Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Tuesday Tip No.68 - What Hours Should You Be Working?

Our survey showed that the most popular time for Scamp readers to leave work is between 6.30pm and 7, having arrived, most commonly, before 9.

That's not a killingly long day, certainly compared to professions like banking or law.

I reckon there’s still a widespread belief that ‘a natural talent for it’ is the essential criterion for success in creative fields - like art, music and even advertising – far more so than in less creative fields like management consultancy, where it's believed that hard work is the key.

But are we Creatives really different?

In Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers he explains something he calls the “10,000 hour rule,” which states that to become expert at anything, one simply needs to put in 10,000 hours practicing it.

The 10,000 figure comes from the research of Anders Ericsson, who in the early 1990’s studied violinists at the Berlin Academy of Music.

“The curious thing about Ericsson’s study is that he and his colleagues couldn’t find any ‘naturals’ - musicians who could float effortlessly to the top while practising a fraction of the time that their peers did,” writes Gladwell. “Nor could they find ‘grinds’, people who worked harder than everyone else and yet just didn’t have what it takes to break into the top ranks. Their research suggested that once you have enough ability to get into a top music school, the thing that distinguishes one performer from another is how hard he or she works. That’s it. What’s more, the people at the very top don’t just work much harder than everyone else. They work much, much harder.”

Some Creatives cling to the belief that success is down to luck – getting the right brief at the right time, from a Client who just happened to be looking for great work. But if that is your view, you’ll be in a minority.

The pop culture quote: “The harder I work, the luckier I get,” attributed variously to movie mogul Sam Goldwyn and golfer Gary Player, is gaining greater and greater acceptance.

So even if you're a Creative who believes in the primacy of natural talent, or luck, you should be aware that attitudes are changing.

Hard workers are believed to be intrinsically more valuable.

Therefore, when you start a new job, it’s vital you establish a reputation as a hard worker - arrive before your boss arrives, and don’t leave until after he leaves. There’s an old saying that goes: “The man who has a reputation as an early riser, can get up at whatever time he chooses.”

However, if you are naturally a hard worker, my advice is don’t work hard gratuitously. Take your full holiday entitlement, and take your weekends – unless there’s a screaming emergency – else you’ll either burn out, fall out of love with the business, or end up depriving yourself of essential external stimulation, and your work will suffer. It’s easy to get into the habit of always leaving the office late as a matter of course. Don’t do that. Keep an extra gear in reserve, so you can kick up your work-rate when there’s a major crisis, or a major opportunity.

But the question of how hard you should work is partly answered by the prevailing culture of the Agency you’re working at.

In some Agencies, everyone works hard. “If you don’t come in on Saturday, then don’t bother coming in on Sunday” – words supposedly said by Tim Delaney. Wieden & Kennedy has such a reputation for long hours that it has acquired the nickname ‘Weekend & Kennedy.’ If you don’t work hard in an Agency like this, you’ll have a double problem – not only will you not produce as much work as everyone else, but also, you won’t fit in.

There are plenty of Agencies where Creatives normally work normal office hours. If that feels like what you want to do – perhaps you have a family, or other interests, you’re just not that into advertising, or you’re mentally exhausted by six o’clock – then you’ll be a lot happier if you work at one of these places.

I personally don't spend long hours in the office. However, I do seem to do a lot of thinking outside office hours. When I’m working on a brief it gives me a kind of psychological eczema, that I find myself scratching in the shower, on the bus, and on the toilet. So maybe that makes up for it.

Previous Tips


Anonymous said...

Gladwell? Pfffft:


Anonymous said...

depends on the individual, if you're a natural, you wont have to work harder. I don't believe in all this turning up early and leave after the boss nonsense. If you've done your work or can't think anymore, go home. Fucking stupid staying around making yourself busy, you do have a life outside of advertising.

Work weekends if you have to.

I hear Mother is one of these agencies where people look at you funny if you leave at 7pm, which is ridiculous.

Anonymous said...

If Walter Campbell wrote all those incredible ads, but only worked from 10 until 6, he'd still get the awards, he'd still get the credit, and he may even get more respect.

Juniors should be seen to be working longer hours, but not just for the sake of it.

