The beginning of my next re-organization was noticing that — apparently for whatever my YTD total was in 2020, I would be willing to continue to not act and not take steps towards cultivating my own talents – that for a certain kind of money I’d apparently be willing to give up on becoming the type of creative professional/public thinker I’ve long been trying to transform into.
That was really sad and really empty to me.
What’s worse is the money-pot dried up and became even more work through 2021.. and in the middle of the year, I noticed some things about the machine I serve: its not working. –Yes, in a sense most orgs are dysfunctional, and I am a wide-eyed idealist and should be “ashamed of myself” for entertaining anything else– but I’m over here searching for significance, so being a member of a team that grows to be notable is a story that would suit me well, and thats how I saw it, for a while, but that’s not a very accurate description.
I guess this is turning into a memoir of sorts– I need to reconnect all the fancy tech so it at least goes out to my socials
Continuing this description is — so is this enough? We are well intentioned. I describe the crew to outsiders as “they try to make a it a good place to work” but the further up the food chain I go, the more I realize the insidious nature of status roles and the false meritocracy of class. I serve a team in the satellite office of a Valley start-up- really they outsourced the jobs that required talking to clients- I’m sure they discussed India or the Philippines before someone talked them out of it. But when we started sending process proposals and critiques up the food chain, it was as if the furniture started talking. We’re led by a crew of wealthy entrepreneurs unencumbered by the norms of the industry we serve. So when we started proposing behaviors and processes that felt too “normal” — it was embarrassing, somehow.
This is the second “innovative” org I’ve served who is agast to simply color within the existing lines of the audiences expectation. I am reminded of Pressfields rant: You have to pick a genre. I will also point out that many, many, many “geniuses” of american music – from Charlie Parker, to Miles Davis, to Prince.. started in the blues! the most formulaic of vernacular music. Seth Godin explains it: ” who is this for?”
The human brain has to have handles: for many middlebrow projects, especially. What bin does this go in? It may very well be poetic sci-fi folk opera.. but it’ll go better if you explain it as “alternative pop”
After years of causing trouble, it finally dawned on me that we are not trying to build a business here – we’re hoping to garner enough attention/mindshare that maybe we don’t ever have to talk with clients ever again. The state school kids like me see this a tremendous opportunity to build a career- the 100k ish in equity is a meaningful amount. Strangely– the millionaires at the top are more interested in doing things they can brag about to their peer group, than the unsexy work of helping middle class consumers do a new thing for the first time. Apparently you absolutely cannot go to a country club in N. Ca and say you mailed brochures to prospects. Apparently you’ll get more cache by saying you refused to even though hundreds of prospects asked. Maybe the other golfers clapped, or texted emojis in.
I’m told this is normal and inevitable and that I should stop whining— but the project is failing. It’s possible it would always have failed, but its also possible that we’d be closer to not failing by behaving in ways that built trust in the minds of our clients and vendors rather than winking and nodding and saying “I’m sure it will be fine” over and over and leaving a pile of bodies behind the shop of angry consumers (and vendors!) whos hopes we dashed.
After months of this, it starts to look like insecurity to me– this “oh we’re not in a genre, we’re innovators” is a cop out. Refusing to name a genre makes it impossible to classify you in the mind of your prospect. Its not helpful, at all. Maybe you’re afraid of pushback if you name a genre that is out of fashion.