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May 25, 2011
Bringin' Back a Little Humility
Here’s the thing: in our industry, we’re competing on an hour-by-hour basis. The larger the ad agency, the more cutthroat the competition. The problem with this is that advertising folk build mountains of ego around themselves in an effort to protect the seeping insecurity and can’t leave it at their desk at night.

I’ve spent numerous years in realm and have myself fallen victim to it on occasion. We’re all guilty. If it weren’t for the fact that we’re so insecure about our work and so sure that people will see thorough our façade, we wouldn’t try so hard. It’s what drives us.

Unfortunately, that attitude doesn’t transfer well into the rest of the world. The little time we have to interact with the “real” world (when not working on a deadline or pitching a new concept) requires us to act halfway normal and be able to relate to others. Every creative I’ve ever met has denied it, but the secret’s out; we’re all (on some level) insecure about our work. Of course, the longer you’re in the industry, the more experience you pick up, and the chance is the greater of gaining security, but it’s still there. So, there’s no need for the ego trip, particularly toward those below you.

I’ve had the great pleasure of working with who I consider to be the industry’s top creatives; I’ve also worked with some massive jerks. The one thing I can tell you is that what sets the two groups apart is very rarely the actual creative output (which they themselves will tell you). What sets them apart is the ability to appreciate where their team is coming from and what they mean when they try to articulate an idea. They give credit where it’s due.

Another common differentiator is one’s appreciation for their success. In today’s age, very few of us “started in the mail room and worked our way up.” Without the proper portfolio, some decent brands, and a few good agencies under your belt, no agency looks in your direction. All those things, however, come with time — and experience. The best creative leader is able to recognize that fact. It’s the same leader who is able to remember the fact that they too were once at the bottom, swimming against the stream.

Next time you sit in front of your computer and bitch about the “intern or junior [whatever]” who messed up your work and think to yourself, “I could’ve done this better and faster,” remember that you were once that person, trying desperately to impress someone like yourself, who thought the same thing about you. There’s something to be said for a little humility.

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Rena Prizant  is an award-winning copywriter, creative, and mammal in Chicago; she's been professionally word playing for the past ten years. If there are ideas and words to be created, she’s your gal. She’s got you covered with concept development, messaging, creative leadership, and SEO. Just tell her what you want to say, she’ll write it for you…any way. Read www.ConceptsAndWords.com and follow @ConceptsNWords.
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