A post from Ethan Messier …
I had no idea what to expect when I made a career transition from accounting to advertising. Scratch that, I knew it was going to be awesome. The advertising industry always felt like a bustling hub of awesomeness, drenched in awesome sauce. In the accounting industry, I just felt like a hub being bustled.
To document my transition, I decided to take copious notes every day, tracking not just my day-to-day responsibilities, but the experiences I had – much like Captain Kirk’s “Captain’s Log,” or a 13-year-old girl’s diary.
So with that, I present: “Dear Diary,” my series of posts logging my daily, weekly, monthly, yearly and lifetime excursion into the world of advertising.
The following blog is highlighted with actual notes from my daily “diary,” which are in italics.
Dear Diary (A self-titled project by Ethan Messier),
I love this place already; they all bring their dogs to work. (One mailman is afraid of dogs, so make sure you meet him outside to avoid his untimely demise by licking and tail-wagging.) The culture is very relaxed (4:52PM is the absolute earliest employees can have an adult beverage at work) and almost has a personality of its own (curious, persistent, savvy, nimble, that of rebellious monks) that feeds off the personality of its employees (like a Sarlacc pit from Star Wars Episode VI, and my nightmares).
The longer I’m here, the more I notice there’s a difference between the way I work (invoicing folders have to be maintained accurately, or NOT AT ALL, but preferably maintained accurately) and the way our creative team works (sometimes employees will leave “helpful” notes instead of a receipt, because we all know receipts don’t tell a very interesting story). After all, I’m still an accountant. (Ethan’s deliverables: contract and revenue projections, aka, money, money, money, moooooney!) It’s a given there will be a disconnect between two industry mindsets, with ideas being lost in translation (OBE = Overcome By Events ≠ Overly Bad Energy), but this feels more like a difference in style than substance.
I’ve been working at R+M long enough to start learning the ropes, (Peppers Restaurant – the best Reuben in town), and I’m beginning to see a pattern (we need AA batteries, we need AA batteries, we need AA batteries …). It’s not the processes (foot + cross-foot, tick-mark, reconcile, rah rah rah) or goals (Ethan’s personal objectives: things that are just outside my reach, like the candy bowl or cold fusion), but the environment that makes all the difference.
My fellow employees’ offices are tidy, to their own standards (I have yet to figure out how to dust LEGOs), but I find myself following after everyone, cleaning up spaces, neatening stacks, re-organizing chairs, pens and pencils, tacks, candy, etc.
I can’t help myself. I’m often accused of creating “organized fun” on office outings. It came to a head one day when, in an attempt to remove a few pencils on their last legs from a communal pencil cup, I was given a dressing down by one of our creatives (“This pencil still contains art!”).
While at first this confused me, and made me want to stage an all out war on messy, it began to dawn on me that they often need their space, and their pencils (it has to be a Black Warrior, and it has to be sharp), that way to feed their creativity in the same way my order and neatness fed my analytical … ityness.
Strangely enough, even science supports this:
In September, the New York Times published findings from two studies conducted by Kathleen Vohs, professor of marketing at the Carlson School of Management at the University of Minnesota (Yaaaaaaawn).
In both studies, Vohs found that participants were more likely to choose novelty in a messy space and conventionality in a tidy space and, more importantly, participants were inspired with more creative ideas in a messy space and less creative ideas in a tidy space.
As an accountant, I shy away from creativity (ba-dum-psh), and strive for conventionality (the AICPA and the IRS have a real friendly way of encouraging this). But as part of a creative team, novelty and creativity are the benchmark of a great idea.
We are one brain with two parts, I need the order to do my work and they need every idea a pencil can afford to do theirs.
Ahhh, I love to watch people grow when they are forced out of their norm. But what’s even more fun to watch, is when we uncover the brilliance that already lies beneath. I wouldn’t accuse you of being an organized fun-ster, but rather a fun-ster posing as an organizer.
It IS the environment that makes all the difference …
– Like the “slow-clap tradition” that has now become a fixture of our culture
– The comedy of chair straightening that makes us all giggle behind your back
– The elephant call that makes Lauren screech, and the rest of us chuckle.
Guess what? You’ve become a fixture of creativity in our environment. You’re one of us now.
Your blog post is evidence that truly creative people find creativity in everything. Whether that’s a seasoned Black Warrior or an accountant who wants to dust off his LEGOs. You both contain art!