Friday, March 30

No headline, no way.

A few days ago I had an interesting conversation to someone. Then suddenly after talking about my life and work at the agency and about the distance learning programme I am currently doing (or not doing), this person said: "You're a person who always plays safe, right?" Woo. You are so wrong. I just don't like surprises and therefore think about the possibilities to come before doing something. Oh, wait. Maybe this person is right.

While still thinking about this I stumbled across this post by total stranger and "iMate" Marcus. You are so right. I am 25. And I have nothing to be angry about. I started to work in advertising when I was 20. Straight after finishing school I went to a small ad agency and then to Germany's leading copywriting school, Texterschmiede. After joining Leagas Delaney and then later TBWA I work at Kolle Rebbe for nearly 4 years now. Shot some commercials, went from junior to mid-level, won some awards and stuff. Privately I have found a wonderful woman that I would call "love for life". And I live in one of the nice parts of Hamburg. It's called Eppendorf and you might compare it to Notting Hill (without the prices). My life is somehow a comfort zone. Nothing to complain about. Happy. Nothing to fight for. Everything is fine. But probably this is the point why I am unsatisfied. Everything is okay. But what does okay mean? Nice, medium sized, fine. Not very bad, not very good. For me okay might be the most unsatisfying word. At our school we used to say that okay is the little brother of shit. And it is. I am not happy. Because (that's what I think) when you are a creative okay is nothing but mediocreness. To put this right: This feeling mostly applies to the limitations and borders that are set for my work. This okay does not include Meike. She is great. And I truely and deeply love here. But back to work. I love my agency. But wait. I love most of the people. I don't like the rules. Tidy up the room. No pictures on walls, nothing on your desk except your MacBook and the phone and maybe some briefs. How is a creative person supposed to work in an environment like that? And furthermore I maybe a bit tired of always pushing our creative directors to not always present the "safe" ideas. I had some key moment a few weeks back. I was working late and at 2 am changed the whole presentation because I was not satisfied. I was supposed to present the work so I thought that I have to like it nevermind what my creative directors might think. On the next day I presented to the client. It was great. They said it was the best presentation they ever saw from my agency. The reaction of my creative directors? Angry. But what should they say? "Hey we left agency before the presentation was finished and then this kid came along, changed everything, put stuff into the presentation we never saw and then made the client happy like never before!?" Probably not.
I know that maybe I could have fallen (is this grammatically correct?) on my butt. Nonetheless my brain felt better for it. So back to the general situation. After thinking about all this stuff I remembered this video on the website of Wieden+Kennedy. And Ademar is so right.

That's why I promised to myself that I will leave my comfort zone. Jobwise. Once a wise man said "Do one thing every day that scares you." And that's nearly what I will do. I will stop to wait for my dreams to knock on my door. I will ram their door or at least ring their bell. What door? I will tell you. Don't laugh. Since my second week in advertising my aim was to one day work for Wieden+Kennedy in Amsterdam. So why didn't you send your portfolio there and see what they will say, you might ask. An awarded person can't be that bad in what he's doing, right? Right. But I was afraid. It's like asking the most wonderful girl at school if she would like to go out with the president of the chess club (or something like that). But now I am angry (thanks, Marcus). No, I am unsatisfied. And dissatisfaction, not money, is what makes the world go round. And while some may say that I am stupid to think about probably leaving a well-paid job in one of the top agencies in Germany for maybe an internship at some agencies in London or maybe for a trainee job at WK Amsterdam, I just can say: I am 25 and have the right to do stupid things. Or at least on thing a day that scares me.

And believe me, I am scared. Afraid of the big fat "NO!" out of the mouth of some people I deeply respect and would like to work with. But I've got nothing to loose. Because the thing that's most important in my life is this one human being that I love (Hello, Meike). That's a thing I said to Marcus. Unsatisfaction can settle free all the energy you'll need to change things. But it can't recharge its batteries. So let's change something and see what time may bring. Maybe I end up staying in Hamburg but trying to make this place THE place and maybe change will happen. Updates, anyone?

Oh, here is one of the text I think might fit on this:
"I work, I wonder, get things done yet take my losses, too. I kill my darlings, kiss some asses, tell a lie (but not to you). I move the mountain, I cross the ocean. I throw the dice, cut the crap, confront. I sharpen edges. I curse, I claim, I rock the cradle, thrive. I scream. Of love, of fear, of joy. I excel, exclaim, exhale. Maybe get more wrinkles, more grey hair, perhaps take a diet.....and fail. I question answers, change the odds, at times I ride the tide. I break the rules and bite the dust. Mouth open wide. I beat the drum, I blow your horn, or - who knows - ring your bell. I stir the fire, I make great waves, shoot horses, stars as well. I random order, unchain hearts, I think big fish of you. I want, create, believe, persist and fail. I get up, I dream, I wish and do."

