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My Biggest Lesson: Brent Lang

Advertising Agency
Culver City, USA
Compadre's director of business development on why it's so important to treat others the way you want to be treated

The biggest lesson I’ve learned along my career path is one you’ve probably heard since grade school: “Treat others the way you want to be treated.” It’s such a simple concept that often doesn’t get the respect it deserves. I can’t remember if it was my mom or dad who first said it to me, so I give them equal credit in their respective parenting repertoire. I learned or, rather, rediscovered this lesson during my days as an on-set production assistant when I first moved to Los Angeles. As it turns out it would be a lesson that would help build my career and lead to my current role as director of business development at the creative marketing agency known appropriately as Compadre. 

The year was 2012. I was a spry 22-year-old doing all the grunt work you could possibly imagine that goes into making live-action commercials, TV shows, music videos, and movies. This consisted of everything from unloading equipment and taking out the trash to yelling “ROLLING!” “QUIET PLEASE!” and “HOOOOLD THE WORK!!” about a thousand times a day. At this point in my career, I was just happy to be out in Hollywood working in the entertainment industry – and would do anything for that almighty dollar. Unfortunately, the pay for a PA back then was just above a starvation wage, and overtime was a pipedream.

The day I learned my biggest lesson was on an exceptionally long 18-hour day shooting a video for a Hip Hop star in downtown LA. Everything started off pretty standard. Breakfast was served before sunrise. We loaded in the grip and camera carts, then set to work like an army of ants to get the sets ready for our artist to do his thing. The day dragged on and by mid-afternoon, everyone was a bit sluggish from the thick fog of weed smoke that filled every corner of the studio. Did I mention that the talent in this video was very fond of the devil’s lettuce? Needless to say, by the time tacos arrived for lunch, all the crew members raced to the food line like hungry zombies at a packed Dua Lipa concert.

After lunch, things took a turn. We were significantly behind schedule, and there were some issues with the sound playback that only made things worse. By midnight, everyone was on edge, especially the Unit Production Manager (UPM) who basically serves as the captain of the production crew. My fellow production assistants began getting frustrated and making their feelings known to her. I felt their pain because as the night dragged on, we were technically making less money to do more work due to the lack of overtime. While all of my cohorts were complaining, I decided that our UPM had enough stress on her plate, so I treated her as I would like to be treated if I were in her position. At the end of the shoot, I thanked her, collected my paycheck, and told her that I know she had a lot to deal with, and that I appreciated her hard work to keep us all going.

Fast forward about three months, out of nowhere my phone rings, it’s the same UPM! She had remembered my work ethic and positive attitude from the dreaded shoot and had a job offer for me. That job offer led me to my first staff position with a marketing agency, which kickstarted my career path over the past ten years, culminating in my dream role as director of business development at Compadre.

I share this advice with others any chance I get, especially with the members of my team at Compadre, where our motto is to hire folks who you’d want to have a beer with after work. The advice is always well received and usually leads to fulfilling conversations about work and life. So treat people the way you want to be treated, and heck, while you’re at it, eat your vegetables, stay in school, and believe in yourself!

Work from Compadre