One of my favorite questions that I often get is “why don’t I know about you?” I love it--a declaration of supremacy, ignorance, and guilt all at the same time. Re-phrased, complete with backhanded undertones it actually sounds more like, “How could I--a ‘high-powered tastemaker’ who has been in this business longer than you have been alive--have no clue that I’ve been competing with [and losing to] you this entire time!?” What I love even more about this question are not my quick, witty responses, but taking note of the people who ask. Can you guess who typically asks these questions? Yep you nailed it, The Old Rep.
I will hold off on divulging some of my more…“choice” responses, but suffice to say with the AICP event here in Chicago last week, opportunities to audition and perfect my response were far from lacking. Joking aside, what we have here is a real problem and the current solution is well, you know...
Let me explain where I came from; I came up under you. Not in the way that you’d like to think--where I, as a young, junior-rep watched longingly at the way you carried yourself, and spoke to clients waiting for the opportunity to emulate your behavior. No. What I mean is that I grew and solidified my roots underground [yes, like a weed]. Face it, cool shit happens underground - we don’t particularly care for rules, sustainability is secondary [for the moment], and arguably the only rule or perhaps as Captain Jack Sparrow would put it, guideline is; “best idea wins”. Sounds cool, right? It is; but, like the best punk bands, artists, and fight clubs eventually the underground moves above ground - those roots grow stronger and dig deeper; eventually breaking through to the surface. Interestingly it’s here at this moment when brands, agencies, clients, etc. want to latch on to “the underground” vibe…when it’s above ground [read: safe]. This isn’t an op/ed on the state of branding [though maybe that will be a future topic] so I will leave you with this point--when you talk about “knowing who I am” [or in this case not knowing] understand this: in the underground you learn to see in the dark. You couldn’t see me, but I’ve been watching you this entire time.
Oddly enough, this segues quite nicely to the second defining characteristic in our New Rep series; unlike our friend The Old Rep, The New Rep will take a decidedly different approach when it comes to attracting, signing, growing, and of course representing the next generation of talent - we’ll call it: “The Obsidian Guide to Getting Things Right the First Time”. On second thought how about, the “Long Approach” instead? In my last post I wrote primarily about identifying new talent - cutting through the ‘noise’ to locate the source or ‘signal’, but let’s say you’ve found [what you believe to be] the signal, what now?