You Don’t Need an Army
I can’t tell you how many portfolios I’ve received from creatives who say, I’m at a bad agency. They don’t get me here. They don’t want to do great work like I do. They’re all about politics/money/boring clients/the suits run the place/insert excuse or self-delusion here.
I certainly can relate to the instinct. After all, all I wanted ten years ago was to get to “a great place” where they knew what great work was. And to me, that meant ten entries in that year’s One Show annual.
Having now worked at at a few of them, I can now report they put on their pants one leg at a time just like everyone else.
(Wait. To be clear: I didn’t actually see anyone remove their pants. It wasn’t that kind of freelance.)
That said, it’s easy to fall for the fallacy that if you can just touch the hem of The Great One’s garment, you’ll do work just like him or her.
Newsflash: creativity isn’t diphtheria. It doesn’t happen through sheer contagion.
To be sure, mentors are great. And some corporate cultures are far more supportive of the creative product than others. But over time I’ve come to learn that you don’t need an organization of a thousand like-minded souls to do award-winning work.
In fact, in a huge agency, there’s often a competition for those few sweet creative assignments, and the numbers can actually work against you.
You don’t need an army. You need motivation, a marketing problem to be solved, two or three compadres you believe in, and a boss who either gets out of the way or is supportive of your efforts. That’s it.
Oh, and you need a highly-functional self-bullshit detector.
Are there two or three people in your company you believe in? Are there two or three who believe in you? Then just maybe, consider the possibility that you’re already at the place you’ve been looking for.