I just read a very hip and transparency-fueled article in Fast Company by Danielle Sacks about a very hip and transparent dude named Alex Bogusky, a guy she calls “The Elvis of advertising.” Before today, I’d never heard of Alex, even though it seems he’s been kicking butt and taking names at Crispin Porter + Bogusky (last year crowned Agency of the Year AND Agency of the Decade by Advertising Age) for quite some time.
It seems Mr. Bogusky has outgrown his post as advertising’s favorite bad boy, and is yearning for bigger and better things. He wants to use his life, talent, and experience to have a positive impact on the world. Amen to that, right?
In addition to the thrust of the feature in general, which gives us a very confessional and rare glimpse of one person’s imperfect, uncomfortable transformation process while its in progress – instead of AFTERWARDS, when outcomes are known, and everything’s tied up in a pretty bow – I was quite drawn to a quote in the first paragraph by Mother Teresa.
The quote is inscribed on a mirror in Bogusky’s “FearLess Cottage,” and the mirror was a gift from Russ Klein, Burger King’s ex-president of global marketing. It reads:
“If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives; be kind anyway. If you are successful, you will win some false friends an some true enemies; succeed anyway. If you are honest and frank, people may cheat you; be honest and frank anyway. What you spend years building, someone could destroy overnight; build anyway.”
I really can’t imagine better business advice than this.
When Allen and I incorporated our biz in 2004, it all seemed pretty easy and straightforward: Apply our talents, sharpen our skills, find a need and fill it, do good work, and make clients happy to we can live our lives and raise our family. We had no idea how much more there was to learn, how much we’d be invited to grow and transform and evolve and grow and transform and evolve again and again, and how unpredictable, scary, and wild creating, sustaining, fueling, and evolving a business can be.
It’s not a straight line of exquisite ascent. Most days, it’s not even all on the same plane, or in the same dimension. Clients come and go. Projects switch mid-stream. Expectations shift. People change their minds. Big WINS become “uh-oh’s!” Failures become the best thing that could’ve ever happened. Grand Visions become hobbled, and new opportunities bloom from the most unlikely places. It’s a “Zig-zag-KABOOM!” sort of ride, even on the gentle days.
So when I read about a guy who’s okay with sharing about his existential soul-searching, and I see that global marketing execs from billion-dollar brands are giving gifts bearing Mother Teresa’s words of wisdom, I begin to see this whole CONNECTIVITY thing with new, hope-filled eyes. I see that this whole business adventure often feels crazy because it IS pretty darn nuts for everyone, and we should take all the hard-won advice from trusted, respected people as we can possibly get.
After all, personalities clash. Enemies happen. Cheaters exist. Vindictive, spiteful, icky people sometimes destroy things just because they’re bitter, bored, or woefully unloved. (Spammers and computer-virus spreaders come to mind.)
AND corporate executives share inscriptions by Mother Teresa with bold, talented, rebellious ad dudes because they know sooner or later those insightful sentiments will help him move onto the next phase of his life journey.
“Overcome the finite with the infinite.” That’s another quick tip from Mother Teresa.
We all knew she was a special, even saintly human, but who knew she was such wise biz maven?