There are two times I get angry at people who work for a living--whether they're in advertising or not.
The first is when they're giving something awful to do and their response is something like, "Well, I guess I'm lucky to have a job."
The second is when they say, "I'm just a nobody, but..."
The reason those sort of statements get me angry is simple: you are not valuing yourself as a professional and a person. You are allowing others--presumably higher-paid and 'more important' others to fuck with your self-worth.
Let's talk for a second about your self-worth.
Let's talk about those things that you should allow no one to sully.
Let's talk about what it means to be you.
You are not nobody.
No one on earth has your experiences, your read on things, your perceptions and your vision.
No one sees things exactly your way and answers questions, briefs, creative 'deliverables' exactly as you will.
Don't give in to being a nobody.
Exalt in being you.
There's a lot that happens in the world. There are a lot of ways people make you feel like you don't count, that your opinions are worthless, that your experiences are void. That you don't count.
But don't believe it.
Don't let anyone bully you into believing it.
When shit happens that makes you feel "lucky to have a job," or like you're a nobody, the best thing to do is to raise a giant middle finger and wave it in their general direction.
Then redouble the things you do that make you you. If you're funny, do something funny. If you're designy, design the most beautiful thing that's ever been designed. If you're a writer, write something that would make Wordsworth kvell.
Be yourself times fifty. Times one-hundred. Times one-thousand.
It won't pay the rent. It might not win over a boss who doesn't get you, or a business--but when shit happens, you're faced with a choice.
Accept their way. Accept their way of putting you down.
Or you can say no thank you. I'm better than that.
And trust that before long, your betterness will carry the day.
To be personal about it, I've never been one of the boys. Never wanted to do the spots that everyone else wanted to do. I always wanted to do things my way. A little different.
My way hasn't always been the expected way. Maybe I think a little different from conventional wisdom. (I always thought that was my job.)
In any event, my different-ness has always isolated me--it's always estranged me from others and always made be feel like a bit of a pariah in agencies. I think I've not gone as far in this business as I might have gone had I been more easy-going, more compliant, more roll-with-the-punches.
Here's the thing.
You have to do what you believe is right. You have to do work you believe in. You have to be you.
And let's be clear, shit happens.
It happens to me.
Life isn't a TV movie.
It's a game of Chutes and Ladders--no matter who you are. Whether you're climbing rapidly or plummeting, you have to stay you.
You can't let your self-worth being dependent on how your job treats you.
You're better than that.
Otherwise, even when you're top of the heap, you're not being true to yourself.
Who wants to be on a heap like that?