How Big A Big Shot Are You?
Remember starting out in your career–– how hard it was because so few people spent time with you sharing their advice and wisdom, and how frustrating it was?
I remember. And it fueled my passion and commitment not to be like some of the people I met.
I recall one interview with a creative director at a hot creative agency in Cleveland. I had been trying for months to get an appointment with him. It was like getting into the Emerald City to see the great and mighty Wizard of Oz.
I finally got my day and was ushered into the grizzled adman’s office. It was decorated with various awards he’d won. He barely acknowledged my presence, he immediately asked for my portfolio–– no small talk or human interaction.
He flipped from page to page, barely scanning the contents. He was like an Evelyn Wood speed reading graduate on a cocaine bender. When he got to the end, he slammed the portfolio shut.
“What do you want?” he asked in an accusatory voice. I cleared my throat.
“Well, I was wondering if you had any copywriting jobs––”
“No,” he barked, shoving my portfolio away from himself as if it was toxic waste. “And if we did, we wouldn’t hire someone like you.”
He told me to get a job in the ad department of a large department store, work there three to five years, then go work at a small ad agency for three to five years, then, maybe then, come back to see him.
The last thing I ever wanted to do was see that miserable bastard again.
I left his office lower than whale turds. Yes, he was a decorated creative, his name would live on in award show books and etched on ad hardware, but he was a first class jerk.
I’ve thought about him throughout my career and have done my best to never be like him. If someone wants to see me, I’ll do my best to do so.
If I review work I don’t like, I explain why–– in a gentle but supportive fashion. Sometimes, to quote J.K. Simmons in the movie “Whiplash”, it’s just “not my tempo.”
Hey, it’s a subjective business.
But I try to be open, honest, and supportive. Our business, every business, is hard enough without dealing with assholes.
Please, be empathetic to those who seek your wisdom. It’s the right thing to do and it will be appreciated. And, it will pay rewards for your psyche and well-being.