In the Nineties, I had a pretty decent career at PR agencies and selling related services. I was very much front-and-center. In the last decade, though, I was happier to stick to the shadows and let the spotlight shine on others.

Still, I missed the action. Four years ago, I made a bad career move; I aggressively pursued a PR agency job without really considering that the sole owner only wanted to do things his way, which is run the place like a factory. After that fiasco, I woke up to the reality that lightning can’t be captured in a jar twice.

One of my Nineties bosses whom I now admire greatly, Steve Cody of Peppercom, writes an honest and occasionally biting Repmanblog (, which a few days ago dealt with the struggles of Dave Shea, an unemployed 55-year-old advertising copywriter. The full story is in Advertising Age.

The article and Steve’s blog hit home. Just a few days ago, the guy I partner with in selling creative services to small- to mid-sized businesses discussed this. We agreed that unless you are a great salesperson who brings $$$ and strong client relationships to the mix, your talents as a designer, branding guru, writer, media relations pro, etc. are essentially considered commodities, especially after 40.

The same applies in nearly all fields. One day you wake up, and you’re no longer “the kid.” I think the only exceptions are politics or if you rise through the top ranks. Even then, we know that an economic tremor like the last one makes everyone both expensive and expendable.

In this decade, I’ve focused on creating my own projects. Nowadays, when I contract out to agencies and see my contemporaries still looking for the agency to be the Big Daddy and take care of them, I feel fortunate. Even if my immediate economic struggles sometimes seem greater, I know my long-term resourcefulness is stronger.