On December 17th I woke up and checked Facebook, as I do every day, and noticed one story being shared over and over again. The headline read, “After 30 hours of work, Copywriter Mita Diran collapsed and died”. It seemed a chord has been struck with my agency colleagues from around the world, and for good reason. We all have memories of pulling ‘all nighters’ and giving everything we had for a pitch, and then a little more. Every one of us, at one point or another, had to push far beyond what we could handle to get something out on time. As fleeting as it can be, many of us live to chase that post-project high.
For new entrants into any field, their enthusiasm is their currency. As a hockey fan, I see this all the time – new players make up for their lack of experience with effort and hard work. More experienced teammates tend to take these bundles of raw skill and energy under their wing and pass on some wisdom, building them into the players they were destined to become.
An agency is no different – every one of us has the responsibility to be that voice of reason and experience. Every young talent needs and deserves strong mentorship from those around them. What young talent eventually learns is that quality and quantity need balance. One of my favorite books, ReWork, puts it best – “You don’t need more hours; you need better hours”. It’s not just a one way street, this relationship is actually a symbiotic one, where the brilliance of youth reinvigorates those around them, and reminds us why we do this in the first place.
I don’t personally know the circumstances around Mita Diran’s situation, only what was reported, but I feel like all of us should try and take something positive away from such tragic circumstances. I was lucky enough to have a few strong mentors at an influential time in my life, they taught me what it takes to make it long term in this business. I feel like the a small piece of their advice around work life balance can be summed up in three points:
- Work hard and focused for a reasonable amount of time rather than unfocused for a long time
- Look after our own health, (mental and physical) before anything else
- Ask for help when you need it, and provide guidance and mentorship where you can (even a little goes a long way)
To the family, friends, and coworkers of Mita, we extend our sincere condolences. To the industry at large, never forget that everything we create depends on the hard work of talented people that need support and mentorship to grow. If you do one thing today, check in with the people around you, you never know how much impact such a small gesture may have on someone’s life.