Changes: Turning to Face the Strange

For the first time in our history, Ketchum London has moved locations across the Thames to a new, shiny office in London’s Bankside neighborhood.

On Monday, I woke up really early to ensure that everything was perfect for our opening day. I was anxious and distracted—then I heard the news that David Bowie, who I adore, had passed overnight. I was a taken aback, but too busy to let it all really sink in.

london denise blog post Panoramic_TweetThe move was a big success—thanks to an exceptional team. Our new home is a beautiful, modern space that’s completely different from the dwelling we had just left behind.

So I sat down to do something familiar (go through the day’s email) and decided to listen to my favorite Bowie tracks while doing so.

I don’t know if it was the emotional exhaustion of the day but, as Young Americans blasted into my ear buds, the reality of Bowie’s death hit me—reminding me of his influence on my youth, and about how we could all take a lesson about reinvention and running toward change instead of away from it.

Listening to Bowie takes me back to a time in my life when I was dealing with the anxieties of growing up, of trying to fit in whilst at the same time trying to figure out what made me different and unique. His mesmerizing, joyful, poetic, and sometimes maudlin lyrics somehow illuminated the lives of a whole generation—making it OK for all of us to be original.

I’ve heard he was besotted with the characters that gave him the confidence to express new ideas on stage. Ziggy Stardust, Aladdin Sane, or the Thin White Duke were part of his genius, but to me what is even more inspirational was his willingness to dump them, despite their immense popularity and commercial success. David Bowie never stopped creating. In everything he did he embraced newness, as he worked to stay relevant right up until the very end of his life.

My friend Simon Poulter had wonderful blog called, “What would David Bowie Do?”

And perhaps, without knowing the significance of the title he chose, he has posed us all a question that we can ask ourselves when we examine our own lives and careers.

“What would David Bowie Do” when faced with the mundane pressures of the everyday? “What would David Bowie Do” to drive real change? What would David Bowie Do” to create something extraordinary or beautiful?

Ours is a business built around creativity and innovation. And when you consider the risks that artists like Bowie have taken, perhaps we can all feel a little emboldened to do more to reinvent our own lives and careers (click to tweet).

So, “What would David Bowie do?” when faced with the challenge of moving offices and beginning a new chapter feeling motivated and invigorated? He would embrace the Changes, allow the fresh perspective and environment to inspire bold ideas. He would take in the new view.

It is so easy to take comfort in old habits, invent excuses or default back to group behaviors—to stay exactly the same.

That is something that David Bowie would just never do.

Denise is a partner and Director of Client Development in North America. With 30 years of agency experience providing senior strategic counsel in a number of specialty communications areas including: crisis and issues management, corporate social responsibility, consumer health education, environmental awareness and brand building programs.