When I was a kid I was really not that much different than I am today. By that I mean I was as obstreperous, disagreeable and captious as they come. Growing up in the 60s, I wasn't the only one in my "gang," to be this way. But perhaps I was the most voluble.
Consequently, my mother spent a good portion of her time with her hand whacking my head with no little amount of ferocity. I had the kind of child-rearing that could get you arrested today. Back five decades ago, it was merely regarded as strict.
Since I knew no different and assumed that most everyone got fairly-well cuffed fairly often, I never protested this treatment. I figured it was normal to be batted around. Like my mother's cooking, it wasn't until I got to college that I actually found out meals could be served hot.
I left home at 17 and have seldom been back. Partly because my parents moved to Chicago then, and Chicago never was my home and partly because I never liked my parents all too much. Sure, I learned from them. I got a good education and certain skills. But I've still felt the need to have spent the last 33 years of my life in fairly intense, very expensive therapy. And as my therapist says to me, "George, you're a lifer."
My disdain for authority which was generated by my parents' treatment of me has, I think, served me well in my career. First off, I never take what a client says at face value. I question every claim and every brief. I think this makes me a better creative.
I also don't take anything else at face value. The bullshit agencies produce like cattle generate methane. The holy-shit-this-will-change-everything proclamations that seem to be spouted every seven minutes of so by people who want to believe they can turn base metal into gold.
Most of all, what I got from my parents is the feeling that I'll never have a home. I'll never really settle in anywhere and buy into the status quo.
Most agencies, though they claim they want original thinkers and combative personalities want them only so long as those personalities can fit into an Excel spreadsheet cell. What they really want are amen-choristers. People who say amen no matter what the leaders blurt.
Being an outsider means you work hard. You work to do your best. Because you never let your hair down and feel safe anywhere.
Outsiders are, as I stated above, obstreperous, disagreeable and captious. And most agencies can't handle them. They don't fit the mold.
They are, however, where good work comes from.