Magazine article Marketing

How to Become a Nicer, Calmer Person

Magazine article Marketing

How to Become a Nicer, Calmer Person

Article excerpt

Will Harris sets out three simple ways in which marketers can boost their professional life - and make the most of their valuable time.

I've always found the trouble with self-help books is that the advice is often well-meaning, but utterly impractical.

Being told to 'be more strategic', when you are staring down the barrel of a hairy-arsed retailer demanding starbursts all over his advertising, can be challenging, to say the least. Similarly, it's one thing to suggest you 'run three times a week building up to a full five runs a week before your first marathon'... it's something else to fit that into your life. Chances are that you, like me, will end up staggering across the finish line with burning lungs and wobbly legs, promising yourself that you will never drink again, let alone run again.

So, this January let me offer up three simple things for 2015 that we all can do, and from which all of life's riches flow.

Number one came to me in the first week of December when I had a new experience, just as I was finally lulled into a false sense that I had seen everything in the workplace.

After all, I've seen a copywriter come out from behind the two-way mirror of a viewing studio and launch a tirade at a respondent who dared mock his beer campaign in research groups.

I've broken up a fistfight between a client and a creative (I was the account exec) and another one between a commercials director and a creative director on a shoot (I was the client).

In agency life, I've been dragged from bars to strip-bars and beyond in most continents of the world, and rescued clients from situations they would not want to be in (or their wives wouldn't want them in). There's nothing especially odd about this, in my view. It's just what happens when you work in this industry for long enough.

In early December, however, I had my first experience with a client who appeared to be a fully signed-up psychopath. I know psychopath is an overused word these days, but I use it in the context of a man who spent 20 minutes shouting at three of us, sneering, insulting, swearing and cursing like someone from a B-movie. It was horrific.

It made me realise how difficult it is to know how to deal with someone who defiantly refuses to obey the conventions of society.

It happened to me again last week; standing in the queue that forms most mornings for Boris Bikes at Waterloo station, a man came and joined it at the front. He ignored the 10 guys already lined up, shivering in the cold (I say ignored, rather than overlooked, because we were all wearing bright yellow jackets with flashing lights on) and stood there, impassive, against the rather British stares and clearing of throats.

You have to go a long way to find a more unflappable bunch than London Boris Bikers, but we were all at a loss as to how to deal with such a flagrant breach of etiquette. He, meanwhile, was unmoved by his faux pas.

So, too, with our psychopathic (now ex-) client. Politely I continued sparring with him, playing along and trying to reason rather than rant Oddly it was only when he shouted 'Fuck you, Will Harris!' that I felt a line had been crossed, and I threw him (and his account) out.

So my first suggestion for progression this year is a plea for politeness. …

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