Tuesday, April 23, 2013

If I were King of the Forest

Like everybody else in the country, I filed my tax returns last week. Unlike most people in the country however, I file as a freelancer.

Technically, I'm self-employed and the owner of my own company, a fictional organization called Rich Siegel Worldwide.

The truth is I do direct-to-client work very rarely and mostly serve as a hired gun to many different ad agencies. The other truth is I will never be the owner or sole proprietor or even CEO of my own company.

There are many reasons for that, principally because I'm not very adept at schmoozing clients. Nor am I able to work up a shit-eating grin when they make bonehead remarks. These are my flaws and demons and I have come to accept them.

Nevertheless, on occasion, I will picture myself as the man at the top of some imaginary org. chart and wonder how I would do things differently at my ad agency. In other words, I wonder what it would say in my owner's manual.

Rule #1. At the end of every year, every employee gets a raise and a bonus. It doesn't have to be equal, it just has to be fair. It's a little something called incentive. Without it an agency cannot move forward. If we can't afford a raise and a bonus for everyone, then no one gets one. Including me.

Rule #2. The doors open at 9:00 AM and they close at 7:30 PM. And they stay closed on the weekends. That's a little more than 50 hours a week. Nobody should spend more than 50 hours a week thinking about advertising. Employees who have balanced lives also have better ideas. And better attitudes. And most importantly, better feelings towards me.

Rule #3. If we pitch a piece a business and we win, everybody gets a taste. If you'll excuse the simplistic baseball analogy. When the Yankees win a pennant or a divisional championship or even a World Series, they don't gallop into a locker room and hand out Dom Perignon to Jeter, Petite and Cano, or just those who batted in some key RBI's. They roll out the Korbel and everybody partakes. That's what winning new business is about. There is no "Fuck you, you didn't work on the pitch" in TEAM.

Rule #4. Once a month there will be Mailroom Clerk Appreciation Day. Inside every mailroom clerk there is a CEO just waiting to blossom. I'm not saying that just because I was a former Mailroom clerk. OK, yes I am. But let's face it, they, and lowly account coordinators, and executive assistants, are the people who do the heavy lifting of an ad agency. And in fact,  most organizations. Their work is rarely recognized. But should be, because these are the people, not some hot-snot ArtCenter graduate with a stingy-brim Fedora, who will rise through the ranks and be in a position to return the love someday.

Rule #5. No smelly people. If you smoke excessively or have halitosis or do not bathe regularly, you can expect a visit from HR. We will tolerate all manner of eccentric behavior at Rich Siegel Worldwide, but if you smell like a baby needing a diaper change you will be sent home. And eventually replaced by someone who has the good sense not to offend my oversized nose.

I'm sure there are 100 more rules I could commit to paper but I suspect if I pursue this any further I will just be providing more evidence of my business naiveté. No organization, particularly an ad agency, could live up to these ideals.

But if an agency were to subscribe to an owner's manual like this, or even give lip service to it, they'd never have to spend another dime for recruitment.


Bob said...

No more than 2 meetings per day for any one person. (Actually, that seems excessive; make it one meeting.) And no meeting can exceed one hour.

Jeff said...

I also started out as a Mailroom Clerk. Those guys should be treated like gold. They are the hub of the agency - they come in contact with every person there every day. They are the first to hear about the gossip, news, hirings and firings, flings and general agency dirt. They are the keepers of the secrets. And since knowledge is power, they can make or break you. Plus they see the plain brown envelopes and perfumed letters that come to you. The real influence in an agency isn't in the corner office. It's next to the Pitney-Bowes machine.