After I posted yesterday's bit about the "passion fashion," whereby businesspeople tell one another with straight faces that they are passionate about things like "contextual marketing," I remembered something I found while researching an essay on my parents, who were advertising people during the Mad Man era.
Their agency, Detroit's Campbell-Ewald, put out a booklet for newly hired copywriters and art directors, titled, I Wish Somebody Had Told Me the Day I Started.
After many pages of alternately condescending and understanding advice on how to make better advertising, the booklet suggested that creative people "pace" themselves, partly by "imagining that one of your heated harangues is going to be tape-recorded and buried in a time capsule—to be dug up and listened to in the 21st Century by someone who may just marvel at your passion and wonder what in the world went on, that you got yourself so exercised.
REMEMBER … ADVERTISING ISN'T THE KIND OF THING YOU KILL AND DIE FOR.
To be sure, advertising is something important. Important enough to work hard at, and important enough to do well.
But it isn't the kind of thing you kill and die for PARTICULARLY when it's something so ignominious as acute gastritis that you can die OF.
Advertising isn't the Crusades, the French Revolution and Guadalcanal all rolled into one. It isn't a cause or a holy mission or the kind of thing that calls for blazing eyeballs and angry arias all day long.
Advertising keeps the economy moving and makes the wheels of industry go round. But the guy who becomes a MARTYR to it—a battle casualty in a business suit—is a tragic figure, indeed.
Do communicators need to tell this to their new recruits today?
Many modern communicators who call themselves "passionate" communicators in their Twitter bios probably imagine their professional ancestors as workaday gray-flannel suit-wearing grinders who didn't yet see any chance to bring their souls to work. Quite the contrary.
We could do to take a page from our predecessors by talking less about our feelings, and following them more.