Besides, what you say Scamp, is very true - essentially, you never stop working, because the next great idea is down at your local shopping centre, or on the bus, or on the shitter, or in the shitter. Doesn't matter if it's Sunday!

Work does not stop when you leave the office. Applied work does, but then don't a lot of the best ideas come out of nowhere?

Anonymous said...

I don't generally leave until after 8 o'clock. Mostly I'm out before midnight though. Always here before 9. Weekends, at least one day, are the norm. They call me when I'm on holiday. I will admit it's killing me softly.

Anonymous said...

We could all work normal hours if we could spend the day actually thinking up ads. Most of the day is spent tweaking ads we've already written continuously for weeks and sometimes months in the sure knowledge that each tweak makes it worse. Or rewriting ads to inorporate a load of shit the client didn't tell anyone about the first time round. Or re-re-re-re-re writing copy until it's mangled beyond comprehension. Or adjusting a 30 second radio script because the client wants it to be a 20 now. Or worse, spending days trying to persuade account men/planners/clients that none of these changes are needed only to capitulate a week later when the client says "I know you're right but we (note we, you're involved in this shit too) have to do it because my boss says so." Or any number of fucking pissy little cunty changes that stop us doing our real job.

Anonymous said...

You should spend as much time as possible in your 20s at work. That doesn't have to be in the office, though. Life is front loaded and what you do and what you absorb will last you a lifetime. Try doing that past 35 when you've a spouse, a mortgage, kids and sick parents to handle.

Anonymous said...

anon 12.16

where are you?


Anca said...

“if you're a natural, you wont have to work harder” –- still, talent without hard work doesn’t return the best results possible; the more talented you are, the more you have to work to exploit everything you’ve got, just like the more petroleum you’ve got under the ground, the longer the exploitation process lasts. But you have a great point there: “you won’t have to WORK harder” = you won’t feel the effort the same way “regular mortals” do.

“I don't believe in all this turning up early and leave after the boss nonsense. If you've done your work or can't think anymore, go home. Fucking stupid staying around making yourself busy, you do have a life outside of advertising.” – couldn’t agree more! Creativity has NOTHING to do with spending your life at the office! On the contrary, the less you get into contact with the real world, the less efficient/creative your work is. Looking at the same walls 14 hours/day doesn’t seem to make the best inspirational ground. At all! Sounds more like the promising start of a long-lasting constipation, which leads to more YouTube “covers” than the market can handle. It is a great privilege that our work is purely intellectual, it can happen anywhere – and Simon has already given us such examples in his final paragraph.
CDs should consider the fact that they have NO CONTROL over someone’s ideas, even if they hold them tightly all day long, nail them to their chairs or marry them.

Mister Gash said...

"No-one remembers the holiday you don't take".

Isn't there (wasn't there?) an agency in town where the MD would walk through the office and chuck everyone out at the end of the day (and I'm talking about a sensible time here) saying that everyone needs to have a life? Or am I just making that up....?

Anonymous said...

I'd compare our industry to the police force (without the real pressure).
A planner, like a creative has to do a lot of thinking, so their hours are a little unpredictable, but the difference is, they still have to work hard to uncover facts and truths, so they are called in to collect the evidence at the drop of a hat so thus occasionally working odd hours, but not all.
We as creatives are the detectives we have to take the evidence and piece it together to find the truth and get the result. This obviously takes longer and more thinking, hence we work longer and harder.
The account department simply does the filling once the case is closed, back home by 6 (if they don't fuck it up that is)
The agency chief (like the police chief) then takes all the public credit/or fall at the end without the long hours.

Anonymous said...

Essentially this means we could be experts in anything in 2 years if we work on that specific thing for 13.7 hours a day.

So, if the average lifespan of the UK person is 77 (Mean of man and woman), and we start at 14, each person could be an 'expert' in 31 different fields.

Anonymous said...

Rory Sutherland once said that we should work a four day week, on the basis that most of his good ideas come at the weekend so his productivity would go up 50% immediately.

