountPlanning #StrategicRelationships #CoreSkills #Mentoring

Becoming one of your agency’s ‘most valuable’ employees

Camels walking through the ocean…That doesn’t happen at least until I saw it, I didn’t believe it. Something almost as unusual as the individual on the career express train that never derails; The individual that’s never been on the wrong side of an agency restructure. Like the camel it’s unusual but still possible. Some potential keys:

Know thyself – Know your strengths and where you can add value and continuously develop them. Have an integrated mindset but be niche a speciality too.

Team player – Help others in the agency develop. Generously share your skills and expertise.

New Business – The lifeblood of any agency – Getting involved in new business and being good at it, both raises your profile and perceived value.

Money – One of the best ways to be valuable to the agency is to be invaluable in helping it acquire and retain income.

Wow factor – Ensure that people enjoy working with you/make them feel good – You do this through being easy and fun to work with but also because you create and innovate.

Over and above – Word hard but where you can and even though already busy, aim to do more than is expected of you.

Active assessment – Know your KPI’s and your clients. Be active in self assessment. Don’t rely on others to do this.

Future mindset – Plan ahead. Know what you want to experience/learn in your new job in preparation for the one after. Make yourself a ‘shoe in’ for it!

Market value – Be aware of your external market value. Be aware of alternative career opportunities; This will give you more confidence in your current role.

Mix it up – Taking time off allows you to sustain focus, energy and passion