Humbled and honored.
I follow advertising like most people follow sports. And since there’s no ESPN for advertising (yet), it is left to the dedicated enthusiast to curate their own news and content from an array of outlets. In that pursuit, I spend a fair amount of time on LinkedIn, Adweek, Adage and various other sites and platforms following different ad folks.
I’m a man of the people. I want to hear what everyone has to say, so on social media I follow as many different advertising types as possible. From the Joe Schmoes working at a no name shop in Phoenix to the masters of the advertising universe sitting high atop the proverbial Madison Avenue Mountain— I try to keep a close eye on what everyone is saying.
The Joe Schmoes are interesting. They bitch mostly. They joke too, though. And you pick up interesting information from them like how any frozen pizza regardless of brand, size or toppings can be cooked at 420° for fifteen minutes and come out perfect every time.
I’m a Joe Schmo. My fellow Schmoes give me a sense of comfort, community and camaraderie. And here’s a little trade secret that hopefully the other Schmoes won’t mind me sharing. We tend to know the stories behind the stories. We pass along the inside scoop to each other. And when the inevitable bullshit arises, the Joe Schmo network kicks into high gear to separate the hype from the hot air.
I like being a Joe Schmo. There’s technically still a chance I could become a master of the advertising universe (remote though it may be) and if I was to achieve that status, I would be expected to pack up quickly and kindly move out of Schmotown. Out of respect for the Schmoes I would make my exit in a hasty fashion.
The masters of the advertising universe can be interesting too. They’re masters of the advertising universe for a reason after all. They say some pretty smart things. And when you need to impress someone, you can just quote them and then you end up looking smart too. Which is extremely generous of them. Thank you, masters of the advertising universe.
But at times, it seems that more than anything else, the masters of the advertising universe are humbled and honored. They are humbled and honored for the award they just won. They are humbled and honored to be included on a list of such talented people. They are humbled and honored to be working alongside this group of dedicated professionals. Sometimes I think they are humbled and honored just to be humbled and honored.
The honored part I get. I’d be honored too if I won that award. Hell, I’d be honored just to get nominated for it. And I’d totally shit myself if I was on that list. Those are some seriously impressive people being featured. My parents would finally be proud of me. Not the fake proud that they always say they are because they're obligated as my parents to say it. But the real proud. The kind where they can brag to their friends about something tangible that I’ve accomplished. A list. A real, live list. That’s something they could wrap their heads around. I'd be honored to give them that.
That feels like the wrong word for a master of the advertising universe. They’re not really humbled. I don’t buy that shit. I know masters of the advertising universe. Most of them are super cool and some of them are down to earth, but humble doesn’t really top the list of my adjective selections when I go to describe them.
A proper humbling occurs when you get put in your place. Knocked off your game. Or shown you’re not such hot shit after all. As a hard working day-to-day creative I get humbled all the fucking time. Probably somewhere in the area of two-to-five times per week. So I understand humbled pretty damn well. And let me tell you, when you’re an advertising superstar with a big, fat C-suite salary and you get named to judge the Clio’s— that ain’t being humbled, amigo.
As an ordinary Joe Schmo, I suggest sticking with honored. We can support you on that. We can relate to it. It’s humanizing. Sometimes the guy at the deli doesn’t charge me for my soda because I’m a really good regular customer. So I know what it feels like to be honored. It’s pretty awesome and I’d want to share it too. But as I walk out of there sipping my Diet Coke on the house, I don’t feel humbled by it. I feel refreshed. And ready to go back to work. Where some real, honest to goodness humbling can actually occur.
Now, hold my drink.