Later this month Seth Meyers will take over as host for NBC’s late night talk show. Here is my claim to non-fame, I once led a committee that decided not to hire Seth Meyers for a job … as a comedy writer.
I read his writing samples and they were well written and funny. I went to see his improv duo act, and it was funny. When it came time to vote, I voted against hiring him. Instead, I voted to hire a couple of other people who have not gone on to Saturday Night Live, or been given their own talk show.
Why didn’t I want to hire Seth Meyers? Other people who had worked with him reported that he was a little difficult. He was talented and smart, but had a hard time combining his funny with other people’s funny. My guess is that his individualism is part of what makes him so successful today. But he wouldn’t have worked in the context of the job for which I was hiring.
Three other people I did recommend hiring at different times have gone on to have successful careers in television writing. They are not Seth Meyers famous, but famous enough in their fields that it would be tacky for me to drop their names.
I was thinking about Seth Meyers and my non-hiring of him the other day because I attended a story-telling workshop being developed primarily for people in marketing. At one point we were all assigned to retell a well-known fable. Everyone retold their story, adding in details and making the story exciting. I retold the Grasshopper and the Ant turning the Grasshopper in to a tragic hero.
Did I mention that I was the only one in the room with zero agency experience? Also, except for the woman looking for a job, I was probably the person in the room who makes the least money.
If the workshop had been a job interview, I would have failed miserably. My dream business to own would be some sort of specialty employment agency where I help writers get jobs. But, to me this would be the most challenging part. This is what I think so many creative people looking for creative work don’t understand. Getting a writing job isn’t about being the most clever or most creative person. Getting a job is about showing how your creativity can be put to use for the good of the company.
Obviously, I have a lot of love for the grasshoppers of the world. I think they make the world a better, more fun, more interesting place. Sometimes, they are clearly the heroes of the story. But I probably wouldn’t hire a grasshopper to write B2B articles about marketing. For that, you need a really smart ant.