Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Column B

Years ago, I had a job interview with Jim Walker, former President of Sedgwick Rd. To be honest I forgot the circumstances of the job. It was a Creative Director slot. It was in Seattle. Or it might have been in San Francisco. I only remember it was a well paying position.

I didn't get the gig.
But I got something much more valuable.

Jim was in LA and asked me to meet him at the Oceana Hotel in Santa Monica. I had never met him before. But knew his name. He had never met me. But also knew my name.

I always find this shocking. Yes, my name is in a few awards books, but I never considered myself a member of the advertising cognoscenti.

Jim and I hit it off right away and we started talking about the position. Twenty minutes into the interview he called for room service to send up a bucket of ice cold beers. We sat on the patio and looked out over the Pacific. I think by the second Corona he had already decided I wasn't the right guy.

I have a terrible poker face and probably scowled when he told me the job involved a lot of client contact.

Jim told me how his secret to finding happiness in the ad business. One day, while trying to sort out his own career path, he grabbed a pad and pen and drew two columns. In Column A, he wrote down all the things he didn't enjoy doing in his position as a Chief Creative Officer.

In Column B, he wrote down everything he did enjoy doing as a Chief Creative Officer.

This is hardly the stuff of epiphany.

But discovering relevance and acting on relevance are two different things.

The minute Jim had completed his two column exercise, he decided he was only going to accept jobs that involved more of Column B and less of Column A.

It's a deceivingly simple formula.
But it worked for Jim.
And it has worked for me.

For close to ten years now I have been living Column B. I come up with ideas. I write ideas. And occasionally I produce the ideas. And I still get excited by the whole process.

The other day I was driving my daughter to school. I told her I was all giddy because my partner and I had a potentially game-changing campaign for an assignment we're doing for a NY agency. I don't usually get exuberant about advertising ideas, but in this case I was.

Naturally she was curious and wanted to know details about the campaign. I had to bite my tongue.

I had to honor the NDA.

That's one from Column A.

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