By Tom Manning
Listen up folks, you’re about to go into the business of smooth.
Things are smooth in advertising agencies.
People are pretty, and thin, and cool – they’re smooth operators.
But more than that, they like things to go smoothly.
Everyone has a different motivation – it depends on their job.
They might want a project to come in on budget, or under-budget.
They might want people to fill in their timesheets.
They might want to keep the client happy.
But those motivations can all be distilled down into the desire for things to run smoothly.
And that’s not a criticism, it’s their job.
But make no mistake. As a creative you’re not in the business of smooth.
You’re in the business of making relevant, unexpected and sometimes scary work.
Work that the client won’t understand, so you have to sell twice as hard (sell or die)
Work that seems like it’ll cost the earth, so you have to make it yourself (demo or die).
Work that might not happen in billable hours, so you have to find the time (stay awake. Don’t die).
None of that is smooth. You feel like a rock in the middle of a river. The water is flowing fast in one direction, you’re trying to hold your ground, and as the water flows, it’s wearing away those corners until you’re smooth too.
Don’t go with the flow. Give yourself the space to remember what a good idea is. Then fight for it.
You might need to be rude, selfish and manipulative. Or, if you’re a fan of Steve Henry, you might want to be charmingly obstinate.
Be nice and avoid arrogance at all costs. Be an underdog instead. Be open. You’ve got ridiculous amounts to learn, but even more to bring. Remember who you are, and what makes you interesting – never let yourself become smooth.
As a creative, if you’re smooth you die.
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