Brian Shaler

Occasionally Interesting

Gravity is for chumps

A Job’s Return on Investment

While I absolutely loved working in the advertising field, where you constantly experiment and create new things for name-brand clients, there was a downside. It’s a cutthroat industry, where all agencies are trying to do at least one project with any major brand so they can have a more impressive portfolio. This leads to super aggressive promises to “get your foot in the door” with a new client. By the time you’re done breaking your back on your first project with a new client, they’re shopping around for the next agency to out-low-ball you.

As a developer, you’re a resource. A cog in the machine. The more work they put on your plate, the later you work and the more you get done. But with all this undercutting going on, you end up working too hard for too little.

It was well worth it for me, at least at first. My life changed once I had completed that project for Mazda & Quiksilver. My portfolio went from having nothing to having a cool looking project for major brands. The difference between 0 and 1 was immeasurable. They could have paid me nothing and it would’ve been worth it to me.

But what’s the difference between having 10 and 11 name-droppable clients in your portfolio? The value of that 11th client, I realized, was miniscule compared to the 1st.

When you’re listing the clients you’ve worked with, people stop paying attention after about 4 names. By the 7th, they start thinking about how pompous you are. By the 9th, they start thinking about how to ditch you.

When I had this realization, I started to think about what I was getting in return for all the hours and and sweat I dumped into my work. That’s when I realized my days in the ad world were numbered.

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