A German football coach was asked why he thought the German team was so good.
He said “Let me put it this way: an English player is playing in the semi-final.
He gets a yellow card, which means he won’t be playing in the final.
He cries, he can hardly play for grief, so England lose.
Now imagine a German player is playing in the semi-final.
He gets a yellow card which means he won’t be able to play in the final.
He plays his absolute best to make sure Germany win and make it to the final.
One player puts himself first, the other player puts his team first.”
Obviously the first example he uses is Paul Gascoigne.
In 1990 England were in the World Cup semi-final against Germany.
Gascoigne was England’s best player.
But he got a yellow card for a foul.
Which meant he wouldn’t be able to play in the final.
He cried his eyes out, barely able to play, and England lost.
Gascoigne was thinking about himself not the team.
The second example is a German player.
The German coach obviously thinks that’s only true of German players.
But I remember a player like that on an English team.
Roy Keane in the European Cup semi final.
Manchester United were two-nil down against Juventus.
Keane got a yellow card that meant he couldn’t play in the final.
He didn’t break down and cry.
He scored the first of Manchester United’s goals.
Alex Ferguson said “It was the most emphatic display of selflessness I have seen on a football field. Pounding over every blade of grass, competing as if he would rather die of exhaustion than lose, he inspired all around him. I felt it was an honour to be associated with such a player.”
And what was the result of his selflessness?
Manchester United beat Juventus, three – two.
They played Bayern Munich in the final, and they won, two – one.
They won the European Cup final without Roy Keane.
But that meant they would play in the World Cup-Winners’ Cup final.
That was a game Roy Keane could play in.
And in Tokyo he scored the only goal against Palmeiras of Brazil.
Making Manchester United the best in the world.
The only time a team from the UK had ever won the trophy.
Because of selflessness, because Roy Keane thought of the team first.
The best teams are like that.
In my experience the best agencies are like that, too.
Everyone wants their agency to win, to be the best agency in town.
But that isn’t true at a lot of agencies.
At a lot of agencies, each team is competing, against each other.
Scrabbling to look the best in the creative director’s eyes.
I always thought this was a spectacularly short-sighted view.
There’s a big world out there full of lots of good jobs.
If you make your agency the best then you will be worth more.
Even if it means helping other teams do good work.
ECDs would rather hire someone from a really good agency.
Just like football players.
When you come from a good team you’re worth more.
So when your team wins, you win