I knew he was married. I knew that him visiting from overseas didn’t make it any better. But when I went to his extremely upmarket hotel for a rendezvous, I also knew that I wanted to. It should have felt worse, I suppose, but something drove me.
And what happened was extraordinary.
I quickly gleaned that he was an exceptionally successful man. So we began talking about business, even as we petted and cuddled rather innocently. He was fascinated by what I do. I was fascinated by him. We spoke and debated, somewhere between enthralled and aroused. I told him about my skills in online media, but how I wanted to develop those skills into true business development. I gave him examples of the campaigns I’d done in the past, strategies I’d designed to penetrate into new markets or which were left of field but which had had top-level business goals in mind; how I’d left my current agency role because I was sick of going back and forth with some loon to debate the nuances of social media copy when I could be developing new initiatives to power that client forward. I was tired of the tedium and of wasting my time.
He was impressed. He said I had to keep going and that business development was the path I had to pursue. If I could prove the the leaders of the business, he said, that what I did provided long-term opportunities and could lead directly to conversions for the business then I would always be of value. I asked him a little about when he had started his own business and said that my big concern was that I’d rather work 12 hours for myself than 8 for someone else.
“Well, then you have to strike out on your own,” he said.
As I walked home slightly shameful at 2am, wondering why I didn’t feel more guilty, I pondered on all of the brilliant advice he had given me. Some of it was fatherly and some of it was common sense. But I drank it all in avidly. Successful people fascinate me. Not in th sense that I want to steal their secrets or try to imitate them, but in the deeper sense I wany to know what drives them and what still inspires them. I somehow doubt that it’s some dick in a chair next to you twisting your ear about the minutiae of copywriting.
It made me hone in and focus on what I want most: To be my own person.
To own my own social media consultancy business.
To finish my novel.
To be a respected figure in my field and just…make my own decisions.
I looked at someone who had done it and made a big success of it. Not in a silly light-and-cameras Apprentice-style way. He’d done it far bigger than any of those tools and it made me realise that that’s where I want to go; into taking control of myself.
I went to a hotel room just expecting some forbidden no-names fun. But what I found was so much more. After I left at 3am, I felt like I had found something of myself in there. I felt I had had an education in something deep and profound, something I had thought of but never quite been able to give voice to yet.
And I think he was just as surprised by me too.
When I move to this new role in January, it won’t be to pursue some cult of creativity or even to enjoy the fact that it’s working in online poker again. No, it will be to make sure that everything I’m doing is guided and informed by one goal: the development of the business.
It hit me then too that true creativity in the world of work isn’t fannying around with bits and pieces of copy or even just using some alternative bloggers; it’s looking down from the top and offering real solutions to drive that business forward; for negotiating the obstacles around those goals and making your own ideas heard, before putting them into execution and making them a success.
I should have left feeling cowed and ashamed, but I left feeling only empowered and motivated. As soon as I got home (a happy 10 minutes walk away!) I began writing this, and I’m finishing it this morning. It’s that wonderful moment when the thoughts and direction align and as though, finally, I feel like I know where I need and want to go.