We Still Have Plenty For Which to Be Thankful

If Nothing Else, This Year Leaves Us With Perspective

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Bart Cleveland
Bart Cleveland
This week is the nation's traditional Thanksgiving, when we eat a feast and give thanks for all that we have. The "have" part is what made this year one of the more challenging on record. It's been a year that I hope we don't have to repeat anytime soon.

That said, with adversity comes perspective and I think we can all agree that this year we received an abundance of perspective for which to be thankful. So aside from the traditional things (health, family, and freedom), this year has given me other things to be thankful for.

I'm thankful for my job. As bad as it's been, with cutbacks across the board and clients that have reacted to stress with varying degrees of civility, I very much appreciate that we were called upon to help them in special ways. I believe we strengthened some client relationships because, though the money wasn't there we were. In many cases, we did the same level of work for much less. Sure, that puts a fear in you that clients may take advantage, but we have faith in the people we work for. They'll do the right thing.

I'm thankful for my partners. From my perspective, this year qualifies as the most dramatic in reduced business. The stress from going from 60-0 in a nanosecond can make some partnerships crumble. I think the one at our agency actually strengthened. We had to make some tough decisions, but we also made some that were bold. For example, we continued to invest in our agency's capabilities and marketing. Though the year was dismal, the partnership continued to look over the horizon, not over our shoulders.

I'm thankful for my employees. I can't decide whether it's scarier being an owner of an agency or an employee in times like these. Not having all the details can seem easier than knowing every chasm that lies ahead. Regardless, our employees have toed the line. They have accepted the uncertainty of the economy with fearlessness. They have stepped up and performed at an even higher level than before.

I'm thankful for this industry. That's right. Advertising is worth being thankful for. It is completely frustrating, especially in hard times, but frankly it's still one of the best jobs around. I love solving problems and being creative at the same time. I love helping people succeed. I love that a great idea will come to you even when your budget is miniscule. This is a very gratifying business when you realize how few people can actually do it well. No honest job should be looked down upon, but I can tell you there is an enumerable list of things that I am very happy I don't have to do to make a paycheck.

I'm thankful for you guys. I get a lot of emails and comments from people throughout the year about how much they enjoy my musings on this blog. Some of my thoughts have been completely disagreeable to some of you. I appreciate that too, because I think the dialogue we share helps us all. To my fellow writers on the Small Agency Diary: I salute you. You have really made this a great venue to share. And to my comrades at Ad Age: Jonah Bloom, Ken Wheaton and Matthew Creamer, you guys are the best.

So, be thankful. Enjoy some of your mother's cooking and a little football. Then, let's get to work on next year. We're not out of the woods yet.

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