Seth thinks he may be too harsh in this post about Sheepwalking - a great (maybe perfect) term for the fear paralysis that grips many (most) businesses, and careers -- which necessarily includes most clients, and sadly, most agencies. The thing is, though, I didn't think he was harsh enough.
I couldn't take Sheepwalking as a director. I'd found myself pigeonholed into big-budget, but truly awful, creative. Just couldn't smile, shoot crap, and take the money anymore. Use A Stick is basically a somewhat-tempered rant on that. I started a little agency that was/is specifically designed not to foster Sheepwalking (even though Seth hadn't invented the term yet). For a lot of unrelated reasons, I left there to come to Blattner Brunner, because they said (in different terms) that they wanted someone who wasn't going to Sheepwalk. At this juncture, they might be thinking they got more than they bargained for. At least I hope they are.
It might be the redneck in me. Or my mother's contribution of hot Irish blood. Or the deadly combination of the two. But I've never been afraid to speak up. And the status quo and I have never been too cozy. Because of that, I've tended, from time to time, to make some of the more rigid people I've come into contact with a tad uneasy. The flip-side of that, of course, is that my nature to push for "different" has won accounts, helped sell my clients' stuff, and, basically, sustained a pretty decent career.
But hold on just a minute -- because there's a lesson here, and it's not what you think.
Too many people will read this post, and think it's in praise of arrogance in creative. Nothing could be further from the truth. I detest creative arrogance -- mostly, because 99% of it is unfounded. When you throw a tantrum because your conservative banker client won't invest a gazillion dollars on a kind-of-branded, but off-base, experimental guerrilla piece covered in chocolate -- based solely on your creds as a creative genius, you're not "Not Sheepwalking." You're being an idiot.
On the other hand, though, if you're not taking the client ideas that go beyond what they've asked you for, because you're afraid they might not like them, well, then you're Sheepwalking.
People who resort to Sheepwalking think they're avoiding risk. Just read anything Seth's written for an explanation of why they're not, actually, avoiding it. So it stands to reason that Not Sheepwalking requires risk. And it does. Yours.
And that's what makes it hard.