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March 5, 2013
Confessions of an A$$hole
 
Hi. My name is Derek Walker and I’m an a$$hole.
 
I’m not only “an” a$$hole; I’m “that” a$$hole.
 
I know once or twice in my career (who am I kidding, it has been a lot more than that), I’ve caused people working with me to mutter, whisper, or even shout, “That a$$hole!”
 
To which I proudly reply, “Why yes, yes I am.”
 
Allow me to elaborate:
 
I’m that a$$hole who thinks advertising has to be both strategic and creative, instead of one or the other; advertising is a balance of both.
 
I’m that a$$hole who always seems to look at the negative more than the positive, because I believe a big part of our job is to overcome the negatives for our clients.
 
I’m that a$$hole who reads the creative brief, and pushes back when it says the exact same thing as the last five creative briefs submitted to the creatives.
 
I’m that a$$hole who never seems satisfied with the work, and is always tweaking and pushing for something better.
 
I’m that a$$hole who refuses to “play the game.” I may be an a$$hole but I’m no ass kisser.
 
I’m that a$$hole who can’t “pick his battles” because if we lose enough battles, we also lose the war.
 
I’m that a$$hole who believes clients hired us for our ability to create solutions, not take orders.
 
I’m that a$$hole that sweats the words because the words do matter.
 
I’m that a$$hole that knows the target audience is neither stupid nor slow, and that we should respect their time by creating something worth noticing.
 
I’m that a$$hole that believes every project deserves my best because that’s what I’m paid to deliver.
 
I’m that a$$hole who doesn’t think he is the smartest in the room, but knows he is one of the most creative.
 
I’m that a$$hole pointing out the weaknesses and flaws in an execution, hoping to make it as strong as possible.
 
I’m that a$$hole who is always asking questions and digging deeper — I’m curious.
 
I’m that a$$hole who is secure enough to recognize others’ work is great without it hurting my pride.
 
I’m that a$$hole who thinks our work matters.
 
This is quite an omission.
 
No one grows up wanting to be “that a$$hole.” There’s no major in college for it, no associations of a$$holes to join, or a secret society to become a member of with a secret password and handshake.
 
No, being “that a$$hole” is not the same as a prima donna or a raging ego; it isn’t about being hard to work with or a know-it-all. It is all about the work, being so focused on creating the best possible work for clients that I forget to play the game or politics.
 
Yeah, I am “that a$$hole.”
 
After thinking about it, maybe that’s what agencies need more of — a$$holes who are passionate about doing great advertising for clients, who understand that advertising agencies are more than vendors.
 
Just think what advertising might look like if more of us were “that a$$hole.”

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Derek Walker is the janitor, secretary and mailroom person for his tiny agency, brown and browner advertising, out of the big city of Columbia, S.C. He is on Twitter as @dereklwalker
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