Rebecca Solnit has worked on environmental and human rights campaigns since the 1980s. She wrote Hope in the Dark in the aftermath of the invasion of Iraq and George W. Bush's re-election as President of the USA. This was a time of despair for Democrats and progressive campaigners, with many seeing a bleak future amid great uncertainty. Solnit argues, however, that dark times are in fact when those who keep the flame of hope alive can create the seeds for the biggest change in the future.

Cover image of Hope in the Dark by Rebecca Solnit
'Hope in the Dark', by Rebecca Solnit

On the surface then, this is a book about politics and activism. Looking more deeply at the lessons it contains, though, shows that they are also important insights for agency leaders as well. By their nature, agencies are about advocating for positive change in their clients' businesses and the marketplace. And, internally, agency leaders are activists, navigating great uncertainty while campaigning for a better future, leading teams to create change.

Successful agencies have a cause, and are engines of hope.

The book opens by quoting the phrase American newsreader Wes Nisker used to close his news bulletins: "If you don't like the news … go out and make some of your own" — and that's pretty much the idea at the heart of running an agency.