I spend most of my waking life noticing how ads work - I just spent the weekend in New York on a stag do and spent considerable time looking at the various ways they use ads (they seem a lot more comfortable with web addresses, even Louis Vuitton had a URL on the window of their 5th ave store)

Gladwell neglects to point out that in most cases, the 10,000 hours put in are not work. Gates, Jobs and Bill Joy all programmed for fun while still at school.

Anonymous said...

we work hard.

But we play hard.

dah dah dah Everybody dance now!

Anonymous said...

@ Anca:

"It is a great privilege that our
work is purely intellectual"

Our work? I thought you didn't work in advertising now wanted a job in it.

Anonymous said...

Your last paragraph captures the essence of it. Doctors need to be in the hospital/surgery to do most of their work. Lawyers have blackberries, but again a lot of it needs to be done in meetings. A lot of our work is reading/thinking/brainstorming - an often solo pursuit than is probably more effective out of the office, since distractions can be controlled to a greater extent.

Anonymous said...

The agency where the CD chucked you out at 7, so he could get home to his kids and you could get a life was/ is Hooper Galton, I believe. At the other end of the scale, Leagas Delaney has always been "in before Tim, leave after Tim" which is what makes it such a creative powerhouse today (!)

Anonymous said...

I consider myself very lucky that we're a 9 to 5 (or 8 to 6 on occasion--with a few weekends/late nights thrown in now and again) agency. We've got a great creative team, a CD who's extremely talented and very human, and owners who have families that they put first. So their attitude trickles down to the rest of us.

I think, in large part, that has to do with the fact that we're one of the last of the private agencies.

]-[appy Thought said...

@ Rocker Man

We had a tutorial at uni with 2 creatives from the agency that did the John West's ads (the one with the fishing line in the top of the can, as if it was water). Name of the place escapes me, but their CD used to tell people to go watch movies or get a hobby or somesuch after a certain time in the evening as he thought it made them better thinkers.

Anonymous said...

I've freelanced at Wiedens every now and then. I have to say that mith about working long hours all the time is rubbish.

Yeah, things get a little crazy when there's pitches going on but most of the time people left the agency at 7 pm tops. Designers are the ones who stay late most of the time.

Anonymous said...

Fallon working hours killed my personal life. Great work comes at a price.

Anonymous said...

When we were at mother we called it 'Motherfucker'.

Work hard, play hard, and you'll never resent the hours you put in.

Anonymous said...

The danger in all the talk about "hard work" is that it often only refers to quantity of hours put in, not quality.

Obviously, having the flexibility to come in early and stay late will never be considered a bad thing by your office superiors. But I'd offer that your ultimate success (and happiness) as a creative person has more to do with HOW you spend your time vs. how much time you spend.

Anonymous said...

Lovely new Shelter ad on Brand Republic.

Anca said...

“I thought [….]”
Keep thinking, god only knows where it can take you.
(Impressive punctuation, by the way, don’t-breathe style.)

And I also find your opinion on Simon's post almost helpful.

Anonymous said...

@ 12:51 PM

surely the account men are the lawyers?
and you probably couldn't do their job, but you still scoff at it?
could you try a little harder to not act like a stereotype in jeans and a 't'?

and anca. sarcasm? really, i never knew you had it in you?

Anonymous said...

@ Anca
Why so aggressive? It's an honest question. I read this statement in your blog (which I quite enjoy btw):

"Whenever young people ask me why I don't bother to put up a book and why I'm not interested in book crits, alternative ad schools, placements etc I usually answer: "Because I don't like that job."

So I was just wondering what do you mean by "our work is purely intellectual".

For a moment I thought you had landed a job in advertising after all, you dedicate so many words, time and passion discussing it.

Just so you can see I have no intention of slagging you off, I think you'd be great working in advertising. I really do. I think you'd be a great planner for example.

Anonymous said...

The best advice i have got about going about getting a job is putting the hours in. It makes your work better and impresses people that you have energy.

When you actually have the job i'm not sure, does the same apply or do you find a system that works for you?

Whats your average day Scamp? Talk us through you're process.

Oh and by the way, Congratulations - I bought a pair of Levi's for the first time the other day. Whether that's down to the ad's i don't know, perhaps a little.

Penny said...

