Monday, May 16, 2011

Running the mile.

There was a nice article in "The New York Times" this morning about the great milers and rivals Jim Ryun and Marty Liquori. The article focuses on a show down between the two, 40 years ago at the Penn Relays track meet.

The race itself is partly told through the eyes of the writer 40 years ago, when he was a 15-year-old boy. "I was there with my father. I recall Ryun warming up, running full turns on the interior track: a series of languid jogs, then of gradually lengthening strides and finally of full-out sprints. It seemed as if he had run five miles to prepare for one. It was a revelation to a novice not yet 15."

You can probably guess the sentence that got me: "...He had to run five miles to prepare for one."

That's right. That's the ratio of success. Do a lot to perform a little.

In our business there is a tremendous ratio of bullshit to success. I think there always was. There is just a ton of shit you have to shovel before something precious gets through the sieve.

My experience is that the ratio is the same at "good" agencies as it is at "shitty" agencies. The difference in agency success and failure is this: When work is killed, bad agencies come back with work that is slightly worse. Good agencies keep coming back with work that is better.

That's our choice. Give in or keep fighting.


Todd Heyman said...

My favorite race ever.

My favorite magazine cover ever.

I spent three years of high school trying to be Jim Ryun. Unfortunately, I was never able to improve on my 4:48 mile -- or his 3:51 mile. :)

Jim Ryun went on to lose a heartbreaking 1968 Olympic 1500m final to Kip Keino. His loss was attributed to the high altitude of Mexico City.

In 1972 at Munich, he tripped and fell in a semi-final heat.

He then went on to become a rabid right wing politician. In 2006, the National Journal rated Ryun as the nation's most conservative member of Congress.

Sigh. So much for heroes.

george tannenbaum said...

Todd, in the words of Mark Harris, one of my favorite writers, "The only hero is the man without heroes."