Wednesday, April 20, 2022


When I worked within the confines of the agency world, I always got along with the people whose job it was to make sure I was doing my job.

Back in the 80s and the 90s, those people were called traffic. They moved jobs from one office to another and made sure everything was done in time. They gave people 'fair warning.' "George," they'd peck at me, "that copy is due tomorrow."

From about 2005 on, traffic got tossed and was replaced by "project management." That's a locution I don't one-hundred percent understand. It seems unduly complicated. Like saying someone "went to his final reward," rather than saying they died. It's like saying, "I'm congested," rather than "I have a cold."

In any event, though I always got along with traffic people and project management, I often found the function superfluous. Even at my busiest--when I was juggling a dozen of my own assignment and managing a raft of teams--I was able to do what I needed to do without anyone telling me to do it.

I had read somewhere that among American infantry soldiers in World War 2, only about one-third of those soldiers fired their guns at an exposed enemy. Many people put the percentage even lower, like one-in-five.

Right now, at GeorgeCo., LLC, a Delaware Company, I am juggling about a dozen small assignments. I am asked to write a few TV spots or an elevator pitch or a new tagline. It's easy when you're not running your own place to be snobby about business. Effete.

As much as I'd like only giant agency-of-record accounts, as Owen my therapist reminds me, "what difference does it make?" Money is money--whether I'm asked to do a national campaign or 67 small-space print ads.

Because I have no traffic department or no project management, I've unleashed my superego to do the job for me. For those of you not well-versed in Freudian dogma, the superego is the division of the unconscious formed through the internalization of the moral standards of your parents and of society. The superego acts as a self-critical conscience reflecting learned social standards. In other words, your superego is a built-in traffic person. It's that bit of your head that--as anatomically impossible as it sounds--can kick you in the ass.

So, I work.

I sit down and work.

I fire my gun.

I write 500 taglines to get 50. Then, deciding 50 ain't enough, I write 300 more.

We're all working in ways we never had to work before. Without the discipline of an office. Without the stink-eye on a micro-managing boss. Without the haranguing--real or imagined--of a project manager.

Friends of mine, freelancing for the giant old-line agencies seem to spend a couple hours a day juggling status meetings. When I was bound to an agency my often-repeated unfunny joke was that a status meeting is any meeting where you have absolutely no status.

What works for me is pressure.

I set dates for myself that make me sweat. If I promise a dozen of something, I deliver twenty. If I say Wednesday, I schedule a meeting on Tuesday.

I worked for an agency that was highly-regarded for many years; these days probably no one's heard of it: Ogilvy. There was a guy there who ran one of their European offices. I was in a meeting with him once and he said, "Clients don't care how much you know until they know how much you care."

Like most things I hear, I agree with about half of it. So, I'll do what I do. I'll rewrite.

"Clients care how much you know especially when they know how much you care."

I put pressure on myself.

So they know.

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