It is incongruous, I know, for an arrogant prick like myself to urge the valuing of humbleness on you.
But get used to it.
There is much you can learn from people whom failure has taught.
Humility is important. If I may be permitted to say so, humility is the fashizzle.
It is especially valuable to an ad-maker.
Because humilty earns you trust.
With trust you get to do what you want.
Without trust you only get to do what you’re told to do, and you’ll be watched over while you do it. Which sucks. You don’t want even a minute of that.
Good ad-makers understand the value of what they make.
Clients almost never do.
But explaining how important what you do is, although it sounds as if that would be helpful, isn’t ever taken to be by those being explained to. Never. No way. It does not happen.
Says the numbskull who has tried it. More than once.
This is where the advice comes in.
Clothed in arrogance by an appreciation of the value of your contribution you cannot help but earn distrust.
But clothed in a humility that pushes away any sense that what you do is important or difficult or world-changing (even though making good ads is) cannot help but show the client that you see what you do the same way he does.
Which builds trust.
I resisted humility.
My face wore the belief that I could write what others couldn’t.
And it lost me trust.
Put on humility. Lead with it.
It won’t change your work. Just the look in the eyes of the people you show it to.
Next , The Value of Arrogance
I wrote this parable about the lack of “success” that choosing to be right often brings. Since it seemed to give a different spin on what separates agencies who make ads from those who make great ads I’ve joined it with the others in a way I hope is helpful to you, dear graduates, as you enter the ad agency business:
Two knights are given a task by the king:
“Bring me a stone to make soup from.”
The first knight goes away but returns in only a few minutes with a ham bone.
He says, “This will make good soup.”
The king says, “That is not a stone.”
“Well of course it’s not a stone,” the knight argues, “Who makes soup out of a stone when they can have soup made out of a ham bone?”
The king says, “Put him in the dungeon.”
The second knight also goes away.
After many days of eating and drinking and traveling at the king’s expense, he returns with a thousand drawings of a thousand different stones.
“Which of these beautiful stones do you wish me to bring you to make soup from?” the knight asks.
There is delighted murmuring from the king and from his court.
“Give this knight a chest of gold” says the king, “and take the drawings to the Queen that she may choose which stone suits.”
Moral of the story:
Doing what you know to be right is always right. But so is following orders.
Welcome to the conundrum. It’s a simple dance, complicated by people. You’ll love it.