Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Raising your hand.

There are a few ways to get ahead in an advertising agency. You can be political and kiss with fervor the appropriate asses. You can somehow summon the wherewithal and not do anything but disparage other people's work. You can be the cousin of a C-level executive. But the best way, the only real and substantive way to get ahead in an advertising agency is to raise your hand and volunteer to do more work. In the long run, volunteering, doing more, raising your hand is the only way to get ahead that's built on a solid foundation not on some political sleight of hand.

Today as we toil, all of us, under the tyranny of timesheets many people feel they cannot raise their hands, or even worse, that they don't have to. "I'm 100% allocated," they say. "I don't have a job number for that," they decide.

Work--extra work, is all around both within agencies and at clients. It goes, along with opportunities to do something good to the people who make themselves available and ask for it.

This morning I am doing extra-work for a friend of mine--you know, a couple hours of freelance. It came about because whenever I meet someone I volunteer my services. This woman called me with a project about a month ago. And somehow in the process she's lined up perhaps the most famous graphic designer of the last 60 years for me to work with.

I don't know how this freelance will pan out. Perhaps it will be onerous and arduous. At best, I'll make enough to buy myself a bound first-edition of Faulkner's 1950 Nobel Prize Winning speech which he gave as a gift to Shelby Foote who signed the book. I've been coveting it since I saw it advertised.

No matter that in many ways I'm way to busy to take this assignment on, nothing really bad can possibly come from it, the worst of it is I might lose a few hours sleep. And two or three potential good things can happen. It's costing me at most fifteen hours.

I will do this job and it will go well, probably, and probably people will remark how lucky I am.

I'm not lucky. I just raise my hand.

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