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July 9, 2011
Gone Corporate: The Power of Ego
 
We all have an ego — some bigger than others, whether reality-based or not. In the creative fields, you run into all kinds.

Throughout my advertising career, I’ve run into egomaniacal geniuses, overly confident dummies, and humble folks who crank out great work. (Which am I? I’ll leave that to my biographer.)

Now that I’m on the client side, it’s interesting because I’m dealing a lot with three unique types of co-worker egos:

1) The “mostly toned-down” creative person.
The example I’m thinking of is a guy who freelanced out of his house for several years, so he’s a little more “mellow” than most. He’ll occasionally skip right past the whole “involving the writer in concepting” thing and write his own copy. I’m sure that wouldn’t go over well in most agencies, but here it’s just kind of accepted. (I’ve tried to fix this, trust me.)

2) The “I have an MBA and I know more than Stephen Hawking” person who works in “product marketing.”
On the agency side, this person is known as the Client. (Actually, we call them that here, too.) Familiar to you, I’m sure, this person has very specific “pet peeves” that she does NOT want to see in copy. And specific words that she doesn’t like. And a general “preferred tone” that might not exactly match what we’re going for. Because she’s higher on the food chain, what s/he says basically goes.

3) The “I used to be a copywriter and now I own the company” guy.
Look, I don’t know if he really was a copywriter (we’re not LinkedIn buddies). I do know that I’ve been told that by my boss, and I have to assume that it’s true. But I’m telling you, the campaign concept that he hatched — the one that was running before I got here and will continue to run until he tires of it — is not being executed properly. It’s a pretty obvious, run-of-the-mill idea that would be just blah/meh/mediocre at best if it paid off in the right way. But it’s not. So I hate it. (And it’s not mine, so I really hate it. Ego rant...over.)

So there you have it. Different kind of workplace, same kind of problem. Everybody wants to be heard and seen and respected and beloved and revered and worshipped. Unfortunately, no matter where you work, those things are normally reserved for the higher-ups, which, hopefully, we’ll all be someday.

Just remember to keep your ego in check.

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After a year of creative incarceration in Corporate World, your beloved Corporate Hack finally distracted the guards, outran the bloodhounds and scaled the wall to make his escape. Now that he’s back where he belongs in Ad World, he’s re-branded himself as The Inside Man...but he’s still having Ad-Verse Reactions. 
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