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.

13 responses

  1. NOT an easy thing at all and I’m glad you took the time to really think about it. I know you and I have talked about this many, MANY times.

    Glad to hear you are following your heart and I hope it all works out beyond your wildest dreams.

    See you soon buddy!

  2. Dude– I get it. I’m where you would have been 2-3 years from now. Tired of the day in day out, longing for my flying feathers to grow back after your wings have been clipped. Sure you can survive when your wings are clipped. You’re on other people’s time, resources and schedules. But you chose to fly. Trust me, there are a lot of us down here at ground level that are looking up in the skies with hearts full of hope and wonder of when we will ever fly again. Kudos and Mazel tov!

  3. Man. I honor and respect the crap out if you for this. Incredible. Thank you SO much for sharing. Exactly what I needed today.

  4. How funny I wandered over to your blog today. Today I saw Lemonade out on the shelf among other DVDs and I wondered, “I’d like to see a video of what happened to everyone six years later.” I hope this is representative of everyone.

  5. Just saw Lemonade today, one year after I was let go. A friend forwarded it to me. It definitely improved my outlook on my situation so I wanted to thank you. I, like the post above, would love a follow up regarding those in Lemonade. Thanks again and good luck in the future.

  6. I sometimes watch Lemonade for inspiration. Not because of the layoffs part – but because of the power it unleashed.

    People doing what they really wanted to do – starting new business, and overall being creative.

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