I read an interview the other week. A creative was talking about everything he hated about the industry. He sounded quite angry.
Don’t get me wrong, I like a bit of fire in the belly. A bit of restlessness is great, isn’t it? If you hate something, change something and all that. But there’s a fine line between using your anger to do something positive and being, well, just plain old angry.
It got me thinking. How do I feel about the industry? About my job? After all, I’ve been doing it for a fairly long time now – 26 years.
My old copywriter Gavin Kellett had a phrase that he would wheel out whenever we were feeling a bit sorry for ourselves. Whenever we were suffering the indignity of not getting exactly what we wanted on some piece of work or other. He would say: "Oh, my diamond shoes are a bit too tight and there are too many fivers in my purse…"
We were fairly junior at the time and had a fair bit of fire in our bellies (as well as pie), but it always punctured our feeling of injustice. Made us remember that, really, things weren’t that bad. Thanks, Gav.
And they weren’t. And they’re not, are they?
Yes, our job (no matter what particular discipline you’re in) can be frustrating. Often, incredibly so. Yes, it can be disappointing. Infuriating. Difficult and impossible. Of course it can. Not to mention stressful. And sometimes the impact on your personal life can be significant. Cancelled dinner plans, weekends, holidays. Awful. Occasionally, hate has love on the ropes, as another friend used
But – and I’ve thought long and hard about this – I love my job. Despite all of the above, I love it. I love the theatre of it. The drama. The excitement. The highs and lows. The thrills and spills. The good and the bad. All of it.
Assuming you’re still reading and haven’t just turned the page thinking "sanctimonious wanker", let me explain (warning: this might get mushy).
I love it for all the obvious reasons.
For the lifestyle it has afforded me. I’m originally from Crewe. You probably know the train station. Look it up (the town, not the train station – unless you’re into that sort of thing). I have huge affection for it but it’s a fairly typical, slightly impoverished, northern, working-class town. When I was growing up, if you were from Crewe, you had fairly limited career options. It was the railway, Rolls-Royce or farming. Trains, cars or cows. My job has given me opportunities I could never have dreamed of. Like travel. I’ve been to some incredible places. All over the world. Everything from camping in deserts to staying in fancy hotels. All part of the job. Even during the years I earned relatively little (starting salary: £10K), I felt rich.
I love it for the people. I’ve worked with, and continue to work with, the brightest, funniest, most interesting, thoughtful people you and most definitely I could ever hope to meet (agency-side and client-side). I met my wife (ex-wife now, but still), girlfriends and best friends in agencies. People I love dearly. People who have inspired me, who have taught me, supported me and encouraged me. I’m grateful to all of them.
And of course I love it for the work. We go to work and get to do something different every single day. Something creative (again, regardless of your discipline). No factory line for us. No endless monotony. No mind-numbing routine. We get a new challenge every day. And we get to make things. Things that sometimes millions of people get to see. And things that sometimes make millions of people laugh, smile or think, affect the way they feel. And we get to make these things with some of the very best practitioners in their field (and, let’s be honest, we never do anything great on our own, do we?).
So I love it.
Good for me, I hear you say. That’s nice. So what?
Just because I love my job doesn’t mean I don’t want to make things better. It doesn’t mean I’ve settled. It doesn’t mean I’m not restless. In fact, it means the opposite. It means I care more. Hate doesn’t have a monopoly on change. Twenty-six years in and what I want more than anything isn’t to get out of this industry, it’s to stay in it and continue to create work that I love. Not just like – love. Work that my clients love. That the agency loves. That my peers love. That my friends, family and people I’ve never met love.
I want Karmarama to produce work like this. Progressive, innovative work that, in the best possible way, surprises. There has never been a better time to work in a creative industry.
It’s round two. Love has hate on the ropes.