Why You Should Consider Selling Out


Tash McGill

iStock_000029427424SmallI was talking with a recent design graduate the other day. They were talking about how they were never going to ‘sell out’ by working for a big corporate agency. Their philosophy was pretty simple – as far as they were concerned, working for a big agency would mean working on big client accounts that would always be driven by money, not by the integrity of the art.

Here’s why the graduate is wrong and you should consider encouraging more people to ‘sell out’. Put simply, the bigger your goal, the more crucial it is to have the best people working on your project or team. Big is often better, influence is important and usually, places with bigger budgets have the luxury of investing in better work. People who work in these places have a lot of influence to make change.

It’s easy to be trapped into thinking that to fulfil our dreams and live up to our ideals – we have to stay independent and ‘not of the world’. I say, no! Don’t let your idea of Idealism prevent you from seizing opportunities that may be bigger than they seem. Ponder this question for a moment: In what ways could our 30 Hour Famine—or my dreams for the teenagers in my community—get supercharged and supersized for greater impact?

Maybe it’s our ideals that should take centre stage, in the places where they can have the most influence and opportunity to affect change. I think every design graduate should hanker after an opportunity to work in any big agency they can. 

They’ll be surrounded by people who are very good at what they do, with clients that want to do extraordinary work and who have the budget to pay for it too. 

Sometimes we don’t want to ‘sell out’, because our egos get in the way. We don’t want to take the clichéd path, follow the crowd or be seen as somehow corrupted by the big world. We want to be unique or at least that’s what we say, when often what we mean is that we don’t want to lose our independence.

But it’s as important to be in the world and with the world as it is not to be of the world. We can separate ourselves from the world (people!) too quickly and lose valuable opportunities to be influential and do meaningful work that creating sweeping change.

There’s a bank in my part of the world that shuts down for an entire day once a year. It’s a campaign called ‘Closed for Good’, where every one of over 4500 staff members is given the day to serve their community in whichever way they choose. Pretty awesome, right? What a great way to change the world from the inside of a big corporate bank. Well done, to whoever that sell-out was. What an achievement.

So aspire. Be as good as you can in the place where you can have the most influence. Don’t be afraid to sell out and reap the rewards – you’re probably trustworthy to do good things with them. Dream BIG!