Linds Redding, Fatally Ill Ad Executive, Blogs About Wasting Life On Work

Linds Redding time at work

By Jim Edwards

Linds Redding, a New Zealand-based art director who worked at BBDO and Saatchi & Saatchi, died last month at aged 52 from an inoperable esophageal cancer.

Redding also kept a blog, and after his passing an essay he wrote about the ad business, titled "A Short Lesson In Perspective," has gained a new and sudden life, on the SF Egotist and on Adfreak.

It will not make happy reading for the many people who knew Redding, know of his work, or anyone who works in the creative department of an ad agency.

In sum, Redding, wrote, life as a creative isn't worth it. "It turns out I didn't actually like my old life nearly as much as I thought I did," he wrote, after he was diagnosed.

The screed addresses the existential problem at the center of anyone's career in advertising: Can you marry art and commerce and be fulfilled as a human being?

Redding concludes the answer is no. His story could apply to anyone's job, in any industry. It's sobering stuff. Here's an excerpt of the most brutal bits (you can read the full essay here.)

And here's the thing.

It turns out I didn't actually like my old life nearly as much as I thought I did. I know this now because I occasionally catch up with my old colleagues and work-mates. They fall over each other to enthusiastically show me the latest project they're working on. Ask my opinion. Proudly show off their technical prowess (which is not inconsiderable.) I find myself glazing over but politely listen as they brag about who's had the least sleep and the most takeaway food. "I haven't seen my wife since January, I can't feel my legs any more and I think I have scurvy but another three weeks and we'll be done. It's got to be done by then The client's going on holiday. What do I think?"

What do I think?

I think you're all f***ing mad. Deranged. So disengaged from reality it's not even funny. It's a f***ing TV commercial. Nobody gives a s***.

This has come as quite a shock I can tell you. I think, I've come to the conclusion that the whole thing was a bit of a con. A scam. An elaborate hoax.

Countless late nights and weekends, holidays, birthdays, school recitals and anniversary dinners were willingly sacrificed at the altar of some intangible but infinitely worthy higher cause. It would all be worth it in the long run...

This was the con. Convincing myself that there was nowhere I'd rather be was just a coping mechanism. I can see that now. It wasn't really important. Or of any consequence at all really. How could it be. We were just shifting product. Our product, and the clients. Just meeting the quota. Feeding the beast as I called it on my more cynical days.

So was it worth it?

Well of course not. It turns out it was just advertising. There was no higher calling.

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In an age a comercialism and one-up-man-ship, we should all take heed of the words of this man. My ex left a marriage because he didn't like the idea of a simple life and having a disabled child. He partied and met his current wife, an acholic executive. Now he has all the trappings of weath. Me, I have a small three bedroom house and son that has added unmeasurable wealth to my life. I have taken the time to "smell the roses", and glory in accomplishments that others take for granted. I have worked, but only to support us and when he's needed me I have been there. I think my life is fuller and happier than most...if you can not claim this, then maybe rethinking your life is something you should consider.

November 23 2012 at 8:51 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Roland Petit

Also, this article could be amended to read ~ the variant of capitalism that we have now, i.e.,1) crony capitalism with 2) two distinct "justice" systems with two distinct legal outcomes and mostly - 3) a debased payments system wherein the "coin of realm" is constantly being debased so that workers are a) not paid true value for their labor starting immediately after they are paid for that labor in addition to "ordinary frictional slippages" and b) it is impossible for them to save the fruits of their labor using the monetary system mandated by the legal tender laws. Tangentially and viscerally we end with wasted natural born talents by creating a society of which cogent people have legitimate qualms as to our life's journey and destination.

persistent vigilance

November 19 2012 at 8:24 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

He would have been better off being a farmer...everybody would...maybe. It ALL comes down to the existential question: what's it all about? What is it that we are supposed to be doing here after all? The over-emphasis on WORK...the exalting of a mass delusion we know it...isn't really working...for the vast majority of people...99.9% It works fantastically for a very tiny minority...the 0,01% who somehow know how to work the system; game the system to their own benefit but to the detriment of the rest of us. Think Mitt Romney and the banksters/fraudsters. They rig the system in their favor and the rest of us are on the gerbil wheel in perpetuity. We blame ourselves for our poor judgment and poor choices. Meanwhile there are such terms as "asymmetrical information" that disguise the real deal.

I think that it is now in the public psyche; the Zeitgeist, that the system isn't working...for the rest of us...that the system is fixed; rigged. The stock market is phony, work is a sham, the money is bogus. But we still have to live in this bogus world... I need the Monopoly script to get food to life. It's like living in one of those on-line gamer scenarios...except that it's "real" so to speak.

Meanwhile our lives have a shelf live limit. A cosmic joke perpetrated by psychopathic CEOs as we run around while the elite financial wizards laugh at the scramble for limited resources. There may be more the grid.

November 16 2012 at 7:10 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to roland444's comment

"It ALL comes down to the existential question: what's it all about? What is it that we are supposed to be doing here after all?"

You asked all the right questions, and the answer might be as surprising as it is elusive. Here's the answer: You're doing what you came here to do. You cannot not do what you came here to do.

It's a given. It's a foregone conclusion.

You're here to experience. More than anything, humans crave experience, whether it's direct or vicarious. You're here to remember who you are, and to experience that. You know who you are, and you're in the perfect milieu to experience who you are, no matter how dead-end you might think your job, or how boring and pedestrian you might find life.

I've been ridiculed for saying this, as well as some other things, simply because my answer don't resonate for some.

Your life is about being, not doing. What matters is what you're being, what you're experiencing, why you're doing what you're doing.

