I stumbled upon something just minutes ago in Dave Leonhardt's column in "The New York Times." You can read it here.
Leonhardt's column is called "Thank a Teenager." It talks about the hope that can be derived from the teenage-led protests across the country around the rampant over-proliferation of guns propagated by the radical-right and the National Rifle Association.
A quote in the article really struck me, and made me think of life in our industry. The quote itself is from David Axelrod, a political strategist and former advisor to Barack Obama.
Today's central battle, Axelrod said, is between "cynicism and idealism."
Let's take a second to think about that particular dialectic in terms of advertising.
There are cynics amongst us. They believe, almost to their core, that their work will inevitably suck. They believe, I think, that if they follow certain orders and regimens, they will get to the only place they can go, the land of sucky work, with a minimum of pain and effort.
While I have a dark and lugubrious mien, workwise I am firmly an idealist. I believe that the work we do--no matter what barriers it needs to overcome--always has potential. That it can always be good.
In short, I believe something Steve Hayden taught me two or three decades ago. "The best revenge is a better ad."
In other words, believe in yourself. Believe in the company you work for. Believe in your clients.
Believe you can make things better. Believe you can make a difference.
I look around me and I notice things.
One of those things is that there ain't a lot of 60-year-old copywriters around. Meanwhile, I am producing about 16-tons of work every day, and some of the best work of my life.
Maybe my skills over the decades have improved and that's the reason. Maybe instead it's an all-too-rare alignment of career planets.
But I don't think it's either of those things alone.
I think as I've gotten older, I've gotten more idealistic.