The Musings Of An Opinionated Sod [Help Me Grow!]

The Certainty Of Uncertainty [Storm Clouds Are Brewing]
February 8, 2007, 5:06 pm
Filed under: Comment

The Ruins of Pompeii and Mount Vesuvius

I am going through a rather weird phase in my life at this moment – though I am sort of embarrassed to admit it given in the big scheme of things, it’s nothing compared to the billions of issues faced by the masses each and every day.

Anyway, let me explain …I’ve been in Asia for about 18 months.  It’s been both an amazing and an incredibly frustrating time – but ultimately one I can look back on with genuine pride, positivity and enthusiasm. 

I came out here because the CEO of a multinational ad agency asked whether I’d be interested in helping him turn around a dinosaur of a network he’d inherited

Despite many people screaming “NOOOOOOOOOOOOO”, I jumped at the chance because 

1 I have a gene that makes me naturally want to help the underdog

2 All of us at cynic thought it would be a great adventure for us

3 They were offering a pretty nice amount of moolah to take it on

He was the most powerfully charismatic, imaginative, creative and business-sound visionary I’d met in a long, long time and the thought of learning from him was too good to miss.

And learn I did … it’s been an amazing time, exposing me to dramatically different cultures, situations and processes … and whilst it certainly isn’t just down to me and my team, things have definitely turned around and now we are winning major pieces of great business [SONY / Discovery / Tiger / Virgin amongst others] against some of the universally accepted, best agencies in the World.

Best bit was, he let me be me. 

DNA - Red

He never complained that all I wear are Birkenstock sandals … he never kicked up a fuss if I disagreed with him and he passionately encouraged me to ignore corporate protocol and go with what I believed in, because that’s who I am and that’s why he hired me in the first place. 

So what am I complaining about?

Well the bugger’s only gone and resigned hasn’t he!  Typical! 

And whilst I totally understand his reasons for it – for the first time in a very long time, I feel really unsettled!

The thing is, it’s not about losing my job – because as arrogant as it may sound, that’s incredibly unlikely – it’s because without him, there’s little point in hanging around.

Don’t get me wrong, I love many of the people I work with [even some of the clients, ha] but I came here because of him – because of shared beliefs and goals … and now with him going, the global management team have decided to appoint someone who toes the line, plays the game and focuses on money, not excellence. [I should point out he thinks very differently to this – but then he would wouldn’t he!]

So where does that leave me?

Well, I can stay and finish the job I’ve started even though the ‘new boss’ seems to have completely different values to mine … or I could go and take my team and set up a similar sort of joint-venture with one of the other agencies who want cynic to help them do ‘stuff’ … or I could simply go back to the boys and girls of the company I helped start and concentrate on making us even more brilliant than we already are [and yes, I really believe we’re something special, though its upsetting they are doing astoundingly now I’m not involved day-to-day] – but whatever I end up doing [and the reality is I’m not going to make any super-short-term decisions], the thought of uprooting my life all over again and potentially going into the unknown is somewhat disconcerting.

As I said at the beginning of this piece, I am embarrassed about expressing these concerns because whatever happens, I’ll still have work and be paid pretty well for it … but it’s moments like this where you realise how fragile life is and how it can be turned on it’s head without you actually having any direct part in it. 

At the end of the day, ‘confidence and security’ are two essential factors in ensuring a great life … and if you look around the World, you see so many people [both in the Western and 3rd Worlds] who don’t have it. 

Time for the World [and me] to ‘get a grip’!

16 Comments so far
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Reminds me of your confession about the Singer pitch…

Thats life I guess, hopefully other people around the company will have learnt from him too and things wont be so bad.

Comment by Rob Mortimer

Imagine yourself as a crusty old man sitting in his leather armchair, wearing carpet slippers and a nostalgic smile. While reminiscing over long-gone opportunities, which of those potentially life-changing decisions would he have regretted NOT taking?
Cop-out answer, I know, but I think you’re in an envious position, with each option having considerable merit.

Comment by FishNChimps

I hope its not out of my place to say it, but from what I have heard about him, I would ask… what would your dad have done?

Comment by Rob Mortimer

Ahhhhh … the ol’ ‘what would my Dad have done’ question.

Well, putting aside the fact he would never of ventured into adland, he would have done what he felt was morally right for his soul, his goal and his family.

And FishNChips – I know I am in an envious position and I do feel abit sick bringing this whole issue up given the state many people find themselves in.