Some get it, while others see it as so much nonsense. That's to be expected.

November 16 2012 at 11:08 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

You're family needs you personally. The time you put into them with all you are, in the moment, are the points in the history of the childrens life they will hold dear and always reflect on for knowledge, emotional strength, character decissions, love and the memory they will carry of you. I have worked very hard gathering stones and if I could do the last 20 years over again, I would change a great many things. Work is important for securing a place to live and to sustain life, but to trade those years when my boy was little and the little precious time i spent with him traded for making more money then we needed was a mistake, for I mistakenly thought he'd stay that young age nearly forever. In reality, he grew up fast, like they all do, and though I didn't miss it, I missed more than I did. That little boy left, and the grown up one that he became thinks dad is A little silly when he gets sentimental over missing the little boy he once was. God thank you for the gift of my son and forgive me for missing so many moments in his young life. I pray that he does not think this is still silly in the years ahead as he grow into a man and one day wakes up too late, only to find out he made my same mistake, at least maybe I love too strong and regret too much. All total, I am thankful that i feel love. Perhaps that's more then many have had and more than some would hope for. May the Lord be with you all.

November 15 2012 at 8:33 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to vasall's comment

"All total, I am thankful that i feel love."

It's okay to feel love. Love is who you are. You're total love. Thanks for your story. The moments with your son that you thought you lost is only a memory away, as they still live in mind, the only place where they did exist, can exist, and always will exist.

November 15 2012 at 11:54 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

in it's own odd way, this man was quoting from the Book of Ecclesiastes and probably didn't even know it. in the 2nd Chapter of this book Solomon writes "Therefore I hated life because the work that was done under the son was distressing to me, for all is vanity (useless, wasted) and grasping for the wind." Only what we do for the Lord will matter. After all the long hours, not eating with your family meals at the dinner table, 16 hour days, restless days and restless nights, un-ending road trips, etc. What have you really accomplished? A hefty paycheck and NOTHING ELSE. "Verse 2 of the 2nd Chapter of Ecclesiastes reads "Therefore I turned my heart and despaired of all the labor in which I had toiled under the sun." Please readers, this is one's man's warning of how fleeting life really is. My heart goes out to his family. He found out, howbeit too late. Please read through Mr. Redding's message again and again and again. OUR DAILY WORK MUST HAVE BALANCE. Read John 3:16 and the Book of Romans Chapter 10, verses 9 and 10. God bless you all. Jesus loves you and I do too.

November 15 2012 at 5:29 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

My husband works so many hours Why? because his Fking Boss tells him every week that his job is in jeopardy. His Boss came three years ago just to get rid of people who have many years with the company. My husband aged like 10 years, he is not happy there. When the Economy was good my husband received awards, now he receives terror. He is afraid to ask for a day off to go to the doctor because his boss suggested that he should work six days a week 14 or more hours a day because my husband is on salary. I TOLD HIM TO STOP AND LISTEN TO ME, AND HE WENT TO THE DOCTOR AND I AM WAITING FOR THE RESULTS, Do not die for your job, because your family will be angry with you.

November 15 2012 at 4:53 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to ndshannon2's comment

it sounds like a friend of mine situation; when economy was good;...bonus and extra$ they drop his pay 4 times (from 125k to 70k then to 50k now hi's on 40k gross) and every week the same story:: job in jeopardy... work more hours etch...
it's disgusting how things have turn out.. but we have to survive but on the same time;;; take a day of to go to the doctor or even to a hang out place should be allowed without fear and punishment;
hope one day (soon) to be my self a BOSS and give the workers the right and fare treatment;
Hope his results are good;

November 15 2012 at 6:53 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

It's funny that the religious have such contempt for the non-religious on this thread. "Only religious believe in bettering permanent things in the world...blah, blah, blah..." Only religious...." What complete nonsense.! The religious know nothing more about the after-life (if there is one) than the non-religious. Spending your life in a monastery isn't going to give someone any more life experiences than spending life in front of a TV or at the office. Life is for living. Some posters indicated that trying to live a balanced life between work and homelife is the key. They are correct. And following the golden rule -- whether you are spiritual or not.

November 15 2012 at 3:49 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Kathryn Dutchak

Did anybody notice the link under this article that says 'Don't miss: Companies Hiring Now" right after he calls it all a hoax? I love the internet.

November 15 2012 at 3:40 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Kathryn Dutchak's comment

I did see that and that was hilarious

November 15 2012 at 9:18 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Too bad he was such a poor time manager. In 30 years in the business running an agency, I've only pulled one all nighter. And never missed a hiliday or kid's event for work.

November 15 2012 at 2:36 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to goris's comment

To clarify -- the the mid 80's and 90's saw the death of middle management layers whose job it was to monitor work load and flow. So it was more likely the inefficiency of the system than his own work habits.

November 15 2012 at 4:51 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Nut T 1

Perspective, of coarse we all have to work, but only to live. it's an old saying "work to live, don't live to work"

Or we can listen to Suzy Ormen, save, save, save and work until we're 70. because, many of us will live to be 80 years old ? I can't wait to be 80, and have a boat load of money to do "what is that we do at 80? Suzy?"

Hey, Suzy "can I afford it?" Can I afford to trade all my todays for "possible" tomorrows ?

I'm not saying don't save, just put it in perspective, Live everyday as though it is your last, drink good wine, eat good food, enjoy good times, have good friends, and thank God for everyday...

In the end it's how many people you touched, not how much money or stuff you had that counts.

Oh, and buy a really big TV, cause the game looks really good on it LOL

November 15 2012 at 12:09 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

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