Jon Cook’s Advice to Young Lions -- Bring Your Pixie Dust

June 19, 2019

VMLY&R Global CEO Jon Cook led an “Advice to Young Lions” session at Cannes, sharing his tips for career growth to some of the top rising talent in the industry. Jon learned some of his most valuable lessons while interning at Disney World, and seeing the care that Disney takes in creating its signature experience. These lessons have stuck with him throughout his career: first, always bring your pixie dust. Second, show up and follow up.

 Key takeaways:

  • Companies have a responsibility not only to meet the high expectations of their customers but exceed expectations.
  • Ask yourself, “How can we turn something mundane or ordinary into something memorable?” We have to add a dash of “pixie dust” to create a signature, enhanced experience.
  • Be around people you love and work you love. Find a business where you can make an impact.
  • Be at a company that fosters ideation. The best companies and leaders believe that great ideas can come from anywhere and anyone. You are part of the big picture and team.
  • Show up and be present in the moment. Use the workplace as an opportunity to make an impact, become known by your coworkers, and be recognized for your work and ideas.
  • Be valuable and indispensable. If you are able to “show up,” people will begin to realize that when you’re in the room, good things happen.

Notable quotes:

  • “If there’s anything I learned in the last 25-30 years, it’s how to create a great experience. It’s about creating pixie dust-- that sprinkle of magic that makes an experience that much more special.”
  • “If you’re starting a job early in your career, you will get ahead by showing up and following up. You could win just by being there.”
  • “Showing up is about having a presence and making an impact. ‘Follow up’ also changes as your career becomes bigger and better. It’s not just more pressure, it’s more opportunity. Your follow up carries greater gravity.”
  • Jon joked, “If you’re at a company with too many boundaries, it sounds like you should leave your company and come to VMLY&R. Ideas are built by teams, and we recognize the individual contributions of everyone in big and small ways. You’re part of the idea.”
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