Agency Executives Need to Get Out on Motorcycles More Often

Why I Hope to Find Greater Work-Life Balance in the Industry

By Published on .

Alex Kniess
Alex Kniess
A few weeks ago, I returned from one of the greatest adventures of my life. With a friend who couldn't care less about advertising, I set out on a motorcycle that I barely knew how to ride for one exciting month. What I found were answers to questions I didn't know I had, a deeper understanding of myself and what I want, and some new critical thoughts on advertising.

First of all, before everyone else says it, I know that I was and still am unbelievably fortunate to be able to take that month to travel. I paid my dues to get there, but there are others who have paid far more for far less. But beyond the obvious limitations of finances and time, the biggest obstacle for others is neither of these things. Instead, I think that what stops most people from dropping everything and taking a break are the internal struggles associated with stepping off the career ladder.

I'm admittedly very inexperienced when it comes to working within the industry. However, I have seen enough to know already that the majority of advertising pros suffer from the worst work-life balance possible. In a competitive marketplace, the hardest workers get the best rewards. I get that. I also get -- and even agree -- that it should always be about the work. But when do you trade the pleasures of family, friends and life for the constant race toward selling products? Why can't you work your ass off and still have time to tuck the kids in at night?

There is life, and there is work. A month on a motorcycle enabled me to live the former to its fullest. But it also left me questioning whether agency cultures are sustainable, and it left me wondering just where the hell are all the old advertising pros?

The best agencies can be the best and still offer careers with balance. I don't think that when you get older you are any less adept at the essential skills that once made you a star copywriter or planner. I just think that you get burned out and realize that there is more to life than selling consumer products. It's time for agencies to create cultures that cultivate the balance. Because isn't it the experiences outside the agency that inform the magic that happens within?

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