Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Doing stupid things.

According to Maureen Dowd's op-ed in today's "New York Times," Rachael Ray (I know she's famous, I don't know what for) recently asked former president Bill Clinton what superpower he would most like to possess. Clinton answered thusly: “'I would be able to enter the minds of people who were about to do really stupid things' and stop them."

I thought about that a bit--about all the stupid things I have done in my career, all the times I have--in the parlance of child psychologists and the like--"acted out." Cursed and quit and said fuck you when I should have, if I were wiser and maybe stronger, bided my time, collected my paycheck, kept my thoughts to myself until I found something better.

Once I quit an agency because they hired a creative over me who tried to wrest control of my account from me. She expected me to hand her the reins (and my power) without a fight.

I quit. Just like that. Packed up my things and went for a long walk during a snowy January.

I was young then, or relatively so, having just turned 40. It was a different, pre-Great Recession era when jobs were easier to come by. After a couple hours of petulance-based retirement, I checked my voicemail and had a message from the head of HR, a friend, asking me to come in and talk.

I probably shouldn't have, but I did. And they lured me back. Eventually for more money.

I'm not sure if I was dumber when I quit or dumber when I came back.

Another time I quit because an account guy insisted on a concocted and made up pitch for a giant piece of business. The only time the client would concede to see us was over dinner the Wednesday before Thanksgiving.

I said that's no way and no time to present work and I wouldn't do it. I said to the agency president, if that's when we're presenting include me out. And they did.

Of course, they went ahead with the pitch which earned them nothing but lost weekends.

The third time I quit was the most recent and most painful. The president of the agency of which I was ECD had a mild crush on a creative I didn't think much of. She mandated that I put him in charge of an account and I refused. They insisted. I quit.

Overall most of these quittings have cost me money. One or two have made me money. All have caused me stress and strain.

In aggregate, I'm not sure if I'm better off or worse for acting rashly.

I'm stupid that way.


michael jacobs said...


Please. You're anything but "stupid". You're from a generation that was brought up with a different code of conduct, the now antiquated liberal arts education that leads to questioning and intellectual curiosity and you have the wisdom of experience. IF you're consistent and true to yourself, you're far better than most, you're probably closer to a secular saint.



Tore Claesson said...

Agree with Michael Jacobs.
But that Clinton would have the power to enter peoples minds and be able to see what stupid stuff they are about to do and stop it is a bit farfetched. Didn't he have that power as far as his own mind went? He went about doing a lot of stupid things.
Maybe his judgement won't stop people from doing stupid things, or maybe his idea of stupid is different from others. Other than that I've done stupid things all my life. And I live to regret it.

Tim said...

Sorry I missed the meeting of minds between Ray and Clinton. It must have been a hoot. Well ask a stupid question, get a stupid answer. I've never shied away from doing stupid things. It usually takes 3 stupid things to get 1 smart thing.

Dinesh Bhadwal said...

In the documentary 'Cinematographer Style' there is this clip where Vittorio Storaro describes how he once left his job. If you haven't seen it i recommend you have a look. Very few have the courage to go against the flow. To stand for what they believe in. In the end, these are the ones who leave a mark.