What Have I Done?

From time to time, I flirt with re-entering the land of the gainfully employed. The idea of a regular paycheck and benefits and paid vacation and a creative culture and daily interaction with people I respect . . . well, sometimes these concepts have shiny appeal.

I recently entertained such a flirtation. The role was for a “Director/Creative Director” at an ad agency. They were looking for someone who could make magic out of their clients’ smaller budget projects without having to turn to an outside production company.

It was a role made for me . . . all my advertising experience, combined with my directing experience from the last six years, molded into one position.

By the way, this agency was easily on my top five list. They made work that consistently showed up in all the annuals. And somehow, they even had a reputation for creating a culture of work/life balance.

I applied, and they responded. My interview couldn’t have gone any better. I asked the right questions, and answered theirs with honesty and excitement.

They called me in for a second interview, where I was to meet all the department heads and have lunch with the principles. Which was when I consciously confronted the excitement I was feeling with some hard questions:

Is this position representative of who I want to be, or is it more about who I once was? 

Am I prepared to put all the plans I have for Fighting Monk and Lemonade: Detroit on hold indefinitely? 

I sought the council of people on both sides. People who I knew would tell me, “This is the opportunity of a lifetime. Go get it.” As well as people who would say, “Your gifts should not be confined solely to advertising.”

Ultimately, I consulted myself. I sat down in silence and meditated. And what came to me were all the times over the past five and a half years that I have felt in flow. Moments during filming “Lemonade” and “Lemonade: Detroit” and “365 Days: A Year in Happy Valley” when I felt that this was where I was meant to be. I was creating. I was making work that mattered. And I was doing it for something beyond myself.

So I called the head of HR and explained that I would not be pursuing their amazing opportunity any further. That I was too far along in building my own business. And it was the toughest decision I had ever had to make in my career.

Now it’s up to me to make this a choice I won’t regret.

Today, I Am A Creative Director

And my partner and I are running a big piece of business at a big agency in a big city.



Perhaps I’ll be a creative director again. Or maybe I’ll direct a commercial. Or take a few days off to be with my family. Or perhaps dive into the next iteration of Lemonade: Detroit.

That’s both the joy and the terror of freelancing. Every day is different. Some months are financially solid while others teeter on ruin. Some days are creatively liberating while others choke you out. It’s the rhythm and flow of human experience, as seen through the prism of independent contracting.

But today, I am a creative director. It’s Thanksgiving Eve. And I am happy.


Always In the Nick of Time

I just accepted a month-long freelance creative director gig. It was a big relief.

You see, I haven’t had any paid work in over a month now. And that means nails that are bitten down to the nubs.

In addition to this project, I’ve been waiting on the green light for a pretty significant directing opportunity. One that, as my producer says, will “make my year.” But that green light has been right around the corner for a long time now and hasn’t materialized.

So I took the gig, which means lots of travel between Austin and New York, lots of time away from my kids, and some stalled momentum on projects that are more of the soul-filling variety and less about the bank account.

Yin and Yang.

I am so thankful for this work. I am so thankful that I am good at making ads. And that I have 15 years of creative experience to fall back on.

My first priority will always be to feed and clothe and provide comfortable shelter to my two beautiful children.


“To Use My Powers for Good AND Provide for My Family”

I’ve ignored this site for well over a year now. In fact, about 7 months ago, my registration lapsed, someone else bought it and I didn’t even know.

That’s how long it had been.

What has hindered me from posting again? Well, clarity. Or a lack thereof. Back when Please Feed The Animals was the “blog for the recently unemployed advertising professional,” it was singular and focused. The mission was to help people in the ad industry get back on their feet once they lost their jobs. But then advertising started hiring people back. My career evolved. And what to do with PFTA got lost in the shuffle.

If I step back from the idea of blogging specifically for ad folks, and really, about making a film for and about them, the whole point for me is really about discovery. It’s about uncovering who you are once you turn off the ego and the fear-driven (but very real) self chatter about money, and seeing what’s left. It isn’t just a matter of saying, “I’m going to turn off my ego brain now!” It takes constant questioning and evaluating, trial and error, experimentation and failure. It takes living with uncertainty and the nearly perpetual ability to self-forgive.

Last week, I gained some clarity in a brief but important email exchange with my friend C.C. Chapman. He said to me, “I have to believe in my heart that I can use my powers for good AND provide for my family.” And that is what it all comes down to for me. Being creative. Operating from my soul instead of sheerly from my ego. All while providing guidance and food and education and a comfortable home for my children.

I’m not saying I have the direction for Please Feed The Animals completely crystalized just yet. Clearly, from the lack of a logo or design or any kind of positioning statement, I’m still a ways away. But what feels right right now are some occasional ramblings about being a provider while living and working authentically.

Who knows where it will go. But again, I begin.