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

What We Can Learn From Tom Hanks About Working With Others …

OK, full disclosure, I don’t really like Tom Hanks.

Sure, I’ve enjoyed some of his movies but for some reason – maybe due to overexpose of his movies in my early 20’s – I think he has a face I want to smack.

But recently I read an article on him that changed my opinion of him.

To be honest, this ‘change my opinion’ thing is getting annoying.

First is was my ultra-nemesis, Morrissey – though he seems to behaving like a twat again.

Then it was Johnny Marr.

And now Tom Hanks.

Who next … Todd Sampson? That would literally make me want to kill myself.

Good job I know that will never, ever, ever happen.

But back to Hanks.

In the article, Hanks covered a huge range of subjects … the roles he’s taken, his approach to parenthood, the mistakes he’s made – it was all very interesting, vulnerable and honest – but the bit that caught my eye was this:

“I learned a long time ago that you don’t have to like the people you work with. If someone wants to be a dick, it’s OK, but if their dickishness means everybody else doesn’t get to work at their best level – if you being a dick means you’re going to encroach upon my process – there’ll be a slug fest in the parking lot. There will be words exchanged I’ve worked with men and women where I’m like, ‘Are we going to have to go through this again?’ And, well, yes, because that’s what’s called for. On rare occasions, people are insane – but those are really rare.”

The reason I like this is because one of the biggest issues many face in agencies is working with others.

OK, in the majority of cases, as Mr Hanks states, it’s all good – but occasionally you find someone who is especially difficult – not because they are pushing for the best work, but because they think they are the only one’s capable of doing the best work and don’t value anyone else’s contribution or process to get there.

In other words, they’ve become the office egotistical dick.

We’ve all seen them.

Prancing about like they’re gods-gift.

At best they’ve done something genuinely good in their time. At worst, they’ve only done something good in their mind.

What I like about Hanks advice is that it ultimately helps you work out when you should or shouldn’t act.

In other words, if the person isn’t affecting your standards negatively, then let it pass.

Life is too short and ultimately, your engagement with them is not going to achieve anything.

However if their actions are impeding the work you do to the standards you hold, then it’s time to strike.

I should point out that when I say ‘strike’, I don’t mean it literally, but the key point is that the moment you feel your process/standards are being limited because of this other persons actions or behavior, you need to speak up.

To them.


I wish I had known this earlier in my career.

When I think of all the energy and time I wasted taking on issues that were just annoying rather than damaging, I want to kick myself. But the good news is that working in advertising means I’ll be able to use this advice properly in the very near future.

And it’s important.

Not just because you should never let someone negatively impact your standards and process, but because – as fellow actor Michael Keaton pointed out – even if you’re just an employee, you’re still in charge of the direction of your career.

So thank you Mr Hanks. Damnit.

20 Comments so far
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you know tom fucking hanks has just justified every creative to punch the fuck out of every planner. and suit. and client. best fucking post ever.

Comment by andy@cynic

What about when he said he wasn’t being literal with “striking”?

Comment by DH

when the fuck have i paid attention to what campbell says?
hanks. yes.
campbell. no fucking way.

Comment by andy@cynic

I think this is really good. I’m so disappointed in myself.

Comment by DH

dont be. your compliment is based on what hanks and keaton said not campbell. youre safe.

Comment by andy@cynic


Comment by DH

I would be disappointed if you liked something I wrote Dave, so we’re both OK.

Comment by Rob

I guess if you’ve managed to have a solid career in Hollywood you’ve learnt the tricks to survival. Same in adland, just with worse rewards.

Comment by DH

all a matter of proportion. campbell might not have hollywood levels of cash but the fucker outstrips them based on what he has compared to his talent. still hope for you dave. not fucking much but some.

Comment by andy@cynic

Any hope is hope.

Comment by DH

What a great post. I wish I had this advice when I was starting out instead of keeping quiet for fear I of stepping over the mark for suggesting someone was inhibiting the team by their actions and behavior.

Comment by George

Yep … we’ve all been there, especially in ‘creative agencies’ which for some was interpreted as ‘creative department led’ agencies which is the opposite of what creativity is – acknowledging they were the guys who were responsible for taking the work to a different and more exciting level.

Comment by Rob

you mean taking your shit and turning it into gold.

Comment by andy@cynic

Yes. Occasionally.

Comment by Rob

I share your opinion of Mr Hanks and while his advice won’t make me suddenly like his movies, I admit to now having a greater level of respect for the individual. An excellent post wth some very good advice.

Comment by Lee Hill

Love this Rob.

Comment by Pete

All this positivity towards people you hated is scaring me.

But this is a good post with good advice.

Comment by Bazza

[…] a bunch of gold in there – from how to deal with others [which is very similar to the advice Tom Hanks gives] through to how to deal with yourself – so whether you know her or not, I am pretty certain […]

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What We Can Learn From Tom Hanks About Working With Others

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