Thursday, December 23, 2010

I can honestly say...

I have never been so in love before!
This, dear friends, is my very first post from my brand new MacBook Air.
I bought it! Yes, I did!
I could try to be all modest and coy about it but, quite frankly, what would be the point of that?
It's so sleek and sexy and beautifully AppleMac that you simply cannot try to be all modest about it.
It's the Ferrari of laptops... And I own it. Along with more than enough 3G internetty-goodness than I will EVER be able to use up from month to month.
This is the point where I "get real" with myself and give myself a quick, stiff kick in the pants.
For bloody AGES now I've been whining on and on about the fact that this was supposed to be my Big Tiger Year. As usual, I was totally up my own arse about shit that was so stupid and small and insignificant. Yet, AS USUAL, I failed to take into consideration that The Big Guy In The Sky (TBGITS) RARELY gives us things the way WE ask for them... I THOUGHT I wanted a certain thing... But my Goodness. I could not have been more WRONG about what I needed/wanted, or thought I loved.
Over this year TBGITS has cleared from my path all of the stumbling blocks that were put in my way and has blessed me with the life/things/people that I never dreamed I needed but now I know I could NEVER live without.
True friends who never forget every detail, even when I choose to block those pesky details out. Family bonds so rich and diverse, I don't have the brain capacity to take it all in. Things. THINGS like this new laptop and my new car and my new amazing career opportunity... We're always taught not to love THINGS because you may never have the ones you really want. The good ol' Christian "oh well, I guess it wasn't in God's plan for me to have this stuff..." story. But, my word, things are so nice and sometimes TBGITS actually WANTS to give them to you. Call me superficial... But then. You'd have to call yourself superficial too, because you know you want them too.
So now I'm finally off to bed after spending AGES messing around on my Mac.
It's Christmas Eve tomorrow and we'll be shutting down early and coming home to our families. But I won't be out of touch. If there's anything special I'd like to say, I'll do it immediately. I can now. The slick new love of my life will be here waiting to beam my stories directly to you.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

WHA'? HEY?! Where am I??!

So... I've been at Paton Tupper for a week now and if you haven't heard from me, dear bloggers, it's because I've been busy APPLYING MYSELF! Finally... :)
I joke. I always apply myself, dummies.
I've just been putting my head down and getting into the vibe... Learning new ways of doing things.
I'm not gonna lie: It's been a long, tough year. November was just insane, trying to get as much done as possible at Public Address. And now we're in December, and Paton Tupper is still COOKING when it comes to the work flow. So, yeah. no rest for the wicked, as they say. I'm quite desperate for the holidays to get here.
To top things off, I've offered to help the kiddies at church with the Nativity play... WHAT WAS I THINKING?
Just to put you in the picture, this is how rehearsals went down a week ago: The Three Wise Men ripped the head off Baby Jesus and pulled all his stuffing out. And Angel Gabriel (who kindly sponsored her dolly to play Baby Jesus) had a total meltdown. There was one little girl who just ran, TOP SPEED and screaming on top of her voice, from one side of the stage to the other and back again. For 20 minutes.
Just running.
And screaming.
I never thought I'd want to punch a child before, but now that I know what I'm capable of feeling, maybe it's a good thing I haven't had kids. Yet.
We practiced for less than 15minutes and it was GAME OVER! I went home to my parents’ place, swallowed 2 painkillers and 2 tranquilizers, slept for 3 hours, got up and got dressed and went straight to the office to put in ±5hours worth of much needed overtime.
This week's rehearsals went better. Nobody got the stuffing kicked out of them this time, but we did discover that one of the shepherds is a farter and now the other kids won't sit next to him. *sigh*
That's what I've been preoccupied with for the past few weeks, so please be patient with me if I don't update the ol' bloggeroo as often as I'd like to. I'll get better at it, promise.

On my last day at Public Address, I was so teary and emotional, that I knew I wouldn't be able to deliver a sob-free farewell speech, so I decided to put it all into a loooooooooooooooong email that I sent out to the staff as I exited the building. I thought I'd share it with you, in case you were interested. There are some nice historical bits about how we got started as an agency, as well as some guru-like advice on how to be the best you can be in the hectic world of advertising. Now that I'm reading it again after a whole long week, I can't help but have a chuckle at how freakin' sanctimonious it is in parts. But, hey! I guess along with the good times came a lot of tough times, and I obviously had a message to deliver to those that just weren't / aren't delivering. I suppose I just got really tired of the stress of running a business, of "paddling my own canoe", especially when not all or us were steering the canoe in the same direction. Not to mention the lazy ones that weren’t paddling at all, happy to just catch a free boat ride to who-knows-where? And others still, who were sneakily drilling holes in the canoe while the rest of us were paddling for our lives! So, here it is, my Jerry Maguire Manifesto. Enjoy:

