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Where I Learned Generosity

November 24, 2009

I see generosity practiced every day on twitter. But social media didn’t teach me professional generosity (assuming I’ve learned it.)  I’ve spent my career in a remarkably gracious professional culture: Minneapolis advertising and design.

When I entered the business, Bill Miller at Fallon McElligott—best known as the writer on Rolling Stone’s Perception/Reality campaign– took the time to look at my portfolio on three separate occasions. Agency principals such as Tom Weyl at Martin Williams and Jack Coverdale at Clarity Coverdale were generous with their time and advice.

Judging from my fellow juniors at the time, we were not pure of heart. If we had spent any more time envying Fallon McElligott, it would have been a time sheet category. But while we were not pure, we were passionate, and I think it is passion that is the true engine of generosity.

I’ve recently been reminded that that adamant love of craft continues to thrive.

The great art director Sue Crolick has found a second career giving back some of that joy.

Little and Company has started a series of literal conversations about design, in which they ask industry leaders two fascinating questions. What inspired you most? What design challenge would you most want to take on?

And the Fallon offshoot Barrie D’Rozario Murphy has created a facebook page which does not feature the agency’s remarkable work. Rather, it showcases the passion that leads to great work.

I am sometimes taken aback when social media professionals say, in effect, that they are disturbed to learn that businesses want to sell things. Really?  But I learned early on that the best businesses also want to make things––cool, useful, crafted things (and experiences). That passion to add to good in the world keeps the good of ambition from becoming that evil of greed.

From the first day I worked as a professional, I was surrounded by people who were as loyal to their craft as they were to their company.  How can I not be thankful for that?

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