ANDYVISION - watch me try to be creative. live.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Fail Harder

They say growth doesn't come without pain. Or something like that. Actually, I don't know if they ever said that. I don't even know who "they" is. But I'm sure someone has something to that effect at some point. The point is, I believe them.

This last week and a half has been pretty rough for Karen and I. We started off very hot, had a ton of great ideas and were rolling along nicely. Then we started hitting little bumps here and there, became unsure of what was expected, didn't know how to proceed.

I think I wrote previously that everything was going so swimmingly because we didn't feel like there was much difference in what we were doing , and what we were used to doing at Circus. Come up with a bunch of ideas, throw them up on a wall, have your CDs tear down the ones that aren't working, start from there. Which is completely true. It's the next step that's different.

If anyone's listened to Dan Balser's latest podcast on DGMS, Ross had a a really poignant answer for one of Dan's questions. He was asked what the major difference between doing work at school, and doing working at an agency is. Ross said that in school you have ten weeks to concept and then all at once at the end you execute. On the other hand, in an agency you're executing as you're concepting. The two things are all going on at once. At the time I heard that—probably a week into being at Wieden—I thought, Oh yeah, that's exactly how it is. But I didn't really know. Now I know.

It's not just about coming up with a great idea. It's taking that great idea and executing it in an hour or two. And if it gets killed or you pursued the wrong execution, all that work gets trashed. I can't tell you how many pieces of body copy of needlessly written since I've been here.

It's been a big adjustment for us for sure. And in that respect, I don't feel that we're properly prepared.

This past week and a half has been rough. We got to the point of burn out; we weren't really thinking straight or creatively. It was all to get ready for a meeting with Starbucks on Thursday to present our ideas and the beginning our campaigns to them. For a number of reasons, including the fact that we weren't 100% prepared, among others, our CDs met with Dan Wieden and a few higher-ups on Wednesday night. We had been rushing around killing ourselves to try to make our stuff work for the few day, and had slept only about three hours the night before. Long story short, the presentation got canceled. I must say, pretty embarrassing.

I was sure we were going to get fired. I've been sort of walking around with my tail between my legs for the last two days. It's certainly not a good feeling. In fact, it's an awful feeling.

But a number of good things have come from it. For one, Dan Wieden thought my TV scripts were awesome. That's cool. He also went crazy over this line I wrote. It's very simple so it's nothing amazing, but he loved it and wants it to drive all campaigns for the project.

Another good thing that came about was becoming a part of the family a bit more. Karen and I have been holed up in some random office on the first floor by ourselves for the last three weeks. While it was nice as an adjustment period, we didn't learn anything. We weren't sitting up in the Starbucks quad. We didn't see the way things worked. We didn't really get to hang out with the other creatives. We didn't know how the studio worked. We didn't see the other work that other teams had done before use. We honestly didn't feel like we were part of the agency.

When everything went down on Wednesday night, everyone just stopped and hung out. As soon as the presentation was canceled, we all sat in our little living room area, watched TV for a few minutes, told jokes and just hung. It was the first time we felt like we were part of the family. We had planned on staying all night working so they had just order dinner for everyone before the cancellation. So, we all just waited around until the food came, had a leisurely meal together and then went home and got some sleep. It was nice to finally feel part of something, even if it had come out of something not so great.

The next day, Karen and I decided to make a change. We had been downstairs by ourselves because there was no room for us with the rest of the team. We came upstairs determined to find somewhere to work so we could be around everyone else. It ended up being easier than we thought. A desk had just been vacated the day before so we grabbed it. Obviously it's not the best situation—we're both crammed around one desk—but it's much better. Just being up there feels better.

Down in our hole on the second floor we had a lot of freedom. We had big posters on the wall. We had Chinese lanterns strung from the ceiling. We a soccer ball. But we didn't have anyone else. We worked hard to impress our creative directors, but we barely ever saw them. Beyond being accountable to them every three days or so, there wasn't much else we had to do. Just being around people, whether we have to show them work or not makes us more accountable. I feel ready for a do-over.

Dan Wieden has a great philosophy. He says that you're of no worth to him until you've made three humongous mistakes. I'm not sure if this counts as humongous right now. It sure feels that way when you feel like they're going to tell you to pack up and go home any minute. But the conclusion to Dan's philosophy is that if you're trying to not make mistakes you'll miss out on the value of learning from them. I feel like I've learned a lot already. I don't know how I'll show that or what it changes, but I'm ready to start trying.

This giant piece is on our floor in the building.

It's a beautiful mural that faces out to the atrium so anytime you're walking around the agency you can see it. It's even more incredible when you look at it up close. It's made up of over 100,000 clear thumbtacks. W12 did made it over the a 351-hour period. (That's probably 351 man-hours. I hope.)

When I saw this on the first day I thought to myself, I'm sure someday I'll look at that and need it as inspiration. I think it's probably time.

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