by Michael Gebert

IF YOU'VE WANTED ME FOR ONSITE WORK you’ve probably heard my pitch for working part time—that nobody’s really creative 5 full days in a row, so this way you get the same creative output without paying for the brain-recharging time; that it’s having a balanced life with my toddler and my DVDs and so on that makes me the creative guy that I am; that of course I’ll do a conference call or look at it online on my off day to keep things rolling, etc.

But I’m starting to think it’s not me that I’m really fighting for in my quest to reverse the societal trend toward the 24/7, cellphone-and-pager, no-thinktime workweek. Who really needs saving is... clients.

A client used to ride the train in from Ohio, drink a full lunch at the Tavern Club, and then sit back contentedly for a 2-hour ad show. No longer. At least at companies of any size, the clients are more frantic than us highstrung creative types.

They come in 20 minutes late because the room got changed twice, they’re frazzled and p.o.’d from their last meeting, they ask us why they’re there, they read the strategy as if it were the first time, and then they give us the input they finally got from Global that changes our whole direction. Well, I guess let’s take a look anyway....

Companies may get more work out of SuperManagers like this, in some abstract accounting sense. But what they don’t get is a human being with a perspective that’s thoughtful and high-level enough to foster and buy great creative. For the sake of our work, we have to find a way to get these poor souls out of their hellish schedules—and into a dry martini.


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