October 21, 2009

People Who Are Talented

There is a lovely and comforting school of thought that says each of us is exceptional at something.

I may be a good dancer, and you are good at making money. Jack over there is good at basketball, and Susie is a great cook. We each have a high degree of talent at something and the trick is to find what that something is.

I have found this to be an innocent and sometimes infantile point of view.

It has been my experience that Uncle God is extraordinarily unfair in his gift-giving.

On Christmas morning, some of us get a roomful of beautifully wrapped packages and some of us get a big bag of shit.

It is very unusual to find someone who is exceptional at something who isn't also very good at other things. It is also frequently the case that people we think of as mediocre are mediocre in many annoying ways.

Of course, there are instances of math whizzes who can't figure out how to brush their teeth. However, in general I have found that "talent" is not necessarily category-specific and is often applicable over a range of endeavors -- some of which are related, some of which are not.

Musicians tend to be funny. Funny people tend to be intelligent. Good basketball players tend to be good at baseball. Really smart people tend to be good at lots of things.

Now, you are thinking, what in the world does this have to do with advertising?

There is a school of thought that good creative agencies tend to be not so good at business strategy. Or media strategy. Or any of the more "business-like" aspects of marketing. Once again, I have found the opposite to be true. Agencies that produce good creative work also tend to be good at all aspects of the business. Those that are mediocre, tend to be mediocre across the board.

This also is true of individuals within agencies. The best creative people also tend to have very good business instincts and a highly evolved understanding of strategy. They are often better at sales than most account people.

Talented people tend to be talented in lots of ways. It ain't fair, but it's true.

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