Yep, the end of the year is nearly upon us. Another one down, another yet to come. What pearls of wisdom did yours truly learn about life this year? Here are some... but, PLANNER IN NON-ADVERTISING LEARNINGS SHOKKA! They're not all about advertising...
Lots of people in business are not very good at business
When you're younger you look up to the people at the top of the tree and there's almost an aura about them. They've got much more experience, they earn 10 times what you earn and they go into big meetings that you don't understand. However, when you get older you see through this facade pretty easily. You see them as people that have grown up in the past, are safeguarding their over-inflated salary and they go into meetings feeling completely out of their depth.
Yet, they're the ones still sat in the office earning a shed load of money while the talent has been shown the door. If the recession has done anything it's sorted the wheat from the chaff. Businesses that make bad decisions will be found out, and the ones that make the best decisions will succeed.
There are great agencies you've never heard of
I had 3 job offers on the table when I joined my new agency. Two were well known London based agencies and one was here. I weighed up all three but the thing that convinced me to come here was the talent in the building, the potential of the agency and the amount I could learn from my colleagues. Could the other two claim that? Well, not without a whole host of egos and politics getting in the way. I wanted to get away from big London agency politics and put my time and my efforts into one thing: building a Planning department that helps deliver amazing advertising. Dedicating my time on the important things, not on the stuff that is rife in some agencies.
Embracing randomness keeps things exciting
This year I've moved to Tunbridge Wells, been to Argentina and Poland, learned how to play golf and read more books than ever. None of the above were on my list of goals this time last year. They happened for one reason or another, but mostly because I'm trying to be a bit more random in my life. For a long time I'd planned things to the tiniest detail, and it didn't work out. Randomness is good. I love living in Tunbridge Wells (it's a great place to run around, by the way), I met Maradona in Argentina, I ate roast stag in Poland and I've learned that I'm pretty good at golf. What will next year bring? Well, I'll tell you in 12 months.
There's such a lot of world to see
This year I've visited a lot of different places: Argentina, Poland, Portugal, Amsterdam, and some places closer to home: Totnes and Stratford-upon-Avon. Each one of them is different, and each one teaches you something different about life. Nothing surprising there, but what it does remind me of every time I travel is that wherever you are now is only one small place in the world. It's a big place, and I intend to see and learn from it as much as I can.
Deep pain goes away very slowly
I'm like everyone else in life in that I've made decisions that have hurt others. A lot of those things may be indirect, but some are direct. I've done things I'm deeply sad about. The guilt I feel and the hurt I feel will never go away. I've come to learn that they never will. All I can do is try to move forward and hope things work out well for all involved. Looking forward is the only way I can get through the past. As I've found out, things can happen that you didn't expect, and they can make you very happy. You need to separate the pain and the happiness, otherwise you'll go mad.
Challenging in a different league is better than failing in another
Newcastle United got relegated last season, and this season I'm truly loving the football in the Championship. We're challenging our peers, and every game we play I feel we stand a chance of winning. The senior players are on board and the management is on board and is driving the team forward... as a team. This wasn't the case last season, so the club failed. Is this an analogy? Hmmm...
Most advertising is utterly forgettable
Yep. Most of the stuff we see will never be remembered. And I'm not getting all deep here, I'm not talking about thousands of years in the future, I'm not talking about the future of humanity - I'm talking a few months from now. People simply won't remember most of it. Sorry to burst that little bubble. I know we all surround ourselves with people like us, and write thousands of words justifying it, and we use our own language to out-think each other, and we even have seminars to pit our wits against each other... but do you know what? The average person on the street doesn't have a fucking clue what you do. They don't have a fucking clue the last time they 'engaged' with your brand, and they couldn't give a flying fuck about whether they buy your brand or a competitor brand. You know why? Because their life, real life, isn't actually that bothered about advertising. Our challenge is to make them see the value in advertising, and to make them see the value of the brands we try to persuade them to buy. Some do it better than others, some think they do it better than others, and some know their place. Me? I'm confident about what difference I can make, and what difference we can make as an agency. I'm confident we can produce some amazing advertising, and I'm confident we can exceed the expectations of our clients. But we're not going to cause the human race to change. None of us will unless we work together for the good of the world. Big things are possible when they're about people and when they involve people.
Yeah I know, surprising isn't it? When I set up my blog it was for selfish reasons. I wanted a space to rant, to write about things that inspire me and about things that annoy me. I've pretty much stuck to that. Sure, sometimes I think I have something mildly intelligent to add so I'll pop it up. I try to stick to my Planning Principles when I post stuff here: Keep it simple and don't overcomplicate it for egotistical reasons. That's what I'm like in the flesh, and that's what I'm like in my professional life. You may be interested to know that the most read posts from my blog this year were these ones: