Q: Having worked in a big agency for a number of years, I've

enjoyed my own office and my own PA. I've now moved to a much smaller

company where I work in open plan and am expected to look after myself.

I'm OK with the typing - well, as a woman, it's inbred, isn't it? - but

I'm having a hell of a time managing my own diary. In the last month

I've double-booked meetings, turned up on the wrong day, turned up at

the wrong place, not turned up at all. I've got this electronic

diary-thingy, where people just seem to be able to bung in meetings

whenever they feel like it, but I keep forgetting to look at it. It

buzzes to remind you, but of course that only works if you're actually

sitting at your desk. My home and social life are equally chaotic, as

not only did my old secretary sort it all out, I now can't do it myself

as everyone can hear my phone calls.

I even forgot my anniversary last week. Do you have any tips to help me

out of this chaos?

A: If you continue to strive for executive perfection, your case is


Deprived of a doting personal assistant, you will continue to


Not only that, but you will get so flustered by the constant buzzing of

your thingy and become so cringingly apologetic about your failings that

your already fragile self-esteem will evaporate completely.

So play to the legendary indulgence afforded by advertising people to

eccentrics. Bin the thingy. Keep no form of diary. Work at least as

often on Sundays as on Wednesdays. Wear a dressing-gown and slippers in

client meetings. Keep a ferret in your handbag. Compose gnomic

observations: "well, somebody's got to bury the undertaker" is a proven


You will soon find your prestige soaring to new heights and your most

obscure recommendations accepted on sight.

Q: Alastair J Christie writes: I am a recent graduate currently

hammering on agency doors for a job, rather than an experienced account

manager, but having seen the way the industry has been heading of late,

I thought I'd write to you with a matter that's been nagging at the back

of my mind. I find it a little strange to note that an industry whose

sole function is to increase their clients' business, is, well, losing

business at a rapid rate. Wouldn't it be sensible for advertising

agencies to, er, advertise more?

A: Dear Alastair, thank you for your kind enquiry. I'm sorry to have to

tell you this, and so publicly, too: but your question exposes your

immaturity in several ways.

Even if you were right in your belief that advertising agencies would

benefit from advertising themselves more, no self-respecting agency CEO

is going to accept such advice from an unemployed upstart such as

yourself. No wonder you continue to hammer on doors.

But you are in any case wrong. Advertising agencies have been taunted

for years for failing to practice what they preach - and they've asked

for every bit of it. Through a combination of myopia and stupidity,

they've never been able to concede that while all competitive businesses

benefit from publicity, not all will benefit from advertising. Agencies

themselves are one such. Apart from a few double-page spreads for

start-ups - all claiming to be a totally new kind of agency and all

abandoned after the second insertion - I can think of little serious

agency advertising and no example of a successful and sustained


Learn from the masters of the past. Don't waste money on


Write some best-selling advertising books; schmooze a few business

journalists; mastermind a political campaign that propels a woman into

10 Downing Street: that's the way to do it. Come up with a new idea

along these lines, Alastair, and your future's made. (But please talk to

me first.)

- Jeremy Bullmore is a former chairman of J. Walter Thompson, a director

of Guardian Media Group and 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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