Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Some thoughts on Jargon.

When I left Ogilvy for places west, my brilliant mentor wrote on a napkin over dinner, 15 things I should do in order to be successful in future jobs. I've carried that list with me since it was given to me and I think about it often.

One of the things on this list, buried somewhere in the middle, is something I have been unable to follow. It could be why I've had 12 agency jobs in my 26 years, four in the last seven. And that's this: "Learn the jargon of the agency."

It seems to me that there are two ways to exist in any social organization--whether that organization is a company, a group of friends or even a family. You can be on the "inside" or you can be an "outsider."

Some people are happier, and more valuable as outsiders. Their crankiness, their nettling, their dissatisfaction with status-quo-ism is what, at least in part, impels these organizations forward.

Adam Morgan in his excellent book "The Pirate Inside," called such outsiders "denters." And these people are organizationally, a pain in the corporate ass. First off, they align not with the company they work for but the brands they work on. They are not overly concerned if they'll be at the company in ten years' time. They prefer tension to acceptance. And finally, they are on a quest--a personal mission--to drive their brand vision ahead.

Maybe it has something to do with my birth order or some vagary of my upbringing, but I have never felt a part of anyplace I've spent a lot of time; I've felt apart not a part. Maybe I should grow up and not bite the hand that feeds me and my family.

Maybe I should accept the so-called "wisdom" of the dominant complacency. That the world, and human wiring, is changing fundamentally and for all time. Maybe I should learn the jargon and start speaking of planar modalities and conversations about air freshener.


I'd rather not.

No comments: