When I got my first job, at BMP, I put some roughs in my book that I’d pinched from New York.
They were done by one of the guys I’d worked with there.
I knew he was never going to come to London.
So I didn’t think it would be a problem.
Anyway, John Webster liked my book and gave me the job.
It all worked out so well that after 6 months John doubled my salary.
We went to the pub, for a drink to celebrate.
I told John about the ads I’d nicked because I thought it would make him laugh.
But it didn’t. he went ballistic.
I said, “Why does it matter, you gave me the raise for the work I’ve done since I’ve been here, not what was in my book?”
But John wouldn’t be placated, he was outraged.
Anyway, despite that, a couple of years later John asked me to hire a junior team and start a group.
I quickly found Gordon Smith was the best of the young art directors.
I showed John his book and he agreed.
Finding a copywriter for him was much tougher.
But eventually, after going through dozens and dozens of books, I found Pat Woodward.
I thought he was good, and he’d just been fired by Royds.
They weren’t a good agency, so this was an endorsement in my book.
But again John didn’t see it that way.
John said, “If Royds don’t want him, we don’t want him.”
So John wouldn’t let me hire Pat.
So I waited a few weeks.
Then one day John said, “Haven’t you found a writer for Gordon yet?”
I said, “Well I liked Pat Woodward, but David Abbott just offered him a job.”
Without missing a beat, John said, “Well offer him more money.”
Now of course, David Abbott hadn’t offered Pat a job.
He hadn’t even seen his book.
But, if you think something’s right, you take responsibility for making the decision happen.
Or you hide behind doing it by the rules.
Because that way you don’t have to take the blame when it goes wrong.
That way you’re safe.
Dull but safe.
Because the freedom to succeed includes the freedom to fail.
So you choose what works for you.
Either the means justifies the end.
Or the end justifies the means.