Einstein and Award Shows

In 1911, Albert Einstein realized part of his theory of relativity could be proven if he could measure starlight that passed near the sun. (The science is over my head, but stay with me.) But he'd have to wait until August 1914 for the next major eclipse. And he'd have to travel to Crimea in Russia to observe it.

Problem was, Einstein wasn't as famous in 1911 as he is today, and no university was willing to foot the bill. So Einstein paid for it himself. He wasn't a rich guy at the time. But he believed in his theory of relativity so much, he was willing to raise funds and pay out of his own pocket to do what he had to do.

Analogy time: Award shows are not cheap. According to this post, the average cost of a One Show entry is $358. Usually, you don't have to worry about that. You do great creative, and your agency pays for the submission fee.

But what if it didn't? What if you had to put up your own cash for your own work?

Take out whatever you're working on right now and ask yourself, "Would I pay $200 of my own money to send this to the One Show?" Maybe you're tired of award shows and think they should be boycotted. Fine. It's still a valid question. Would you pay $200 of your own money to let the world see your work? I suggest that if you're not willing to put your own money behind your own work, even hypothetically, it's not your best stuff. You need to be as excited about your current assignment as Einstein was about taking pictures of an eclipse in Russia.

Bonus Lesson: When you do great work and it isn't recognized, you haven't failed.

Twenty days before Einstein's eclipse, World War I began with Germany declaring war on Russia. The German team Einstein sent to document the eclipse was captured by the Russian army and imprisoned because all their cameras and telescopes looked like espionage equipment. And it turns out, the skies were really cloudy anyway.

Three years of anticipation and preparation killed like that. Huge setback. Devastating.

But it wasn't enough to keep Einstein from becoming Einstein.