It took years for my grandfather to embrace the possibility of making small talk via Skype. Not hard to understand as his native technology of telegrams and expensive international calls made small talk a luxury. Learning new technologies, as non-digital natives, requires great efforts.

In advertising, as in many other fields, we are constantly bombarded with new technologies and platforms – opportunities that our clients need to integrate in their mix. We have a responsibility to understand these and to provide expert advice. How can we make sure we are in a position to do this?

To start with, we need curiosity and the desire to step out of routine. We have to actively thrust ourselves onto new technology and learn it. Some weeks ago, HotelTonight, an innovative .COM that helps people book hotels last minute, did just that.

For one day, the entire company communicated exclusively via the instant messaging app Snapchat. No e-mail, no intranet IM, no bug reporting software. Being an innovative company, they recognized the need to be inspired by other groundbreaking companies and to understand how their customers use these new platforms. It was only for a day, but it was enough to learn about Snapchat, get some help from the millennials in the team, and achieve a better understanding of their customer’s behaviour. Pretty smart.

Like my grandfather, who finally succumbed to the pleasures of long-distance small talk, we don’t always get it perfect right away; some things do get lost in translation. But it is all about having a desire to learn, progress and understand what will come. Remember the words of long-time GE boss Jack Welch, “Change before you have to.”

Per-Alexander is an engineer, gone planner,

salesman, traveler, and can be found on

Twitter @LookPedroA or LinkedIn Per Alexander Löök

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