Thursday, December 14, 2023

GeorgeCo., LLC, a Delaware Company's HQ.

I'm up in Connecticut as I write this, sitting in my half-finished office, ready to conduct two-hours of client interviews for a brand I'm working for.

I suppose if I were still at an ad agency, I would have been on these calls with a coterie of half-a-dozen colleagues. I'm sure I would have had a planner or two with me, probably an art-partner, and an account person or three. Everyone would have had a reason for being there on the phone with me. Even if I were the only one speaking and listening. Some people would have to be there if only because if they weren't there they might feel like they were left out and not in the swing of things.

92 percent of people in offices go to things because it would look bad if they weren't invited. No way it takes 17 people to review a spot or a tweet.

A lot of people in an office do things or attend meetings or whatever not because they're serving a function but because they have to be there or people will realize they're not there and that would be some sort of cosmological demerit--a strike against them. I guess you could say that many people in agencies are like parsley alongside a $66 New York-cut steak. No one wants it. No one eats it. No one needs it. But the plate would feel empty without it.

Sitting in my new office I am halfway surrounded by good books. Halfway because when we drove up here four weeks ago, I could only fit four boxes in my 1966 Simca 1500. I intend to fill the empty shelves as time moves on.

My first batch of books is made up of more books that are pictorial and editorial. 

I like picture books. 

From my earliest days I've been that way. I'd spend hours looking at the artwork in Gus and the Firefly or If I Ran the Circus. I liked the pictures nearly as much as I liked the words. In fact, at one point in my life, I aspired to be an illustrator.

Here in Connecticut, I have books on Roman art and architecture. A book on how to "read" a Greek vase. Books on East German typography and the aesthetic of Austria's Wiener Werkstatte. I have a pictorial history of the computer from Babbage to Jobs. The landmark Thucydides. Various maps from World War II battlefields and more. 

I have books of cartoons, mostly from New Yorker artists. And random things like figureheads from old wooden ships, menus from the 19th Century, books of movie posters and Soviet propaganda. I also have book after book on baseball--statistics from the Mexican leagues and the Negro leagues and half a dozen books on economics.

My point in all this is really simple.

Somewhere along the way agencies stopped surrounding people with interesting things. I remember offices full of reels to look at. And artists' portfolios. And piles and piles of references available for the stealing.

Someone got a pencil and did some figuring. They calculated how much money they could save by getting rid of the stimulus and stuffing more people into less space. They did a cost-benefit analysis and paid attention only to the costs. They didn't worry about the disappearance of benefits.

Just as agencies have forcibly tried to increase productivity by eliminating downtime, they have tried to increase creativity by eliminating serendipitous and random stimulation. The people who make such decisions don't realize--they refuse to realize--that there's an inverse relationship between efficiency and creativity. They think you can be more efficient and more creative both. 

They don't and won't understand the single most effective way an agency can increase creative efficiency is to encourage inefficiency. 

More play equals more work.
Less play equals less work. And duller.
And work is better when work is better.

All the people who hit you over the head with scopes and timesheets fundamentally not only don't understand our business, they also hate our business and you. They want to live in a mathematical equation and a quid pro quo universe. They don't like the imprecision that comes from human heartbeats.

Yeah, sorry. As Walter Brennan said in Capra's "Meet John Doe," "I know the world's been shaved by a drunken barber."


Go read a book.

On company time.

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