I had a call the other day from a young student in Anthony Kalamut's advertising program at Seneca College in Toronto.
Anthony and I have never met, never spoken and have exchanged very few messages. But over the years, Anthony has shown himself as a friend of the industry, an educator of young minds, and a champion of creativity. That's enough for me to consider him a friend. As anyone who knows me knows, there's very little I won't do for someone I consider a friend. To me, that's what makes the world go-round. Treating others--even if you don't know them--as you would like to be treated. Or even better.
The young student who got ahold of me was smart.
I get hit with a lot of requests. What's more, in the 140-weeks since I was fired from Ogilvy for MTTMMAHGH (making them too much money and having grey hair) as each week has gone by I've been busier than the week before. It stands to reason that last week, then, was my busiest ever.
My wife said to me early in the morning as we were getting ready to face our days, "if you're so busy, why do you take these calls? Why don't you give yourself the hour--and put the call off?"
There's no real way to answer that except to say that talking to a young person with brains, energy, enthusiasm and a burning desire to learn does more for an old-person's morale and reason-for-being that twenty sessions with the good Dr. Lewis, my therapist of approximately 1,500 sessions.
What the holding companies can't or won't understand, for all their pablum about the virtues of diversity, is that successful communities, businesses, governments and social organizations since the beginning of human time roughly 200,000 years ago, or 5,000 for all those who believe in the literal word of the bible, have melded together generations.
It's Marx who said it, but regardless of your politics it bears thinking about this: "From each according to their abilities, to each according to their needs." That ain't just about the redistribution of capital and wealth. It's also about the redistribution--the sharing and the teaching--of knowledge. A world where elders and young people don't interact is Lord of the Flies, or what I call Lord of the Wire Paper and Plastics.
The young student I met was prepared with questions. Hard questions in that they couldn't be sloughed off with simple yeses or nos. What is your secret of success? Who do you learn from? How do you get work done? What do you do when you have no ideas?
Before all that, I gave this young student something it took me almost thirty years to learn:
Don't be afraid of people like me. Further, don't be timid because you think you're asking a lot of me and I'm doing you a favor.
Those anxieties can lead to paralysis. They can lead you to putting things off. They can force you to look look look look, and never leap.
If there's someone you want to talk to, consider this.
You have a different perspective than they do. You have something to teach them. And they have something to teach you. In short, you're not asking for a favor by asking them to speak to you. You're doing them a favor by offering them a small slice of your neurons with a schmear of synapses thrown in.
Since the rise of what Pulitzer-prize-winning author Elizabeth Kolbert called the Sixth Extinction, aka, the Anthropocene Era, a time in which humankind's influence on our planet could destroy it, talking about sustainability and the circular economy has been very au courant.
Briefly, the circular economy has us not throwing things out, but using the materials we have, in one form or another, for as long as we can.
The circular economy should, to my eyes, include people. That's how the evolutionary cycle of our species is supposed to work. The old nurture the young until the young nurture the old.
The reason I'm so pissed at the WPP's of the world for having fewer than two-percent of their employees above 60 years of age, and less than nine-percent 50 and up is two-fold.
One, they sweep it under the rug. They trumpet diversity while actively destroying it. They do nothing except ignore the heinous injustice and abnegation of their very own workforce. They're so blind to their colossal error that they even publish the data in their annual report.
Two, it ignores the natural order of things. It's as mean, violent and destructive as strip-mining or fracking. It takes out, uses up and turns beauty into slag. Destroying or firing people is as unsustainable as throwing out a 2021 model-year Porsche because you want a 2023 model.
By the way, the poster I've chosen to illustrate this post was the product of my pen and my too-brief partnership with Milton Glaser. He took my words and made them beautiful.
There's a story about how I happened to be in his brownstone one morning sitting at his work-table and talking about what to do for a pre-school associated with Columbia University. But this post is long enough. So it will have to wait.