A recent Business Insider article claims 47% of all jobs will go away in the next few decades and be replaced by robots. They claim the safest of the remaining 53% will be careers requiring creative thinking. Looks like the people who come up with amazing and wonderful things will always be in demand.
Over the past few years I’ve realized how much I love a job making stuff as opposed to talking about stuff. For more than a decade my day consisted of being trapped in meetings where we pretended to come up with great ideas only to ouija board our way toward a consensus that would support what the boss wanted. It was rare that any of these meetings resulted in making something new or breathtaking. The culture demanded rote products that made the corner office happy and allowed us to keep our jobs for another day.
Throughout the aughts I saw more and more people position themselves as marketers as opposed to creatives. The thinking seemed to be job protection by couching what you did under the umbrella of innovation and adding to the bottom line. Creatives were often viewed as a cost center where marketers positioned themselves as revenue generators.
New job titles emerged with each successive trend in marketing. Executive Digital Marketing Architects. Social Talent Optimizers. Brand Strategy Evangelists. Data Scientists. Growth Officers. Not to mention all the Rock Stars, Wizards, Ninjas and Gurus roaming the hallways. While I admired their efforts to protect and prolong their careers, I was often stumped as to what many of them did all day. So often the proffered new solutions were tried and true tactics wrapped up in pretty packaging and powerpointed as a brave new strategy. Soon buzzwords like robust, disruption, incentivize, actionable, transformative and countless others were raging alarms that the emperor had no clothes.
I cringe when I think of all the meetings I sat in with a poorly feigned rictus of benign interest while I was dying a little inside. I glad-handed and ass kissed and nodded in over-enthusiastic agreement like a chirping little productivity automaton. It was a massive soul suck and there was no escape. I wasn’t making anything but more work.
Fast foward to me sitting bewildered in an edit room for the first time in over a decade. I wondered why I wasn’t wearing a suit and acting excited in a conference room somewhere. At first I thought I was just doing this until I got a real job. This was merely a layover at a small airport on the way to somewhere much bigger and more important.
But then I got to make stuff.
There is such satisfaction in completing a project. I get to build things, working with music, video, graphics and words. I solve tricky little problems and get paid to do it. Instead of rushing from conference room to conference room, firing off a flurry of emails while rushing blindly down the hall, I stay in one room working with great people on movies and shows I love. Before I would stagger back to my office while others left the building for the evening and settle in to do my actual work. By then the thrill was gone and I would stumble through the important stuff, too tired to give a damn if it was was done or not. I had dozens of projects happening simultaneously and I could only afford to offer them minimal attention. Now I focus my efforts on one or two projects, making sure they are perfect. All my efforts happen during normal work hours so my time in the evening can be directed toward family, writing, exercise and reading.
I wonder if all those strategists can keep the marketing buzzword machine rolling while the robots come for our jobs. I wonder if I can keep a few steps ahead as well. The one thing I have going for me is I make stuff.
To put it in Gaping Void’s words, “Creativity…that economy will never die.”