Long Hours Are Not A Badge Of Honour

Adland bangs on about the virtues of working stupidly long hours as if it were a badge of honour.

I have noticed that all agencies now seem to do this.

They talk about work/life balance then the senior team work a 14-hour day.

Rationally, they know it won’t produce their £1,000-an-hour work but a lot of £10-an-hour work. But they still do it.

From way back in 2012, this article A Short Lesson in Perspective is awesome. (I was reminded of it on a blog from James Whatley.) It articulates the issue way better than I can.

Here is the nub of the debate:

‘It turns out I didn’t actually like my old life nearly as much as I thought I did. I know this now because I occasionally catch up with my old colleagues and work-mates. They fall over each other to enthusiastically show me the latest project they’re working on. Ask my opinion. Proudly show off their technical prowess (which is not inconsiderable.) I find myself glazing over but politely listen as they brag about who’s had the least sleep and the most takeaway food. “I haven’t seen my wife since January, I can’t feel my legs anymore and I think I have scurvy but another three weeks and we’ll be done. It’s got to be done by then. The client’s going on holiday. What do I think?”

‘What do I think?

‘I think you’re all fucking mad. Deranged. So disengaged from reality it’s not even funny. It’s a fucking TV commercial. Nobody gives a shit.’

He goes on to describe a scam that exists even in the most digital of agencies. Created by… our deranged imaginations?

  1. The creative industry operates largely by holding ‘creative’ people ransom to their own self-image, precarious sense of self-worth, and fragile – if occasionally out of control – ego. 
  2. Truly creative people tend not to be motivated by money. 
  3. The compulsion to create is unstoppable.

Just apply this to you and your agency – replace the word creative with PPC or SEO or whatever…

But my point, in conclusion, is actually from the Linds Redding article –

‘So was it worth it?

‘Well of course not. It turns out it was just advertising. There was no higher calling. No ultimate prize. Just a lot of faded, yellowing newsprint, and old video cassettes in an obsolete format I can’t even play any more even if I was interested. Oh yes, and a lot of framed certificates and little gold statuettes. A shit-load of empty Prozac boxes, wine bottles, a lot of grey hair and a tumor of indeterminate dimensions.’

Please don’t delude yourself.