Diary: Getting fired makes Marsh an inspiration to Aussies

Have you worked in advertising since you were a grad and does middle age now feel like an accident waiting to happen? Are you starting to wonder what it was all for?

Well, you can take heart from Nigel Marsh, a British adman who has become something of a publishing phenomenon in Australia with Fat, 40 & Fired, his account of how the loss of his job became the catalyst for sorting out his life.

Marsh, now the chief executive of Leo Burnett in Sydney, says he wrote the book as a personal catharsis. But it seems to have struck a chord.

So much so that the book has been on Australia's best-seller list alongside The Da Vinci Code and Marsh has had a firm offer for the film rights.

Marsh's journey of self-discovery began when the D'Arcy network was axed by its new Publicis Groupe parent in the wake of the Bcom3 merger. Marsh, who was running D'Arcy Australia, writes of going to see his boss "Hank" in New York for some "personal counsel". "Hank" doesn't get a full name check but the Diary has a pretty good idea who he is.

Marsh finds the phoney small talk excruciating. "Hank" talks of difficult and disappointing times and how everyone was out to get him. "Hold on, I thought. Aren't you the bloke who has just trousered $85 million as a result of the merger deal? I could handle a disappointment like that."

"Hank" moves on to talk about Sydney harbour. Marsh is ready to gnaw the nearest chair leg. "Is it the jet lag or are we actually talking complete and utter bollocks? I've flown 14,000 miles to be made redundant and after an hour, all we are doing is a slightly retarded geographical trip down memory lane."

Soon, Marsh is on his "gap year" at home. Rediscovering fatherhood (he is married with four children), losing weight, cutting out the booze and even training for an ocean swimming race.

So is he living proof that the work/life balance for blokes is achievable?

Is he hell. "If you think some of the old Cosmo articles advising women to have the best of both worlds by staying in the office all night and faxing their orgasms to their husbands are funny, you should read some of the bollocks written by so-called experts about fathers," he says.

Get him signed up for an IPA seminar right away.

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