The Surfer’s Journey, Vol. 7

Or: Whose agency is it anyway? Part I.

On principle, I will never send inspirational or touching videos. I will break every FWD chain. I will never fill the Subject field with “Just thought you’d enjoy this.” People have enough to read, see and think about.


If you work a knowledge economy office job, consider squeezing in this TED talk from Jason Fried at some point — some low point, when you realize corporate chattelhood was an iffy path (watch in a cubicle for maximum impact). The title is “Why Work Doesn’t Happen At Work” and it is the rich media prologue to this two-part AdPulp post.

If you could work for yourself, would you? Entrepreneurship seems to be the popular wont — self-employment not just wildly possible but socially celebrated. Everyone’s endgame is “starting my own,” and in creative services, which require nil in capital and no professional certification, it’s especially attractive.

But what if you were just beginning your working life?

Portland is home to a clutch of agencies, and hiring’s fashionable. That’s in large part why I moved here. This column was in fact conceived as a journal of the job search — which has proved to be an issue because it turns out I’m not really searching at all. Between publishing work and a growing pile of freelance, I’m pleasantly socked in at my own “office” (see artist’s rendering above) and haven’t had to go knocking on the doors of others’. I wonder whether I ever should, or whether to just befriend an art director, call ourselves The ___________ Agency, and get on with it.

The up- and downsides to hanging a shingle are completely different for a young upstart than for someone decades deep. The older, experienced professional has contacts, a portfolio, a face visibly lined and worn with hard-earned lessons from the field. Her young counterpart has none of those things — just fervor and Red Bull (possibly correlated). The youngster of any modesty would settle in for an education at a reputable shop; he would pay his dues.

That’s the dilemma I face at present. Watch the TED video for a preview of where I’m going with this and why. Advice is most welcome.

Part II is coming up next.

Previously on AdPulp: The Surfer’s Journey, Vol. 6



About Stuart Cornuelle