We all have a shelf life

Frank Palmer on why support for NABS is more important than ever in a time of "best before" career paths.

By Frank Palmer

I know that none of us are thinking about this when we are young. We all believe that after we leave high school, college or university, the world has just been waiting for us. But today, more than ever, longevity in the industry is about reinventing yourself and looking new and fresh again. And hoping that things will change by chance isn’t going to work out for you.

All of us, at some point, will lose our freshness and energy. Sorry, but it happens in life. Not unlike products from some of the clients represented by agencies, we also have a shelf life. At some point in your career, you tire and expire. You will have reached a past due date, or simply end because you have become perishable. We are currently living in a world of “best before,” “best used by,” “sell by,” or “expiration” career paths.

I know that right now you are excited and trying to become the exciting new person at your new job. You are all ready, passionate and confident to demonstrate all of your learned skills. You are like the new model car that’s fresh, shiny, fast and horsepower strong. People are watching you and listening to you because you are new and bringing new ideas with you.

Until one day when they stop listening. Or when, like any new car, you require a tune-up to keep running. Just have a good look at the statistics for a company’s marketing director. Today’s average lifespan is 18 months or less. Every business leader or manager has a shelf life, even if things are going really well. Every relationship needs to re-light the fire from time to time.

For over 35 years, NABS has been able to impact more than 50,000 people in the media, marketing and communications industry dealing with career transitions and work-related mental health issues. This is not your old NABS; the organization has never been relevant and more needed than it is now.

Calls to NABS’ support-line are growing by more than 20% a year, and while people from all disciplines and career levels are using NABS’ services, roughly half of calls to Nabs support-line are from individuals 39 years old and younger. According to Total Health Index data, administered by HR specialist Morneau Shepell, the most “at risk” group in our industry for these kinds of issues are women 25-39.

Again, this is your industry, one where individuals are twice as likely to have work-related mental health issues, compared to the national average. NABS does not receive any government funding; it is entirely funded by the industry, for the industry, and demand continues to outpace its revenue growth. None of the amazing things that it has been able to accomplish would be possible without your help. And by contributing to NABS now, you may also be contributing to your health later.

Frank Palmer is the former chairman and CEO of DDB Canada.