Work That Matters

Sheena Matheiken’s TedxDubai talk

One of the most important recurring questions I’ve found myself thinking is how to gauge if the work we do matters. In the advertising world, sometimes when we dive deep into the tactical and we’re swamped with processes that entail a continuous string of work tedious tasks, we find ourselves struggling to see how our efforts contribute to a larger mission. Many times, I gasp for air and look to my higher ups to help me connect my work with the company’s mission. We work together to understand how our assignments ties with bigger goals, and we always ends at helping sustain the agency’s business. No surprise there, but we all regularly need to reconnect with the point of work to help us keep focused.

After these types of situations, I often pursue the line of thought further– past the objective of contributing to an increase in the company’s profit, how does our work matter? How does it tie to the bigger societal issues– or is it completely detached?

I chanced upon Sheena Matheiken’s TedxDubai talk last week and watching the video helped connect the dots for me. In looking deeper into the work that I do, I realize I am being trained to understand people at the individual level and groups at scale. I am being trained to gain a better understanding of people; how they interact, what they need, what persuades them. I have the knowledge to find a target group among the masses, and to focus on it with a keen eye and examine it to extract insights that are both salient and latent. Sheena Matheiken did that- she could’ve have done The Uniform Project at that scale if she had not been exposed to digital marketing and advertising.

There are many people out there with the knowledge she had. I count myself as someone who possesses that knowledge, as well as the rest of the people I work with and encounter at work. What separated Sheena Matheiken from everyone and allowed her to launch her project was her commitment to demonstrating that knowledge. She expressed it, showed it out there in the world, and got recognition for it.

The challenge for us, especially in this age of continuous availability and lightning speed of information that assaults us, is to think of ways to activate them. Consume information, process it, make it new, and share it with the world. That’s a challenge I will gladly take.

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