Real life lessons — “You can’t handle the truth” but it does set you free…

Here’s a page from that book of mine. The one I’ll never write. Back in the dark ages, when I was crawling my way up from the pond scum at the bottom of the creative department to a window office, I had an encounter I’ll never forget for its brutality — or its honesty. I was working around the clock on a national ad campaign that I knew would not only win awards but make my career (note the order of those accomplishments…) I was in the awkward position of being down to the finals — two campaigns left standing — and the other campaign? My boss’s. Yep.

It was the night before the big meeting. I brought my work in, and it was good. My boss agreed. Now, picture the scene — it’s late. Everyone is out of the office. It’s just me and him. And I like him and respect him. Really I do. The man has talent.

So, I muster up all my strength, and before leaving, I ask him, “So, what are you going to recommend to the client?” Now, understand, he had been praising my hard work and million revisions, and helping me make my work better than it ever could have been.

And he turns to me and says, “I’m recommending my campaign.”

I was stunned.

He continued, “Not because your work isn’t great. It is. But because I’m your boss and I can do that. To put it bluntly, I guess I’m screwing you. But, you’ll get over it. And, furthermore, someday you’ll do the same thing.”

I felt like a freight train had driven through my stomach. I went to a seedy bar and drank seedy drinks until I wobbled home.

But at the end of the day, I found something strange. (After I got over the hangover.)

I appreciated his honesty. I vowed to never do that to someone who worked for me, and I hope I haven’t, but at least he told it to me straight.

What did I learn from that incident? I’m not quite sure. But, reflecting on Mad Men and stories, well, that’s one of mine.

Have a nice day!


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