A job that’s forever not just for life

This week, anyone who’s anyone in advertising has been basking in sunny Cannes at the International Advertising Festival.

As no one knows what advertising is anymore, which is not great advertising for advertising, the Festival is now called the International Festival of Creativity.

Take it from me, as I’ve been there done that, this is a very expensive occasion which may or may not be appropriate in these austere times. 

More positively, these awards will transform some people’s lives. I love it when a totally-unheard-of person from an totally unexpected country wins a Grand Prix or a Lion d’Or (sic).

Me? I am here in rainy London, where I have been asked to help a handful of graduates decide their career options. Why me?

It surprises me that so many ‘kids’ approach this vital decision on a quantitative level. ‘I took these A Levels and got this degree so I thought I should be an accountant.’

But what are you like? What sort of person are you? Who do you like being with? Are you a hard worker? Do you like to work on your own? Or function best in a team? What tasks do you enjoy? What do you find a bore? What motivates you? What are your hobbies? What books do you love reading? Oh, you don’t?

Once we have discussed these qualitative matters, we are closer to the career choices on offer (or not). Sometimes these kids and their parents are surprised about the range of options available to them – though not many are as special as this.

For me, I made a very early decision that I wanted a career that would pay me money for things I enjoyed doing, not just earning money for its own sake. This little personal insight counted out a lot of alternatives to the advertising choice I am glad I made.

I also liked the idea that some of my work would live forever. Something creative, something tangible, something I could show my family and leave to my kids when my deadline comes. A professional legacy, if you like.

I would have liked to have been Graham Greene. He wrote two sides of A4 before breakfast every morning and spent the rest of his day at leisure. But, as I do not have his talent, and will not earn his royalties, I take pleasure in showing these graduates the work I have done in my career so far. 

No, they don’t always find this as boring as spreadsheets. Even if they do, it gives me a good insight into their personality which is something neither they or their parents seem to have studied.

In the meantime, back in sunny Cannes, some very talented people have been presented with Awards that no one can ever take away from them and may live forever. Each award will define their working lives – and make them some money too.

I think that’s brilliant.

About Hugh Salmon

Business leader. Adman. Writer.
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