Friday, December 05, 2008


Yigit Unan sitting at his desk

I've just finished a book called 'Who Moved My Cheese'. In this really small book you can read a short story about two mice and two men who are facing a big change in their lives. The story is a symbol for dealing with change in work and life. It's about how conventions and habits make us feel comfortable, but makes us dangerously reluctant to progress as well. Change is always scary, but if you dare to make the difficult step, you usually end up better than before. More about this subject is an earlier post Comfort: the enemy of success.

Last week I already mentioned that something is going to change at Duval Guillaume. Well, here it is: my art-director Yigit, whom I've been working with for almost a year, is going to leave the agency. Due to the recession, all agencies in Belgium (yes, even Duval Guillaume) have to cut back on their expenses. As a result, our creative directors had to make a couple of difficult decisions... It has nothing to do with the qualities of Yigit, because we've been making a lot of good work recently. It's just bad luck for Yigit that the entire creative floor at Duval Guillaume is so fucking good. An award winning junior-team is out as well.

At first I was sad for Yigit. Then I thought about my own future. What is going to happen next? I have to work alone for a while until there's budget for an art-director again. You cannot tell what is going to happen in the future. I was thinking about it and I slept bad that night. But the next day I thought: the fear for the future that I'm feeling right now is actually because something is going to change. Of course it could be a change for the worse, but it's better to deal with a problem when a problem occurs. And not to worry about it beforehand.

Yigit and I are used to change. That's because at the Miami Ad School we learned how to deal with different situations, locations and problems and to adapt to them rather than thinking about how bad everything is. We've become like chameleons. And both of us are grown up streetkids who can fight our way out of any problem.

So when I read 'Who Moved My Cheese', there wasn't a lot that I didn't know already. I learned to deal with change the hard way after I was fired at McCann-Ericksson and couldn't find a new job because of the recession. But what was surprising to me is that in a small, simple story the writer of the book, Dr. Spencer Johnson, managed to make clear why you should see difficulties in life as a chance instead of a problem. In a story that you can read in an hour, there are life lessons that took me 5 years to learn. When I told Yigit about the book he said that he already read it and that's not a surprise to me.

Yigit is going to be fine. Concept-wise he's one of the best teammates I ever worked with. It's a pity that we cannot work together anymore, but I guess life has a different program for both of us. He's going to stay until February. In the meantime, he's going to look for jobs in different countries. So it seems strange to me if he can't fine one agency that's looking for a multi-talented, social minded creative who recently won a Eurobest award ;-).


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