I’m reading a book, about a man who can go back in time. And once there, change the course of the future. I haven’t finished the book, so I don’t know the outcome. Can you can the future? Does he mess up the future? What happens? I don’t know yet.
But it got me thinking:
Looking back on my career, what were the defining moments? What were decisions that, if I made a different choice, would have altered my career?
1) Turning down a job at BBDO. It was the 80’s. BBDO was the hot shot. The Pepsi shop. They were the hardest working agency in NYC at the time. People joked that their initials stood for ‘bring is back and do it over.’ I was working at Saatchi & Saatchi at the time on Nabisco products. BBDO offered me a job working on coffee and soap. It was an Associate Creative Director position. I was already an ACD, and was looking for the next step. I turned it down. Two weeks later we lost all the Nabisco products after the agency ran an anti-smoking TV spot for Northwest Airlines. Ah, Nabisco was own by RJ Reynolds, a tobacco company. My days at Saatchi were numbers. I didn’t know it at the time. But this was the beginning of two years of bad jobs.
2) McCann-Erickson to Ogilvy to Dancer Fitzgerald Sample. I worked at three agencies in three days. I was working at McCann. I had survived through three creative director changes. Didn’t really like CD #3. I was offered a job at Ogilvy to work on TWA. Sounded interesting. I liked Ogilvy. I would work there years later. So I quit my job at McCann on a Friday. Unfortunately, Ogilvy lost the TWA business over the weekend. They called and told me they had no job for me. Opps. Luckily, Dancer Fitzgerald Sample, an agency that I also interviewed, called to offer me a job on the same day. So I resigned a job, lost a job and got a job all within three days. I was lucky. What would have happened if I didn’t get the DFS job?
3) Going Back. I was fired from an agency. Six months later they offered me my job back. I decided not to take it because we could never really come to terms on what were would say, how much I would make, and what the ‘spin’ would be to the press. I wish we could’ve figured that out. I liked that job.
4) Not Standing Up For A Co-Worker. A guy I was working for was going to be let go. The president of the company called me into his office to let me know. I was shocked. If I said ‘you let him go, let me go, too’ probably would have saved his job for a short time. I didn’t. I listened. Was upset. Left the office. When he was fired I felt like I betrayed a friend. I’ve discussed this with him on several occasions when we still get together. He feels nothing would have saved him. I wasn’t my fault. Although I always felt I should have done more.
5) Working in Allentown. Of course, my first work experience was as a newspaper reporter. I did it for only a few weeks. I hated it. But what if I had gotten a job in Philadelphia or New York or Washington, DC? Would I have stayed in the newspaper business longer and not worked in advertising at all? We’ll never know.
There have probably been thousands of decisions that would have changed my career path. Of course, you never know it at the time. Hey, writing this entry could change my career.
But somehow, I doubt it.