Yes, it’s a Nike commercial. Yes, they gave this guy a whack of dough.
But it’s fun and I love the quotes.
It’s Friday and it’s raining and I’m sitting at the cafe next door thinking about Terence Jou.
He’s the account guy who had a revelation on a Friday and quit to travel the world on the Monday.
What’s he doing now?
Then I see it on Facebook. From somewhere in Taipei Terence posts about season 4 of Real Housewives of New Jersey.
What happened and what did it take to just quit and travel?
It might look impulsive to those who found out when he resigned, but his U-Turn didn’t happen over night. Like most great, scary, life-changing thoughts, the idea took time to break through all the excuses. After two years contemplating it:
“I was tired of what I was doing and we hadn’t even reached Blue Monday, the third Monday of January where depression reigns over the population (look it up on Wikipedia). It was a combination of all aspects of my job – tough feedback from some people I work with, the monotonous nature of what account management work is all about and a general sense of “Why am I working so hard? What am I really accomplishing?” resulted in a full stress-related hive breakout on my hands. So I said enough. Stop complaining about it and do something about it.”
After that particularly terrible week, something uncorked the pressure built up after years of not listening to himself and his body rebelled like it was allergic to the business. His hands swelled up like giant Pillsbury mitts. He did some deep soul searching and resigned on the Monday.
I asked what his thoughts were that weekend.
“What was going through my head was answering some really tough questions about what I wanted out of my life including:
With that, I had no other excuses.”
Realizing he’d regret it if he didn’t take the risk, the rest seemed relatively easy. The way he looks at it:
“I’ve always been a happy person and I like to laugh a lot, but over the past five years, I’ve realized I’m growing to be an increasingly negative and pessimistic individual. Being in advertising does change you, so I’m turning my bike around and trying to adjust my course back to the happy optimistic Terence that once existed in childhood.”
So he kicked things off in Costa Rica at a wedding, stocked up on socializing, and on the 23rd anniversary of immigrating to Canada, he packed his possessions into a couple bags and went back to Taipei to start his adventure with a visit to his family.
In just a few short weeks, he’s come a long way.
Always the social butterfly, Terence is exploring way out of his comfort zone using his basic Mandarin to get around town and strike up conversations with strangers. I can only imagine him trying his ad agency-honed wit on the locals.
“One thing I have to learn is patience. I cannot possibly build a social network that I enjoyed back home in an instant here on the other side of the world. It’s hard to make friends in a strange city, but again, it’s all about asking, trying, learning and failing.”
It’s his new motto: Ask, Try, Fail, and Learn. You have to suck at something before you’re good at it. It’s uncomfortable with our addiction to instant gratification.
What keeps him going despite all that?
“What guides me is a belief that there is something else out there for me besides being a paper pusher. I am a talented, educated, thoughtful individual – whatever I put my mind to, I can do.”
I love Terence’s story because before he left, his identity was safely hemmed in by being employed, being an account guy, and having his friends around. He’s recognized what was making him unhappy and decided to travel — not to escape, but to grow.
Well, I’m glad to see he’s growing.
Check out his blog, Terence’s Time Out.
The advertising business is a scam.
Linds Redding has done quite the tour of the industry as a creative. Now with inoperable cancer he’s bowed out of the game at the age of 51 and written a plain and cynical grab-you-by-the-shoulders-and-shake-you-out-of-it article about the perspective he’s gained on working in advertising.
I absolutely love it. There is no better account out there about how I feel about what I was doing.
Is he just a creative dinosaur pissing and moaning about how the digital age and the economy have affected the business?
I’ll bet most ad people get where he’s coming from. Most take it as the nature of the business and get on with it. Even better, there are those who manage to keep this perspective and stay in it and enjoy it. But the rest of us, when the business encourages us to chronically lose sight of our priorities, see less of our kids growing up, postpone vacations, cancel on friends, get cranky with our partners, and run ourselves sick so we get enough clever scripts about chewing gum in front of client before the end of the week, well, there’s no statuette or dollar figure that’ll make that kind of unpaid overtime worth it in the end.
Maybe I’m biased and was destined to turn on my own career. Once, as a toddler, I was left at daycare until it got dark because my account director mom had to stay back and run a research group about Canesten. But I digress.
Every job has people that bitch about it. This is different.
Linds explains it so truthfully and wittily — especially for an art director! – that I’d love to quote the whole thing.
Aside from how he explains how creative people let themselves get conned into the business, this bit in particular stands out when Linds asks himself how he stuck it out:
“I mostly hid my insecurity and fear from everyone but those closest to me, and ran fast enough that I would never be found out. The other thing I did, I now discover, was to convince myself that there was nothing else, absolutely nothing, I would rather be doing. That I had found my true calling in life, and that I was unbelievably lucky to be getting paid – most of the time – for something that I was passionate about, and would probably be doing in some form or other anyway.
It turns out that my training and experience had equipped me perfectly for this epic act of self-deceit. This was my gig. My schtick. Constructing a compelling and convincing argument to buy, from the thinnest of evidence was what we did. “Don’t sell the sausage. Sell the sizzle” as we were taught at ad school.
Countless late nights and weekends, holidays, birthdays, school recitals and anniversary dinners were willingly sacrificed at the altar of some intangible but infinitely worthy higher cause. It would all be worth it in the long run…
This was the con. Convincing myself that there was nowhere I’d rather be was just a coping mechanism. I can see that now. It wasn’t really important. Or of any consequence at all really. How could it be. We were just shifting product. Our product, and the clients. Just meeting the quota. Feeding the beast as I called it on my more cynical days.
So was it worth it?
Well of course not. It turns out it was just advertising. There was no higher calling.”
Read the whole article!
Also, check out Linds’ blog as he battles cancer.