MPW Insider is an online community where the biggest names in business and beyond answer timely career and leadership questions. Today’s answer for: If you had an extra day in the week, how would you spend it? is written by Kathy Bloomgarden, CEO of Ruder Finn.
Many of us have fantasized about what we would do with an extra day in the week, it seems like such a luxury to imagine 24 more hours could magically appear. The mind immediately goes to spending more time doing the things that we enjoy most — for me, it’s strolling through the streets in Florence, practicing my Chinese calligraphy, or jogging. But upon deeper reflection, I would want to take complete advantage of this new found additional day by tackling a new challenge that is totally different from anything I’ve done before. I’d want to take on something potentially disruptive and transformative that can expand my thinking and help me approach problems in a new way.
First, I would want to develop a strong core competency in a complex area. It’s important to take a step back from time to time and examine the landscape and strategize on how to get ahead. A mentor of mine once said: if you stay doing the same thing for too long, you’ll get left behind. I’d use my extra day to examine market trends and develop a new competency that will solve the issues businesses of the future will face. Then, I would break the mold. How? I believe that data, analytics, and trend based thinking can also serve as the basis for creativity. Every big idea starts with the right facts that solve the right problem at the right time. The best way to disrupt a market in which disruption is the new norm, is to use creativity and deliver transformative thinking. You have to completely “break” the norm and create something that is truly unique, solve a problem, and create a need.
So if I had one extra day in a week, I would seek more discipline in linear thinking, immerse myself in data analytics, and hone my statistic skills. Not because I want to be a software engineer, but because I want to be able better see trends and understand the factors that define them, and use this information to form creative ideas that solve challenges — whether we’re facing them today or will sometime in the future. I want to expand my creative and my rational powers with the ability to mine the waves of data that will increasingly surround us — and only that can be done with an extra day in the week.