I remember reading this when I was in ad school. It still makes me pick up the tempo when I want to slack. (Long Quote/Post warning)

Two Young Creatives of Equal Talent
David Lubars

You and your buddy are just starting out. You’re a couple of juniors from ad school, or wherever. You both have killer books; maybe you’ve scored in the One Show college competition. You’re excited and juiced. You have tons of potential.

Flash forward fifteen years. One of you has become the creative director of a brilliant agency. The other is brain dead in Punxsutawney.

A fascinating scenario, and one I’ve tried to make sense of in the twenty years I’ve been at this. If you’re a kid, this is written to try to help you avoid the mistakes some of your talented but misguided predecessors have made.

Here, then, are nine attempts at understanding why some people fall off the face of the earth:

First, it seems that these people somehow get it in their heads they’re artistes and poets. A wrong headed and dopey notion. We’re businesspeople who use creativity as a vehicle to deliver brand messages. This is different from being someone who uses advertising as a vehicle to deliver pretentious crap.

Second, some people speak about their clients with condescension and loathing. Again, dumb. Not to mention counterproductive. Think about what it’s like to be a client for a second. You worry that you’re paying the agency big money to help, knowing it’s your ass if they don’t. You worry about whether they’ll create work everyone inside and outside your company can feel good about. You worry about whether they’ll penetrate the issues as solvers of business problems or just ad makers.

But then when the agency people come through for you, you become less worried. You begin to see them as a secret weapon. As time goes on, you allow them to guide you into new territory because you trust them. The point being, it’s hard work to earn and maintain client trust, but it’s been the foundation of every great campaign ever created.

Third, some people don’t seem to recover well when their first or second batch of work is killed. After a couple of rounds, they decide the assignment isn’t good anymore and return with garbage. Bob Moore, our Fallon/Minneapolis creative director, points out, "This is a sure way of becoming a hack. Five years down the road you’ve got no book and you’re bitching about how lousy your agency is. Who made it lousy? You did."

This is an important point. You should know that most creative directors don’t assess you simply by how creative you are. We also consider how deep, how fast, and how willing to return to the well you are. And how much of a pain in the ass you aren’t.

A freelancer and early mentor of mine, Ernie Schenck, was telling me about someone he’d worked with who wasn’t able to rebound: "This went on for a few years, so nobody was surprised when he turned into this pathetic, defeated little puddle of awesome talent that never amounted to jack."


Fallon account manager Rob Buchner says, "Stamina is a constant virtue I see in the best creative people; emotional and intellectual stamina. Without perseverance, their talent surrenders to the uglier dynamics of the business."

Fourth, while still developing their talent, some people decide to follow the scent of money instead of continuing to follow the trail of great work. One of my partners at Fallon, Mark Goldstein, says truly great creative people are able to recognize "quicksand" agencies. These are places where no matter how good you are, the internal processes and culture conspire to make you horrible. The lure is the short-term financial gain. Goldstein says, "That’s because bad agencies are happy to overpay for badness; they don’t know the difference." But you’ll know the difference.

Fifth, some people become intoxicated with the idea of titles, puff pieces in the trades, and becoming "a manager." Fallon legend, Bob Barrie, warns, "The first time you do a decent campaign you’ll get calls from bad agencies. You’ll decide to ‘move up’ and join one of them and then you’ll disappear. Never make a decision based on coin. Do brilliant work and you’ll be rewarded more in the end anyway." As far as managing goes, Bob says, "You can’t manage till you’ve done tons of great work yourself. How can you be a credible judge of other people’s stuff when you’re still figuring out how to do it yourself?"

This segues nicely into my sixth point. Some people appear to be unconcerned with building a body of brilliant work over time. A question: who’s had the richer career, Neil Young or Donovan? Young has been making brilliant records for 35 years. Donovan had some hits in the mid-1960s. Many of you may be wondering, who’s Donovan? Exactly. The point is, you can’t put together a few good campaigns and hope to live off the fumes forever. You’re only as good as the last thing you did, and you should’ve done that today. Current greats like [Lee] Clow and [Phil] Dusenberry are Neil Youngs.

