Friday, December 21, 2018

Looking ahead by looking back.

At a time when everyone and his cousin is writing down their New Year’s Resolutions, I was about to begin to do the same. Then I thought a bit about it and, frankly, reconsidered.

A lot of the new things we are thinking about doing in 2019 are not necessarily better, simply because they’re new. In fact, I think in many cases, the old ways of doing things were superior to how we do things now.

I know that marks me as retrograde and stuck in my ways. But I don’t really care. For instance, for 240 years in our country, from 1776 to 2016, we elected leaders who mostly had proven track-records of experience. For most of that time we believed in professionals, in science, in thought and rigor. The new ways, too often, seem to me to cut against those beliefs. They urge us to try something different, to make a radical leap into the unknown, to roll the dice when we should instead be planning and thinking.

So I’m not making New Year’s Resolutions.

I’m making Old Years’ Resolutions.

I’m reaffirming my commitment—no matter how it infuriates people at my agency—to do things the right way, the proven way, the tried and true way. Maybe this speaks too loudly to my innate conservatism. Or maybe I’ve been around the sun more than most people, and I’ve seen what works and why.

2019 Old Years’ Resolutions:

1.    When I’m writing copy, I will turn off the internet and put away my phone. Also when I’m told it’s due in 20 minutes, I will resist the urging of my responsibility gene and take at least twice that long.

2.    When I’m reviewing work, I will leave my phone on my desk. Work is better when we are not distracted.

3.    I will continue to believe in the old-fashioned remnants of agencies-past. Written briefs, the proofreading department, planners. Other people can cut-corners if that’s their modus operandi. As Bartleby said, “I would prefer not to.”

4.    I will continue to abide by the old maxim that carpenters used to say, “Measure twice; cut once.” That is proper planning saves time and effort.

5.    I will not relent on the right ways to do things. Copy must be in the right font. Spelled correctly. Properly punctuated. Oh yeah, and thoughtful and as brief as possible.

6.    I will continue to refuse to go to things called scrums. Unless I am duped into an impromptu rugby match.

7.    Likewise, I will, as much as anyone can in our Orwellian universe, assiduously avoid jargon.

8.    Worse, when someone says something jargon-laden and therefore incomprehensible, I will continue to commit that greatest of modern sins: I will ask them what they mean, and wait for a clear, English explanation.

9.    I will continue to read. Despite this being ‘the golden age of video,’ reading is still the best, fastest and most absorbing way to learn. And it brings peace and restoration to your brain.

10. I will continue to laugh and to be funny. And to care about others, their lives, feelings and careers. Those are all things that make us human, and I refuse to lose them, no matter how shrill and autocratic our industry becomes.

11. One more thing, I will never use the word hustle. Unless I'm    talking for some unforeseen reason about the 70s dance        craze.

If doing all this fails to get me fired, estranged or ostracized, I will continue writing Ad Aged. Even if you all stop reading it. It helps make me who I am.

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