A look back at New Year’s reSOLUTIONS

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If you could grade yourself on your goals for last year, what would you give yourself? One executive does just that.

By Colleen Fahey

Editor’s Note: Recently, we finished our 2014 New Year’s reSOLUTIONS series, where we asked our network to reflect on the previous year and look ahead to what they would like to accomplish. In our 2013 New Year’s reSOLUTIONS series, Collen Fahey contributed her goals for 2014. You can see her original post here.

Since Audio Branding is far more established in Europe than it is on these shores, a lot of my work is in teaching about the discipline itself and sharing the idea that you can enhance a brand by designing its unique sound/music, just as you can with graphics.

Besides the obvious ones, here are some of my goals for next year:

1  This year, I spread the gospel of audio branding with global case histories. By the end of next year, I’d like to be using up 55 percent U.S.-Canada examples.

2  This year, I was the primary contact point with the team in Paris. Next year, my goal is to have the U.S.-Paris relationship to be many to many. The multidisciplined Paris team has a uniquely collaborative work style, and I’d like the U.S. staff (and staff to be) to experience it. I’m hoping that at least two people from Chicago will spend time working in the Paris office, and would be delighted if a couple from Paris could work here.

3  I’ve been writing a lot this year and speaking to small groups. One of my goals is to share this work with bigger audiences. And why not? How many marketing people can deliver a presentation you can dance to?

4  This is a challenging one. This year, I’ve started meetings in French and ended up reverting to English. Next year, I’d like to complete a third of them in French.

And my further goal is to do yoga five days a week. Even when I’m traveling!”

  1. Grade: B-    I was over-optimistic about the length of time it would take before a successful project becomes a case study.  We’ve made progress. Right now we present cases that originated with our US team about 30% of the time.

The Atlanta Convention & Tourism Bureau is interesting because they’ve created branded audio for many different touchpoints. And a global pharmaceutical company makes for good conversation in non-public meetings.  But there are so many more glorious examples waiting in the wings.

Real world: One project that I had hoped to talk about has seen its product launch delayed, in another example (in the education category) the project champion took a new job right after the Audio DNA was approved.  We’re hoping a new enthusiast takes over soon.  So, I’ll be patient and keep this goal on my list for next year.

  1. Grade: A+  We’re doing great on working many-to-many. Our teams work in a big web of relationships now: US project manager to Paris-based artistic director.  Lead strategist to US Managing Director. Spain’s Managing Director to US Director of Client Services.    Our Skype screens are on every day.

Grade: B  As to working in each other’s offices, three US team members have spent time in the Paris offices this year but only one Paris member worked with us in the US.

  1. Grade: A-   I had two articles, written with co-author, Laurence Minsky, published in the Harvard Business review blog (circulation 2.5MM).    My biggest audience as a speaker this year was at the Hospital Marketing Innovation Summit.  I’d have liked to speak to more large groups. I’ll keep this on my resolution list.
  1. Well, hmm. Maybe C.

My ability to hear subtle words in French (like “hors de,” which used to sound more like an exhalation than a word) has improved, which makes me more confident in meetings.  And I’m comfortable hauling out my French when meeting with, say, our accounting department colleagues whose English may be wobbly.

But my French still only allows me to communicate broad ideas like,  “This piece has achieved the right level of energy,” but not “Could you re-listen to the countermelody and tell me if some bravado is creeping into the confidence of the horn section?”  Luckily, the account people in the Paris office speak exceptional English.

OK, now about the yoga.  This goal shifted as the year progressed.

I’ve met it when I’m in Chicago. But as to the rest, unfortunately, no. I’ve been to four yoga studios in New York, one in San Francisco and two in Paris.  I call these explorations “Yoga Tourism.”  It’s challenging and stimulating but I can’t claim to do yoga five times a week when I’m traveling.  Not even close!

So I’ve developed a more interstitial yoga strategy.

Each robo-call calls for a sun salutation.  Each wait for coffee, a backwards arm stretch. Standing at the luggage carousel, I do the more subtle balancing postures and in the TSA line, I repeat standing mountain poses (which I can’t hold for more than 20 seconds, hence the repetition).

But in yoga they always say, “You’re exactly where you need to be,” so, by that criteria, I guess I must get an A.

Next year’s resolutions, besides the ones that have stayed on my list from before, follow below.

  1. I’d like to have US Sixième Son presence in multiple cities
  2. I hope to have spoken at three major conferences
  3. I’d like to have established a US audio branding practice for two of our European clients.
  4. I’d like to have interesting dinner companions in all the cities to which I travel to for business.

For this year’s extra bonus, the focus is extended family: I have bountiful new family members by birth or by marriage with whom to create new understandings and traditions.  I hope by the end of next year, we will have woven these new threads into a harmonious whole.


Fahey_7-20-13-10Colleen Fahey is U.S. Managing Director of Sixieme Son, running the U.S. arm of a Paris-based audio branding firm.


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