Seventh, some people seem closed to new ways of doing things. Another Fallon partner, Rich Stoddart, says, "The successful creative is totally objective about his or her own work. If it’s not working, if it isn’t right, they just move on. Bad creatives only think ‘protect, protect, protect.’"

Eighth, some people don’t exercise their brains enough. Our planning director, Anne Bologna, observes, "The awesome ones are extraordinarily curious and ask ‘why?’ all the time. They’re part planners in that they’re empathetic to the human condition. They don’t see the world through their own eyes only." Stoddart adds, "They’re sponges. They read everything they can get their hands on. Two or three newspapers, novels, business magazines—everything. When they sit with clients, they’re better able to understand the context of people and business."

Ninth, some people actually believe their initial good press and listen when industry sycophant whisper in their ears.

Here’s the thing, though. The guy who cured polio was important. Even though you created a great campaign, you’re not all that important in the grand scheme of things. Yes, you’re in a nice industry that can reward well. Yes, you’re creative and people admire that. Yes, you may attain some level of status. But, I mean, come on.

Here’s what is important: humility. It’s great to be around people like Pat Fallon, Laurel Cutler and Maurice Levy, who demonstrate every day that the greater the success, the greater the opportunity to remain humble. And if just being classy isn’t reason enough to be humble, then consider the practical side. The guy who gave me my start, Jon Goward, says, "Once you start thinking too highly of yourself, your ears fall off. You stop listening to anyone who criticizes anything you do because you think you know better. And that feeds itself. Success tends to attract people who tell you how great you are. The tricky part is maintaining a strong sense of yourself; being sensitive enough to hear what clients and other people who disagree with you say."

If you’re really great, let other people talk about you. Your job is fairly simple: be quiet, sit down and create some more work. (In fact, why are you reading this when you could be working on your craft right now? Put this down. You’ll learn more by doing than reading about doing.)

I heard a guy say something a few years ago that sums up the whole thing for me. He said, "My best people come to work every day worrying that they’re about to be fired, while the mediocre people are always shocked when they actually are fired."

How do you feel when you come to work?

4am said...

If people stopped blogging all day, they'd probably be able to get home by 3. Fact.

Anonymous said...

anca, i just want to say that i find you truly inspiring. i don't know if you're trying to break in, or if you're in a department already. your insights, your comments, your contributions to both this board and on dave's (via your own blog) are really great. best of luck to you. i raise a smile when i read one of your many anecdotes. may i ask, (if i may) how do you find the time to make such a contribution? all the best.

Anonymous said...

And the tip is?

MOB RULE said...

If you love what you do it doesn't matter how long you have to do it for. That's the attitude I have and have tried to maintain throughout my career in advertising.

It's politics and confusion that gets my creative goat, how interferes with what needs doing and when, making the route from A to B and possibly C harder.

That's Business eh!

redundant rodge said...

Rocker man said: "Isn't there an agency in town where the MD would walk through the office and chuck everyone out at the end of the day saying that everyone needs to have a life?

Don't know about the agency but heard an interesting story about a new MD coming into a company that worked stupid hours and also weekends. Despite that, the company wasn't doing very well.

So he tells everyone that they have to leave the office before 5.30 and, crucially, say good night. And no working weekends.

Within three months the company had increased its profitability by 25%.

In fact it was going so well he gave everyone alternate Friday afternoons off.

Anca said...

What I can tell you is that being a creative doesn’t necessarily mean you need to be part of a classic team in an advertising agency –- thinking that way would be uncreative in itself. Ideas travel very easily these days and some people use this creatively. Best luck!

My daily blogging time doesn’t exceed 1 hour -- thanks to good RSS feed management and fast typing.
“how do you find the time to make such a contribution?”
Since we’re talking about 1 hour here…, you know, I guess it’s enough that I don’t smoke. :)
And thanks a lot for your kind words, I hope everything’s going great for you.

Scamp said...

Penny - thanks for posting that. Wonderful stuff. I will nick some of it for my book.

Scamp said...

4.30 - sorry if the tippiness wasn't clear.

Let me put it in three bullet points.

