Tim slid the chips towards us. It was the last of the aquamarine chips at the roulette table. He never cracked a smile, but my friend was grinning ear to ear. Back to back hits on 21. Jase had just cleaned them out. And as the chips slid past me, I thought about Tim and his job. After all, I was on vacation having fun, and he was at work at Casino Royale. Little did Tim know standing there, back on to the smoke filled pit, he was doing more than running the table. He was making people smile, even if he chose, or was decreed, not to show any emotion. What he was doing was entertaining. And to us, it mattered.
When I strolled up the street that afternoon, Vegas was alive in all its Vegas Glory. Excess in pursuit of compromise…or perhaps the opposite. Maybe those barking “Smash Toys”, “Half-price show tickets”, and the más viejas madres Mexicanas flicking cards with semi-naked girls with an offer of “girls direct to you” are living anything but the dream. Who stops to ask the street vendor his or her story? We only speculate on their life, should anyone other than me with my inane curiosity and a few bible-thumping save everyone types care to think about them. Happy. Sad. Content. Fulfilled. Real. Tragically trapped and faking it for the eyes of the world. Who are they really? Does it matter? Still, like Tim, they are providing a service, be what it is, a service some value and others dismiss as being nothing of consequence.
As it often happens, post cocktails and a few days departed from the office, I contemplated the value of my work. And even returning home to face the accumulation of new projects that pile up in my absence. Do I do anything of value? Does anyone notice the approach I use in my day job? Does my focus on correct grammar, reality based advertising from the consumer’s perspective, and a sincere sense of obligation to be honest to my clients, really matter? That latter being a self-destructive practice founded in my refusal to sit here and tell a client what I think they want to hear.
I’m big on brutal honestly. Sure it hurts sometimes, but only because we, as a species in general, have evolved to the point of self-importance and thusly, we greatly dislike being in the wrong. (get married if you really want to know how many times in a week you are wrong. And that’s not a mean thing to say. It’s fact. Some relationships are best managed on Brutal Honesty terms.) Brutal honesty – as an art – certainly makes people stop and think. And in a world where everything is automatic – “Smash toys! Smash toys!” (seriously, this requires no thought whatsoever) – stopping to think is a good thing. And in all honestly – my aforementioned goal – I want to work for (with) people who think about their marketing…and their place in the world.
And I want to do something of consequence. Every. Single. Day.
So where does that take Albert as a writer – or marketing consultant – in the drab and dreary 7a-2p? (Please note that I could never work 9 to 5. It just sounds too structured for me. I’d be a terrible employee.) Applying what I love – writing – to my client’s need for growth and profit is more than just pounding out generic eighth-grade-comprehension-level crap. Those in the eighth grade world will buy anything shiny if they can get the credit (and really, who can’t get credit these days?), but those who have found more to life than social media and reality TV are far more difficult to reach. It takes thought, creativity, and brutal honesty. Three things I count as vital to creating something of consequence. Three things I know I can offer my clients…or clients-to-be.
So the questions remain. Do I accept that I just get paid to make up shit? Do I numb-out like Tim and the Smash Toy girl? Or do I challenge my clients to challenge me? I prefer the latter. It’s time we all started to “think”. It’s the kind of change the advertising world needs.
And change is good. I’m all for it. I’m starting 2012 by taking a trip to broaden my horizons (not that trip taking is lacking in my world), and painting my studio an energizing green. I like green. It’s refreshing. It’s no grin-inducing aquamarine a la Casino Royale, but it can tell a wonderful story if you stare at it long enough.
Albert Berkshire is a writer, producer and voice actor. He lives, writes, plays, and consults with his clients around North America from Canada’s West Coast. He writes about both personal and business experiences, and is focused on taking his clients to the next level – whatever that “next level” happens to be for each client. In the process, Albert strives to create something that matters. And will almost always “take one for the team”. All of this has helped make his company, GreatCreative.Com, successful. For a much shorter, and less frequent rambling, follow Albert on Twitter @albertberkshire.