This isn’t as easy as it looks.
I’ve been staring at this for 34 minutes, and I still can’t figure out where to begin. The hum of the computers. The glow of early morning. A head full of ideas, phrases and topics. Where to begin the preaching?
And it is the “where” that is my question.
Not “if”, for I already know I wish to spread the good word of idealism in creativity, and the power of the individual.
Not “when”, for the book is open, and the time is now.
Not “how”, because I have created this pulpit where the searching can find direction and inspiration.
And not “why”, because I have resolved, a long time ago, that anyone, even I, can make a difference, can make it better, can have what I want, how I want it, just by… there it is – a topic,
“Eliminating the excuses.”
The difference between idealism and realism is more than just “what could be” and “what is.” I think it’s “ what should be” and “ what somebody didn’t do well enough.”
Throughout my life I have been called an idealist (hey, I’ve been called worse things). I take the label to mean I have seen things in a light which most do not feel is plausible. I feel I proudly wear the label because I believe anything can be accomplished by eliminating the excuses.
Some reflective examples of my own – I promise to be brief.
When I was trying to get into this business (as an account exec, what was I thinking?) I couldn’t get a job. I interviewed with Ketchum, and then DDF&M, and a couple of other agencies – no luck. So, I started my own company. The company was into event promotions and applied all of the skills I thought I possessed at the age of 21 – design, advertising, marketing – and I applied myself. A year and a half later it went up in a ball of flames. Even though the end wasn’t what I was shooting for, I wanted to be in this business, and couldn’t get a job, so I made my own job. Goal achieved.
While retreating and regrouping, I was working retail and met a guy who had just opened a shop producing video and event production. It sounded like this would be a good application of my (self-perceived) skills, abilities, and interests so I tried to get a job with him. He wasn’t hiring (short on cash) so I volunteered to work to gain experience (how can you say no to free?). After six months of spending my time before and after my paying job, he offered me a freelance position. Four months later he offered me a full-time position. I went on to work for Fortune 500 companies all over the country, learning as much as I could, for four years. Again, I wanted to be in this business and I got in. Goal achieved.
At the wise age of 25, my best friend and I had a great idea – we could open our own shop. I could do all the creative, and my friend could be the account guy. We didn’t have money for an office, so we used half of my weight room. We didn’t have a computer, so my father gifted a Mac SE to us (thanks, Dad). We didn’t have a printer, so we borrowed my ex’s American Express, charged a $3,000 laser writer (its what they cost in the day), and then sold a job to get the money to pay the bill 30 days later. We didn’t have client work, so we made things up to fill our potfolio. We didn’t have money for a flashy stationery system, so we printed the black and white and colored in the spot color with highlighters (I never admitted that before). Systematically, we eliminated the excuses. And, sooner than later, we were up and running as a business. That was the goal, so, again, goal achieved.
Three partners later, I found myself re-discovering not the “if” I want to be in this business (still), but the “how” I want to be in this business. I know I didn’t want anymore partners (which is like having a wife without the sex option), I know I didn’t want to have any employees (which is like having your own welfare system), and I know I didn’t want to have an office (which was like renting a place everyday to have a party – catering, entertainment, and favors – for all who attended). Which left me with what I did want to have;
- The technology to help me to develop any type of work that I decided to get involved in.
- A roster of clients that would allow me to do my work in the way that I thought was best.
- The time to do great work.
- Money. I paid my dues as a starving artist, it was now time to get paid.
- The ability to work with other “players” in this business.
- The ability to work for clients from anywhere.
And this is how I eliminated the excuses to get everything which is my ideal.
- Struck a deal with a client to pick up the tab on my equipment needs as trade for work.
- I put together a solid portfolio that would hold up against most anyone’s and I sold the hell out of myself.
- I scheduled myself – a time to work and a time to play – balance is the key.
- I don’t take every job that is offered. I take the ones that offer me a chance to do good work and make good money. Sometimes you have to say, “No, thank you.”
- Players like to work with players. If you have talent, seek out those who compliment your abilities.
- I built a company, with the help of friends, and a deal to trade my services for those who could help me with their services.
If it sounds easy, it wasn’t (isn’t). I really busted my ass to get where I am today.
Every good thing has a price tag and you have to be willing to pay for each piece you want. Realism is just someone copping out on doing what needs to be done. Idealism is knowing what the right thing is and doing what you need to get it.
Ultimately, you must decide just exactly what are you willing to invest to attain your ideal. Do so and you’ll get yours. That’s how it works.
Want more from the pulpit? Follow me on LinkedIn or @TheIdeaGuyTM on Twitter.