Brain Drain pt1: Does it help or hurt?

There's nothing wrong with aiming high. A company is like a family-- a marriage even. To "marry up" is great, but to refuse any other option is naive.

I keep tabs on certain opinions that I hear in my classes. Of the people who actually have an idea of what they’d like to do in advertising and where they’d like to go, I can’t help but notice that quite a few of them are only interested in the top companies. “If I can’t work for Ogilvy I don’t wanna live!” I know that’s a bit dramatic, but there are students who feel this way (to some extent). This is how I look at it; If I can’t be a part of the greatest, then I have to be the greatest myself. Is it a lofty ambition? Absolutely!

There’s nothing wrong with aiming high. A company is like a family– a marriage even. To “marry up” is great, but to refuse any other option is naive. I think people are scared to build a career in a smaller lesser known agency (ie. marrying for love over money I’m not agreeing with this) because there’s more accountability involved. In a prominent agency, one is held to a higher standard, but it’s more likely that there will be someone else to pick up the slack. Think of the difference between a “master of one” and a “jack of all trades.” Smaller agencies don’t have the luxuries of having masters in each department. They can’t accommodate any trophy wives.

Naturally, the most talented people will gravitate towards the most successful agencies. This is what we call brain drain. The best agencies will get the best brands (in-house production aside). The best brands will make the most money and the cycle goes on. This is how the powerful remain powerful. There’s no monopoly on creativity or talent so that’s more than enough reason to stay grounded in reality. Not everyone can work for a top agency. On the flip side, not everyone has the skills necessary for entrepreneurship. Either way, we have to work for it! While getting a top internship or actually being hired can put us on the fast track, neither is a magic bullet. Next time I’ll discuss how to use this to your advantage.

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