Thursday, August 29, 2019

The biggest compliment I ever got. Ever.

If you’ve been in the business long enough to make a couple dozen trips around the sun, you come to realize that awards, trophies and even compliments spread about as fast  as Chlamydia when the fleet's in.

I guess if I were a sociologist, I'd say that such laudatory artifacts are a social lubricant of sorts. They're little lies we exchange with each other so we all keep plugging away, often for minimal recompense and even less psychic satisfaction.

Nonetheless, you have to be gracious when you get a compliment. Gracious but skeptical.

After all, Newton's Third Law as applied to advertising might be, "For every motive, there is an equal and opposite ulterior motive."

Heavy shit, George.

Today, after a singularly crappy day in a long career marked by singularly crappy days, I had a small brain spasm. All at once the best compliment I have ever received in my almost 35 dumb years in our trade popped into my head.

A while back, I had worked for a short while--amid my many other tasks--helping out on a pitch, working with a small bunch of people I liked and, more important, respected.

Even more important, and more rare, they liked and respected me.

Holy-alignment-of-the-planets, Batman.

The pitch was for an exceedingly complex enterprise software product. Something everyone was scared of (it could cost people their jobs) and no one understood how it worked or what it did.

I had a dopey idea to write a kids' book about the product. I'd explain how it worked. Tame some of the fear. And show how the software actually helped people get more out of their jobs--not lose their jobs.

I worked with a brilliant art director who made it better. And a brilliant CCO who had the brilliance to leave me and it alone. 

Not a lot of people have that restraint. Most are like misbehaving schnauzers. They relish peeing in your yard, just to let you know they were there. It's something dogs, and insecure people do.

During the pitch, I was brought in to read the story to the prospective clients. They laughed where they should have. And smiled throughout. 

They actually applauded when I finally read "The End."

Then a week later, we had won the account.

One of my new clients sent me a note: 

"I read your book to my seven-year-old. She said to me, 'Mommy, I finally know what you do.' Thank you."

I'll take that over all the Cannes Lions in the world.

Thank you.

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