Wednesday, September 13, 2006

The End

The purpose of this blog is to share my experience going from a $23,000/yr copywriter at a drab midsize Chicago ad agency to owning my own agency in Manhattan with glamorous national clients, making millions, then becoming a "retired investor living on a pension."

Don't worry, I will not be quoting Hyman Roth from Godfather II very often.

I don't know if this blog will inspire anyone slaving away at an agency they don't own, or help anyone slaving away at an agency they DO own. Nor do I know if it will be interesting or entertaining, or even well-written!

I call this blog "Agency of One" because the entire time I ran my multimillion dollar shop I never hired anybody full time, never got an office and never made business cards. This is not to say I didn't have huge expenses. I did. But they were never part of ongoing overhead. And this is not to say I didn't promote the hell out of my agency. I did. And this is not to say I wasn't in new business pitches against big name agencies from across the country. I was. And most of the time I won. More on these notions in future posts.

I titled this first post "The End" because I am essentially out of the ad business. I spent 14 yrs in it. I started with many goals. The first of which was to get an actual job. Then produce more spots. Then win awards. Then make more money. Then become my own art director. Then make more money. Then get more client access. Then make more money. Then learn how to run an agency. Then to get big national accounts. Then to have my work seen by the masses. Then to win more awards. Then to make more money. In "the end" I was lucky enough to achieve all those goals.

You may say my focus was too much on money. But the unspoken goal was always to have fun. Struggling to achieve those goals, failing many times but not giving up, and eventually achieving them was fun. When I stopped having goals, even financial ones, it stopped becoming fun.

And when it stopped becoming fun, it was time to move on. For advertising, for now, it is "The End."

In the beginning I went into advertising because I thought it would be the perfect blend of my creative side and my business side. In the end I realized that to achieve the perfect blend, one has to sacrifice a bit too much artistic integrity and sacrifice the kind of ongoing income streams and leveraging found in other areas of business.

Now I spend my time pursuing pure artistic and creative goals, without the need for commerial compromise. And pure financial/business goals, without the subjectivity and unquantifiable aspects of the ad biz. (Though as little time as possible is spent on the latter. No more than an hour or 2 a day.)

I don't want to sound boastful or arrogant. I feel very lucky to have gotten where I am. I think I am writing this to allow anyone interested "behind the curtain" of advertising and show them one possible path to both loving it and escaping it.


Anonymous said...

I am a fifth year copywriter in New York. I was sitting at home tonight, a man with a job but no girlfriend and no hope of ever becoming a huge success in advertising until I read your blog. I've read tony robbins. I've read every self-help, mumbo-jumbo and then I read you, whoever you are. What you said was so simple, so succinct and so totally inspiring. Thank you, thank you whoever you are and by all means, keep the words coming. while i am alone just now, i am not alone in my situation. I hang out with 10 other guys like me and am aware of hundreds more (my office is a mega-agency hell-hole with offices all over the world, it's that type of agency and I'm that type of shlub). I'm going to tell my friends about you and what you've done and to check out this blog. Rock on, my friend, rock fucking on.

Me said...

You're welcome! And per my second post, thank YOU!

There are many nights I sat home late with a job but no girlfriend and no clear vision of how to become a success in advertising. Made even worse by my Wall Street friends making 4 to 10 times as much as me.

And, um, even though the girlfriendless nights were interrupted by several periods of girlfriendedness, I have to join your club. I ended a three-year relationship in April. Which is not to say there is not a new 20-something female in my bed this morning, sleeping late, wearing a sleep mask, and possibly wishing she could become a girlfriend (man, i hope she never reads this). The point of which is, i haven't really changed from being the immature shlub of an idiot I was at 27. But at 37, women have somehow found those characteristics very charming. Oh wait, maybe it's the "you don't work?! and can take me on a luxury vacation" thing they find charming. But who gives a fuck. I'll take it.