Like most people in the advertising business, I almost always had a freelance job on the side.
Basically, if you're working full-time, even regularly late into the night, who can resist picking up some extra ducats here and there by tacking on a few more hours a week. I always equated the freelance while working as finding money in an old coat or in the cushions of a sofa. There's something magic about extra money.
At one point while at Ogilvy, I got called out on it. I said to the caller-outer, I haven't gotten a raise since I joined this place four years earlier. And I'm making the same money I was making when I left here the first time in 2004. With inflation rising at about 3% a year, over a decade, my salary in real dollars has actually decreased about 50%.
He backed off.
Freelance, however, when you're on your own is different. Sometimes I feel like the beleaguered husband in those old 1930s comedies who go shopping with their wives and end up carrying parcels stacked twelve or 16 feet high, teetering beneath the weight.
Back when I was a youngster, I went to some lawn party for incoming freshmen. There were a bunch of 50-year-old dads there, too, with marzipan complexions and shorts with embroidered fish on them. They were pleased and puffed up and bragging about their kids.
I remember hearing one father say, "Well, if you want something done, give it to the busy man."
It's 46 years later now--I heard that in 1975, sometime before the fricative and the great vowel shift, and I'm just beginning to understand it.
It's something, frankly, all the creative managers at agencies don't understand.
If you're in a crunch, if you're in a crisis, if you've got a CEO speech that needs writing in eleven minutes, don't give it to the person who's 37% "utilized." Give it to the person who's 337% utilized.
Sure, it's not fair.
But, I'll tell you something I've learned along the way.
Account people know.
They almost always crave on their business the people who are busiest. Just like you'd like the busiest plumber when you have a leak. They're people who know how to get things done--so they can move onto the next thing.
A lot of friends call me and ask me how GeorgeCo., LLC, a Delaware Company is going. So many people, that I've developed something of a patter.
"I'm not really an entrepreneur," I answer. "I miss the steadiness of a paycheck every two weeks. Right now, for instance, I'm owed something on the order of $xxx,xxx. But, let me tell you what I do like. I like that the relationship between hard work and pay has been restored.
"Clients come to me. I don't say no. I get it done. The more I work, the more I get paid."
That used to be a given in capitalism.
More work = more pay.
But it's been obliterated by a holding company system that's bent on systematizing the idiosyncratic for the comfort of people who don't understand humanity.
I always felt when I was within the four constricting walls of an agency that I could do all the work in an agency by myself. I couldn't keep up with all the revises, no. No one can. And all the 168-page decks. But if a big agency writes 100 spots a year, I could certainly do that. At 55 words a spot, that's only 110 words a week.
That's basically what I'm doing now. Working, working, working. Writing, writing, writing. Thinking, thinking, thinking. I don't dilly-dally or even eat lunch.
Work never ceases.
Occasionally, I'll sit outside between my wife's rose bushes and the sea. I'll see a fat-to-bursting bumblebee working from flower to flower. Working, then moving on.
Working, then moving on.
I feel ya, dude.
I feel ya.