This is part II of a two part-er. Part I is below.
After that night of tears and accepting this reality I knew what I had to do. In Montpelier a short time, I hadn’t yet lost that vitality and focus that we gain from living in New York City. My plan of action? During the evening shifts at the inn update my resume, research New York City opportunities on the internet and fire off emails applying for promising jobs. I did this nearly every night for two weeks and it paid off with four interviews. A few weeks later I took the train to the city and arranged to stay with a friend for while I interviewed. The interviews were mostly in the graphics and printing industry, something I knew very well with many years of experience. The one I hoped would pan out was with an advertising agency.
For the advertising agency interview I sat down with the creative director, Terry. Not quite fitting the image of what I thought a New York City ad agency director would be, with a gentle demeanor thanks in part to his balding light red hair and pudding pudgy skin he was easy to talk with. Right off the bat we hit it off. He asked where I was from and immediately started asking me about the Minneapolis music scene, which was unexpected. I came of age in the Minnesota music scene, initially punk and then other genres so it was easy to talk about. It turned out Terry was from Boston and played guitar for local punk bands back in the day. We did some band name dropping and turns out he knew of my brother’s band “Outcry.”
I was a shoe in for the position. In fact, at the start of the interview he even said, “You don’t have the exact qualifications we are looking, but we wanted to expand our requirements and see who would apply.” Now I can’t give you the exact definition of ironic, but I can tell you that back in my punk rock days I was railing against corporate America and now here I am about to work for a corporate advertising agency that caters to corporate America. I sold out to the “Man.”
The first few months were trial by fire as I learned the ropes of the production manager job and how to navigate and play the corporate game of politics. First lesson learned, pass the buck by utilizing the power of one’s title. I was the lowest and the buck passed to me—often. This was an eye opener and something that was not done in the smaller to medium sized companies I had previously worked for. While I figured this was the corporate form of dues paying, I didn’t mind. Besides, the money, benefits and perks working for a NYC advertising agency was nothing I had ever experienced. This made it easier to swallow—for a while. It was after a few months that things really got real as the sheen of the new position began to wear off. While there were many eye-opening experiences there is one that stood out.
Called in to a meeting at the last minute, with notebook and pen in hand I was asked to sit on the outskirts of the conference table. The inner circle was reserved for big wigs. Waiting for the heavy hitters to arrive, not knowing anyone I sat in silence taking it all in. Thinking this would be a small meeting, it turned out it was not. With a full house of an estimated 25 people plus more calling in on conference call it began. With no agenda in hand I had know idea what this meeting would be about. It didn’t take long to figure out. With everything in place the leader, whom I didn’t know but assumed had a managerial sort of title near the top of the heap, started off by explaining the situation.
The gist, a major corporate client was having problems with our creative work and other issues and was thinking of abandoning ship to go with another ad agency. This would result in the loss of significant amount of revenue. With the agency being publicly traded the fallout would be catastrophic. So for the next four hours people from various departments within the agency spoke their mind, playing the game and posturing by laying blame and yet not offering up any sort of solution. Nobody, and I mean nobody wanted to fess up. About halfway into the four hour meeting it became painfully obvious that nobody had a clue what they were doing and were simply improvising. That is not calling on any sort of foundation in which to work together. By speaking their own mind and not willing to work as one entity it simply became a game of winning and losing. “This is not wise,” I thought to myself. By the end of the meeting the seeds of disillusionment were firmly planted.
As the next few years passed I moved up that corporate ladder becoming even more proficient at playing the game and passing the buck thanks to the various prestigious titles. But eventually the seeds planted that day in the meeting came to fruition—I had enough. I realized that corporations only care about their own well-being because it’s a collection of egos devoid of spirit. I had become one of those in the collection and it didn’t suit me.
After a total five soul-sucking years, I voluntarily asked to be laid off after the internet bubble burst at the turn of the 21st century. Packing my things and walking out the door that day I made a pledge never to work and minimize my support for corporations and only patronizing small businesses whenever possible. The by-product of this internal choice has been the ability to see the lack of wisdom in corporations, governments and many other institutions. If you think these institutions are operating in your best interest you are mistaken—In fact, delusional.
This two part series started to in one direction and ended up really being about what the future holds for our world. If you really want to gain insight into the reality of what our world may look like in the future, take the time peruse this website. And if you want to invest a little more time, download and read the PDF book titled “Choosing Earth,” at the bottom of this post.
It’s imperative and time to make changes. And part of that includes acknowledging the reality that corporations and governments are not working in our best interest—yet. Not in some conspiratorial manner, rather they are lacking in wisdom. Wisdom includes a vision for the future, a working together not in a win-lose manner looking out for one’s own small-minded interest.
Wisdom includes a spirit of kindness, love, and giving knowing that the decisions made are for the betterment of society and the world. And sometimes that even means sacrificing one’s own comfortable, soul-sucking situation for the better.
This is not unlike what I did by giving up the money, title and benefits of working for that corporate ad agency. In the end, life has become something far better and beyond what I could have envisioned at the time. And I have learned that wisdom is about talking to others before making decisions. Unlike the decision I made on my own to move to Vermont, which started this journey.
If you would like, read the PDF version of the book “Choosing Earth,” which you can download it below.