Here’s to the future!
Instead of goodbye, that’s what my friend used to say.
HIs name was Arnold Penney.
He died at 92. Literally, my oldest friend.
And for some reason, he had erased the word “goodbye” from his vocabulary.
Perhaps it was because he had had so many hard goodbyes in the past.
Especially his brothers in arms he lost in WWII.
All I know for sure is that was our traditional send-off: Here’s to the future.
It suited Arnie, the youngest senior citizen you ever met.
Full of life. And a fan of good Scotch til the end.
Since his passing, I’ve tried to keep that forward-looking outlook.
That sense that the best is yet to come.
And that’s the spirit I hope fills you as we celebrate the first anniversary of our podcast.
Welcome to Episode 52 of Navigating the Fustercluck—a podcast full of snackable insights to help you navigate the 7-times-down, eight-times-up world of creativity & management.
My name is Wegs, like eggs with a W, joining you from Deaf Mule Studios in Dallas, where our anniversary has placed us in a rather celebratory mood.
Thanks again for helping our launch year be such a success. Not only were we an iTunes New & Noteworthy selection, you gave us over 100 5-star reviews. And we appreciate it. If you’ve found the snackable and stackable ideas on Navigating the Fustercluck to be helpful, please share them.
Looking back over our first year, here are some of the things about working in the world of creativity that makes me look forward to the future ahead:
Every time I sit around with my oldest buddies, they want to hear advertising stories. And they’re rarely let down. These guys are in fields like pharmaceutical sales, banking and such. Face it, we may not make as much money as some industries, and we may have more headaches than others… But we have our stories. Here’s one I’ve been asked to retell multiple times…
It’s The Star Trek Story featuring old school writer, Larry Simon.
I didn’t work with Larry long, but he was brilliant. Great writer. Great presenter. Smart, smart guy who used to be featured some on NPR.
I’m not going to share the client, but the relationship had gone sideways.
Seriously sideways. And while the agency may not have been perfect, but the client was abusive and confused. Toggling between insults and wholesale strategic changes meeting to meeting and sometimes multiple changes within meetings.
Things were coming to a head for awhile when we walked into their offices for what felt like a make-or-break meeting. And people were a bit uptight.
Now Larry, he was always uptight. A bundle of energy. Nervous energy that sometimes worked for him, sometimes against him. But he had the big idea and like I said, he was a dynamite presenter. You just didn’t know if he was going to explode.
From the moment we walked into the conference room, things didn’t feel right. We should have pulled a fire alarm and booked. But then we wouldn’t have this story.
From the first slide, the meeting started off wobbly and from that point on it just kept sliding down and down and down, but we gamefully gutted it out. When it came to his turn, Larry was brilliant. Smart, clear and engaging. To me at least. The client? Not so much.
And when you’re an entertaining guy like Larry, a dead room is a living hell.
No matter what Larry said, he couldn’t break their poker faces.
Finally, standing dead center in the room, Larry just shut down and stopped cold.
He just stood there silently. For a split second, I thought he might be having a stroke. But after a pregnant pause, he pulled his wallet out of his back pocket.
Flipped it open like a Star Trek communicator and in his best Captain Kirk voice said, Scotty, beam me up. There’s no sign of intelligent life down here.
Larry then snapped his wallet back together, stuck it in his pocket and without saying a word, turned and walked out of the room never to be seen again.
Seriously. He totally ghosted us. Never bothering to return to the agency.
Or to return any calls. Finally, HR boxed up his personal effects and sent them off to his home. Larry had ridden off into the sunset as a copywriter only to become a living legend. His voice haunting us on occasional stints on NPR.
Thank you for your service, Larry. You’re the patron saint of bad meetings. And God bless you, Captain. You took us where no man has gone before. Though I’m not so sure that I want to go there, again.
While the advertising industry is in a state of flux, creativity is in vogue. More valued by more people. Netflix. AT&T. In-house. Small shops. Some of the work is more exciting than what we’ve known before. But it is a bit different and we will have to adjust. Unless, that is, we want to suffer the fate of the coal miners. Some of who have turned down training programs as they demand that the past be brought back to them, because the past is within their comfort zone.
Comfort is the death of creativity.
Just think about it. Creativity and the way overused and abused storytelling are at a premium. There’s uncertainty. But in that uncertainty, there’s opportunity. Learn the new skills and you won’t have to stand in line waiting to move up. You’ll have an edge. Creativity is far from dead. Long live creativity.
Even with all the new technology at our disposal, the Idea is still King. It may not always feel that way, but it is. Some of these tools, however, are being abused. Some need to be dumped. Or revamped. Or hacked. Look at what Geico did with their Unskippable campaign. They hacked pre-roll right into a Grand Prix at Cannes.
Creatives need to become technically proficient. Not full-fledged technicians and definitely not technocrats, but aware enough of how to manipulate the new technologies creatively.
Like most technology, ours are neither good nor bad. We make them so. So embrace them.
Also notice how the line between above the line and below the line has been basically erased. Shopper has won at Cannes. PR has won at Cannes. Experiential has won at Cannes. Things that weren’t considered advertising before are winning major awards. Think about the Ice Bucket Challenge. There are now more ways to move businesses forward. To win awards. To put your creativity to work. Embrace it. Enjoy it. Or it may just leave you behind. Again, the Idea is still King. It’s the lay of the land that has changed. As it always does.
The Old Boys Club is Dying
It’s not completely dead, but it’s been dealt a mortal blow. And this good.
As the necessary changes happen, it may feel awkward at times. There may be some adjustments that need to be made, but in the end, there will be more good minds and great ideas put into play.
Leveling the playing field for women seems to be going better than for people of color. If you have other thoughts, I’d love to hear them.
If you have ideas on moving our industry further, faster, that would be most welcomed.
Time to 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, Wegs. And these are some of the things that help me look forward to what’s next for advertising and creativity in general.
The expansion of creativity.
The Leveling of the playing field.
All of this is positive. None of it is settled yet. It’s your chance to take these forces and make a difference.
And maybe that’s what I’m looking forward to most.
More people getting the chance to make a difference.
Regardless of age. Sex. Title. And so on. More influences. More perspectives. More ways to solve problems. After all, we’re in the problem/solution business. And the first problems we need to solve are our own.
Well, that about wraps up our 52nd episode, our first anniversary of Navigating the Fustercluck. Huzzah! Huzzah! And thank yo one & all.
Here from Deaf Mule Studios, I’m your host, Wegs, like eggs with a W, grateful again for you listening in and supporting us for the last year. Amazing. And humbling. If you’d like to share what you’re looking forward to, please feel free to reach out to me personally at firstname.lastname@example.org or NavigatingTheFustercluck.com, where you can find transcripts to this episode and every other of our 51 shows.
Special thanks and love to Victor, Gio, Juan, Alejandro and the rest of our amazing partners at Deaf Mule Studios. Please keep them in mind for all your audio needs.
Finally, remember, we’re all in this together. So thanks for supporting this effort to bring us all together. Here’s to Navigating the Fustercluck. Here’s to you. Here’s to the future.