Years ago Peter Mead started an agency, Byfield Mead and partners.
He woke up one morning to find his partners on his doorstep.
They told him not to come into the office that day, he was fired.
Fired from the agency he’d started.
The agency he still owned a third of.
But together the other partners had more shares than him.
So that was that, he was out.
Years later Dave Dye started his own agency.
One day Dave’s partners said they needed a meeting.
They all wanted to sit down and talk over their problems.
They said they hadn’t discussed anything together, but surprisingly it turned out they all had the same problem: Dave.
Well, that was a coincidence.
So Dave Dye had to leave the agency he started.
I was discussing all this over a drink with Dave and Mark Waites.
I told them “Paul Arden used to say “All the best people have been fired at least once”.
(Paul Arden himself had been fired at least twice before he became ECD of Saatchi.)
Mark Waites said “Well I’ve had seven jobs and been fired from five of them”.
That surprised me, Mark is ECD of Mother.
I wondered why he wasn’t so shy about being fired as most people.
Then I found out: Mark worked in New York for five years.
In England people are ashamed of being fired, they take it as rejection, a sign they’re not good enough.
In New York it’s almost the opposite.
Being fired just means you were too hot for that boss, that guy just couldn’t handle you.
The analogy is similar to a divorce.
About fifty years ago in England, it was an embarrassing thing for a woman to be divorced.
It meant she’d failed, she couldn’t hold her marriage together.
A woman would be ashamed of being a divorcee.
But nowadays we don’t think any less of a woman because she’s divorced.
It just means the marriage didn’t work, so they split up.
Being fired is like that.
It means that relationship didn’t work, for whatever reason.
As with most things, it will take us awhile to catch up with America.
One of my heroes was Lee Iacocca.
He was CEO at Ford, he was responsible for creating the Ford Mustang.
Then he fell out with Henry Ford II and was fired.
So he got a job as CEO of Chrysler and turned that company around.
He became a hero: writing books, giving speeches, advising Presidents.
One of the things he always put first on his CV was that he’d been fired by Henry Ford II, he was proud of it.
It didn’t make Lee Iacocca look bad, it made Henry Ford II look bad.
For making a bad decision in getting rid of a great businessman.
For divorcing a great person.
Because that’s all it is: a divorce.
Someone wants out, someone wants to end the relationship, fair enough, but it doesn’t make them right and the other person wrong.
Anymore than being fired does.
You’re not wrong, it was the relationship that was wrong.