Rishad Tobaccowala is the singular voice rising above all others, for me, and for many others working to make better communications and stronger and more meaningful bonds with customers.
Rishad is a Senior Advisor to Publicis Groupe, a holding company with 80,000 people. He also freely shares his insights with anyone who wants to subscribe to his Substack newsletter, The Future Does Not Fit in the Containers of the Past.
For example, here is a short clip from today’s edition:
Clients pay the highest premium in not just economic value but their attention and their admiration to firms that bring them insights about their customers or their business. Client relationships can be salvaged, or business can be poached away by firms that can provide a new way of understanding the marketplace.
Rishad has exceptional vision into the marketplace, and he’s re-affirming that seeing into things and seeing things in new ways are the skills that matter.
He does not say that advertising outputs have been turned into commodities, but I will add that bit now. He does not say that a firm’s strategic muscle is what holds it together, but I will add that part now.
Lots of talented people can be hired to become the client’s hands and execute the client’s vision. An incredibly small number of firms can be hired to strategically alter the course of a business and its brand communications.
Two Sundays ago inThe Future Does Not Fit in the Containers of the Past, edition 39, Rishad shared a term that was new to me.
Change Botox—little injections of temporary surface embellishments to distract from real change.
In other words, there are so many poseurs we’ve lost count. Fakers, quacks, and arm waivers in all directions. True change agents (operating inside corporate structures today) are about as common as encountering a Florida panther in the wild*.
How do you know a true change agent from another false prophet?
A true change agent is a warrior with a plan and the relentlessness to see it through.
Most people don’t go to work in the morning to make things measurably better. They go to work in the morning to earn a paycheck, and this need to make ends meet makes us into strong team players who mostly just want to get along and go along.
A true change agent does not hesitate to call bullshit while outlining and making possible a much better way. This will upset those who are used to going and getting along. There will be tension, frowns, and backchanneling. The change agent is now a target for the gang of normals. The change agent is resented and undermined.
Unless the CEO is also the change agent. When this is the case, change has a chance.
*I’ve been visiting SW Florida for 38 years, and I have never seen a panther or signs of a panther; yet, I know they’re there.