Biggest fuck up?
My first serious job was at an advertising agency where I worked as a brand strategist. Anyone who’s worked in an agency will know that pitching can be difficult at the best of times, but my first pitch was by far a career-low point.
It was for a large Australian wealth management brand that our CEO at the time had a connection with. Because of this link, the pitch was supposed to be an open goal and a massive new business win for the agency. However, a mix of not really knowing what I was doing, too many cooks in the kitchen, and a toxic cycle of repeatedly ripping things down and starting again meant the final output was crap.
The brief was mainly a strategic response, and a lot of that fell in my corner. Beyond the commercial implications of not winning the business, the whole process took its toll on the agency, and after many a 2 am finish, we were all exhausted and miserable.
Personally, I also had massive anxiety that everything else I was doing at work was also shit. The biggest thing I learned from this experience was to make a decision early and stick to it. On reflection, most of the problems came from trying to appease a committee of people, each with their own opinions, and I was too naive to realise that this is actually an impossible task.
Time filling and the idea of 9-5 five days a week. When I was younger, I played a lot of high-level sport in professional environments. Anyone who’s been in those sorts of places knows you can’t always operate at peak performance – you have to balance intense training loads with periods of rest to play at an optimum level.
Work should be approached in the same way, yet the processes and requirements of most offices are set up in such a way that people just plod along (or they force people to burn out, which is a separate issue). If you get all your work done by 2 pm, go home. Take a day off on a Weds if you think it will freshen you up to hit a Friday deadline – it’s all about maximizing outputs.
A more recent trend that is annoying me through this COVID crisis is how everyone is suddenly an expert on the economy/infectious diseases/medicine. The rush “to have an opinion” has flooded social media (including professional platforms) with so much noise it’s difficult to find any useful information.
Work hard, rest when needed, and accept that those rest days might not fall on a Saturday or Sunday.