I met with a guy yesterday morning who is a lot like what I would like to be. He’s not who I would like to be; because I quite enjoy being me and – like it or not – me is who I am and there’s no changing that.
He is also how I would like to be, though, which is: nice, unassuming, intelligent, encouraging, wise and very, very perceptive.
He’s a creative director, which means he is creative, but he is also a director. He knows what he wants to see and how he’d like to see it. How he should feel and react. And why.
I showed him some ads and posters and stories that I’d written in hopes that he would swoon and lift my arm in the air triumphantly singing: This is him! He is the one! This is the guy for whom I’ve been searching… the storyteller to whom all storytellers shall bow from this day forth. I then pictured him turning to me with tears in his eyes and pleading for me to “name your price, oh master of words…”
That’s not exactly what happened, though.
This guy – the guy who is a lot like what I want to be – put down the papers, removed his glasses, and then asked me to talk about what he’d just seen and read and cast aside almost as quickly as the he had the crumpled napkin that now held his saliva’ed chewing gum.
“Um,” I said in response. “What do you mean, ‘talk about it’? You mean what was my inspiration?”
“No.” He said. “I don’t really care about your inspiration. You were inspired because the client needed you to be, right? What I would like to know is why you included this stuff in your portfolio… What made you put an ad about ice cream in here? What’s the collateral piece about the online music community doing in here?”
“Um,” I said. “Well, I put the ice cream ad in there because it represents my snarky side… It’s clever and witty and seems to have been well-received by the client.”
“Yeah, but have you seen what Goody Silverstein did with Haagen Daz? It made me want to eat ice cream! In fact, I want some right now just thinking about those ads.”
“Um,” I said in response.
“Look, Billy, you are wildly talented (yep, this guy said I am wildly talented. This guy who has won more Gold Pencils than I have orifices in my body, said I’m a great writer), and it’s clear to me that you can write better than most ‘writers’ can write, but you need to make me want to eat ice cream. I need to not only be interested in your online music community… I need to be logging on there now from my iPhone!”
“Um,” I said in response.
So, anyway, the rest of the meeting was fine. Like I said, this guy who is a lot like what I want to be is very nice, unassuming, intelligent, encouraging, wise and very, very perceptive. We had a great discussion about what writers do, how they do it… and why. We talked about the ad industry and family and travel and fraternities and breakfast pastries.
There was no celebratory arm raising or tears or offers of income. But there was a smile, a handshake and a business card exchange. There was the promise of more meetings and the hope for opportunities to come.
More than all that, though, was my chance to sit down with a guy who is a lot like what I want to be… and how I would like to be. And why.
I’m gonna go get some ice cream.