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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.

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

Syncing timelines for Success – Your Employer’s and your own

About to accept or start a new job – Why you might not be doing what you expected to be doing, at least not for a while.

You have reached a point in your current job where you are stuck, in terms of feeling as though you are no longer progressing.

Practically, the promotion you want is blocked or, you’ve worked on the same business for three years and the agency doesn’t want to move you or, you’ve worked on all the major accounts of the agency.

You might be frustrated because you don’t feel you can learn anything new, meanwhile you see the world and your peers, all progressing to bigger and better things.

Or, you’re dealing the nightmare scenario, a difficult boss or client that is making your life a living hell. You leave as nothing is likely to change any time soon.

You are ready to make a move. The good news is, you are presented with seemingly, a great career building opportunity. Team, culture, accounts, strategic approach all check out.

At this stage what could go wrong?

You clearly know better than anyone what is attractive to you. What role would allow you to excel, right? Well, yes. And with the information you have everything stacks up. So far so good.

Typically you are hired to address specific client needs but sometimes you are recruited more for where the agency aspires to be versus where the agency is now.

Most individuals will accept at face value, the reason why they are being hired. And most employers will hire specifically for the reasons they say they are hiring.

In all situations’ you are being hired for a recognized skillset. But, though your future employer knows what you can do, they may be hiring you for reasons slightly different to those you signed up for.

Key for you, what job do you want to do now, what’s mission critical versus those things that are ‘nice-to haves’? And do your priorities reconcile with the work your future employer does and expects you to do immediately, versus at some point in the future. Or, is there an understanding that there is a timeline before you get to really use your expertise in the way you want to. Sometimes, there is no understanding!

A classic example, you are hired by a digital agency whose work may be downstream of the lead creative agency. Your new employer hires you not because of an epiphany in the importance of creative strategy rather you are hired to act as a counterbalance to creative strategist working for the lead agency! It’s a defensive hire even if represented otherwise.

The most obvious (and critical) example of a disconnect between employee/employer timelines, intended or otherwise, occur when employers are hiring at the vanguard of organizational or business transformation.

You are promised that your expertise is key to moving the agency in the direction of that change. The problem is that the organization might not be ready for this planned evolution.

Organizational changes that needed to happen prior and concurrent to your hire did not happen or are happening but at a much slower pace. The result for you is, what you hoped to achieve in your new role might take two years versus two months.

A further threat for you, gate keepers/the old guard that might be sitting on agency revenue, oppose the change you bring, extolling what has worked in the past. These individuals or cliques may be perceived as too ‘important’ (despite the fact you were hired to change things) to challenge due to fear if they left or are fired, the revenues they are sitting on might go with them.

There will always be potential challenges beyond yours and to a large extent the agency’s control. It’s key for you to know that your expertise aligns with the organizational needs and ambition of your new employer for the medium but also for the short term.

Having a sense of who key stakeholders are is a given but knowing that they support your expertise is vital. Two action steps you should pursue at interview stage:

Have a few additional meetings beyond those you are directed to have; Ask a few more searching questions that you ordinarily might not ask. These two actions alone may be the difference between a poor move and a great career transition.

Ultimately, what makes your next career move truly redefining in a positive way, is not only clarity about your own objectives and those of your employer but to know that they and the key stakeholders of which they are a part, are aligned.