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

Happiness Isn’t Perfect …

I recently read an amazing interview with the actor Ethan Hawke.

There’s many reasons he’s a fascinating person, but one of the main ones is that despite being hyped up to be as big as Leonardo DiCaprio and Matt Damon, he didn’t get there.

However this is not because he failed or came off the rails … it was because he made an active choice not to go down that path.

There are many reasons for this.

One is because his Mum pushed him “towards a British understanding of acting as a craft and away from American ideas of celebrity” and the other is seeing what happened to his friend, River Phoenix.

And while many would deviate from their resolution the moment they saw the benefits available to them, Hawke has been steadfast in his resolve.

One of the ways this manifested itself was him never moving to LA.

Having lived there, I get it.

On face value, it’s a spectacular town.

A stunningly beautiful place where dreams can literally come true.

And there’s a bunch of truth in that. Kinda.

Because while it makes you feel more welcome than almost any place in the World, it comes at a price. And once it feels it has gotten its value out of you … or had all its fun with you … or simply got all the benefits out from you, then it will spit you out, forget you were there and move on to the next in the blink of an eye.

For me, you go to Las Vegas to gamble with your money to make it big.

But in LA – at least to a certain degree – you go there to gamble with your life.

I know that sounds dramatic, but it’s true.

What’s more, it’s all there in plain sight. The issue is people – especially those chasing the Hollywood dream – like to ignore it because, let’s be honest, people like feeling special or lucky or smart enough to not let that shit happen to you.

And that’s why the way Ethan Hawke sums up LA is – as much as I enjoyed my life there – pretty damn perfect.

People think getting what you want will make you happy, but a sense of self, purpose and love don’t come from the outside. You can’t get distracted by this culture that celebrates things that sometimes aren’t what they seem”.

So why am I saying all this.

Well, contrary to how I’ve made it sound, it has nothing to do with my respect for Ethan Hawke. Or my cynicism to Los Angeles. It’s because recently, someone sent me this and said it reminded them of me.

I have to say, when I read it, I felt a bit overwhelmed.

Overwhelmed because it really did capture how I think about things.

Overwhelmed because it meant someone got me, rather than believed I was just a nosy prick.

OK … so there’s a selfish element to why I’m like this.

You see, if my colleagues or team mates have issues or worries, then it means they’re not able to perform as brilliantly as they usually do. Which means the work they do won’t be as brilliant as I want, need and expect from them. So wanting to give them an environment where they can feel safe to be open and vulnerable while also actively wanting to help, listen and change situations for them, has as much to do with my needs as there’s.

I know, what a selfish prick eh?!

But it’s not all for self-serving reasons.

Because ultimately I am a big believer people should be able to express how they feel.

That we all have good and bad days and you should never feel bad for how you are.

I was incredibly fortunate to be brought up in a house that followed this belief and I will continually advocate it.

Even when people think I am being a nosy prick.

But it does have benefits beyond just personal, emotional wellbeing.

It means you can connect better to others.

It means you can be open and honest rather than political and wary.

It means you can disagree in ways that never become personal or destructive.

It creates something special.

A bond where deep trust is formed.

It doesn’t happen every time.

It doesn’t always happen in the same way.

But if you’re lucky, you will meet some people on your professional journey who this approach will end up having a profound affect on both of you.

Not just in terms of how well you click. Or work together. But a deep understanding and acceptance of who you are without criticism or ridicule.

They will make you better and be someone you want to be better for.

United by a deep respect and belief in what each other brings to the table while still allowing you to argue, debate and challenge without it ever being personal or destructive.

When that happens, what you can create together – either in collaboration or just through each others support – is amazing.

You feel a real honour to know them, work with them and understand them.

I’m very fortunate I’ve had a few people in my life, but one of them is the brilliant Paula Bloodworth … who I first had the privilege of working with at Wieden+Kennedy Shanghai.

And that’s why receiving that quote from her was so, so special to me.

I hope you all have a Paula in your life.

Someone you deeply connect with and yet disagree with all at the same time.

Because not only does it make your work better, it makes you a better person.

20 Comments so far
Leave a comment

You’re posting early today. What a treat, especially with this excellent post. I agree with your view on LA. It is a great place to visit but I don’t think I could ever live there again because the only time you really know what or who is real, is when you’ve been rejected by them. LOL. This post has made me like Ethan Hawke a great deal more than I imagined, but not as much as I like his mother.

Comment by George

Otis decided to wake up at 5am. Correction, Otis decided to wake me up at 5am.

And yes, Ethan Hawke’s mum comes across as ace. Wanting the best for her son – as an actor rather than a celebrity. Which totally reinforces why he chose not to live in LA.

Comment by Rob

well done otis. keep it up.

Comment by andy@cynic


Comment by DH

You didn’t mention how you make people feel they can be open so you get dirt on them and use it to take the piss for years. Apart from that this is a great post. Especially about Ethan, Paula and LA.

Comment by Bazza

Yes … well, errrrrrm … OK.


Comment by Rob

Yes Baz.

Comment by Pete


Comment by DH

Thank you for this Robbie.

Comment by Jemma King

Pleasure. But I’d love to know why you are thanking me. I can guess, but would rather know. Ha.

Comment by Rob

either shes moving to la or dating ethan hawke.

Comment by andy@cynic

What a great week of posts. You’re ending the year on a high. This is a great read for so many reasons. Having people care for you enough to tell you the truth is rare. Having them do it to help you succeed rather than make you feel bad is the most valuable gift anyone could have.

Comment by Pete

Yep. Absolutely. The best gift – even if it sometimes isn’t clear till later.

Comment by Rob

thats 2 days in a row youve been too nice to the fucker. whats new shit has he got on you?

Comment by andy@cynic

It’s the festive spirt Andy. You should try it.

Comment by Pete

What an excellent read. We all need more Ethan, Paula and Robert’s in our life.

Comment by Lee Hill

I’m unfamiliar with this concept of a good day.

Comment by John

Surely it’s a day I don’t write a blog post.

Comment by Rob

The trauma of old posts remains.

Comment by John

you just had to deal with his shitty posts. i had to work with him. in two fucking agencies. its only because im so fucking tough im not in a madhouse.

Comment by andy@cynic

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