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June 16, 2004
An Open Apology to David Lubars or a Step-By-Step Guide to Getting Fired
 

First and foremost, I hope this letter finds you well. From what I hear, it appears you've landed at some shop in New York. I don't know what unfortunate circumstances forced you to live amongst so many Godless Yankee fans, but if I know you, you'll be making lemonade out of those lemons in no time.

It's been almost ten years since you fired me from BBDO/West in Los Angeles. I know, where does the time go?

The reasons for my firing are much clearer to me now than they were in 1996. Partly because I've had eight years to think about things, and partly because I've seen my fair share of young creatives professionally self-destruct since then. When you have ringside seats to these horrid displays of self-indulgence, you walk away from the crash site a changed person. It's like going back to watch William Shatner perform a dramatic reading of Sir Elton's "Rocket Man" on national TV. You can't help but cringe and ask, "What were you thinking?"

So without wasting any more of your time than I already have, I'd like to take a moment to apologize for a few things I believe may have contributed to my being dismissed from my first job in advertising.

For starters, I'm sorry for keeping Hugh Hefner hours. There's really no excuse for this. Having grown up watching those Smith Barney ads with John Houseman, I should have known there are certain perks in the creative department you have to earn. While it is acceptable for a senior art director to get to work a little late because he burned the midnight oil, it's not okay for a junior copywriter to stroll in at 11:00 after he knocked off at 4:30 the previous night to attend a yoga class.

I'm sorry for entering into an inter-office "romance" within months of being hired. These romantic train wrecks are never a good idea, at any point in your career. But what can I say? I was young. It was the first time I worked in a big office. And frankly, had I known there was a security camera on the roof of the building, I would have at least waited until it was dark.

I'm sorry for taking two days off to fly to the Bay Area on the company dime, just to attend a party at the BBDO/San Francisco office. To be honest, it really wasn't my idea. But when you're 22, and the company's top art director asks, "Hey, you want to go to a party?" you naturally assume it's okay to go. Oh, and while we're on the subject, I'm sorry for smoking humboldt sensimilla in the president's office, and for basically acting like Nick Nolte after an Oscars snub in front of you and your boss, BBDO Worldwide CEO, Allen Rosenshine. Never a good career move.

I'm sorry for forcing an AE on our biggest account to edit copy I had written. However, in my defense this was the fifth round of changes the client wanted, and since they didn't like anything I had written, I thought I'd let someone close to the account give it a shot. I now realize making multiple changes to your work is part of the creative process. Instead of taking this as a personal affront, I should have knuckled down and written something even better. But between you and me, they really were being insufferable.

I'm sorry for treating the email system as my personal, comedic soapbox. Had I channeled half the creative energy I put into those emails, chances are I'd have a lot more to show from my BBDO days. I also understand calling Pizza Hut's Triple Decker Pizza a "six cheese holocaust" in an all-agency email, probably wasn't wise either. I'd like to chalk that one up to inexperience. At the time, I had no idea media dollars were so valuable to an agency. Had I to do it all over again, I probably would have just left you off the "cc" list.

I'm sorry for leaving dozens of graduate school applications scattered across my desk at all hours of the day. While it's an employee's prerogative to seek out new opportunities, there's really no professional value in broadcasting to the entire office that you're actively considering leaving.

And finally, when you pulled me into a conference room to inform me you were letting me go, I'm sorry for pretending to look genuinely surprised. Frankly, that just demeaned us both.

It's not often people take the time to amend a past wrong. So often we allow simple pettiness and pride to get in the way of offering a heart felt apology. So with that, I want you to know I harbor no ill feelings. In fact, I'm eternally grateful for what little time I had to work with you, and for the tremendous opportunities you offered me while I was there. Who knows, an occasion may arise for us to work together again in the future. And, hey, if things don't work out for you in New York, just know you'll always have a place here in Boston at Clarke Goward.

Just make sure you're in by 11:00.


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Like all of us, Lawson Clarke has learned a few lessons over the years. Some of Lawson's biggest lessons came from working for David Lubars at BBDO West. Today, Lawson is an award-winning writer at Clarke Goward in Boston, the shop founded by his father, Terry Clarke.

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