Emails, meetings, client calls, quotes, briefs, creative rounds – agency life is demanding, but none of the above is rocket science. So what is it that’s so exhausting?
If you’re feeling completely drained at the end of each day, it could very well be that you’re up against an Agency Villain. And if you really want to murder your face, you probably have multiples around. These are the coworkers and clients that, if at all possible, you should steer clear of. Because unlike Batman, society (or HR) would disapprove of you taking these people down vigilante style.
A neighbor inside the agency, someone nice on some other team who you don’t work with everyday, but is full of pleasantries and even fun to socialize with in between the madness. The Dingaling is a fun loving, free spirit who always manages to have accomplished a ton of adventurous, physical activities over the weekend that you wish you had done instead of being the carb-craving, Netflix-binge-watching homebody you truly are. This sweet, rock-climbing, trail-mix-eating, yoga babe doesn’t seem bad at all, completely harmless… until that dreadful day comes when you actually have to work with them. Those pleasant conversations you used to have where you were the one asking innocent questions about what nature feels like is turned into a one-way, mangled dialogue filled with enigmatic explanations and inconclusive questions from The Dingaling. Your only hope of surviving the experience is to take the lead, talk over them and make all the decisions yourself.
THE GOLDEN CHILD
Young and adorable, this kid can do no wrong. You’ve been working at the agency for over a year and the owner doesn’t even pronounce your non-ethnic name correctly. The Golden Child is a week into their junior role and is commended for being the best project manager on your team. The Best. Because it’s cute, dons great hair and has a talent for socializing. While you’re at the office everyday past 7pm, The Golden Child is the one getting a pep talk on delegating their workload to achieve work life balance. The Golden Child surprisingly takes direction fairly well, so what do they do? They delegate… all their work to you. And instead of leaving at 5:30, The Golden Child leaves at 5pm on the dot, while you’re stuck at the office until the lights automatically turn off. The bright side is that you discover you’ve become extremely intuitive in darting through the dark hallways and finding the knob to turn the lights back on for another hour (because who are we kidding, you’re not done yet) and that this ability could come in handy during a casino-robbing heist. Which you may have to resort to if you’re forced to continue working with The Golden Child.
THE UGLY BABY
Ironically, The Ugly Baby is usually someone old. Even better, they’re either a client or a manager – someone you unfortunately can’t brush off or avoid. With its unbelievably awkward demeanor, you can never tell if this person is joking or serious. It comes at you when you least expect it – during a lunch meeting or while you’re in the middle of a hot deadline (maybe even for them), and gives you their witty line that they probably took the past 2 hours developing back at their desk. They giggle a little bit while speaking to you, making the situation even more uncomfortable. And you never know what to say back. Instead you laugh nervously. Polite laughter. And you over exaggerate all expressions and reactions. If you’re a stoic Asian, you all of a sudden become a gregarious talk-simultaneously-with-your-hands Italian. You don’t want to, but you feel obligated to play with it… because it’s The Ugly Baby. When in reality, you’re just dying for it to be over.
Loud, judgmental, high maintenance, demanding, arrogant, ungrateful, quick to talk but unwilling to listen, and completely full of sass, we have the male equivalent of a diva – The Divo. It comes in a variety of shapes and sizes from gargantuan, majestic and strapping to stout and rotund. Sometimes you can’t help but love The Divo despite its constant unrealistic expectations of you to clairvoyantly know what it wants. However, the Divo seldom returns the affection. Even when you go out of your way to specifically help The Divo with their panicked, hot, random request (a total favor of course), with 2 post-its’ worth of direction, they manage to complain about your execution.
Far from a goodie, misogynistic, a little unqualified, cranky, flaccid in decision making, unpredictable in front of clients, with poor taste… and much like its name, The Oldie is most of all outdated. Not necessarily old in age, but outdated in style, etiquette, process and skill. Like a tumor, The Oldie manages to grow in their position over time, rising through the ranks not through ambition or smarts, but by simply being around long enough. Because they’re in a position of power, The Oldie offers to help you at first. Don’t be fooled. The worst part about The Oldie is that it is unproductive and likes to hold multiple, useless one on one meetings with you to discuss painstaking issues. But instead of making difficult decisions and creating positive change, you soon discover The Oldie just likes to chit chat and inevitably gets in your way.
THE HEAD NODDER
Every answer to your follow up/check in/daily status/is this sh*t done questions is a head nod. Followed by a “Mmm Hmm.” With no remorse or semblance of consequence. Its best talent: being able to keep a straight face and confidently bob its big head up and down while LYING to you. The Head Nodder is the second most exhausting person you have to deal with at an agency. Because you don’t trust it, you go back and check on all the things The Head Nodder said they finished that you know they really didn’t. Even if you have to scan 6,000 emails and swim through a maze of file folders on the slowest server on earth to prove that what The Head Nodder said was done isn’t really done. But let’s face it, no one confronts each other at an agency. Working in client services, we’ve built that resilience to live amongst Agency Villains on a daily basis; and forcing the niceties has become second nature. So instead, we ask The Head Nodder the same questions every week and watch them nod. Then we document all its lies into our “Issues” spreadsheet, carefully saved on our personal drive, so when the day comes (and it will) when The Head Nodder royally F’s up, all supportive documentation can be supplied to executive management on why its nonchalant lying ass should be fired.
THE POT STIRRER
The #1 Agency Villain: The Pot Stirrer. Insecure, sad inside and lacking in talent. Just when everyone seems to like each other, is happy, and things in the office are productive… The Pot Stirrer comes along to stir up nonexistent issues . If it’s bored, it asks the manipulative questions that turn people against each other. If it’s lonely, it reveals some personal detail about a coworker, usually something that is uninteresting and irrelevant, talking your ear off with every detail. Most people at the agency see right through the Pot Stirrer’s messed up fiction, but unfortunately this person is usually in a position of authority- maybe not a top level executive, but it possesses enough power to make your life miserable. Hence, you have to endure the most draining phenomenon of agency life- pretending to be interested and listening to the illusive drama of The Pot Stirrer.