I remember flying from Uganda to Kenya to Rwanda to Burundi (yes there were no direct flights from Uganda to Burundi), and sitting next to an old man on the Kenya/Burundi leg of this unnecessarily long trip.
He was absorbed in his newspaper and I thought great, I’ll make this a working flight. As soon as we took off he put his paper down and introduced himself, and I immediately parked all thoughts of working.
As most of these conversations go, he asked where I was from. When I said South Africa his face lit up and he started talking about Mandela. We spoke about politics all the way to Burundi. He stole a quick moment to tell me he was a doctor from the Congo and our conversation went back to politics stretching from Africa to Obama to China’s relationship with the world.
Just before we landed in Burundi he asked me what I did for a living, when I told him I’m in advertising his spark disappeared. He told me that he was certain I was somehow involved in politics.
“Always remember what moves your soul,
and hang onto it tight”
This observation weighed heavy on me since I loved advertising.
For the love
I fell deeply in love with the creative space way before I left formal employment. I had found a career home for my spiky hair and my crazy. I had found a place where ideas flowed easily, effortlessly, and sometimes absurdly, and I loved it.
I understood just how hard I had fallen when we shot our first TV campaign. I had never worked at an ad agency before; I came straight out of a very corporate, very proper international management consulting firm, into the relaxed world of advertising. I somehow still carried the corporate stench around with me and the old man now sniffed a political stench on me.
The thing about being in love is that you simply cannot stop talking about your love; so why wasn’t I spewing the latest trends in the marketing space? Why wasn’t my excitement about the new technological advances in advertising flowing out of me? These were the questions I asked myself when I finally settled into the hotel in Bujumbura.
Finding the lost spark
I had to face the harsh reality that the pressures of having an office in Johannesburg and Uganda had me severely stressed. I was trying to do too much at the expense of my love for my business.
I was rushing towards my vision and it was taking shape in the most unbelievable way. I was in Bujumbura for crying out loud. When I landed at the airport I was escorted into the arrivals hall in true VIP style because the Chamber had invited me to explore possible partnerships. This was beyond anything I ever thought possible. The old man didn’t recognize the marketer in me because the ardent chase of my goal to have a continental footprint had sapped the love for marketing right out of me, so much so that a stranger recommended I go into politics. He might as well have asked me to go to hell.
I am happy to announce that marketing and I are back on track; we are more in love than ever before. 2015 is still fresh and alive with all sorts of possibilities, don’t let the pursuit of your vision trip you up this year. Always remember what moves your soul, and hang onto it tight because as we flip through history’s pages, love has always been at the core of any new Einstein, Musk or Jobs discovery. I strongly believe the main ingredient in the recipe for creating game changing products and brands is love.
About the author: Antoinette Prophy is an entrepreneur by DNA. Passionate Afro-Optimist. Golfer. Realist. Always enjoy a good laugh. Love a good book. Antoinette is also the founder of Afrofusion Advertising. Follow her on Twitter at @AntoProphy.