Flow Communications

At Flow we have a 15-minute daily catch-up with the team, and a longer monthly meeting, each with its own topic. Recently, the focus was on the upcoming election and why it’s important to vote.

To set the tone, footage of the first democratic elections in 1994 were shown and the sidebar chat was full of tales of “where were you on the day?” As a young mother with two children, I remember the day clearly as the family had to work in shifts – who was looking after the kids while others voted. It was a memorable occasion.

My take out of the chat, though, was that so many of the Flow staff either hadn’t yet been born or were very young in ’94. It’s moments like this that clarify – not only how old I am – but also that I work with a whole generation that has had such a different life experience to me and those in my age group.

This reality check really crystallised for me how incredibly beneficial it is to work with such an age-diverse team, and that everyone’s contribution within that scope is welcomed. We celebrate the fact that older staff members bring years of experience and world wisdom, but also that younger staff members bring their street wisdom, tech-savviness and enthusiasm. It is a combination that really helps feed into the creative melting pot from where good ideas emerge.

Our internal brainstorming sessions are so enriching as young and old come together, bringing different perspectives and opinions in a positive way, to come up with solutions that are considered and relevant. Solutions and insights that could never have been arrived at without our age and cultural diversity.

As a communications agency, it is important that we speak a language, use channels and adopt a tone that is relevant to our audiences. So as creative problem-solvers we need to walk in the shoes of those markets and have open conversations about what it feels like to be a 25-year-old unemployed graduate in a township, or a ready-to-retire schoolteacher.

The willingness of the Flow team to share insights – even if they are just anecdotal – of their experience of what motivates, interests and gets noticed by these diverse (and possibly unknown) individuals, is always a tonic and it’s in these discussions that insights emerge and creativity blooms.

There is a temptation, as one gets older, to become a curmudgeon (does anyone even use that word anymore?): resistant to change, harping back to when things were “better”, thinking your world experience means you know more. A better approach, in my book, is to experience a dose of youth at regular intervals.

Listen to what they have to say, encourage the sharing of opinions and perceptions, laugh together, watch their weird videos, listen to their anecdotes, try to see what they see in music and media, walk a few steps in their shoes. It’s like having a refresher course on life. It can brighten up your jaded perspective and give you a more attuned outlook.

To the “youngsters” in the Flow team: the old toppies are grateful for the diverse input you bring, and your willingness (and patience) in helping us keep up with the times. They say that anyone who keeps learning stays young, so thanks for the magic elixir.

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