The Stress Pandemic

  • How can you “keep it together keep it together kept it together keep it together?”

As if things weren’t stressful enough already in our connected world, add in murder hornets, pandemic, political dysfunction, economic uncertainty, fires, and hurricanes. That’s a cocktail that can pop anyone’s cork. And yet in the words of Kit Ramsey from Bowfinger, we are expected to “keep it together keep it together kept it together keep it together.”

So, how do you handle that stress? I’m happy to share some personal tips.

[Disclaimer: while the views expressed reflect the author’s personal aspirations, he cannot guarantee 100% compliance with his own advice.]

Don’t Send That Email! …sleep on it. I must admit I’ve seen this elsewhere, but good advice, nonetheless. Resist the urge to “fire back” an email at someone whose tone or demeanor you don’t like. These escalations never go well. Instead, sleep on it, or at least let it rest for a couple of hours. Think of the consequences to your action and make sure you get the result you want instead of an escalation chain of angry emails.

We All Live in Glass Houses. A campaign goes haywire, and the finger pointing begins Whether you are in sales, ad ops, editorial etc., before you start casting blame, look to yourself. For example, is targeting activated and applied in the ad server? Is that missing creative hiding somewhere on your desktop? You should be starting with an implementation checklist that you routinely use in making sure YOU are in compliance. It’s not a good idea to start tossing bricks, if your house has a lot of picture windows!

Script it Out. When you have a meeting on your calendar that you know will be contentious, or one in which you are making a big “ask” of individuals, or a meeting that has been scheduled as part of an escalation, script it out. I mean, literally sit at your computer and type out what you would like to have done by who, and when. This helps ensure that even in the heat of the moment, you can get your points across in an orderly and logical manner.

No Multitasking on Video Calls. Simultaneously trying to pay attention to a video meeting, while exchanging texts and answering unrelated emails just ads to the level of stress. And dude, we know what you’re doing! Can’t help yourself? Try folding your hands during the meeting. I know, this comes across as very, very old school, which I am, but if I hear one more time “could you repeat that question”, I mean, really!

Don’t Be Afraid to Apologize. Despite all the good intentions you might have about following the above, you are going to be out of line every once in a while. Maybe that email you sent was misdirected, inaccurate or just snarky. Maybe you shouldn’t have called out that person in front of all their peers. It happens. Helpful hint: it’s not a sign of weakness to apologize. It’s a sign that you are human, and value relationships with other human beings, and since ad operations is really about the intersection between human beings and technology, sometimes it’s just the right thing to do.

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