A PR Mind Is A Terrible Thing To Waste

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“The saddest thing in life is wasted talent” – A Bronx Tale

We’ve all seen the 1989 PSA, “A mind is a terrible thing to waste,” and for the younger readers of this blog who haven’t viewed this video, watch it now.

Since the beginning of the economic downturn, we’ve all noticed that morale is low everywhere – from PR agencies to in-house communications staff. People are unhappy about the lack of impactful raises, the slashing of perks and benefits, and the uncertainty of their futures. And while people have every right to be upset, this also presents a unique opportunity for management to see who steps up and, even more importantly, who doesn’t during these tough times.

In every agency there’s two kinds of workers: the ones that work hard and the notorious “complainers.” While we’ve all been guilty at some point of lamenting about our job and/or our clients, it’s the complainers that most let their emotions affect their performances. They are the people that show up late to work, mope around the office, and give less effort than others. I’d even be willing to bet that nine times out of ten the “issues” they’re having with their agency are ones that can be discussed openly with their boss(es) and addressed in a timely fashion. Whether they are walking into the bosses office asking for more money or for different clients, you can’t expect change to happen overnight. But that doesn’t mean it’s not going to happen. And the worst thing you can do is continue to have a negative attitude and not bring your “A” game to work everyday – this is the biggest factor in whether or not those changes will ever occur. The saddest thing about all of this is that somewhere along the line these same people proved to be talented enough for their agency to hire them, and now they are allowing low morale to stunt their personal learning growth, and weaken their value to that same agency.

Ultimately, the people that are unhappy will move on to another agency. Some will get more money in the short-term, some will change career paths, and some will take another job where they continue to be miserable. But if you are one of the hard workers that battles through negative emotions, comes to work early, stays late when you have to, and produces during these hard times, I guarantee you will be one of the lucky ones that quickly rises to the top of your PR agency (title-wise and financially) faster than others when the economy bounces back. Just hold on a little longer, stay positive, and don’t let your talents fall by the wayside!


17 comments on “A PR Mind Is A Terrible Thing To Waste

  1. I fall into that readership and saw the 1989 PSA for the first time. Showing my age also means I appreciate your reassurance as a new pro. I’m fortunate that I landed an internship-turned-job out of school last year, but am still navigating the whole “real world” atmosphere. Thanks for providing insight into it, Andrew.


  2. Fabulous post! I’ve always been the kind to work until I’m drained for something I am passionate about.

    I can’t pretend I haven’t ever complained, but after a bitch fest, I always finish the job!

  3. As the had of an agency this is the type of blog post I appreciate. However, you seem to be off base on one key point. This may sound cliche but instead of giving 100 percent you should be giving 110 or even 120 percent. A career, just like a mind, is a terrible thing to waste. Imagine if you gave 110-120 percent to this blog…..

    • Thanks for the comments, Jim. I agree that giving 110 or 120 percent is cliche, which is why I never use those terms. I’ll continue to put 100 percent effort into my blog.

  4. As I like to tell my staff…sometimes cliches offer the most truth. Maybe it is just a personal preference but I want our agency operating at 110-120 percent at all times and even up to 130 percent in crunch time. As someone with experience you might just have to trust my judgment on this one. You will look back on your career when it is over and regret that you didn’t go above and beyond by not giving more than 100 percent.

    • The theme of this post is to always give maximum effort even when facing adversity and unhappiness at your job. We’ll agree to disagree on whether maximum effort is 100% or 130%

  5. I’m glad I don’t work for Jim. Im 100-130 percent sure he sounds like a tool lol. Keep up the good work on the blog.

  6. As the head of an agency I do not find that last comment or response to it productive or professional. In fact just today at a staff meeting I informed our employees that until the economy fully recovers they are going to have to give 150-200 percent effort and no one seemed to have a problem with it. See, the key to success is correctly defining your goals. Defining maximum effort at 100 percent only serves to lower the bar and in the end will be counter productive to your career and to your agency.

  7. I’m sooo glad I read this when I did! In running my own company, you experience highs and lows, and unfortunately, the lows have proved to be extremely challenging as of late. When experiencing tough times, it’s easy to take on a negative attitude, but those who are truly passionate about what they’re doing will hold on, face their challenges and conquer them with a positive attitude and determination, ultimately strengthening their skills and passions.

  8. Hearing agency folks use buzzwords like “130%” makes me cringe. My kids would easily step up and remind these masters of buzzwords that there is no such thing as 130%. You learn that in third grade math. 100% is the maximum you can possibly give… any more is spin. And that, dear worob, is why I formed my own boutique firm in 1996. When the 130% folks have time, they can play a game to ease the tension: http://www.schwartzcomm.com/crossroads/2010/08/press_release_buzzword_bingo.php.

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