“I want to make the workplace somewhere that you positively want to be; somewhere that grows your experience of life and grows your creativity rather than sucks it out of you. A workplace that achieves that is the future.” — Sir John Hegarty, BBH
Sir John Hegarty
(Worldwide Creative Director and Founder of Beartle, Bogle, Hegarty)
Sir John Hegarty is one of the most decorated advertisers of all-time. He has won just about every award including being the first winner (now four) of the Cannes St. Mark award for lifetime achievement. Even more unique, in 2007 he was knighted for his services to the advertising and creative industries.
I know you’re impressed.
Most notably, Hegarty helped bring us the phrase “When everyone else zigs, we zag,” the tagline of an early revolutionary campaign for Levi’s and today’s slogan at BBH. He helped pioneer the importance of music and is acknowledged as being an early adopter of “viral” marketing for another revolutionary Levi’s campaign called “Flat Eric.”
Additionally, Hegarty and BBH have always done things a bit differently. Their agency was the first to introduce financial transparency, a practice that was quickly adopted by the rest of the industry, and since day one, BBH has donated 1% of profit to charity.
Consider for a second that BBH was founded in 1982!
That gives you an idea of how ahead of the times Hegarty and BBH have been.
And besides his signature checked and patterned suits, that is what I find so inspiring about Sir John Hegarty.
Six decades later, Hegarty continues to challenge and push us forward. He has spoken and written about how creativity in advertising has gotten stale. He has spoken about the need to evolve the mentality and environment we use to breed creativity and engaged workers.
In one of my favorite interviews with him, he said in Google’s Creative Club Interview:
“How do you actually increase creative activity? I look at the environment. If you go back 30, 40, 50 years and look at the office, it was a very austere place – desks were in formal lines and you had to work until a bell sounded. Gradually, we loosened that up because we want people to be freer, we want employees to think more, and we want them to enjoy what they’re doing. We brought in potted plants and furniture designers. Today, we have coffee bars where people can mingle and exchange thoughts and ideas.
But there has been another fundamental shift: Many people don’t want to work at one job all the time. They want to work for three or four months of the year, take a couple of months off and go somewhere, look at something, read something, do something – enrich their lives in some way.
Our traditional, formal way of employing people runs counter to the way they want to work. But I don’t want to lose talented people at BBH simply because we can’t accommodate their creative impulses. As both working life and the office itself become less structured, I see an alternative vision: The office as a members’ club. The club is run by a core of senior executives who organize it. Rather than a traditional employee, you’re a member, available to work on projects. As you only get paid when you work, if you want to go to Tibet for three months to study that’s okay – there’ll be another project waiting when you return.
I want to loosen up the process and make the workplace somewhere that you positively want to be; somewhere that is stimulating and invigorating, where you meet different people and encounter different ideas; somewhere that grows your experience of life and grows your creativity rather than sucks it out of you. A workplace that achieves that is the future.”
And I could not agree more.
I believe that is what the future work place has to look like and it will take some truly courageous and creative organizations to lead the way. I would imagine that BBH will not lag too far behind.
That’s why I’m inspired by Sir John Hegarty. His constant need to create and innovate. I want to help lead that charge someday and build this vision for what he sees as the future.