Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Smile Like You Mean It (Thoughts on Passion)

Above: England's finest celebrating a goal. Picture via hout7.

This has been sparked by a few conversations I've been having; it's a response of sorts, so bear with me.

As I'm sure I've mentioned on this blog before, I talk a lot. Sometimes, this can be misinterpreted as being a wee bit arrogant, or not listening properly. I wish I could stop talking so much, but it's bloody difficult (and I hope I'm neither arrogant nor a bad listener).

Anyway, I was thinking about this a bit more - why do I talk so much? Why do some people clam up in conversations?

When it comes to the latter, I don't think it's down to a lack of passion, that's for certain - I think it's a comfort issue; how willing you are to open yourself up to people you don't know very well/are intimidated by, for example. Pretty obvious stuff.

But why should I talk so much? Surely a core planning trait is the ability to be stoic and quiet, only interjecting when it's absolutely necessary? Well....I've certainly met planners like that, and that's no bad thing - I wish I possessed as much clarity and brevity as they do, but I think (hope) it'll come in time.

What gives me hope about my chatty nature are bloggers (I'm thinking of a few) that I know like to express an opinion or two. Not the archetypal planning person (certainly not what the IPA would have you believe), if you look below:

Yes, it makes me scratch my head as well. I have a social life, honestly...and I'm not sure I have a 'planet sized brain' either.

The stereotype is frankly bollocks; misappropriating the myth of the planner, which is no more right than propagating the slicker than owl shit suit or the grumpy genius creative. Just wrongheaded.

Anyway, back to the point I was making. Such character assessments are wrong. But what should be important (something I look for in people I meet) is being passionate about what you like, whether it's being an ad bod like myself, or a toy maker or whatever. I enjoy working in advertising, so I write about it. If you are quiet but are desperately passionate about kite-flying or taxidermy, that's also great.

Enjoying your job and being passionate about it, whether being quiet or talkative, is crucial for me. It's why I didn't pursue Law as a career.

Whether or not I talk too much, or fit into a planner stereotype just doesn't matter. Now, whether I care about the work I undertake and what I'm doing does.

A friend of mine once said that 'you can't just be passionate anymore' when speaking about how to get into advertising, and he's right. But it still remains the most important trait. Passion for the business and for effective work should be at the forefront of everyone in the agency. Not just because you want associated fame from getting an ad on the telly (though that is nice).

It's funny, doing a little bit of research into what I like, and what drives me reveals it even more startlingly. My favourite music artists are all ballsy, passionate people who want to create though provoking tunes, whether they be big beats or acoustic, sensitive ballads.

The same is true for writers; I admire John Milton and George Orwell above all because they care, and are deeply, deeply passionate about what they write, and it really resonates with me.

It must be stressed that being passionate without reason is definitely barking up the wrong tree (akin to talking too much without a real point). But the two shouldn't be mutually exclusive in the first place - if you are passionate about something, you'll probably know a lot about it, or want to learn, which is the most important thing.

And yes - passion can overspill into what appears to be arrogance or anger. But I don't think it's either - it's wanting to do a good job, wanting to make the work the best it can be and above all, caring about things.

NB: Though I'm no Man United fan (God no), I love watching Wayne Rooney play football. Someone who cares so much and wants to win, coupled with that amount of skill, is a joy to watch. I only wish Mamady Sidibe was like that.

I'm also planning to do another Cucumber Sandwiches Podcast, this time featuring some of my favourite passionate tunes.


Rob @ Cynic said...

Planning is not about being an intellectual giant ... sure brains are vital ... but only if it has come from listening, questioning investigating, viewing and collaberating and by christ we should throw in some entrepenurship as well because otherwise we end up planning through the rear-view-mirror which means we end up doing nothing that moves us, society and clients forward.

Rob Mortimer said...

Great post.

I often have to pause because my brain is thinking of 27 things at a time, and if I dont pause I can sometimes unintentionally interrupt people.

Everyone is different. If every planner was quiet and intropective you would end up with repetitive ideas.

Brains are useful. But, to reference a post by Gemma (Almost always thinking). The clever chemist that invented a not very sticky glue was good. But the (probably less 'brainy') person who understood that the glue could be useful attached to small yellow squares of paper made the actual difference to the world.

Michael Barrett said...

That IPA video was horrendous - for the first time ever I'm ashamed of being a planner... (and not just because I don't have a planet sized brain). It's also astonishingly arogant - so planners are the only brainy people in an agency? Grrrrr...

neilperkin said...

I agree with you Will. What good is intelligence if you don't have the passion to apply it to something...?

FishNChimps said...

I guess if you're getting good responses from the people you're talking to, then you shouldn't worry greatly about whether you're talking too much. As long as you're thinking about what you're saying first.
I have a different problem: worrying about not saying enough. It's the Dennis Thatcher Syndrome of keeping my mouth shut and being thought a fool rather than opening it and removing all doubt.
Whichever end of the scale you're from, it's the listening, thinking and the actions that come from this that count.

Doug said...

excellent post Will. passion is lacking from far too many people in the industry and I for one think it's a problem.

most clients love passionate planners (and anyone else for that matter) and ultimately they're the ones that count I guess.

it's our job to have an opinion, and if you can't be passionate about it, I find it hard to believe that anyone else will either.

like I said, great post mate.

PS. you're in campaign again this week (along with me and mortimer -it's a blogger love-in!)

lauren said...

will, this is a good post and surely, apart from being a good planner, having passion is important to being a vital human being (which in turn helps in being a half-decent planner, at least). would you really want to be the kind of person that just drifts through, passing the time?

campaign tart..

proxikid said...

interesting blog, Will.
you write the way you talk, which is funny (in a good way).
I hope to see you at the next coffee moring.

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