Someone, I forget who, once said everyone is two people.
You have the person inside your head, how you think you are, how you think you come across to others. Exhibit A, the bloke in the media agency pushing mid-40s. He thinks the 36 inch waist squeezed into 32 inch designer jeans, paired with the Hugo Boss blazer comes across as smart casual power dressing. While the 32 inch waist size shows he’s still young and good looking. Exhibit B, the creative director (or Kevin Anderson) rocking the skin-tight black t-shirt to make him look young and edgy.
But then you have the other person, the one everybody else sees. Mr Media Agency, you just look like Jeremy Clarkson. Mr black t-shirt, man boobs were never a good look, not even in the 90’s where your outfit looked okay.
Just as the charismatic, off the cuff presenter (in her head) just goes in too much and looks really unprepared to the poor recipients of her nuggets of gold.
Arguably, there is a third one these days. The one in social media, that is maybe even more divorced from reality, but let’s not go there.
Then there are the planners. Who, on the outside tend to appear super calm, super open and generous all the time. No matter how you feel inside, you are the one who cannot lose your temper, have to earn your place in any meeting, have to look like you know what you are talking about even when you haven’t a clue and, know as much about everything as you can – be a super generalist, make the dullest subject matter seem interesting and, perhaps hardest of all, have to make the few gaps in others drawing breath count, as these are the only seconds you’ll get to say something.
Inside of course, we get just as frustrated, just as angry, just as nervous, suffer just as much anxiety, get just as bored as much as anyone else. This constant disconnect between internal and external dialogue, constant edit, precis and distil and constant hoovering up information, no matter how banal has side effects outside of the job.
In tricky family, or close friend situations, planner folk tend to assume the calm, conciliatory role. When everyone falls out at Christmas over Pictioanary, we tend to be reasonable ones who mediate between parties affronted over the unfairness of letting a seven your old write a word rather than draw, or the cousin who has one too many who offends Auntie Hilda by drawing some genitals.
That said, like Michael Douglas in Falling Down, planners can go the other way. All that calmness at work can mean they have a very short fuse at home and can crack at any second. This is rare, as planners tend to let off the internal pressure cooker with a chosen outlet.
Yep, most planners tend to do something which has nothing to do with planning out of the office. For some, that might be amateur dramatics, for others it might be venting spleen in a blog. Many find an outlet through sport. But rest assured, planners tend to have many outside interests. They may cultivate a persona of ‘being curious’ or ‘making sure they are interesting by being interested’- but mark my words, it’s all to do with making sure they don’t have melt down when someone tells them they’ve missed the breakfast serving by one minute.
All that extra stuff outside the office, couple with the factory visits, the cultural research, having to know what a fifteen year old finds interesting, while understanding what the hell your cloud computing security B2B client actually does, means planners have tons of pointless knowledge. This puts planet sized weight on the shoulders whenever there is a quiz. If there is some sort of agency quiz night, planners will never vote for a department based team structure, the expectation to win is simply too great –especially from the head of planning who will almost certainly lose that calm exterior and go Michael Douglas after endless goading from their other bigwig colleagues. But the mixed teams structure can be a blessing – as planners are never allowed to get their round in, as they need to be present for every question. Of course, it also means they have bladder issues, as they also are not allowed to disappear for a piss.
Dealing with unreasonable people become second nature though. You are so used to killing folks with kindness (Falling Down syndrome aside) planners are good at sneakily getting what they want.
However, this doesn’t go as far as relationships. We’re so used to persuading everyone, rather than just saying it how it is, partners tend to walk all over us. Even worse, we’re so used to not making the decisions, it can be problematic when we are actually given a choice. I’m amazing at making my wife and friends think they’ve chosen the venue for a night out, or what we’re going to watch on telly, but when someone actually says it’s my choice, I melt like warm Nutella.
Consequently, planning types tend to have very strong partners who know their own mind. Good thing too, if two planners got together nothing would ever get done, but at least they would never run out of conversation.
This willingness to be led by others by the way, also means planners should never organise any family outings, stag do’s or mates nights out. Seriously, unless you want to turn to Prague and find your hotel was booked for next month, or be driven into the wrong country (I have done both), don’t ask a planner.
On the other hand, if you’re going to get lost, get lost with a planner. We’re so used to it, we always deal with it pretty well.
Finally, we’re back to where we started, the clothes. Planners needs to look smarter than the creatives, but less smart than the suits. So we’re great at nailing the smart casual thing.
Unless it’s a media planner that is, the jeans, massive brogues, shirt and blazer is highly infectious and penetrates all levels of media.
Working in certain postcodes means some exceptions too. Anyone working around Shoreditch gets really good at spending a month’s salary looking like a tramp.
The general casualness of working attire also means that when you meet friends and family from work, it simply reinforces the impression we don’t have a proper job. When most folks in the pub are sporting a suit, or perhaps the dreaded chinos and suede shoes combo, turning up in £200 jeans and a Cat in the Hat t-shirt reveals you for the middle class dilettante you really are.