A view from the bottom
By Jonathan West, campaignlive.co.uk, Thursday, 18 April 2013 08:00AM
I should probably be hinting at how incredibly busy I am in every sentence of this column.
But rather than preface morning anecdotes with "managed to catch the 5.42am train" and evening anecdotes with "quick takeaway for dinner and a naughty beer", which you probably won’t believe, I’ll pray you assume that I’m always operating at the appropriate level of busy at the appropriate times. I must also impress upon you that there is no such thing as a typical week at Johnny Fearless so that you realise just how fast-paced, fully integrated and 360-degree my agency is.
However, one typical factor of my mornings will be deciphering an e-mail (written in haste at some God-awful hour of the morning and containing so many acronyms, it could put to shame any teenage girl on MSN) from one of the many people who are my boss.
I have often found in this job that it is hard to identify who "should" be doing what. There seems to be an impetus on who is the authority on this and that while simultaneously everyone should be responsible for everything. Whatever the issue, this office provides a platform for genuine, thoughtful, measured and difficult discussion. We argue, we disagree, we swear profusely and we hurl Haribo at each other – but, at the end of play, we are glad we did. If we were right, the argument has solidified our resolve. And if we were wrong, it can bloody well save us from disaster. And if, for whatever reason, we have offended each other, we do what any responsible adult does: save the hair-pulling for when we are wankered in Cannes.
The task of a planner is quite complicated (at least that’s what the planners like to tell me) but, so far, I’ve noticed the task of a junior planner is ostensibly to learn. I hope never to lose this. In a start-up, learning is much easier. Meetings aren’t redirected behind boardroom doors, they happen right here – and I’m occasionally in them. The creative process isn’t bashed out in some nook or wonky corridor of the building that has been given a quirky name and even quirkier decor – it’s the creatives chatting away two desks down. Ideas are not limited to anyone or any place. Ideas shouldn’t have limits.
Working for a start-up comes with the stigma of "this all might collapse in a week", which is terrifying. But that fear is good. That fear makes everything you do much more important. You are actually making a difference to that evil spreadsheet at the end of the month and, while a mistake can mean damnation, a success might actually be recognised.
I understand ambition. But the ambition to make good work too often seems to come second to a need to make different work. I like working here – the ambition to do truly good work comes second to nothing. And even when that evil spreadsheet is back threatening Boss 3 (or was he Boss 2?), that ambition just will not budge. And I think that’s pretty Fearless.
Jonathan West is a junior planner at Johnny Fearless
This article was first published on campaignlive.co.uk
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