In past lives I’ve had the great fortune of being regularly placed in positions far beyond what my years of experience would warrant. And no more frequent were those opportunities than in new business.
By no means am I saying this is the case of everywhere i have worked, or with all client relationships i have enjoyed … But a recurring theme I began to encounter during the pitch process (often at the 11th hour) was the following question:
“Do we want to do what’s right, or do we want to win the business?”
It used to make me uncomfortable because it forced a choice, which in simple terms seemed to be virtue or money. And yes the P&L always won.
I’m not mad about that, I love money.
What raised questions of myself, was the control I was being told to give second guessing.
I believe, that brands used to hire people like us to tell them something they didn’t already know.
To take them and their products into worlds they hadn’t imagined, match that with uncharted revenue opportunities, and let us as creative partners, mitigate some of the inherent risk that comes along with taking such chances.
In short, I spent a lot of time thinking that I was working in a world where I was paid under the following equation: right = growth = revenue. For all parties.
But i began to lose sight of that, I self censored, I became apathetic. The ”tell them what they want to hear” rhetoric became a day to day inside joke, and looking back to day 1, it was endemic… if its where you start from, its pretty hard to shake.
There was a time when doing what’s right and doing what will win the business, were not mutually exclusive. In fact, the former was expected of you as a partner, even at the occasional expense of the latter.
So I may be delusionaly optimistic in thinking that there is a better way. But for me personally, if I am ever again in the position of having to choose between what’s right and what will win, I’ll hang up the owner operator thing, and go get someone else to subsidize my insurance.