Learning to say “I Don’t Know”

This month, we’re commemorating the agency’s 10th anniversary, and to celebrate we threw ourselves a little party a couple weeks ago. It was an evening of great fun, Upstairs at the Kimberly Hotel, overlooking the lights of Midtown with the Chrysler Building as a picture-perfect backdrop.

From our start-up days as Wilson|Rusch in a loft space on 19th St., to a Midtown rooftop party 10 years later, it has certainly been an intensive  journey. Looking back over the past decade, I am incredibly proud of the ethic of the people I work with — proactive, responsive, always wanting to do the right thing, and to do it well — which is clearly reflected in the caliber of the clients we’ve had the pleasure to work with and the quality of the work we’ve produced for them.

As I put myself to the task of writing this post, I considered a number of topics related to the agency anniversary but, ultimately, I settled on philosophy.

When we started the agency, the business world had just suffered the effects of the dot-com meltdown and hadn’t yet been confronted with the tragedy of September 11. It was an uncertain time, made far more uncertain by events that were soon to come.

I had spent my career until that point working for others, and I was quite uncertain how I was going to fare untethered from the safety of a regular paycheck.  But, I made the leap and soon learned the benefits of calculated risk-taking and the value of being able to say “I don’t know.”

None of us embraces such a phrase with much gusto, for in a culture that places high value on certainty, those with “answers” get our all of our attention and focus. But, as economics writer Tim Harford quite eloquently articulates in the TEDGlobal video below, there is a surprising link among complex systems that are successful: they were built through trial and error.

I won’t go so far as to equate Wilson RMS with Harford’s complex systems, but the lesson remains: openness to new ideas and information along with acknowledgement that answers to problems often aren’t simple and obvious, leaves room for the opportunity to test and fail and learn as a path to achievement.

This is, no coincidence, the very essence of the science of direct marketing. We’ve been applying it propitiously for the past ten years with clients and with our business, learning and growing each step of the way.

What will the next ten years bring? I definitely don’t know. But, whatever it is, we’ll be ready with open minds and a desire for success.

Posted by Dave Wilson on Jul 24, 2011
in Make the Jump, See All, Wilson RMS and tagged .

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