Thursday, April 11, 2024

Scout. Pout. Out.

A friend just wrote to me through some chat mechanism. Messenger, or Slack, or Teams, or Goose, or Restraining Order. 

It doesn't much matter which one.

They're all the same and everyone hates them all because they all suck.

She said to me, "How do you find so many funny things online?"

I answered as I've been answering since my teen years, when they tested my vision and found I had an extra-ordinary visual field. Like off the charts.

I've grown used to questions like these over the last 50 or so years.

"I have a wide field-of-vision," I answered. "I see things other people don't."

A good skill to cultivate if you're in the advertising business. Or any other business for that matter.

Last night, about an hour after I turned off the incandescence, I was visited by Dame Insomnia. She escorted me to the website of the Library of Congress, where I found 64 typewritten scouting reports by the baseball man, Branch Rickey. 

Rickey was a front office man--a General Manager and scout--most-famous for having the courage to buck the racism of Amerika and baseball and hire Jackie Robinson to play for the Dodgers of Brooklyn. He might be the Bill Bernbach of the Baseball Industry, or the Henry Ford, or Steve Wozniak.

The first scouting report I read was the second-longest. It was of the Hall of Famer, Don Drysdale when he was just 17.

There's some dated language in many of the reports. Black players are often referred to as "boys." Not our way today, but reflective of the tenor of the times, and you can't, rightfully, judge one era by the standards of another. It just ain't right. I'd bet by 2400 AD, people or AI systems--whichever is supreme--will look back at dog owners as cruel and unusual. 

At two in the morning, I read virtually all of Rickey's scouting reports that the Library of Congress had made available. You can find them all here.

What got me going about all this, of course, is what usually gets me going. Advertising.

Reading these reports got me thinking of how I was evaluated and rated when I was a boy in the business. I wondered what Marshall Karp, my first ECD in the business, said about me in my early scouting reports. Or Len Sirowitz. Or Ed Butler. Or Mike Tesch. Or Steve Hayden. Or Chris Wall. Or Steve Simpson. Or Lee Weiss. Or, even, Errol Morris and Joe Pytka.

I read not too long ago this book, about women in the CIA. Of course the CIA has a formal review process and keeps extensive records. But the assessments--the scouting reports--that really mattered were the ones traded in hallways and lunch rooms and "dead drops." 

Not that many months ago, I spent a nice chunk of change to get some career counseling from Cindy Gallup. I wanted to make sure my day-rate was high enough. I have friends who coach professionally, but I wanted to talk to someone I knew only slightly. 

Cindy said to me, "George, when two people are talking and only one of them knows you, what does that person say about you? What do you want them to say? That's your unique selling proposition."

I wonder if there's anyone left in the industry who sees it as rough, shiv-laded, and whale-shippy as I do. You keep nothing aboard a whale ship except that which makes the owners of the ship--the shareholders--money. I guarantee you the Pequod had no rock-climbing wall for crew recreation.

If you're still in the business, whether you're a freelancer, running your own thing, or one of the few people still with that relic of a demarcation--an FTE--you ought to think, no matter what your age, how your scouting report reads. Many of them, even of players who eventually went onto the Hall of Fame, are harsh. 

You'd want it to read like this:

Or this:

Not this. 

And what does your scouting report say?

By the way, my scouting report (a reproduction.)

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