What do you think. Does this make sense? Or am I just stupid? Feel free to comment. And: Thanks for the attention.


UPDATE:
This whole thing somehow got it's own blog now. It's called "This is getting scary" and you can find it here.
More stuff about scare and Wieden+Kennedy on THIS blog you can find here, here, here, here and here.

17 Comments:

Blogger Will said...

You're a fucking legend.

Go for it.

3:00 pm, March 30, 2007  
Blogger Marcus Brown said...

This makes sense. You are anything but stupid.

You get a longer comment later, when I've caught my breath.

3:04 pm, March 30, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

don't want to blame you and your blog by commenting something romantic....
guess thats no fucking cool boys blogging stuff.
so I'll keep it short and simple:
i love you. whether hamburg, london or amsterdam.
meike

5:23 pm, March 30, 2007  
Anonymous neil christie said...

The question is, can you do something that will scare wieden + kennedy? If so, give us a call.

5:46 pm, March 30, 2007  
Blogger lauren said...

nice post seb. while i don't subscribe to the 'tortured artist' idea of having to be in turmoil to create something amazing, i believe that there is a very fine line between satisfaction and piece of mind, and being stuck in a rut.

and i look forward to seeing you scare w+k!

5:36 am, March 31, 2007  
Blogger Seb said...

thanks everyone. I appreciate you backing me up. though Neil slightly scared me with his comment. but be sure, Mr. Christie, although I'm on holidays my mind is rumbling about how to scare Wieden+Kennedy. when I am back I will start the thing. it would be lovely if you could give me, let's say, five days starting from tuesday. maybe we'll blog about the progress, but let's just see. thanks again. for your attention and stuff.

by the way: Marcus, you definitely scare me. but in a nice and friendly kind of way.

4:53 pm, March 31, 2007  
Anonymous Paul H. Colman said...

Go scare them Seb.

5:27 pm, March 31, 2007  
Blogger Tait Ischia said...

I'm going to print this post out and stick it to my wall. You're not crazy Seb, you're probably more in tune with yourself than ever before.

Good luck my friend!

Tait.

3:33 am, April 03, 2007  
Blogger Waldemar said...

i'm speechless, i think you should go for it seb! realizing this is the first step, the much harder one will be to actually get up from your ass and do it, but you started – well done!! i wish you all the best with this move!

1:00 pm, April 03, 2007  
Blogger Seb said...

thanks paul, tait (hello to you) and val. we've just started to scare. Nina is doing illustrations. but we're working on a nice new business so it will take us some nights I think. maybe we'll do a special blog about the progress and impossible ideas. and by the way: would be interesting to get some of your wisdom on how to start, Val. if you have some time maybe we can mail? thanks for attention and stuff.

1:42 pm, April 03, 2007  
Anonymous dan said...

You are young – you should go and try to do the things that will satisfy you. Go to W+K in Amsterdam. Try. Try again. You’ll get there. When you get older, you’ll be less flexible, less able to move (home/city/your body). So get to it. Don’t delay. Who knows what might happen in a year, or two years, that might stop you from trying? Waiting for life to happen makes things dull.

Hope to see you in Hamburg soon.

7:15 pm, April 03, 2007  
Blogger Yousuf said...

Hi Seb,

What can I say... I'm stumped. I'm lost for words at your post. You've summed up everything I wanted to say about myself. You've almost made me cry... in joy, in fear, in longing and feeling that there's someone out there who resonates how I think and feel.

Thanks a ton mate. You've unknowingly done me a huge favour and I'll never be able to forget this.

And hey, go for it. What's the worst that could happen? A No? What's the best that could? That you challenged your fear and made a gladiator-like attempt to conquer it? Go for it. My best wishes are with you.

Do you know the favour you've done me - you've reawakened the spirit in me, motivated and inspired me to go for it... again. Go for what? If you feel connected, read on.

Just like you, I started my advertising career at Bates Asia in Kolkata (India) when I was 21 - straight out of college, with no idea of what advertising was like from the inside, how it worked or what I would be good or bad at in it.

The only thing I did know was that when I saw a Nike, MasterCard, Pepsi commercial or print ad, it gave me goosebumps. It shook me, made my eyes wet and queasily made me ask myself, "What on earth do these guys eat to come up with such interesting ideas? How can people be so creative? Will I ever be this creative? If I join advertising, will I ever be able to produce such creative work, such ads?

