As I take you along for the ride on my journey as a US-based global executive creative director at one of the world's largest integrated comms agencies, I want you to feel all the feels with me. And while this first month in Los Angeles has been one of joy, inspiration and awakening, it's also one of a little inadequacy.
And why is this feeling so pronounced in Los Angeles?
Well, because nobody here is just a CD. They're a creative by day, polyglot by night.
I have met countless fellow creative professionals, but the even more impressive part is that the professional part is just some side hustle.
They do my job while concurrently taking to the stage, the gallery or the New York Times bestseller list.
I have come across 10s of people that do exactly what I do, but also do stand up comedy, write books, make films, sing and/or inspire LGBT+ activism. I've even met a part-time telepath and another who casually helps out in forest fires with the official emergency services. It's bananas.
After a day of creative directing, the last thing I wanna do is sing a song or tell a joke—let alone save somebody from a forest fire. No thanks.
So what is it about our American peers - not least the Californians - that makes them ready for 8 hours of agency work and then however many hours for their passion projects?
First up, the City of Angels is all about being or becoming somebody, and that requires hard graft.
While Cali gets a reputation for being laidback to a horizontal angle, the creatives of Los Angeles are focused on making a name for themselves. It's kinda what the city was built for so it's self-selecting just moving here.
Secondly, Americans are not hampered by reality in the same way Brits and other Europeans are.
"Can Do" is an actual thing and I've felt my own realist, Anglo-Irish react from time to time. Quite often American professional conversations start with the assumption that something great is going to happen - the reality sets in after. However, Brits - especially Londoners - are trained to caveat, buffer and filter hopes and dreams through operational reality. The difference is this: Brits won't even attempt some of the wider ventures, and misadventures, Americans explore. This can be seen most starkly in both nations' startup cultures.
Thirdly, this place is massive—approximately five times the size of UK. The competition is loud and pronounced - and the most active, prosper.
All this scale and ambition is a little daunting, sure. And like any ego-crazed ECD, I'll need to pull out a lot of affirmations. But I do have one thing on my side - something they'll never authentically have. An English accent.
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