I'm reading this book.
It's a must for anyone who wants to understand how superhuman sports performers REALLY got that good. I think it also provides a great lesson for planners.
The main thrust of the book is that incredible performance in any field isn't determined by talent, what matters is the work you put it. In essence, practice DOES make perfect, as long as there is lots of it and the kind of training you do is always pushing you towards slightly unattainable goals.
Champions are made, not born.They just put more hours in and fill those hours trying to do things they can't quite do just yet.
Planners have loads to learn from this. First and foremost, don't believe that rubbish your brain being wired the right way or not, you can train your mind to operate differently. If you're an Account Exec that hates schmoozing and thinks contact reports are really, really boring, start learning to think like a planner now....
Start talking to them about their work and how they go about it, they'll only be too happy to share, no one tends to make any effort to talk to planners unless they really have to.
Think about the creative work you like, try write what you think the brief might have been, get feedback from planners and creatives, do it a lot.
Cultivate a curious mind, read lots of stuff that has nothing to do with advertising, watch lots of popular culture stuff and every month, and every month, from what you are constantly absorbing, share three things you believe are really relevant and useful to your client and the category at large.
Start getting hold of the lots of data to do with your category. Get planners, the client's research agency or your analyst (if you have one) to take you through what they look for and how they find patterns in numbers. Start doing this yourself.
There's lot more of course, but as a start, if you begin to work hard at doing and thinking planner type stuff, if you want to be one, you can. Oh, and since the biggest criticism of suits within and outside agencies is that they don't think, they just sell, you'll make yourself the best suit in your agency anyway.
So don't believe the hype about rock star planners and so called 'genius' planning directors. They were not born that way, it's the benefit of experience and hard work. That's right, great planners are not cleverer than anyone else, they just work harder.