Wednesday, October 8, 2008
An ex partner.
This is a long one. But stick with me.
Years ago I worked at a prestigious agency (now gone) that had fallen on hard times. My partner at the time was a dozen years older than I and English and a very private person. We were friendly but not friends. And that was ok because we were respectful of each other's talents and we did good work together. Besides my partner had worked at Collett Dickinson Pierce, Delehanty Kurnit & Geller and Carl Ally--three of the best agencies of their day--so I figured he could teach me a lot if I shut up and listened.
Anyway, we were embroiled in the throes of a major pitch and like so many things that people consider major there was chaos swirling around the agency, along with politics, jockeying for position and galloping egoism.
So one day as we were nearing our presentation, my partner pushed back his chair and told me a story. This was unusual because it was personal and about his boyhood in post-war England.
The story was about his father who owned a sporting goods store and how he would make the rope that would stitch rugby balls together. "You would take a big length of rope, then wax it. Then another and wax that. Then another and wax that. Then you would braid the lengths and burn the ends to seal the wax."
I'm listening but at the same time, I'm thinking "this is weird. We're pitching the biggest account of our lives and my partner's talking about making rope."
But when he concluded his story about rope, my partner said, "That's how you do a pitch." And I understood everything.
There is an order, an integrity, a style and a process to doing things right.
I wish more people had known my ex-partner.
Posted by George Tannenbaum at 6:03 PM