Monday, February 6, 2012

No plan B–Just Me.

As it turns out my Plan B… is me.

I remember having the 'Plan B' discussion with various, adults as I was growing up. "What do you want to be when you grow up?" was a favorite question of any Baby Boomer or adult I would meet. I was a pretty big kid, so I would always hear the same lame-o suggestions. "... what a big fella! You should be a football player!" To which I would reply, "... actually, I want to draw comic books." Which was THE BEST answer you could give because no adult had any frame of reference as to even how to respond. They would always expect something vapid and unimaginative like Policeman, Pilot or Plumber. Mostly jobs they either did or could relate to. [TIME OUT: If you are saying to yourself, 'hey, my Dad's a cop or 'Pilot's make lots of money' I want to applaud you for completely missing the point–you may click away here, it won't get any better from here forward].

Of course now–decades later–I have great answers I would LOVE to give my seven-year-old self. Like 'New Media Content Developer', 'Ad Agency Copywriter' or 'Digital Illustrator' (all positions I have held). I would give just about anything to watch those closed-minded, uninformed heads burst like watermelons on the pavement while trying to figure out what these answers even meant!

Later as I got older, it was evident I wasn't going into the NFL (especially since I really didn't play), the inane questions would cease, mostly because I had declared I was going to art school–and that was where the REAL fun would begin. "Well, that's all well and good, but if it doesn't work out, what's your 'Plan B'?"

Plan-B? What the heck is THAT?

"That's a back-up plan to your life–in case things don't pan out?" What the hell does 'things working out' have to do with my life ambitions? Even at age 11, I knew NOTHING in life went according to plan. Why would I have a 'back-up' plan? I didn't even have a primary plan fully figured out. A back up–what am I, a hard drive?

Look, we all do what we have to do to survive, some borrow money from wealthy parents, others mooch off spouses, some wear paper hats and super-size value meals, some manage hedge funds (whatever THAT means) and others sling rocks. Whatever you do, that is what you have decided is your best, most reasonable path to making a living. But YOU are the plan. What you do does not define who you are, it is simply what you do. Your "plan A" should be to become a success. Period.

Here's the steak: One of my sons wants to be a doctor. I told him he must do everything he can to stack the deck in his favor. You have to put the time in,"pay your dues" get great grades, research the best medical schools and so on. At age 11, he is already asking about Harvard medical school and has human anatomy flash cards.

Success means hard work (or the good fortune of having a wealthy family). I have found many are NOT willing to do what it takes to make their dreams a reality. To conceive of a "Plan B" means the of failure of Plan A is a possibility. At that point, you're lost. You must have a single, cyclopian focus on achieving success. Turns out, that can be much harder than most think. Only a single, driven focus will get you what you're after in life. Everything else is just bad advice.

Legendary east coast ad man, Ernie Schenck had a great dissertation concerning "Plan B". When asking his teenage daughter about her plans for college she shared she wanted to become an actress. He asked her about her plan B to which she replied: "Funny thing about Plan B, Dad. It's amazing how fast it can become plan A."

Amen, young lady. I couldn't have said it better myself.

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