Welcome to Episode 27 of Navigating the Fustercluck—a podcast full of snackable insights to help you navigate the alternative reality that is the world of creativity.
My name is Wegs, like eggs with a W, joining you from Deaf Mule Studios in Dallas, and we’re here to talk about you, and how you should bet on yourself. Maybe even start a side hustle or whatever term you prefer.
Some time back, I went to Miami with 400 other planners for the Jay Chiat Awards. A conference celebrating the very best in strategy.
To be honest, I don’t remember much about the event. And that’s not because of the nighttime cocktails. However, I’ll never forget the second day’s keynote speaker, Eric Ryan.
Eric’s background was as an advertising planner where he had worked at multiple top tier agencies, laying down the foundation for world-class work for world-class brands.
He’d done well for his clients, agencies and himself. So, it was interesting to hear Eric open with these words:
You’re all idiots.
Yep, he called us all idiots. Man, we paid a lot of money just so we could be called idiots.
That said, I will say, he said it in the nicest way possible. Because Eric is a nice guy.
I’ll also say this: He got our attention! So what if he pissed some people off. Because what he said next opened my eyes, and I’ll always appreciate Eric’s insight & honesty.
Each and every day your thinking helps make small fortunes for your clients and agencies alike, Eric said. Dumb people can’t do that. What’s dumb is that you don’t share in that wealth. Sure, you make good money, but you’re adding way more value than what you’re receiving in return.
Damn! That was a gut punch. Hard truths hit harder.
And Eric had every right to say it. You see, he and his college roommate, Adam Lowry, had co-created Method Cleaning products. Some of the first toxic-free products in their category. They had cracked the code and produced clean cleaning products. With awesome packaging. And they had made millions doing it. Hundreds of millions, I believe.
Eric’s words never left me. And from there on, I knew I had to bet on myself. That corporate America wasn’t going to provide with the wealth, and more importantly, the satisfaction I was seeking. Betting on yourself, however, can be daunting, and I tried to keep in mind the words of Nelson Mandela:
May Your Choices Reflect Your Hopes, Not Your Fears.
And there are many things to fear. More today than back then.
Creativity is on the verge of becoming a commodity.
Few clients are comfortable placing their business in the hands of creative types.
There are MBA’s who go to school so they can go out into the real world and change the status quo. They often end up as the entrepreneurs who succeed or fail have to shake things up.
Then there are those MBA’s who regardless of how they see themselves were put on this earth to maintain the status quo. They usually move on to large companies figuring out how to eliminate risk, not take it. To them, “risk” is a four letter word.
My apologies for the generalizations, but unfortunately, I’ve discovered this:
MBA does not necessarily stand for “Makes Better Advertising”.
That’s why there’s nothing better than a great client.
But you need great teammates, too.
Is your leadership committed to creativity? Your whole team?
Everyone wants great creative, but do they need it? Demand it?
Fight for it? Both with you and the client?
I really hope that they are. And that you are, too.
Unfortunately, with the emergence of AI and more direct platforms, creative is seemingly being devalued. Meaning that you may be undervalued, too.
And with cost-cutting continuing to gain momentum, you may want to look for an alternative path or a side hustle or two.
But don’t worry, I won’t call you an idiot. As you’ll see, that honor is apparently reserved for me.
Which brings us up to our second story. This one took place a few years ago when I met my old friend Stephen Gates out for dinner.
Wegs, Stephen said, I’ve been meaning to tell you something for a long time.
What’s that, Stephen?
Wegs, you’re an idiot.
There’s that word again! Well, Stephen, you’ve always been a good judge of character, what tipped you off? We both laughed.
Then Stephen explained: Wegs, you and Tom Hansen (who you heard back on Episode 21) taught me almost everything I know about presenting. Now I’m booking speaking gigs left and right.
I was curious. How’s that?
Nine months ago, I started a podcast, and it’s taking off. And now the requests are rolling in.
Not only were the requests rolling in, but so was the money. And trips to Austria, Mexico, SXSW, etc, etc, etc…
Now I did feel like an idiot, so here I am betting on myself here on Navigating the Fustercluck.
By the way…Stephen’s podcast, The Crazy One, can be found on Apple, iHeart and most other major platforms. Listen in, he’s got a lot to say. And he says it well.
Let’s Take a Short Breather… (EXHALE.)
…We’re here at Deaf Mule Studios to remind everyone that this is Navigating the Fustercluck. And I’m your host, recovering idiot, Wegs, with one final thought on the self-reliance of betting on yourself.
As Denis Waitley says…There are 2 Primary Choices in Life: To Accept Conditions as They Exist or Accept the Responsibility for Changing Them.
Well, that about wraps up our 27th episode of Navigating the Fustercluck. Here from Deaf Mule Studios, I’m your host, Wegs, like eggs with a W, thank you for listening in. And if you’re interested in the full written transcripts of this episode, and all the other episodes, check out NavigatingTheFustercluck.com. Remember, we’re all in this together, so here’s to you. Here’s to the future.