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  • Writer's pictureAnisha Ralhan

Hello, bad day


This is not a success story. God knows there are plenty of those on social media. Of people getting a double promotion, companies turning unicorns overnight and freelancers making an eight-figure income (whatever form of black magic that might entail).


This is anything but a success story. It’s not a sob story either. It goes like this.


Two weeks ago, my freelance art partner and I were approached by the CEO of a big-ish B2B company here in Singapore. The brief was to write a compelling brand story and redesign a bunch of slides for an important upcoming trade show in Dubai.


He told us to stray away from typical corporate parlance, sentences that begin like—the vision of our company is blah blah blah.


He wanted something distinct, and memorable. In his own words, “give me work that knock my socks off.” So, of course, we got mad excited. It was like music to ears wilted by make-the-logo-bigger kind of feedback.


Given the short lead time for this project, I pulled multiple late nights over the past week. Wrote copy sparkling with voice and sass. Tried to turn a construction company’s brand persona akin to David Letterman’s. You know, wise and self-assured but also fun and relevant.


The design was solid A too.


However, yesterday morning the CEO wrote back saying it’s not what he had quite imagined. And that he’ll like us to stop work.


We were devastated. It felt like a whack out of nowhere, given just one week ago, he told us he had found our work highly impressive.


This was also a first for us, what with our squeaky-clean track record of happy clients.


Heartbroken, I wrote to him asking if we could get into a quick huddle and redo the whole thing. He wrote back saying that it’s not our talent he doubts. Between our last meeting and today, his workload has gone up incrementally, because of which he doesn’t have the time to debrief.


Fair enough.


We bowed our heads and went off to eat cake.


Therapist and author Linda Carroll wrote (among other awesome things ): a wave is not an ocean. She penned this in context of conflicts in relationships, but I think it applies to life at large.


Setbacks don’t define careers. The same way an achievement doesn’t guarantee lasting happiness.


It’s about time we normalise failures in our professional lives, possibly with a slice of cake!




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