And then I used to marvel at the magic and awe that these ads created in the eyes of the people these were meant for, the gleam that they produced, the fascination they stirred up as if it was the "happily ever after" ending of a bedtime story being whispered into the ears of a sleeping child.

To puruse this power to weave magic, I started off as a suit and unknowingly developed my planning skills. 2 years later, I was in a position just like you - happy clients, blue-chip brands, some local awards, recognition and praise from peers and seniors. But I was dissatisfied.

There were two reasons - there was nothing wrong and secondly, I still hadn't experienced the goosebumps I used to feel on seeing the Cannes winners during my college days for any of my work. A lot, obviously had to be done.

I had always wanted to travel the world and I knew the earlier i would start, the better. Considering I'm from a middle-class Muslim family in India, I knew my father would never be able to afford an expensive Masters degree course for me abroad or pay for me to go and work for cheap in an agency in the UK or US. In fact, in India when your child goes abroad, it's usually always for making more money, not less.

I had to find a cheap but useful way of getting out, plus I couldn't compromise on my ad career. In fact, I knew that anything I would do next had to liken my learning curve to the steepness of Mt Everest, if there could be such a comparison.

The answer came through a dream I had throughout my college days. I used to be a member of AIESEC - an international youth organization that arranges for "temporary" international work opportunities for young professionals. And I had always dreamt that I would go on such an "exchange program" one day after having seen for 3 years the kind of impact it had on those who took it.

Eventually, it materialised and I left my job at Bates to join a start-up full-service agency in Indonesia. Why? The responsibility was huge - to plan, manage accounts and grow the business in a tough Asian market. Too much to handle? It was but I thought, why not give it a shot? What's the worst that could happen?

A year gone, I am still in Jakarta. And the agency I had joined last year has now bloomed into a small group with 3 divisions - advertising, activation and channel management. And I solely focus on planning now.

I've rambled on but still haven't mentioned what you have inspired me to again go after, right?

It's to apply as a planner at W+K, London.

In Jan-Feb this year, I did send my resume to W+K. I, too, contemplated why I was dissatisfied with what I was doing right now. It's the goosebumps. I still haven't got them.

The fact that I'm still in Jakarta should speak for itself as to whether I made it to W+K. For the last few weeks, I had this sinking feeling that I never would. But today, after having read your blog, I feel not all's lost. All I need to do is try again. And I will.

Sorry for taking you through this marathon. It's just that I'm tired of pretending - to be happy, to be smart, to deceive myself that I know how to get through to my dream agency. And I've never written with this genuine a fervour and emotion in my heart since my resignation letter from AIESEC in 2004.

I don't know if this was relevant to you at all. If you think it wasn't, please feel free to delete this as an uninvited piece of randomness. I'll appreciate the honesty.

And yeah, if you get through to W+K, please let me know. Maybe someday, I will too :)


Cheers and best of luck
Yousuf

12:07 pm, May 18, 2007  
Blogger Seb said...

hello yousuf, thanks for your post. wish you good luck with your dream and hope you will achieve it. just try. what should go wrong? will send you news if I get them. I only need some contact details. If you like just send them via my email-thingy in the sidebar.

2:43 am, May 21, 2007  
Blogger habit47 said...

Seb,

"Success is just getting up one more time than you fall down."

I don't know who said it, but it's always helped me.

Now go and break something, preferably the neck of Mediocrity.

Ivan (http://habit47.vox.com)

6:27 pm, May 23, 2007  
Blogger Yousuf said...

Hey Seb,

Thanks for the wishes and support.

My email id is yousuf.rangoonwala@the-bakery-jakarta.com

Lemme know if you get through and in general too, do keep in touch. Would love to know what's happening at your end of the world.


Cheers
Yousuf

10:20 am, May 29, 2007  
Anonymous Dragos said...

This post will inspire others to apply for a job with W+K too and your changes will go down :)

That's why you don't need to tell others about your plans, no matter what :D

You have a woman who loves you, at least for me it seems you are pretty "scared". Love her and take her to London, or Amsterdam, or even Tokyo for that matter.

Good luck. I hope you get there.

I saw your print you sent to them on "Welcome to optimism" blog and thought it was nice. Nice...

Like you said, you need to scare the shit out of you and...them will follow ;)

The best of luck to you, my friend!

p.s. In a Bigfoot costume running around in the agency giving free hugs will do the trick I guess, if you can pull this off.



[joke] :)

11:30 pm, June 02, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just want to say what a great blog you got here!
I've been around for quite a lot of time, but finally decided to show my appreciation of your work!

Thumbs up, and keep it going!

Cheers
Christian, iwspo.net

8:59 pm, May 28, 2010  

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