I can’t remember what I thought about advertising as an industry before I started working at one of the major agencies.
In the 2000s Poland was in that peculiar place where we still didn’t understand how the free market works (not saying we know that now) and what role advertising plays or could play in shaping this market. It was a wild collage of home-made videos turned into TV commercials, and sloppy DTP work turned into billboards or press ads.
And when you drop to the mix the exploding internet with all its flaws and potential you get a Wild Wild East in the middle of Europe.
I worked with visual media my whole adult life but came in contact with „real advertising” pretty late. In 2009 I moved to Warsaw for the second time in my life, and I started working for a full-fledged advertising agency and one of the „big” ones at that.
After a couple of years it became pretty apparent to me the advertising world revolves only around the advertising world. The glory days of Mad Men were over ages ago, advertising’s lost its leading edge, and all of the majors were scrambling desperately to play catch up with a new culture of the startup world. But inside it all looked like it was still The Big Thing — there were still Cannes Lions to be won and big campaigns to proudly talk about.
After five years in one such place, I switched agencies just to shake things up a bit. I lasted a year before noticing I have nothing to show after a year of work.
I looked through my „Work” folder and couldn’t find a single thing I wanted to save or show as a portfolio piece. A year of producing Facebook posts and pitch presentations. And I was working as a Senior Art Director.
That and a couple of personal issues made me decide to quit pretty much on the spot. I had nothing lined up, had not started looking for anything new, had mortgage and loans to pay just like everybody else. All I knew was I didn’t want to work in advertising anymore. The emptiness of the service, constant pressure for awards and participation in award shows made me realize advertising is dead.
At least it was for me at that moment.
I had the luck of knowing how I want to evolve. And it was the first time in my life I knew what I wanted to do. What’s even more important, I found a place where I wanted to work. So I went for it with full force. Parting ways with my previous employer on good terms allowed me to get a recommendation from my CEO at the place I wanted to had a shot at and it fucking worked.
Too bad it didn’t last very long because, as it turns out, the press’ top star start-ups not always shine brightest.
But it gave me a foothold in the world I had no idea existed. The world where your work is valued, your opinions matter and the things you work on can save someone’s life.
All of this made me realize there’s so much more I wanted to learn and experience. As I started to explore, I listened and watched more and more things never thought I wanted to watch or listen. Some things need the right time and place to blossom, granted, but one thing leads to another and I met or listened to people I needed to meet or listen to. That gave me a new perspective on a couple of ideas.
One: you only have so much time on this planet (pretty obvious),
Think about it for a second.
Every time you make a choice you either succeed or you don’t.
There’s no other outcome for any choice or decision. To paraphrase Yoda „You do or do not”. And because of that, the risk of losing is the same as the risk of winning. And I find that pretty inspiring.
Of course, we can argue your experience, your attitude, luck, circumstance, and your cosmic karma levels — all that matters. But it all boils down to one simple outcome. The only thing that can stop you is your demise and you can’t do anything about that (at least not now anyway). Why not take a chance? What do you have to lose? The odds are pretty fucking good, don’t you think?
Everything just becomes an opportunity.