It’ll all work out – it always does – especially as I am in charge of my destiny thanks to having the courage of my convictions a few years ago. Funny how age takes away decisiveness.

Comment by Rob

age makes you careful.

Comment by Marcus Brown


Question is, do you believe staying and helping to turn around a dinosaur into a better place is still worth you being there?

From the looks of the work and results youve been a part of id say it appears so from the outside.

But of course, you have to make the decision thats best for you… or would piss andy off most 😉

Comment by Rob Mortimer

Well said Mr Cynic, you may not be surprised that this is stuff I’ve been thinking about recently.

And Marcus has wondeful way of putting things sometimes.

Comment by Northern Planner

It was never going to be a long-long-term proposition because it was/is a joint venture thingy rather than the classic employee type of arrangement … however I have enjoyed helping move things forward because the guy we did the deal with was so inspirational and the people I have found myself working with [excluding my team]are [generally] brilliant and its been a pleasure to help nurture them to an even ‘happier and more interesting land’.

We’ll see what happens … though Andy has publically declared his desire to ‘have me come home’. I think he’s still scared about Argentina.

Comment by Rob

Yes … I gathered that NP … did you see my comment on your blog?

Comment by Rob

hey rob, what an ace post!.. i’m just catching up after a self-imposed week of some serious nonline time. firstly – i really like that image you’ve uploaded – what is it, who did it?

and in response to the actual words you’ve written – i’ve got an age-old solution that has been handed down from generations of uni graduate to uni graduate.

firstly, you take 4 weeks off and work in a shitty industrial laundry/car wash and/or takeaway food joint, spend the rest of your time playing guitar hero on PS2, sleeping and eating enormous amounts of food high in salt/fat, low in preparation time.

at the end of that 4 weeks you will probably have put on a ridiculous amount of weight, grown a ridiculous looking beard and have a severe case of computer-game hands, but 1 of two things will have happened: you’ll fall in love with said slacker lifestyle and decide that adland is for suckers; or you will be as resolved as ever to get out there and make a difference with real clarity about where you really wanna be with cynic and asia and working with dinosaurs. either way, you’ll have your answer!

now, jill may not approve of such drastic measures, but trust me, it works 🙂

either that, or you can flip a coin.

Comment by lauren

Hi Lauren – how was your techno-break?

Yes that photo is amazing isn’t it. I wish I could say I did it – but given you can tell my photographic standards by the rest of this blog, I have to come clean and say I just found it on someones Flickr page.

Jill would wholeheartedly support your suggestions – we have slacker genes and enjoy embracing them totally – and I’ve paid my dues in ‘past job lives’ [pot washer / door-to-door plastic bag salesman [I KID YOU NOT] so I do appreciate what I’ve got, honest.

The issue for me is that when we started cynic – it was the ‘Betty Ford Clinic For The Disenfranchised Adperson’.

It was never meant to be too successful, just a nice life for all who was in it. And whilst we never will [or want to] hit the giddy heights of riches and size that the multinationals enjoy, we have been quite successful which is why/how this JV happened out in Asia.

The thing is, as much as I love my team, my clients, my friends … I still am abit removed from my true love – cynic – so while I am now having to manage the issues regarding my new ‘boss’, they’re out having fun, doing great work, expanding and starting new subsiduary companies that most people could only dream about.

I don’t want to just bugger off because there’s work still to be done/achieved – but I also don’t want to waste my energy on someone/something who at the end of the day, only cares about the financial end of business – ignoring the people who helped him achieve his goal in the first place.

I’m an old hippy fart aren’t I.

Comment by Rob

We’re all behind you Rob. Come “home”.

Comment by Billy Whizz

Very honest post and comment there. You are a top bloke, Rob, and you’ll make the right decision in the end.

Comment by Age

You so obviously don’t know me do you, hahaha

Comment by Rob

“Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing.” -H. Keller

Comment by Emily

Hi Emily … thanks for that, the problem with me is that while I love exploring the new and unknown, I also want a semblance of security – maybe it’s old[er] age, maybe it’s responsibilities, maybe it’s boringness – but it’s there and I can’t deny it.

Of course, at the end of the day I know I’ll end up doing what I’ve always done and go with the adventure, challenge and interest – which is why I’ll have tons of stories to tell but little in the way of cash, ha!

Hope all is toptastic with you …

Comment by Rob

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