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There are moments in this job when things you don’t want to happen, happen.
And that is why yesterday was a shit day for me.
Advertising is a transitory industry.
People are always coming and going from your life
Sometimes that is for sad – and bad – reasons, but sometimes that is also for good.
You see I have always passionately believed part of my job is to help my colleagues go on to bigger and better things.
That doesn’t just mean in terms of career, but life choices as well.
Over the years I’ve had the pleasure of seeing a bunch of amazing people develop, blossom and then depart for something greater.
Whether that’s to start their own companies, take on massive jobs, try something entirely new or move to the other side of the World to be with someone they love … when its happened, I’ve always been happy because I feel I’ve done something for someone I care about that has helped them see their bigger potential and armed them, albeit in a small way, with the skills or beliefs to go after them.
In all honesty, the worst thing for me is when one of my colleagues leaves to take a job that is pretty much the same as the one they’re already doing.
It doesn’t matter if they are getting a bit more money.
Or a slightly bigger title.
If they’re fundamentally doing the same thing, it hurts … because it means I’ve failed them.
I’ve failed to help them see – and work towards – being something bigger and better than they thought they could be.
I genuinely mean that.
Fortunately that hasn’t happened very often, so I’ve enjoyed many occasions where I’ve been happy, proud and excited that one of my colleagues was about to embark on an adventure they never initially thought possible.
Often an adventure where they’ve been chosen for who they are, not just what they do.
But that still doesn’t make it easy to say goodbye, especially when it means they are leaving the country, not just the job.
And that’s why yesterday was so shit for me, because after 7 years at Wieden – and 4 years working with me – Rodion left the building.
I’ve written about Rodi before … I’ve talked about his talent, his approach, his knowledge of China, his dark humour and – let’s not forget – his albino legs … but he has been so much more than that, especially to me.
That said, it all started very differently.
When I was having my interview with Wieden, I had to meet all the guys who’d be in my team.
In rolls Rodi giving me a look of utter suspicion.
He sits down, leans back, puts his hands behind his head and proceeds to nail me with questions.
“What a dick”, I thought.
But I soon learned it had nothing to do with arrogance [if truth be told, Rodi still doesn’t know how good he is and how good he can still be] he just wanted to make sure I wanted to do the right things, not just the easy or the cool.
Obviously my answers passed his criteria, but whether he still feels he was right to do that after working alongside me for 4 years is something you’re going to have to ask him … but I can honestly say, regardless what he thinks about me, I can definitely say I’ve prospered from working with him.
Apart from being wonderful at his job and being a great colleague … he demonstrates loyalty on a scale I have rarely seen before. When adland talks about loyalty, they tend to equate it to how long you’ve stayed in your job or company, but that’s not what I’m talking about with Rodi.
For him, loyalty is about protecting you.
Protecting you from the snipes of others and protecting you from yourself.
Sometimes he does that through some gentle – and not so gentle – tough love … other times it’s by exposing you to ideas and concepts that just make you go “wow” and then there’s the moments he does it by simply making sure you’re OK because he can sense ‘stuff’ is going on … which is why it makes me laugh he thinks he is a thick-skinned bastard, because he’s actually a wonderfully warm, emotional and caring man and I hope I have been able to be half as loyal to him as he has to me.
We’ve gone through a lot over the last 4 years … good, bad, weird, stupid and utterly, utterly painful … and he’s always been there to help me either laugh it off or push my way through. Even when it was entirely what I deserved.
To be honest, I’m pretty spoilt in that regard because all my wonderful team mates are like that and – as I am sure you are thinking – I don’t know what I’ve done to deserve it either.
I suppose the best compliment I can give Rodi is that I regard him as a real friend.
Anyone who knows me, knows I don’t use that word easily but where he is concerned, I can.
And I’m honoured to be able to say that.
So to Rodi … thank you for absolutely everything.
Your brain, humour, talent, anger, loyalty and passion.
Not only do you leave behind a legacy of great, award winning, work … not only can you walk away knowing some of your ideas have changed how NIKE work globally for decades to come… but you leave behind a bunch of colleagues who are very sad you’ve left, but very happy to have had you in their life.
As much as I’m excited to see what you’re going to be doing in the future, I’m most thrilled that you’re going to be doing it with someone super-special by your side. For me that’s the best thing and exactly what you deserve. [It’s also what you need, but I won’t ruin the moment]
So thank you mate … for your friendship, loyalty, laughter and smarts. You’re a bloody legend and I hope our paths cross again very, very soon. Then that will be a great day.
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