I was reading this article about advertising legend George Lois, which had snippets of his wisdom on how to make creative work matter in a saturated industry. Someone saw me reading it and basically the short chat went as such:
A: What’s that?
B: This article my friend linked me. George Lois? Says here he won a Clio Lifetime Achievement award last 2013.
A: You’re…not one of those award-hungry creative types, are you?
B: No. But I think awards are nice-to-haves!*
A: Good.This is just a job, you know. Because I know a lot of people who have like a few awards, and they’re not even in this industry anymore.
That was it. The way he said it was so demotivational. (Yup, that’s a word now.)
He said it like it’s a bad thing to want to have awards. To me, it sounded like mediocrity was acceptable and something he’s settling for. It just came off so wrong to me, considering I’m not even a hardcore “I want a (Cannes) Lion!” type of advertising creative.
To be honest, for me, the ordinary is just not an option when it comes to creating work. Work might just be work, and choosing your (office) battles is fine. But if there is always that lingering chance to be great at it, making an impact on people, etc. — why not take it?
“Divine Discontent” is something that I learned in Ogilvy. It essentially means to never settle for what you think is already good; but in fact, one should keep pushing the limit to do greater things than the last that you’ve previously done. It’s a fantastic philosophy for anyone who is passionate in their work, I believe.
We work in the advertising industry. We have the power to affect human behavior. There’s just so much potential in doing a good kind of change in my line of work, regardless if you think of it as just a job or not. Why anyone would box this opportunity to be a catalyst of change, is either simply ridiculous or not in the right business.
*Can I boast that I have a few awards. Not the big international kind, but still awards nonetheless. They really are nice-to-haves, like a physical form of acclaim for your work! It reminds me to strive to be even greater.