All you need is love: Why passion is paramount to productivity

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Without love, many of us feel lost and lacking in motivation. This is only too true when it comes to your career, with passion central to job progress and productivity. Fortunately, love is in the air at We Are Social. Here, team members across the agency discuss their road to career love and the impact it’s had on their productivity.  

A circuitous path to love
Harvey Cossell, Chief Strategy Officer

The world is obsessed with productivity, but as children we grow up and learn about the world through play. But does one have to exist without the other? When I was young, being the son of a sculptor and draughtswoman I was brought up in an atypically creative household.

Play to me was always about being creative in either two or three dimensions. There was nothing traditionally productive about it apart from the opportunity to explore my creative side. And this was – and still remains – my true love.

However, as I grew up my creative side battled with my burgeoning fascination with biological science. Being inherently creative, I knew science would need to be learned. Studying biology fulfilled my love of data, logic was in abundance, but creativity was lacking and after years of scientific argument a return to my first love was required.

The fact that I am now able to use my creativity on a daily basis, whilst being able to analyse data and harness the power of logic means that I am the happiest I have ever been in my career. And this passion for my job means that I am as productive as I could ever be.

I often look back over my career and reflect on the circuitous path I have taken, but it was a path that needed taking. It was necessary to understand where love was lost and where it resided.

So here I am doing a job I am passionate about. And what’s not to love about that?

Pick your passion wisely
Susie Hogarth, Senior Cultural Insights Director

Is passion paramount to productivity? Well… yes and no. To build on the Valentine’s day metaphor; passion in work, as in relationships, can be a vitalising and creative force, propelling you forwards. But it can also be destructive.

For bright sparks starting out in this industry, a passion for proving yourself can quickly turn into a passion for perfectionism. And there are many unscrupulous employers who will quite happily scoop up that passion to their advantage, watching it burning through the night in the service of regular 2am finishes. Ultimately, like an ill-advised tryst, this passion will burn out, leaving you wounded and cynical (and not very productive).

So what are good passions to nurture at work? Firstly, for your craft. Whether it’s strategy or IT or project management; getting a kick out of your specific thing, and being a bit of a purist about it, is a great force to harness. I work in cultural insights, specialising in social media culture. Getting the analysis ‘right’ on what a new viral trend tells us about shifting attitudes amongst, say, British Gen Z, is a hill I am weirdly prepared to die on. And I guess the only explanation is because I love it

And secondly, for the people around you. We all have to work, and it’s hard. Being passionate about building happy teams and workplaces that feel good is some of the most motivating stuff of all. Maybe this passion isn’t the stuff of overnight obsession, but it’s a long-term love worth investing in.

Positivity prevails
Paul Greenwood, Global Head of Research & Insight

As a naturally nosey person and a bit of a gossip, having a career in Research & Insights fits my two defining characteristics perfectly. A good analyst will always have a natural curiosity about the world and want to tell people about it. We’re always looking to uncover why things are the way they are and what that might mean for the future… basically the “so what?”.

When you’re researching something you’re naturally interested in – say Madonna’s recent Instagram activity – the questions flow naturally.  “Who’s taking those photos for her?”, “What filter is she using?”, “Why does she continue to post photos like that on the ‘Gram?”, “Will they fall foul of Instagram’s post posting guidelines”, “What does the online reaction to the images say about sexism, ageism and misogyny in our society?”, “Are there double standards about how much flesh a woman can flash vs a man?”.

It doesn’t take many steps to go from something fairly superficial to a more meaningful analysis and eventually to a clear insight. When investigating a passionate point the flow comes naturally – you’re in the zone and much more productive.

The hard part is when you’re working on something that you don’t care too much about. A good analyst will always find an interesting and unexpected angle to each project. A lot of the time it’s a mindset thing – you go in with a positive attitude and you’ll find the positives in anything.

But it can also be about thinking laterally – instead of trying to get people to buy pensions; think about how longevity will shift our expected life stages and what does that mean for people’s leisure time? Most likely it means I can spend more time pouring over Madonna’s Insta…

People ignite the passion
Rhiain Morgan, Editorial Director

I’m lucky enough to be in a role that I love. The reason I love it? It’s because it’s all about people. That’s what I’m passionate about and that’s what gets me up in the morning and on to those zooms.

People are what I’ve always been passionate about. When I’m asked what I did as a degree, people are often taken aback that I did Geography. The classic ‘what does colouring in have to do with social media?’ often comes out, or ‘how does understanding an ox bow lake means you enjoy writing copy?’. But my degree, as is my role, was all about people, their movements, their behaviours, their wants and their needs. Fascinating stuff. 

And the best bit about people is that they are constantly changing and that’s what keeps me productive. I have to keep up with their ever changing needs, their ever changing behaviours and their movements from one place to another. And I love it.

Love isn’t always at first sight
Shreyas Sukumar, Paid Media Director

The main thing I love about my job is that I get to be a “connector” – a mode I often default to in my personal life – bridging the world of commerce into the realm of culture. Like most people, I sort of stumbled into the industry, and soon realised that I thrived working with creative minds, collaborating on communication-based projects, like I did in my alma mater. It’s not always essential to love what you do, but it definitely helps get you through overwhelming and particularly difficult situations; the extra boost you get from your passion also helps accelerate your growth – getting you into (and out of) moments that push you. 

Genuinely having passion for what I do has certainly affected my work, for the better. Doing things like pushing my clients to try out newer platforms to reach/engage untapped audiences, or leveraging tech to implement dynamic targeting to make ads more relevant, are due to persistence and re-iterating (and recontextualising) ideas, eventually resulting in them being actioned. That doesn’t come without a drive within to realise a vision. 

Love isn’t always at first sight when it comes to your career. Sometimes, it takes years to truly understand what you love about your craft, as well as what you are capable of. There are elements of the industry I used to hate when I started, but now appreciate and love due to increased understanding of how all the pieces fit together. If you have a career/job that both challenges and interests you, then it has the potential to grow into something that you love doing.

Looking for a career you’ll love? Check out our open roles here.