1. Success comes from work. But work doesn't have to be done in the office.

2. If you're one of those people who doesn't believe in hard work, fake that you do.

3. Hard worker? Slacker? Whichever you are, find an agency where their view of how hard one should work matches yours

Anonymous said...

At BMP, John Webster used to come in at 8.30 and work through to 5.30with an hour for lunch.
Like clockwork.
At GGT, Steve Henry did exactly the same.
Never left their offices to muck around, tell jokes, or play games.
Come in, work hard, leave.
When I worked with them, I was very different.
I’d get in later, and leave later.
I didn’t have the application to sit down and work flat out.
I’d get bored and distracted.
So I’d have to work hard in lots of short bursts.
Come in, muck around, work, tell jokes, work, talk about football, work, play games, work.
So my hours were 9.00 to 8.00, and I still only did about as much work as they did.
The point isn’t how long you spend at the office, it’s what you do when you’re there.
If you’re brilliant (Webster and Henry) you don’t need to spend so long there.
If you’re not brilliant (me) but you want to compete with people who are, you may have to spend longer doing it.
It doesn’t matter how long it takes, just how good it is, and how much of it there is.

john p woods said...

Time flies when you're having fun!

J said...

May I just say, Scamp, this is is your best post of the year and arguably your best Tuesday Tip.

It's inspiring, it has depth and it has attracted some wonderful comments.

You should definitely write more like this.

Anonymous said...

Funny Campbell was mentioned.
I once went to AMV for a job.
It was around 5 and Carty and Campbell were leaving for the day - maybe it was isolated?

Neil French used to frighten me.
He would take the flight from London to Singapore and arrived at the office with his bags.
That was arond 11am.
He would work straight through - no lunch.
He would only leave his desk/room around 5.

I could never do that.
In fact, when I tried his 'formula' he reminded me - 'it's brillinace I'm after, not plod'.
Yes, only Neil could have said it thus.

Trouble is, these days, time sheets change everything.
I once spent days on a simple job because I thought I could do something really good.
But when the suits saw my time sheets, they scremed.

Reckoned I was wasting the agency's resources.

And another MD used to chide us for working weekends - you're wasting electricity.

Depends whether your boss is Tim Delaney or a bean counter, I guess.

Anonymous said...

Yes, it's a good post. Here's my contribution: an edit of Oliver Burkeman's Guardian column last week (LONG POST WARNING) "My only anecdote about the novelist Anthony Trollope concerns his writing habits. Each morning, before leaving for his job at the post office, he wrote for three hours. ("Three hours a day," he reckoned, "will produce as much as a man ought to write.") So far, so disciplined. But here's the kicker: if he finished a novel midway through a three-hour period, he just started writing the next one. "My novels, whether good or bad, have been as good as I could make them," he reflected. "Had I taken three months of idleness between each, they would have been no better."

It's easy to see this as indicative of workaholism, or of a dull, unimaginative, grinder's attitude but there's something useful to be learned here, too - not from Trollope's relentlessness, but from his focus on process rather than outcome. His goal, it appears (though of course we can only guess), wasn't "finish great book", or even "get paid". It was "put in three hours". What resulted from all those three-hour chunks, he seems to have recognised, was beyond his control, and not worth worrying about."
He goes on to tell us how a young Jerry Seinfeld's scriptwriting technique involved "marking an X on a calendar for every day he sat and typed. His goal was an unbroken chain of Xs. If he'd aimed instead to write brilliant jokes, he'd have been distracted and intimidated." Full article here:http://www.guardian.co.uk

Bentos said...

"arrive before your boss arrives, and don’t leave until after he leaves."

This is called 'presenteeism'


Scamp said...

You're right, Bentos.

And a junior creative strolling past his CD's office at 5.30pm with his coat and scarf on, what's that called?


Anonymous said...

What about if he's only popping to the shop for 5 minutes?

Anonymous said...

I'm not a junior but did cringe when our CD mentioned the other night that he'd come in to see us and we'd left. But then I'm a bit of an idiot.

Scamp said...

If you're only popping out to the shops for 5 minutes, but end up giving your boss the impression you're leaving for the day at 5.30, then you're an even bigger idiot.

Just leave your jacket on the back of your chair. Everyone knows that.

Anonymous said...

