Monday, April 4, 2011

For What It's Worth 29

As I begin this issue’s editorial the world is in a huge mess, not only have we had mini-revolutions in the Middle East, the country of Japan is facing its worst crisis since World War II. Pick up the paper, log onto your favorite news source and there is little good news, even the celebrity news is mostly all bad. We see improved unemployment statistics but we know full well that people have just stopped looking for work. We see state governments struggling to keep operating and to keep from raising taxes but who knows where the cuts are going to come from and who will suffer next. It’s not any different if you’re running a state, a country, a business or a household. You can’t spend more money than you take in, and yet while we consumers tighten our belts we have little hope the government will or even can. How do we cope in the face of bad news?

The best advice I ever received was on the day I started my advertising agency in Houston. Our attorney who was drawing up the incorporation papers said to us: Don’t worry about anything other than the job at hand. Concentrate on the project you’re working on because if you worry about problems in the business you’ll become paralysed and your business will likely fail. Very good advice indeed, hard to do, but necessary. That’s not to say that we can avoid making business decisions, or that we should stick our head in the sand to avoid unpleasant circumstances. We just need to keep everything in balance.
This is the time of year I spend a lot of time worrying about our shows. Will people enter? How many entries will we get? Will the quality of work be good? I’m not alone with this concern, speak with any competition coordinator and we’re all overly-concerned because show fees make up the bulk of our annual income. Even though intuitively we all know everyone waits until the last minute to enter, it makes for many sleepless nights until the final entry is logged in. Inevitably, as each year proves, it always turns out fine.

How will the year go, how many projects will you have, how many sales will you make, are you on track with last year—or behind? Worrying about these possibilities zaps your creativity and can prevent you from getting today’s assignment done. Bear down on the task at hand. Be creative. There’s a Daniel Burnham quote that seems apropos: “Make no little plans; they have no magic to stir men’s blood and probably themselves will not be realized. Make big plans; aim high in hope and work, remembering that noble, logical diagram once recorded will never die, but long after we are gone will be a living thing, asserting itself with every-growing insistency. Remember that our sons and grandsons are going to do things that would stagger us. Let your watchword be order and your beacon beauty.” Amen.

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