Monday, July 12, 2010


Since I started in advertising, way back when typewriters roamed the Earth, I've always made it a habit to get in as close to 8AM as possible. This allows me time to work unmolested or, as important, time to look outside my desk at what's going on in the world. It's allowed me time to daydream, time to wonder and time to wander.

A good job, whether you're working as a clerk in a liquor store (as I did one summer in Chicago when I was 20) or you're running a big company, should combine two parts of your brain. A good job should be a combination of thinking and doing. When jobs involve too much of one and not enough of the other, your brain begins to atrophy and you become a blight on the world.

I think the proper ratio in advertising is about 20% thinking and 80% doing. After all, without doing you never know if your thinking was any good. Likewise, without thinking, your doing is just cacophonous mental hammering. It makes a lot of noise but nothing good gets built.

Further, doing keep your thinking sharp. It allows your thinking to take shape. Advertising isn't that different than woodworking, except we work in pixels not pine, bytes not boards. You have to imagine a cabinet before you build it. You have to plan it. Determine if it's right for the space. If it has the right tone to fit in or stand out from its surroundings.

In San Francisco, where I worked for a year, you could hear the sea lions barking at 8AM. In New York you can feel the pulse of a million people racing. In Boston I saw bleary students and blearier bums, the denizens of early morning.

In the early morning you can listen to Stan Getz. You can read some Laurence Sterne. You can walk slowly and look up, not quickly while keypunching into a tiny screen.

This is from the great Joseph Mitchell's essay "Up in the Old Hotel." "Every now and then, seeking to rid my mind of thoughts of death and doom, I get up early and go down to Fulton Fish Market. I usually arrive around five-thirty, and take a walk through the two huge open-fronted market sheds, the Old Market and the New Market, whose fronts rest on South Street and whose backs rest on piles in the East River. At that time, a little while before the trading begins, the stands in the shed are heaped high and spilling over with forty to sixty kinds of finfish and shellfish from the East Coast, the West Coast, the Gulf Coast and half a dozen foreign countries."

1 comment:

Max Katsarelas said...

Great post.

I love everything about the morning. The earth smells fresh. I can write and read in peace. And coffee never tasted so good.

I don't know why everyone in the ad biz rather work late versus work early.