Q: All my peers are leaving their jobs in the media industry citing "lack of personal fulfilment". I however am totally happy in my job - is this normal?

A: Your question puzzles me. Where, in 2002, do disgruntled media persons go in order to achieve greater personal fulfilment? Not into consultancies, certainly; nor into the new media (which increasingly seem to have been diverted from the overtaking lane on the superhighway first on to B-roads and thence to quaint, rural cul-de-sacs). So have they all become local councillors or primary school teachers or environmental activists? I do not mock these admirable occupations; indeed, if they were half as well paid as they deserve to be, it is just possible that they might indeed have attracted a few of your more dissatisfied colleagues. But surely not in 2002?

As for yourself, your only career concern seems to be your absence of concern about your career; and in this, you exhibit a praiseworthy disregard for fashion. You are, I detect, unusually guileless (which is not at all to suggest simple) and it is this aspect of your character which both allows you to enjoy your job without reservation and to take your colleagues' protestations at face value.

I do not want to encourage you to cynicism but a teaspoonful of scepticism might help alleviate your only small complaint. I think you'll find, if you dig a little deeper, that many of those departed peers departed with reluctance and are still some distance from being personally fulfilled.

So no, you're not normal - more's the pity.

Q: How can I placate an over-worked, under-paid, low-moraled workforce without spending any money? I've already tried "promoting" them all.

A: It's easily done.

By your use of inverted commas round the word promoting, you show pride in your own cynicism. What proportion of your staff are now "directors"?

I bet it's more than 40 per cent.

Countries crumble when currencies are debased. Companies crumble when titles are debased.

You need to do three things. One: stop talking about your workforce and think of them as people. Two: cancel all titles with effect from today and re-allocate your salary budget on the basis of merit. Three: lead your next new-business pitch and win it.

Alternatively, brief a headhunter to replace you.

Q: Simon Kershaw and Phil Keevil write: Dear Jeremy, what single argument would you have used to persuade directors at the agency to set an example by donating a day's salary to Nabs?

A: Dear Simon and Phil, what a lot of questions you do ask, and all of them difficult. But the cause here is a good one and I'm happy to give it a go.

Think ladders. Think spilt salt. Think single magpies. Think of the dark and eternal power of superstition. Is it not wiser to walk around a ladder - just in case? Or to throw a little of that salt over your shoulder or spit when you see the magpie and mutter "Morning, Sir Roger"?

It is my profound belief (and no Higher Order has attempted to dissuade me of this) that those agency directors who fail to donate a single day's salary to Nabs next May Day Pay Day will also fail to achieve their nearest, dearest business wish. Are they wooing an ace art director? Are they in the final two for the nation's juiciest account? Do they have a hot contender at Cannes?

For any director, the donation of a day's pay is as swift and painless an action as a step around a ladder. Is it not irresponsible to jeopardise the agency's reach for glory - perhaps its very existence - for such a puny consideration? Is it not wiser, is it not a sign of maturity and leadership, in the time it takes to spit at a magpie, to pick up a pen and sign? Just in case ...

- Jeremy Bullmore is a former chairman of J. Walter Thompson and a director of WPP. He also writes a monthly column for Management Today. A compilation of his business advice, Another Bad Day at the Office?, is published by Penguin, priced £5.99. Address your problems to him at campaign@ or Campaign, 174 Hammersmith Rd, London W6 7JP.


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