So... I guess this is the part where I write my big farewell letter.
I’ve been composing it in my brain for weeks now, trying to think of what to say, and then I burst into tears, drink a bottle of wine and watch the National Geographic channel ‘til 2am, hoping it will all just disappear.
Here goes.
It started with Malibu-and-cokes at the Riverside Hotel on one of the most surreal Saturday’s of my life.
When the agency I’d been busting my butt for decided to kick me in the butt, Nic and Wayne said: “Fuck ‘em! You deserve better. Join us.”
It was an offer I, quite frankly, couldn’t refuse: The opportunity to work with Durban’s hottest advertising powerhouse duo (Wayne and Nic) as well as one of the most talented designers I’ve ever met (Reino).
From humble beginnings, trekking from Reino’s home office to Nic’s home office and back again, not even having enough office chairs to sit on so we could work together comfortably, we’ve grown to be the amazing advertising agency that we are.

I guess I should really start by thanking the people who’ve believed in us and help us make it happen...
Starting with Our Folks.

Poor Paul and Bev Potterton (Wayne’s folks) kindly rented us a part of their home to set up our first office. To thank them, we:

* Cursed and swore loudly amongst ourselves while they held their church meetings a mere 4meters away
* Ran over one dog
* Left the gate open so another dog could run away
* Fed yet another dog the “treat” of a bone that could have shattered in his tummy and put him in an early grave
* Constantly left our dirty dishes in their sink
* Steadily bored a series of holes in their new wooden floors with our designer heels
* Pissed off all the neighbours by RACING up and down the street (late for our meetings as always) to the point that Paul was getting death threats from some grumpy old dude down the street
* Invaded their privacy to the point that they could no longer take a romantic skinny dip in their own swimming pool for fear of us charging in at the most arb/obscure hours to work on something
* Played our “devil music” so loud, the devil himself could hear it clearly in the fiery pits of hell

The dogs farted.
Our clients farted.
Our suppliers fainted...
It was a circus!

We were really sad to leave Timavo, but I’m sure I heard champagne and celebration from inside Paul and Bev’s room.
All they got out of the deal was a huge amount owing on the rent and great big clumps of double-sided tape on the floors where we had tried to glue our fancy rug to the floor.
(WTF? Why did we try to glue the rug to the floor? What were we THINKING???!!)

So then we moved into the offices we’re in now.

I’ll never forget that first proud night, after we’d swept and dusted and arranged the desks and put all the new groceries into the kitchen cupboards...
Slowly everyone started to go home, and eventually it just Eric (my dad), Geraldine (my mom), Wayne and myself left behind.
And we got BLIND drunk. Blackout drunk. “Pee-in-your-pants-’cos-you-can’t-get-them-off-fast-enough” drunk.
The last thing I remember was curling up on the cold concrete floor in the middle of the studio (there were no chairs yet), trying to get some sleep. Eish.
The four of us refused to go home. We just kept talking and planning and dreaming about how AMAZING our agency was going to be...
Good times.

And I guess now would be a good time to thank my own folks for supporting and believing in the four partners, even though they’ve seen my ass in diapers, seen Reino and Wayne’s drunk asses at parties and... Hey! I guess Nic’s the only one who’s managed to maintain his dignity on the ass-bearing front. Or was I just not there that day?

Mom and dad:
Thanks for leaving your long-standing jobs at Ogilvy and TBWA (“That-Place-From-Whence-We-Ran-Screaming”) and taking a huge risk on us.
Thanks for dipping into your hard-earned retirement stash to help us pay salaries in the tough months.
Thanks for the leftover curries and for being the un-official Entertainment Committee, spoiling us CONSTANTLY, much to the detriment of my ever-expanding waistline.
Thanks for the expertise, knowledge and experience you’ve brought to our young agency.

In fact, now that I think about it... We’d been steadily bringing in new accounts and growing, but one of our earliest big breaks came from you, Mom. Remember?
My cousin phoned mom when she was still at Ogilvy to ask if she could recommend a good agency who could pitch on his business. She told him that I had just joined an incredible company called Public Address and gave him our number. We went on to win the ICESA pitch and the rest, as they say, is history.
It was a tough account. (Honestly? What account ISN’T?) But it was one of the big ones that helped us grow... Exponentially!
Thanks, Mom. Keep counting those beans. Every one of them matters in today’s tough economic climate!

