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

Professional To The Core …

For reasons I don’t understand – but I do like – I occasionally get asked for my opinion in industry magazines.

While I absolutely take what I do seriously, I have realized that if I was to compile all that I’ve said that has been printed, I would look a bit of a maniac.

For example, there’s this. Or this. Or even this.

And just recently I was asked ‘what Star Wars character would I be’ and this was my answer …

But here is the thing …

While many may think I do this because I need psychiatric help or have a career death wish, there’s another reason behind it and it’s about comfortableness.

You see when I was a youngster in the industry, I was surrounded by super-smart, super-senior people who were full of opinion, personality and provocation.

While I didn’t agree with everything they said, they helped me realise that ‘just because you take your job seriously, doesn’t mean you have to take yourself seriously’.

What this did was let me feel comfortable in taking to any of them about any madcap idea I had … let me talk to clients about subjects that may otherwise seem ‘off limits’ and let me work with colleagues without thinking it made me look weak or incapable.

In essence, cheekiness has enabled me to do – or be part of – things that I may not otherwise never have been able to do.

From work I’ve been a part of … clients I’ve worked with … agencies I’ve worked at and countries I’ve lived in.

Now of course, mischief is in my bones so it wasn’t exactly hard … but being encouraged to embrace my truth rather than oppress it had a huge benefit to my career and so while a bunch of what I say and do is because I’m a bloody idiot, there is a part of it that is intended to create the space and atmosphere to enable my colleagues and clients feel comfortable with being vulnerable … whether that’s expressing their ideas, their fears and ambitions or simply realizing that if I can have a career while still being a sweary fool, then they – with all their talent – surely can.

You might think this is a load of bollocks – and I totally understand get why – but it’s true.

The future of adland is not going to come from more processes, it’s going to come from more people being able to express or explore their ideas without fearing they will be judged, shot down or ridiculed.

And if you think that’s a dramatic statement, just go on twitter and see how the masses react to any idea that challenges the belief system they have bought into, even though they know for a fact that the very small amount of people who succeed – which are mainly white men – are generally the ones who reinforce the cliche rather than push or break them.

Happy Monday.

24 Comments so far
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This might be the most genius thing you’ve ever written. So if someone shuts you down they are shutting down the potential of others. To be fair I know you have always made a big thing of letting people feel they can express their ideas in a safe place but to turn this into a justification for your annoying mischief is next level strategy justification. You’ve still got it.

Comment by Bazza

Also a brilliant way to ensure his employers let him say whatever he wants in the press. Then it still makes more sense than most senior agency management communicate in the trade press.

Comment by George

One persons manipulation is another persons genius. Or something.

Comment by Rob


Comment by andy@cynic

Andy FTW.

Comment by DH

as fucking always.

Comment by andy@cynic

Your point about creating an environment that allows ideas to be expressed without fear of judgement or ridicule is very important. Too many leaders forget that or exploit it to ensure their ideas win with minimum team pushback.

Comment by George

Companies who believe creativity is born from a tight, rigid process will never understand how the best ideas start in small, vulnerable states. Kill the ability for those to grow and you kill the ability to do something exceptional.

The real problem is companies don’t aspire to exceptional. They are more than happy with OK as their business model is based on growth through continuous output.

Comment by Pete

Any form of free thinking requires some element of space to both explore and to express … and yet somehow, this has become seen as inefficiency.

I’ll tell you what is inefficient … expecting people to come up with ideas that can fundamentally change a situation in an hour, following a process that dictates how you should develop an idea.

By all means have some frameworks to help people get into the right space of mind … by all means give people some specific obstacles that need to be considered or overcome … but don’t treat them like they’ve failed if you want a clearly articulated, well worked through response with a bow on it in just an hours time, especially when it’s to a problem worth millions to your business.

Comment by Rob

You nailed your star wars character description.

Comment by Pete

Both work.

Comment by Bazza

He should have said he was Jar Jar Binks. Fucking annoying, doesn’t add anything to the story and everyone hates him.

Comment by Billy Whizz

Unkind. But fair. Especially the “annoying” descriptor.

Comment by Bazza

No. All of them.

Comment by Billy Whizz

I think Billy will find he’s practicing what Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung labelled as ‘projecting’.

Comment by Rob

Now you’re practicing what Freud called displacement.

Comment by John

also known as taking the fucking piss.

Comment by andy@cynic

Beautiful this. If this doesn’t inspire a double dozen minds for good, I don’t know what else will.

Comment by Abhiroop

fucking hell campbell, do you think any fuck will believe that? is it review time? its the only reason this makes any fucking sense.
not knocking it, you taking the piss out of the fucking shiny smooth bollocks of adland is the only thing i like about you.

Comment by andy@cynic

The worst thing is that tomorrow is my first year anniversary at R/GA so maybe you’re right. Damnit.

Comment by Rob

fucking knew it. more transparent than a fucking window.

Comment by andy@cynic


Comment by DH

Never change Robert.

Comment by Lee Hill

Are you crazy Lee?

Comment by DH

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