Wednesday, January 29

Seek & Destroy

I am staring at an email sent to the entire office on the morning of 8th Jan. The mail was about welcoming a new employee to the agency. He was joining at a Junior Account Executive position, which, in industry parlance means Lower than Doormat; a guy who could, on average, expect to - be mercilessly badgered by his boss, be belittled by any creative teams he worked with and face a complete disruption of his eating and sleeping schedules. 

Of course, he need not expect this degrading experience at every agency he sends the resume to. The intensity of this treatment also differs between places. However, largely, starting out in a junior AE role is a thankless existence, something I feel all of Client Servicing is anyway.

I pulled up that particular email because I have just been told that he has quit. After a horror of a Monday, he didn't come into work yesterday and the rumour is that he was extremely stressed out, which caused his BP to plummet and him to faint. I am not surprised, either about him falling ill or him tendering his resignation. This agency has a pretty high turnover. Of employees, not revenue.

He was a nice guy. Earnest, eager to learn & please and anxious to not step on anyone's toes. He liked reading Manga. Given time, he could have become a success here. Who knows?
However, the 18 days that he worked here were probably the worst of his fledgling professional life. I can say with some confidence that it would require a jinx of enormous proportions for him to face this situation again. And yes, most agencies are structured to pressurise juniors - think of sugarcane being pressed for juice and you'll know what I mean. This place, in particular, certainly requires you to raise your game to stratospheric levels or strike it lucky and have a kind and understanding boss. Certainly, at his level, kindness and consideration would have helped.

But he was not a lucky guy. 

So here's wishing him well.

Song for the moment: Whiplash - Metallica

Thursday, January 16

Same old song and dance

The few and far readers of this blog, along with any dedicated online stalkers, may be wondering why I haven't posted in such a long time. The kinder minority may suggest that perhaps it was a splendid decision on my part to give the blathering a rest.

The simple truth of the matter is that I tried to make the most of December because it was my last month at (the now) previous work place. A well-known, or should I say infamous ad firm, in which I spent exactly 2 years, 1.5 of which were painfully crushing and miserable and 6 months that were bad. Ok, make that 5 months and 3 weeks. I am not exaggerating. By the end of the first week, I'd cottoned on to the fact that every single person in my department was as miserable as fuck, and unable to do a thing about it. It was like being the bunch of musicians who got stuck with the unfortunate role of providing music as the Titanic went down. The combination of an unhinged, non-creative Creative Director, a Stymphalian bird masquerading as the CEO and a bunch of ludicrous clients with incessantly foolish demands put paid to even the slightest zephyr of satisfaction struggling to rise from the place.

So it should come as no surprise that most people were looking out for opportunities to move elsewhere. I gave it a reluctant go, mainly because I am easily seduced by routine, but also because, for the last year, my only purpose for coming into work was trying to hang out with a colleague I had a supernova-level crush on. The things we do, I tell you. Jocularity apart, the truth is I wasn't good enough to move into mainline advertising, which is allegedly the meat to the bread that is direct marketing communications.

Eventually, at the end of November, the chance to move came along. Now you'd think, after the litany-filled paragraphs above that it would be a no-brainer, but things are a lot more complicated than they look, Watson. There were some sacrifices to be made, shekels to be considered and calculated and the belt tightened. I also knew that mainline advertising is notoriously hard work and long hours. The upside, I was led to believe, was that you had the chance to do something really creative and this in turn powered the dynamo of the professional joy machine. So, taking a "now or never" approach, I accepted the offer.

I prayed that, after two consecutively lousy work experiences totaling to about 4 years, I'd finally be in a decent place. And am I? Let's just say I've invented a new phrase - "From the frying pan, into the fire that's blazing between a rock and a hard place". More on this later.

Song for the moment: We only come out at night - The Smashing Pumpkins