A great, big thanks goes to each and every one of you who’s been on this journey with us. With me.
God help us, it’s been tough at times.
But we’ve never lost our sense of humour, our love of music, our determination, and we’ve never missed an opportunity to make fun of each other and ourselves!

I suppose this opportunity also calls for some “sage-like” advice from me to you, to make sure that our little agency continues to grow from strength to strength to become “The Biggest Ad Agency In Durban” as we’d drunkenly vowed that night we moved into Holwood Park. And to impart some of the wisdom I’ve acquired during my years so far in this ugly, cut-throat industry.

So, let me channel Mike Myers in The Guru and help you with some stuff, “you can’t face”:

1. Keep your eye on the prize and keep the silly games for the playground.
Far too many people in the agencies I’ve worked at have wasted valuable brain-space on plotting their next sneaky corporate move. You’ll find it gets you nowhere in the long run because everyone sees through you and the games eventually. Use that brain-space to think up new, innovative ways to make more money for the agency and, in turn, yourself.

2. Just be a good guy, for fucksake! It’s not hard to do.
Be honest and upfront with everyone you deal with. That way, you don’t have to waste valuable time trying to remember which lie goes where.
Have integrity. There’s a powerful saying that goes: “If you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything.”

3. If it’s a CAREER you’re after, use what’s between your ears and not what’s between your legs.
People who try to sleep their way to the top unfortunately never get further than the middle. Every single job (NOT blow jobs!) that lands on your desk, no matter how small, provides a valuable opportunity to prove your worth and to flex your brainpower. If you’re a writer, there’s ALWAYS a better word/phrase/way-to-say-it. So, take the time to craft your work. That goes for designers too. And for crying out loud, designers – LEARN HOW TO SPELL! (Just kidding! You know I love you. xox) Client Service team, remember that every brief you send out is not just an instruction to the studio; it’s a reflection of how YOU see YOURSELF as a professional. A brief that’s typed up poorly and simply “shat out”, sends the message that you don’t have the confidence or know-how to do better.
I believe in all of you... MAKE ME PROUD!

4. Never forget that your reputation precedes you in everything that you do!
This next bit might sound like I’m tooting my own horn a bit, but every word is true: I have never applied for a job. Ever.
Every job I’ve had in my career has been because somebody, somewhere needed a writer, heard about me and called me in to “have a chat”. Nobody’s perfect... EXPECIALLY NOT LITTLE OLD ME! But, just be the best you can be and people will see spot your passion from miles away.

5. Never forget to smile. It’s weird, but people seem to like that...
I’ll never forget when I was working in Taiwan we were told that the Chinese are big on “saving-face”. They never show negative emotions in public, and will often smile even when they’re telling you to go fuck yourself. It’s strange, but somehow you felt better going off to fuck yourself knowing that the instruction was delivered with a smile. *shrug*

6. Read more books... Seriously!

I guess all that’s left, is for me to say goodbye to my three boys. My brothers. My partners in all sorts of crime!
Wayne, Nic and Rein, I wrote this stuff in my letter of resignation to you a month ago but I think it’s worth reiterating:

Wayne - Your entrepreneurial spirit and courage have inspired me to take more risks in life, and to stop waiting in the shadows for something to fall my way. While my two brothers are off in Jhb chasing fame and fortune, you have been a true brother to me. I cannot imagine my days without our chats...
Reino - People come to work to make a living. It’s a rare bonus for one to come to work and to still make real friends along the way. You have become a friend that I will take along my life’s journey, no matter what.
And Nic - How do I begin to say goodbye? Your integrity is one of the cornerstones that this company had been built on. It’s no empty compliment when I say that, of every Creative Director I’ve ever worked with, none have come close to your creative and strategic mind. I have learnt so much from you, and I know that you still have so much more to teach that I will be missing out on. Even though I will be able to pay my bills now, my life will be poorer for not having you in the office next door every day.

My years at Public Address have been the best of my career. I’ve learnt so much. I’ve grown as a professional, a creative, copywriter and leader. I’ve learned to finally take ownership of the jobs that land on my desk and to work, to the best of my ability, to deliver creative that is relevant, quirky and that cuts through the clutter.
Please send me regular updates with pics of the kids... I will miss my little family so much. It kills me that I’m not going to see the little ones as often as I’d like. They’re my babies too!

So cheers, Lords of Roxtown...

See you on the dance floor!

All my love,