Cartoon about progression

When I was slaving away as an account director at a marketing agency, one of my accounts was an energy drink company led by two partners. Besides hiring the agency to do brand strategy and online marketing, they also engaged with a 3rd-party brand consultant.

My two brand strategists and I thought it strange the client would hire an agency and an outside consultant. We thought it insane when we learned the client is paying the consultant $500 per hour.

In our debriefings we called the consultant a charlatan, huddled around the screen to laugh at his outdated website, and despised him for having conned the client into paying a fortune for generic advice.

It took me years to realize I was the fool.

  • We were overworked, underpaid, and inexperienced.
  • We couldn’t define “brand” without rambling.
  • Serial entrepreneurs know something about what they’re doing.
  • The consultant’s site hasn’t been updated in years because he’s too busy making money.
  • Of course the client valued 500-dollar advice more than 50-dollar advice.
  • The value of advice is in its clarity, not uniqueness.
  • $500/hour is a bargain for a good consultant.

If artists aren’t embarrassed by their earlier work, then they’re not improving. Finding errors in your past decisions and ideas means you’re progressing.

I’m embarrassed by this story, and I’m glad I am.

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