My life as a Middle man

My-Life-As-A-MiddlemanStrangely, I have always found myself in positions where I mediate between two parties. Let me just say that it is not always an exciting experience.

When I was younger, I was the middleman between my parents, bearing the brunt of the anger on behalf of the receiving party. I was also the middleman between my sister and her boyfriend, transporting sweet and bitter messages for the lovers when needed, and now that I’m all grown up, I get paid to be the middleman. Officially, it’s called being a Client Service Manager.

To use a village scenario to describe my job, the clients can be likened to “gods” of the land, the “dibia” is myself (ordained to talk to the gods and also act as the eyes of the gods) and the “villagers” are my team members, who exist to do the will of the gods, but would never want to talk to the gods directly.

If the villagers do not deliver what the gods’ expect, the gods summon the dibia and unleash their anger on him. The gods then give new, and sometimes ridiculous, instructions to the villagers. The dibia takes “the divine message” back to the villagers and the villagers in return vent on the dibia, who happens to be the bearer of bad news.

That’s the summary of my job.

There was a particular day I had a “divine meeting” with the client – the gods.  The client wanted us to do the undoable with his brand. He wanted us to smash old records and break new grounds, putting no limitation whatsoever on our creativity. This was totally strange to me; the gods are never this free with their instructions. So I asked further, “O wise one, are you sure this is what you want? I think we need to draw a limit to what can be done.”

“No! Don’t put yourself in a box! Be free, speak the language of the customers,” he responded.

I got back to the village and summoned the villagers, “Be free! Be creative! Jump into trendy conversations! Be yuppie! Be you!” I exclaimed, “These are the words of the gods”.

There was a moment of silence.

“Are you sure?” they asked, and I assured them that this was the will of the gods.

From then onward, the villagers went all out. They crossed the seven forbidden oceans, broke all ancestral customs and introduced the white man’s technics to their work. They were truly free, indeed.

The gods noticed these things and realized that they were not, in reality, ready for the changes. And so, they called for an emergency meeting with the dibia.

“Stop! No more! Delete! You misunderstood,” they screamed.

Guess who had to break the news to the excited villagers.

 

 

At this point, creativity eludes me

 

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When you work in the advertising industry, you’re allowed to be anything but uncreative. There are no boxes to consider when thinking; the more disruptive, the more pats on the back you get.

Ever have one of those days where you wake up in the morning brimming with ideas? You spend 25 minutes in the shower just because you’re thinking of several angles you can use to tackle a problem, another 45 minutes to get ready for work – most of that time spent tying up the loose ends of your shower-inspired plans. You swear you’re only gonna need 2 hours to clear out your desk, but the moment you step into your office…

All that creativity suddenly flatlines. You can almost hear the ‘beeeeeeeeep’ from your mental ER team trying to resuscitate your creativity, to no avail.

When that happens, you know it’s gonna be a LONG day at work. You take 30 minutes to set up your work desk. That’s when you start twiddling with your pen, checking your social media feeds twice a minute, playing Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony on repeat, all in the search of something, ANYTHING, that can provide that inspiration you so desperately crave.

See, the thing about creativity is that sometimes when you’re actively searching really hard for it, that’s when it goes AWOL. All those times you were sharing a drink or three with your buddies while bouncing ideas off each other, your creative juices were flowing non-stop like wine from Dionysus’ chalice. Now that your current employment status sorely depends on farting out an execution plan for a client in the next 3 hours, inspiration is using you to play hide and seek.

So you watch the day slowly drag by while you try to remember your thoughts in the shower. Was it a 2- or 3-staged campaign? Was the campaign supposed to start on Facebook or SnapChat? How many influencers did you intend to use? So many questions, so little answers!

Finally, it’s 5pm. You’ve managed to cook up a half-done, watery ‘pot of beans’ for your boss’ evaluation.

“I know you can do better than this. There’s so much missing from this presentation,” she says.

Sigh. What a day. You’re the first to shut down and slam your pc shut. You race to your car because you can’t wait to get the hell out of here.

And what happens the moment you start your car and slowly start moving? It all starts coming back. The platforms, the phases, the whole plan, everything! Do you risk going back to the office and starting your presentation all over again?

I would suggest doing what I did and using this new-found creative spark to write about the ordeal you had to endure all day.

Hunger: The Birth of Creativity

Hunger-The-Birth-of-Creativity

If there is anything I have learned in life, it’s that hunger is a real G. Most of the success stories I have heard and read were birthed by hunger: either the fear of it or the reality of it.

When I just moved to Lagos, I had paid my rent and fees for a certification class, but I had also been scammed and money was scarce. I thought my job would be enough but it wasn’t, the salary just couldn’t keep calm and wait till the next salary arrives before finishing!

But guess what, I was comforted by my hunger and my empty pocket because it quickly gave birth to the side hustle.

I learned to do other things. I took on clients, wrote business plans, proposals, CVs and more, for people. I had to do some things for free in order to get them to trust me with their money, but I eventually built their trust.

The process taught me that life is too short to be broke. Life is too short to be unable to provide for your kids and look into their eyes and say NO because of poverty.

Life is too short to live an unaccomplished life.

The moral of the story is this: if you’re going to be hungry, be hungry early, be hungry fast. And when you’re hungry, figure out a way to quench your hunger, because poverty is not pretty.

Sometimes, it’s alright to be motivated by the fear of poverty.

What motivates you?