I was having lunch with Jeremy Sinclair, and we were talking about football.
Jeremy isn’t interested in football himself.
But one of his partners, David Kershaw, is an avid Arsenal fan.
He gets elated when they win, and depressed when they lose.
This fascinated Jeremy, because it made no sense.
Why would anyone care about a bunch of highly paid strangers kicking a ball around?
If they win, you’re actually no better off yourself.
And if they lose, you personally haven’t lost anything.
So why would you care?
It was difficult for me to explain because I don’t actually go to football matches.
I love football, but I’d much rather watch it at home.
The camera is always exactly where the ball is.
There are replays of goals, in slow motion, from different angles.
It’s a short walk to the fridge for another beer.
I much prefer to watch football on TV.
Either at the pub, or with mates, or even at home alone.
Unless it’s a live England or West Ham match.
Then I don’t like to watch because I care too much who wins.
I get upset and stressed, and I can’t enjoy the game.
Afterwards Jeremy said that was the most interesting thing he heard during lunch.
“You can’t enjoy the game if you care too much about the result.”
Jeremy has studied philosophy a lot.
He’d just put his finger on a basic truth about life, advertising, everything.
You can’t enjoy it if you care too much about the result.
That’s the Buddhist doctrine of non-attachment.
If you are attached to things turning out a certain way, you can’t enjoy the ride.
All that matters to you is the result, not the journey.
And yet in life, the journey is all there is.
We already know the result.
And we don’t want it to happen too soon.
So, now we know the result we can give up worrying and enjoy the ride.
“Be here now,” as Buddha would say.
But we don’t do that.
We worry and fret over every little thing.
Did we lose the pitch?
Did Campaign say something bad about us?
Did someone else get credit for our work?
Did someone else get a raise?
Did we get left out of a meeting?
Jerry Della Femina wrote a great book about advertising in New York in the 1960s.
He was a brilliant copywriter who was loving every minute of his life working in advertising.
He was from Brooklyn and most of his friends worked in factories, or shops, or drove cabs for a living.
So to Jerry, advertising was a giant, glamorous toyshop.
40 years ago he described it as, “The most fun you can have with your clothes on.”
One day he met an account man who always seemed to be worried.
This guy was always sweating and nervous.
He was losing his hair, he drank, he smoked, he chewed his nails.
Jerry asked him how come he was always so uptight.
The account man said he’d heard one of his clients just had lunch with another agency.
He also heard another of his clients say they liked the work a different agency was doing.
And another of his clients was seen talking to an account man from another agency.
Jerry said to him, “How can you be so worried, you were a fighter pilot in WW2? You shot down German planes that were trying to kill you. If you weren’t frightened of the Nazis what are you worried about now?”
The guy shouted, “Nazis don’t steal accounts.”
I think that guy lost his sense of perspective.
Whatever happens in advertising can’t be as scary as people trying to kill you 4 miles above Germany.
I’m sure he thought “If I live through this, I’ll treasure every second of my life.”
But then, over time, he forgot it.
And his job in advertising became life-and-death again.
Here’s what I think.
Everyone who went to university wants to work in advertising.
Everyone in advertising wants to work in the creative department.
We’re already in a great place.
Sometimes we forget to enjoy it.