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

In The End, The Only Things Worth Doing Are The Things That Might Possibly Break Your Heart …

The title of this post is a quote from the novelist Colum McCann.

And he’s right.

Over the years I’ve received many emails from people wanting to get into planning and asking if getting a job in account service might be the way to do it.

And every single time, I’ve replied with the words, “it might be, but don’t give up on getting a job in planning first”.

I know it’s hard to get into planning without any experience.

And by experience, I mean planning.

I’ve never subscribed to this point of view – in fact I still take great pride in the fact that while I was at Wieden, I only ever hired 3 people who’d been planners before, preferring to fill the department with people I found smart, interesting, mischievous and creative but still living a life rather than embracing the comforts, cliches and limitations of the advertising bubble lifestyle.

Of course not everyone is like that – hence the 3 planners I hired who had been planners previously – but in China, there was definitely a conformity to the discipline that I was desperate to break.

Which is why I was very cool with hiring juniors.

People with no experience in the discipline but a history of doing interesting things.

Now I’m back in the Western World, it seems that people are more reticent to do that.

Not all of course, but many.

Maybe it’s because clients want people who know their industry on their account.

Maybe it’s because agencies want people they can tell clients have experience in their industry.

Maybe it’s because no one has the time to train people anymore.

Whatever it is, it’s not a good thing for the industry – or the discipline – and it’s certainly not a good thing for those who are interested but never get a shot, which is why my advice to them is this …

You may end up discovering you don’t like planning.

You may end up discovering you’re not good at planning.

You may end up discovering your career is nothing like the one you hoped for.

But don’t give up. Not yet.

Don’t take no for an answer too easily.

Or look for short-cuts.

Not just because Colum McCann is right when he says the only things we should chase are the things that may break our heart, but the reality is nothing easy is really worthwhile.

Not in the long-term anyway.

And hey, if I can do it, then there’s more than a good chance you can too.

So keep trying. Keep learning. Keep pushing … because focusing on what you might gain is much more powerful than thinking about what you might lose.

Good luck.

21 Comments so far
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👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻 Fantastic post Robert with the McCann quote being the cherry on top.

Comment by George

This whole post is because of that quote.

Comment by Rob

That’s how I feel about pizza. I know she will break my heart but I love her.

Comment by Billy Whizz

I still think the reason you hired planners who weren’t planners is so you could make them do shit no real planner would ever do. It’s part of your evil ways. Effective though.

Comment by DH

if there was a human trafficker for planners campbell would be the fucking kingpin.

Comment by andy@cynic

I want to quote that on my resume.

Even if it’s negative, it’s fantastic.

Comment by Rob

Great quote but if planning breaks your heart you’re a bit sad.

Comment by DH

a bit? youre beyond fucking saving.

Comment by andy@cynic

the last thing the fucking world needs more of is fucking planners.

Comment by andy@cynic

Ban jazz.

Comment by Marcus Brown

And a reemergence of planner blogs.

Comment by DH

Can you remember when I desperately wanted to get out of the shed and back into an agency? I wanted it so desperately it consumed me. Then I got out of the shed, just quit with nowhere to go. A good friend at a London agency then invited me to come over and spend a week being Marcus, to see if I could come up with any Marcus stuff for them. Before I go on, I should make it clear that I will always be indebted to this act of kindness but that week in that very well known agency broke my heart.

I was in a horrible emotional place anyway, but it was everything I had never wanted. I was paralysed by the pace: the noise and the relentlessness of the agency. It was my chance, I wanted to prove myself so badly, prove to you all that I could smash it, but I just couldn’t do it.

I did eventually find my place in another agency, here in Munich, and I’m much happier now that I seem to be moving further and further away from agency business, doing other interesting things, but it still hurts that I didn’t smash it in London.

Comment by Marcus Brown

Wow, that’s an amazing comment. And I know how tough a place you were in and I remember how much you wanted it to work. But while that didn’t turn out exactly as you wanted – and, broke your heart – I’d argue you got to where you are because of it, which is a happy place where you are doing what is important to you.

Because the other thing we often forget is that what may break our heart often allows us to see other things we may have previously ignored.

Post-rationalization maybe, but it’s also quite wonderful to think that even in times of pain, there can be new times of good. Not always, but enough times. I hope.

Comment by Rob

It was an important puzzle piece, yes.

Comment by Marcus Brown

fuck me marcus can you stop making this blog sensible.

Comment by andy@cynic

Swings and roundabouts, Andrew.

Comment by Marcus Brown

Great comment Marcus. Thank you for your honesty. I’m glad everything has worked out for you in ways you didn’t imagine.

Comment by Pete

Thank you, Pete. Things are way better now. That episode was eight years ago, and so much has changed for better.

Comment by Marcus Brown

I killed the thread. Again.

Comment by Marcus Brown

More evidence of your exceptional character and talent. Colum McCann’s quote is sublime.

Comment by Lee Hill

[…] 3. The only things worth doing are the ones that can break your heart. […]

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