In 15 years of working in this business one general observation has grown, lingered and hounded me throughout.
It’s this, too many of the people I’ve worked with most of the time have been unhappy.
I don’t mean unhappy in a morose, depressed, feet trudging kind of way. I mean mildly dispirited, not frowning, but not smiling. There’s a lack of zeal, a certain hue of mild lifelessness.
I never saw this by the way in really good well motivated people, like say Dave Trott, Hegarty, Chris Palmer, John Bartle, Jeremy Craigen, Vince Squibb to name a few.
Secondly I have noticed that these unhappy people justify this life position with diminished responsibility for the way they are.
This self deceit is practiced to perfection. “I’m like this because of that, this is crap because that is shit, and that is shit because this is crap”.
That sort of thing.
It’s sad. For me, there’s no point being alive unless you feel alive.
I have also noticed what makes people happy over the years.
Money never does.
When I became ECD at Lowe I was shocked when it came to what I thought naively was a nice thing to do. Hand out pay rises and bonuses.
More often than not people were disappointed, even pissed off.
And, this is the weird bit… the more I gave them the more pissed off they were, the less I gave them the happier.
I remember one year I had to tell three teams who hadn’t had a pay rise in two years that there was no xmas bonus, they were fine, gracious even.
One of them actually offered to buy ME a pint in consolation.
With one particular team we had made an exception and rustled up a cheque for for a large sum of money. To say thanks, to motivate them, to stop them leaving. When I told them they nearly walked out.
If you want to make a monster, feed a man money.
Titles and status don’t make you happy either.
Not unless you’re a twat.
Or sorry, Chief Vice Operating Twat.
If you’ve spent one moment in this business wondering about your title and what you’d like it to be then you can be pretty sure what other people are calling you.
So where’s the joy to be had?
The only thing I have consistently seen make people happy is great work. When a person or team of people do something that surpasses their expectations of themselves they are happy.
Great work is the best end product of what we do. It’s the big smile of the industry.
And it’s hard, because it’s easy to be good, you can set up an agency and become very successful and make a lot of money making good work. But good does not make you happy.
If you want to be happy you’ve got to be great, if you want to be great you’ve got to take responsibility for it now.
Now look at what you’ve done that makes you happy, the stuff that’ll put a smile on the face of the industry.
If you think you’ve got some take it to your creative director before the 20th and say.
You: “This makes me happy.”
Creative Director: “Good I’m pleased for you, now can you get out I’m busy.”
You: “And I want to enter it for the Creative Circle awards.”
Creative Director: “Well, I’m not so sure we can afford…”
You (interrupting): “If you don’t want to be happy and won’t let me be happy, I’m going to punch your unhappy Alberts so far up your Gary they’ll hear you scream in accounts.”
Creative Director: “Who the fuck do you think you are and what the hell do think you’re bloody playing at…”
You: “I’m happy, and I’m obeying the instructions of Ed Morris, ECD at Rapier and President of the Creative Circle.”
Do it now or, if it makes you happy to be unhappy then be unhappy.
NB: All the good people I mentioned in paragraph four ended up way richer than all the miserable money chasers in the end.