40 Years of Doin’ What Comes Naturally

Cowley Associates 40th Anniversary
Nov 30th, 2015

By Paul Cowley, Owner, President, & Creative Director

Topic(s) Covered: Paul's Notes

2015 goes down in history as Cowley Associates’ 40th Anniversary in business. Rather than taking up your time with a 40-year trip down memory lane, I think it might be more insightful if I share with everyone what I have observed about business people over these many years.

A while back I had a conversation with a childhood friend with regard to my work as an ad agency creative guy, and he made the statement: “You were always coming up with big ideas when we were kids!” So, considering we were probably around 10 years old at the time I guess that means I‘ve been exploring what’s possible for more like 63 years.

The journey hasn’t always been a walk in the park, but people often don’t understand those with natural talent, “Why should you get paid for something that comes easy?”

What adds to the problem is that the best ideas are usually the best because they’re so simple, or right under one's nose. How about, “Just Do It.” for example. “Got Milk” is another one. And let’s not forget, “When it absolutely, positively has to be there over night.” By the way, the people who came up with those stand-out-from-the-crowd ideas were more than likely enlightened while taking a shower or some other effortless activity. Yes, easy to come by but not everyone can do it.

The good news for us at Cowley Associates, “the big idea” part of our business is still intact. Technology, as of yet, has not been able to duplicate it. Without the good idea, that “I get it” moment, anything we do in business will just fall flat not living up to its fullest potential. Most businesses today seem to gravitate to the mediocre, coming up short on what’s possible.

Over the years I have been grateful for the risk takers we have served along the way. People who really live and not just let life happen to them! 

These are the people who have come to Cowley looking for potential, not something safe. They get it, and they know that to break though and be heard they have to be different from not only their competitors, but also everyone else that’s fighting for their customer’s attention.

After all these years, the POTENTIAL has been profitable for those who have had the courage to STAND OUT and take advantage of the ideas and strategies we’ve uncovered for them!

Unfortunately, so many more people choose to just get by. Why is that?

I have some theories, some of which I have no explanation for. That would be better left to a psychologist, but here they are:

#1: I think some people actually fear success. Success might shine the unwanted “spotlight“ on them, subconsciously making them very uncomfortable.

#2: I have seen gatekeepers that reject a profitable strategy fearing it could work so well that their job will be eliminated. Self first, company second.

#3: CEO’s that don’t bother informing the troops of a new campaign or marketing strategy, therefore leading to a total disaster by some passive aggressive behavior on the part of the employees.

#4: Not going the distance. So many times I’ve seen companies chicken out and pull back just as we were about to break through. Three feet from gold. It’s a crying shame!

#5: Managers who lack the fortitude to lead with forward thinking because “the Big Guy will never go for it”. I believe the “Big Guy” is missing out on a lot of great stuff.

#6: I don’t see a lot of passion these days. What ever happened to good salesmanship? Many have lost the courage of their own convictions. You don’t sell a big idea via e-mail. Stand up and put your best foot forward and tell people what and why you think this will work to help make the company great!

What’s the solution? Don’t settle for mediocrity. Don’t hire mediocrity. As a CEO or a manager, make sure you tell your people know mediocrity is not cool with you. Step out, look fear in the eye, and deal with it! Start bringing your fresh ideas to the table, ideas that will set you apart from the rest of the world. Apple did it. So can you, and so can I. “We too can change the world.”

About The Author

Paul's genius is to see the connections, relationships and meanings that others miss, and then weave them into breathtaking creative strategies and graphic design concepts. Nothing short of an alchemist, Paul routinely blows us away. As a pioneer of forward thinking at the agency, he routinely challenges us to think of fresh, contemporary ways to position our client's messages to reach their intended audiences. Paul's work has garnered myriad awards during his 35+ years in advertising and he is committed to bringing that level of quality to each client's vision.

Paul Cowley - Founder, President, & Creative Director

Paul Cowley

Founder, President, & Creative Director


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