When I was CD and joint owner of an agency I'd quite often, guiltily, sneak past the creatives working away at 6.30.

Why should the boss go home leaving his staff working?

Now I wish I'd told them all to go home.

john p woods said...

An old senior of mine use to leave his coat/jacket on the back of his chair to feign presenteeism… and it worked. Not that I've tried that since!

john p woods said...

You beat me to it, Scamp.

Bentos said...

I'd recommend working freelance, at least for a year, gives you a whole new perspective on your relationship to work and the money you earn and what exactly you're getting paid for.

You could be playing golf 4 days a week but if on the 5th you make the right call on a multi-million pound deal then you're worth your money.

Personally I try to work smart not hard, there's more value in one moment of inspiration than a day of shovelling a pile of papers from one side of the desk to the other. But then, as you alluded to Scamp, a lot of work will go into that moment of inspiration. It just doesn't look like work sometimes.

And my theory is if something's taking a long time to do then I'm doing it wrong.

Anonymous said...

Who cares about the hours? The only relevant measurement of your work is - your work! If you do brilliant work in 4 hours a day - GREAT. Go home and make yourself a Dry Martini! But if you have to stay in the office until midnight just to find the right Pantone color to match the design manual - you f***ing stay until midnight!


Anonymous said...

I,ve been around teams that work rediculously long hours. Most of their work is average. How shit would they be if they worked what I'd call normal hours?

Anonymous said...

I used to work for a place where the MD was famous for his office walk through between 6 and 6:30pm, just to see how had already fucked off for the day.

He ran it old school and it created a horrible culture in the office.

Mister Gash said...

Some smart insights posted here. As we enter the 'long tail' phase of this post I'll leave one thought...

There was once a top Planner whose 6 year old daughter came home from school with a drawing of her family. Mum, brother and her. When asked why dad wasn't in the picture she said 'because he's never here'.

Two things happened. The planner always left before 6.00pm from that day on. And I mean ALWAYS.

And the kid's drawing was used by a creative team to demonstrate the usefulness of a telecommunications service in giving working people their life back.

Two birds with one stone. Planner gets his family back. Creatives get a true insight and generate a thought-provoking ad.

And the agency? Have a look in the archives Scamp. It was done at BBH...

Hans Suter said...

Bernbach wanted you in at 9, out at 6 and at home for the weekend. I also think he wouldn't have posted as Anonymous.

Unknown said...

Back in the early-mid 90s I worked at a place called Anderson & Lembke- sort of a big deal in NYC at the time, spin-off from Chiat/Day.

The owners were Swedes and if you were there past 7 with any regularity, they'd come by, ask if anything was wrong and if you wanted them to bring in a freelancer to help you catch up.

Spoiled me for the rest of my career.

Ad people spend too much time in the office because it's a business filled with young people. When I was 25, it was much more fun to hang out with my partner and a bunch of other juniors and do ads than to go home to an empty apartment and watch TV.

I've seen too many workaholic ad guys wind up sad and lonely middle aged men and women. Sadder and lonelier still because they rarely have much to show for it: a bunch of moderately clever ads that seem dated if they're more than a couple of years old. Not a whole lot of money, relative to the pain of giving up any semblance of personal life. Unless you manage to sell your agency to a holding company there's no pot of gold at the end of the rainbow anymore.

I've seen a lot of advice for juniors on this thread, but I'll add another one: if you're working for someone who judges you on the number of hours you put in at the office, rather than the quality of the work you produce, it's time to look for another job. Your talents will never be appreciated.

FWIW, I primarily work from home nowadays. I put in the same number of hours, as per Simon's "creative exczema" theory, but they're on my own schedule and I get a lot of other things done in the same timeframe since there's no time wasted pretending to be busy.

Anonymous said...

I used to work for a CD who would automatically send out meeting invitations for 23:00 when we were pitching. At 11:00.
Consequently, he never liked an idea you had at 13:00. Or at any other 'normal' hour.
So the trick was to come up with something before lunch and tell him you though of it when you woke up to get off your train at one in the morning. Then it was automatically awesome. Or thereabouts.

Long story short, I eventually left. And thank God for that.