Don't Stress Me Out With Your 'Stress'

Earlier this week, I read a column by a creative guy lamenting the “stress” that seems to have accelerated in the creative business. Says he, “In the brand industry, it’s exciting, pressurized, and creative. All these elements can often lead to highly emotive responses when the chips are down. This could be a graphic designer experiencing, or creative directors liaising with challenging clients to negotiate realistic deadlines and expectations.”

He cites a survey that says, “85% of media and marketing professionals are likely to commonly experience work stress.”

There was no mention of COVID-19, systemic racism, working remotely or even the insurrection. Just “pressure.”

To which I say, “Show me a job that does not involve ‘pressure’ and I will show you a job that is not in the advertising/marketing industry.”

In fact, I would be fascinated to talk to the 15% who don’t “commonly experience work stress.” Have you been on a year-long sabbatical? Does your primary job responsibility involve pushing a cart topped with coffee and donuts? Or are you like "Seinfeld"'s George Constanza, who showed up for jobs he hadn’t even been hired to do?



Another thing the author failed to explore was that, by its nature, there are lots of unknowns in the ad business, and that alone is stressful. “The hell if I know!” is probably one of the few times you are being told the truth.

He did mention that some people actually work better under stress. It gets their juices going and they perform better against a firm deadline.

It seems to me that the healthcare industry has performed extraordinarily well in a year of unforeseen and often crushing stress. In fact, compare the stress of “self-doubt when deciphering a complex brief” to deciding if you should pull the plug on someone who is probably not going to survive (but you can’t be 100% sure). Or choosing between who gets the limited available treatment -- and who essentially gets the death penalty.

Part of your compensation in the ad biz is to handle job-related stress. That doesn’t include the Cuomo kind of inappropriate stress, or having to deal with a complete asshole of a client (but we have all been there and refrained from not punching said client in the nose.)

Everyone deals with stress a different way: cocktails to excess, working out at the gym, beating your kids, overeating, crying in the stairwell. Whatever works. I am sure once the trials start, any number of insurrectionists will say they were “stressed” by Trump’s election loss.

The point is that much of life -- particularly work -- is stressful, but compared to most of the rest of the world, advertising and marketing is probably below average for stress.  Or not.  Your thoughts?

1 comment about "Don't Stress Me Out With Your 'Stress'".
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  1. James Smith from J. R. Smith Group, February 26, 2021 at 3:18 a.m.

    George, here are two observations.  First, stress is somewhat dependent upon the personality traits/management style of one's immediate superior.  Read that as, a good boss makes all the difference.  Second, deadlines induce stress...and we are in businesses peppered with deadlines (sometimes followed by periods of extreme boredom.)

    Handling extreme boredome or stress?  When in doubt, turn the camera off during your video conference and take a nap.


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