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I once was invited to attend a meeting with one of the World’s most successful and recognised business leaders.
In the room were about 12 other people – all from the same organisation – preparing to discuss a business opportunity that was on the table.
Why I was there is a very long and complicated story, of which I am sure they would rather I keep to myself, but for the record, I was incredibly excited to be invited as ‘an observer’.
Everything was going well – the mood was light and jovial – when one of the attendees made, even by my standards, an outlandish and arrogant statement.
Without so much as a pause, the business leader fired back:
“You have to earn the right to be arrogant and even then, you’d be wise not to.”
While the mood in the room suddenly darkened, it was an enlightening experience for me.
Here was a man who had achieved success based on pretty much any metric you could throw at him and yet he still appreciated and valued respect.
Sure, you could say his response wasn’t exactly a demonstration of that, but ‘respect’ doesn’t mean being passive or gentle or sickly sweet – it means not taking things for granted … assuming you have all the answers … thinking you’re better than everyone else … sitting back on past glories.
Sadly, a lot of Adland seem to have an alternative view.
They think this behaviour is perfectly acceptable.
Worse, some seem to think it is the way they should act.
Walking around like they are Kings, when all they’ve actually done is make a few ads.
Maybe it wouldn’t be so bad if they had consistently delivered greatness, but our industry happily prays at the feet of whoever has created the new, new thing.
Thank god there are some amazingly good and clever guys in this industry.
People who lead by example rather than popularity.
People who know it’s not just what you’ve done in the past, but what you do now.
People who strive to to solve problems, not just advertise them.
And that is why if you hear someone being arrogant, it’s highly likely they’re hiding behind it, because the truly great don’t act that way – or at least most of them don’t – which is why if you work in adland and want to create great things with great people, it’s OK to be firm … it’s OK to confident … it’s OK to challenge … but for your sake, more than others:
Don’t. Be. A. Dick.
PS: Yes, I know I don’t qualify for this. You don’t have to point this out. Andy.
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