I’ve worked with some tough clients. Some have acted irrationally. Others with distrust and even distain.
But none were as tough as Pope Julius II.
It wasn’t that he was demanding. It was that he kept changing his mind. He had wild, ephemeral expectations, but gave little concrete direction. He probably coined the phrase, “I don’t know what I want, but I’ll know it when I see it.”
He considered himself a great patron of the arts. He did much to beautify Rome, laid the foundation of St. Peter’s Basillica, and was a friend of Raphael and Bramante. So even though he wasn’t a craftsman, couldn’t paint, sculpt or design, he thought he knew great art better than those producing it.
To compound the problem, Pope Julius II was more concerned for his own personal fame as a member of the family of della Rovere (i.e., personal glory) than for the advancement of the influence and authority of the Roman Catholic Church (i.e., the brand).
Each of you will probably have a Pope Julius II sometime in your careers. Maybe several of them. Ridiculous. Egotistic. Impossible-to-please.
Here’s the thing. This is what Michaelangelo did for this impossible-to-please client:
This weekend, if you’re planning your Charlton Heston Memorial Bash, I suggest you skip The Ten Commandments and check out The Agony and the Ecstasy, the movie based on Irving Stone’s biography of Michaelangelo.
It will show you that if you’re not doing great work, you shouldn’t blame the client. Michaelangelo didn’t.
Yes, you’re all too busy putting your books together to indulge in “reading.” Certainly, not when the book is 500 – 700 pages long. But in the off chance you’re looking to squeeze in a chapter or two between Starbucks runs and wearing down your Sharpies on your comps, let me introduce you to three books worth reading:
If you’re lucky enough to be hired at Ricther7, these are three books the agency’s president, Dave Newbold, will suggest you read. Not because they’re advertising books (okay, “Whipple” is), but because they’re about creativity, and what it means to create.
The Agony and the Ecstasy is Irving Stone’s novelized biography of Michaelangelo, which he’s cobbled together from the Master’s actual correspondence. Here’s a guy who not only sculpts, paints and writes, he becomes legendary in each arena. Why? Because he’s creatively driven. The movie with Charleston Heston is pretty good. The novel is fantastic. If you don’t have time to read it now, be sure to before your next visit to Florence.
The Fountainhead is Ayn Rand’s epic story of Howard Roark, an architect who will not cave in to convention. While everyone around him is insisting the best work has already been accomplished (Renaissance, Gothic, Roman, or whatever they happen to consider “the best”), Roark follows his own creative vision. It’s loosely based on and inspired by the life of Frank Lloyd Wright. If an early attempt at Atlas Shrugged turned you off to Rand’s philosophy, give The Fountainhead a try. If you are a creative person, I can almost guarantee this book will speak to you.
Do we really need to talk about why Hey, Whipple is included? No. If you haven’t read it by now, dear student, shame on you.