Agencies, Insecurity and Australia Envy

The world of agencies is an insecure one.  Industry pubs talk about new ideas and campaigns, and for every one there is a team of people wishing they came up with it.  Many creative agency talent are a client loss away from looking for their next job, and they know it.  To be in this world is to be bombarded with the best work from everyone else, and a continual insecurity about whether your work is good enough to make the cut.  While I worked in Australia, I experienced firsthand the enormous sense of pride that came from consistently winning industry awards, global awards, and most importantly … internal network awards.  Leo Burnett in Sydney typically stole the show from every other Leo Burnett office when it came to award winning work.  At Ogilvy, we have the same phenomenon — our Australian affiliates and offices have won the vast majority of internal awards for the past two years running.

And while we watch our Aussie colleagues succeed, the legends of Australian culture filter over to the US.  They work fewer hours, have better weather than most of our cities, seem to have the ever elusive work-life balance "sorted" (as they say down under) – and are still kicking our collective asses when it comes to creativity and successful campaigns.  This is not an Ogilvy thing – this is an industry thing … we all have Australia envy.  And maybe we should.  But the nicest thing is that even with such great opportunites, the Aussies would never rub their success in anyone’s face.  They leave that to other cultures, which I realized when watching a documentary on Australian winemakers.  In it, they asked a French winemaker to compare an award winning Australian wine to his own.  He spit it out, stating he would "never drink that."  Then they asked a famous Aussie winemaker.  He tried both, and stated simply – "the French one’s alright – but I reckon the Aussie one’s better."  The lesson: it’s ok to accept that others do great work – it doesn’t make our work is less valuable.  Sometimes it’s just the insecurity that holds us back. 

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