We have a priest at our church who, earlier in life, was an actress. A good one, too, with a fairly extensive filmography. You've probably seen her, but she's not a household name. Today, her sermon was about worry. Specifically, that worry isn't the same as concern. Concern brings about action. Worry just kind of sits there, getting you mired in perceived potential problems (which may or may not be solvable, and which you may or may not -- usually not -- have any control over.) You do this, rather than focusing on important stuff you can do something about. Worry can make you, and your effort, grind to a halt.
I completely got the message, on a lot of levels. Not the least of which was that this insight was being delivered by someone who used to be in the film business. Because the film business is filled with worry. Not so much for the headline stars -- whether actors or directors. They can pretty much pick and choose the projects they work on. But in the world of film -- and especially in the world of commercial production -- that's simply not the case for the vast majority of people involved. When I was directing, I worked on big enough projects that two decent gigs a year made a very comfortable living. Some years, you might get four or five -- or even six. But you could just as easily get one. Or none. That's the case, regardless of your skill, or even your connections (again, unless you're in the top 0.5%, which few people are.) So, life as a director was, for me (and is, still, for a lot of my friends who direct) pretty much filled with a fairly constant stream of worry.
I won't go deep here, except to say that I think it's pretty obvious what that kind of worry can do to the quality of your work, if you let it. And I'll also say that not letting it is really, really hard work.
But I don't direct anymore -- at least not exclusively (I do direct a good bit of my own stuff). So the worry should be gone, right? Well, yeah, it is, pretty much -- at least that specific worry, and at least for me. But I find that now, I'm confronted with a different kind of worry almost daily. Except, it's not me doing all the worrying, so much as it is an entire industry.
Advertising is a thing that was pretty well defined for about 50 years. But it's turned into a thing that gets redefined pretty much every month. The pace of innovation is staggering. And it's not as simple as saying, "People don't communicate or respond to those things anymore -- they respond to these things now." Because the definition of these things keeps changing, and different people respond, or don't, to lots and lots of different things now. And that has an industry worried.
One clear worry is how, exactly, to build a formula to make money on the execution of these new things. For a very long time, agencies have been able to package what they do in a tidy box, usually defined, somehow, by some measurement of time (billable hours, :30 seconds, monthly insertions) and charge clients based on that box. It's not that simple anymore. (Caveat: it could, maybe, be that simple, but the cost structures of lots of things on the web don't mesh well with the income needs of lots of agencies.) Agencies worry a lot that they won't be able to maintain income streams like they used to. And you know what? They won't. Not exactly like they used to, anyway. Too many different boxes, and they change all the time, and they don't always have anything at all to do with value that can be measured in any kind of time increments.
So the industry worries. And its worry paralyzes the ability to move forward.
Instead, what happens if the industry turns worry into concern? Specifically, concern about innovation. Not the kind of concern we've seen from the record industry (innovation = bad; let's clamp down on it). But concern that says, "those kids in that loft just invented something my client can't stop talking about -- why don't I do that?"
The web changes things, and levels the playing field. Cost of entry is low (relatively speaking), and innovation makes overnight rock stars that are clearly legitimate, and clearly can't be produced as easily by bureaucratic organizations. If you're spending time worrying, you're falling behind. But if you're looking for ways to break down the bureaucratic barriers to innovation, it shows you're concerned. Which leads to action. The faster that happens, the less you have to worry.