Rene Huey-Lipton knows the pain of losing a job. Too often it’s a surprise and a violation; nevertheless, dealing with the aftermath is something we are often asked to do alone while acting brave.
I don’t know how others feel, but for me, getting laid off feels like someone has yanked their love away. And all that comes with that love: comfort, freedom, safety, belonging. And of being a part of creating something—a team, an agency, an idea.
Like Gambling, the Odds Are Always with the House
Most people who hang on long enough in the advertising agency business will get to experience the joy of severe career turbulence one or more times. I’ll speak for myself and say that of the seven staff jobs I had before founding Bonehook in 2009, only three worked out. The other four were total busts.
I recall the first time I was fired. It was in Denver in 2000. I was six weeks into a new job and was fired because I dared to ask an account executive how many times the client would like the copy to be rewritten.
The next job that I landed I held for just four months. The one after that I had for three months and each day there in my windowless office was awful. We suffer these losses, and for the most part, we cover up our suffering. Or we don’t cover up how we feel, and we turn our rage into sarcastic updates on Twitter.
Ageism Is A Bitch. And the Bitch Is Ignorant.
Huey-Lipton crossed the threshold. She’s more than 50.
Her take on ageism in advertising is astute. Here is more from her brilliant piece on 3PercentMovement.com:
As a culture, we celebrate age, but we don’t reward it. Especially when it comes to women. To the world, and the industry, each year doesn’t make you more experienced, it makes you more out of touch. Each year doesn’t add to your patina, it dulls it. The fear of another year can be all-consuming, haunting you at night, and paralyzing you during the day.
What she says is right and at the same time, so utterly wrong. Western culture worships youth culture and the very media which we use to advance our client’s causes, is at some point used against us. When we no longer like what we see in the mirror, we remove it. Media is the mirror and we are the aging figures in it.
When I start a cover letter today with, “I’ve been honing my craft for 23 years,” I think it’s a benefit statement. Sadly, the receiver of this message may see it differently.
Personally, I don’t spend much time dwelling on why this is. We are a willfully ignorant people in so many ways. I do think about how to overcome it and/or work around it. As a 54-year-old creative, I have no choice.
One of the things I consider is the formation of a guild, or possibly a union. Screenwriters are represented by a strong union. Actors, as well. Meanwhile, people who work in advertising have no protection and no representation at all.