Sunday, 21 October 2007

Reality-Rev, Shape, September 2007

Ten lessons I’ve learnt the hard way. By Anita Kapoor

A couple of years ago, and in good faith, I wrote a kick-ass creative concept for a coffee table book, for a leading European appliance brand.

I wrote the original idea minus an official agreement, because I naively did believe in good faith at the time. When it came down to the wire, negotiations made it near impossible to achieve what I had set out to do, forcing me to bow out.

A few months later, the book was published. When I opened the pages, there it was in living colour – my original idea, from cover to cover. With nothing official in place, I’d given my creativity away for free, and it had been used to full advantage.

Reality – and my lack of experience - bit like hell that day, but I count it as the one lesson that taught me the most important things to remember in all my dealings – big or small, personal and professional – through the rest of my life:

1. People don’t snatch bad ideas and many can and do live with passing off original material as their own. So if you’ve got a great idea you want to see through, do something about it. But remember to shut the hell up about it to everyone else.

2. A good lawyer is as essential as loo roll – you have to pay good money for the strong and tough variety because they always manage to clean up the mess.

3. If you’re going to part with your knowledge, then Agreement! Agreement! Agreement! Why? If it’s your idea, then it’s your right. That usually ferrets out the sniffers (those just testing the waters) and the players (or pretenders) and brings the real deal to the table very quickly thereafter.

4. Take the blinders off. Working with a friend, lover or close acquaintance isn’t worth the possible loss. When personal knowledge and expectations (or even lack of) collide – and they always do – someone eventually gets hurt and that someone is usually you.

5. Self-doubt is a crippling void. It shouldn’t be, because most people haven’t a clue about anything anyway. The only way to beat the bull? Educate yourself. Really know stuff. And, then, work it.

6. Be realistic but secure in the knowledge of your worth. From knowing what salary to ask for, how much energy to expend on a person or situation, to understanding what you mean to yourself and others.

7. Find your backbone. Stand up to the things you don’t need to do, the people you don’t need to please, or the situations you have the right to avoid. A spine is a darn good thing.

8. Listen carefully. Being able to articulate is great; the ability to hear what isn’t being said is an even greater skill.

9. No, you don’t have to give the whole story away. You know those people who seem enigmatic? They’re just clever at saying enough to keep you interested. They decide when to reveal what. And so should you.

10. No one wants to hear the truth. Everyone thinks they’re doing it right. That shouldn’t stop you from living your life as genuinely and meaningfully as you can.

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