Of late, I've been spending a good amount of time with Whiskey, my two-year-old golden retriever in the dog run that's a block away in Carl Schurz Park. Given that I live in one of New York's pricier neighborhoods, the city did a good job when the rehabilitated the dog run maybe five years ago. Accordingly, it attracts a lot of people and a lot of dogs.
I found that going to the dog run can teach you a lot about an ad agency. In fact, if I ever again run an ad agency, I think I'll take important hires to the dog run with me. How they behave when they're there can tell you a lot.
Here's the deal. (And excuse the indelicacy of the topic.)
Nobody likes cleaning up after their dog, but it's one of those things you're required to do. Today, I saw a woman sit there when her dog shit. She pretended not to notice. Lots of people did notice but everyone was too timid to say anything.
That's one version of life in an agency. You make a mess, and everyone is too feckless to say anything, to hold you accountable.
I went up to the woman and put on my "Dad Super Ego" mien.
"Your dog went. You have to clean up," I said.
She was too intimated to protest.
That's how you run an agency.
You hold people accountable.
There's another scenario that's relevant, also involving shit.
That is unidentified shit left in the run. It's gross, but the fact is dogs eat shit. It's not only gross, it can get them very sick.
There are two ways people react to stray shit. There are those who ignore it. Their dog didn't do it, it's not their problem. They have no sense of the whole. Of what's good and right for the community.
Other people, schmucks like me, pick up the shit.
They clean the mess others leave behind.
No one wants to do this.
But it needs to be done.
Someone has to do it, or dogs get sick.
I've found that a lot of agencies, maybe most, are populated by people who strew shit and look the other way.
They steal your work. They don't invite the people who did the work to meetings. They lie and dissemble.
And they get away with it.
No one calls them on their shit.