Love Train in the Conference Room

This holiday season, I’m finding that no one likes each other.

Almost a year ago, when I was unhappy in my company’s Direct Response department as an Assistant Strategist, I was warned about joining the dark side of Buying. My planners made their case against it: fewer marketable skills, less perceived contribution, by and large worse reputation. Noted. I went for it anyway, because at the end of the day my bias led me to believe that all DR folks were purely and imperviously results-driven, and any nods to branding were lip service.

So I made the jump, while staying in the same company, I went from Direct Response to National Television as a buyer. I’d even like to refer to buyers as -because it’s my blog and I can tell myself whatever I want- upcoming activations specialists. Not middlemen. Not anti-ethics bloodsuckers. Not semi-pro restaurant recommendation concierge.

The further I go in my line of work, the more I’m seeing that outsiders looking in may not have the situation quite pegged. The way Brand Strategy makes our skin crawl with client coddling, National TV’s top-shelf indulging has DR planners cursing the day (all the days) they consider sleeping at the office. The way the Digital team sneers at Promotions for getting out at 6pm on the dot, the Ops team laughs in the face of all Research pansies, ignorant to who really keep the lights on.

We hate to the be first to admit we’re the weak link, that we’re not cutting the corporate mustard. It’s far easier to blame someone else, some ungoverned force out of orbit. Why the deadline was missed. Why you’re there ’til 10pm every night. Why I don’t have time to work out. This “force” feels like a lot of excuses, and yet, it really is persuasive. Is it the need to succeed? Or the need to not blunder? The need to prioritize, perhaps. Whatever it is, it should be evaluated right away before you’re the stuck-up hothead to be avoided at all functions.

What I’m getting at is the need to start giving everyone a chance, and keep in mind where we’re all coming from. We’ll be better remembered for it, and lose less sleep. Similarly, I’m learning no easy way that it’s futile to ever take on new enemies because I’m not doing my personal best. “Confront yourself, me,” the one to whom I owe the most.


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