Dear 22-year-old Anne:
I have many bits of advice for you.
Most of it you will never heed because you never really were one for listening, especially at 22. But you are a reader, so I’m hoping you’ll read this:
If you don’t know how to do something, ask. This will come in handy at your first radio record, on your first TV shoot, and in at least a hundred other instances. You will look far less stupid asking what a “patch” is than checking every closet to see where the talent is hiding.
Try, try, TRY and talk less. In fact, shut up. If that is impossible, at least shut up long enough to listen to anyone giving you anything that even remotely resembles advice.
When presenting to Rich, remember to duck BEFORE he throws the coffee mug.
When asking for a raise, it’s not because you need it, it’s because you deserve it.
Pick your battles.
Bite your tongue.
And when in doubt, start a fresh email.
Wear a less see-through shirt to the Clio’s in ‘99. Also, take a pass on that last drink and you won’t barf on Lane Foard in the cab on the ride home.
If you’re banging on the front door and no one answers, go around and see if anyone’s left the back door unlocked. In other words: When force fails, try finesse.
Since you are a girl who wears her heart on her sleeve, consider wearing it under a sweater from time to time.
A corollary to this is: Work on your poker face. It will come in handy more than you know.
Do NOT take the tampon job.
Do NOT let Amy Hudon move in.
Do NOT say “sure, dude” when asked to smoke weed with your boss(es).
Remember the lessons you learned as an intern. Because 90% of success in this business is “intern stuff” that you will end up doing for your entire career.
Be a problem solver and you can accomplish anything. Solve problems with a smile and some creativity and you’ll amaze.
Stay away from married men. Especially the unhappily married ones. They are nothing but a pile of heartache.
Make yourself invaluable to clients, and you will make yourself invaluable to your agency.
At the end of the day, people buy people. Be a person people want to buy, and you will never be at a shortage of clients, work or friends.
As the years go in, take a moment to thank all the people who overlooked your flaws and loved you when you were a total pain in the ass.
Kill your darlings.
Keep the dream alive.
Remember who loves you.
And make shit happen. Thinkers and engines are what this business really needs.
And finally, here’s some advice for the day before your first day. Because your first day will go just fine, but the day before it is when you will need it most:
You will be an intern. And you will be asked to present in a meeting. A big meeting. You will do a great job presenting. And the client will be just about to buy your idea. And then, slowly, and sneakily, your ACD will take everything the client likes about your campaign and merge those ideas into hers. So slowly and sneakily, in fact, that you won’t realize what is happening until the moment when client buys her idea instead of yours.
And then, you will start to cry.
You will cry so hard that you have to be taken out of the client meeting and put in a car.
You will be driven back to the agency, where you will sit in your office, waiting to get fired. You will wait for what feels like an eternity.
And finally, your Creative Director will come. And he will call you into his office. And he will shut the door. And you will still be crying.
He will sit next to you on the couch. He will hand you a box of Kleenex. And he will tell you he heard about what happened in the meeting. You will nod. And sniffle. And he will tell you something amazing. He will tell you you’re not, in fact, getting fired. He will tell you, instead, you’re getting a job.
And through your runny nose and watery eyes and pile of tissues you will look at him in amazement.
“But, why?” you will ask.
And he will tell you that it’s because you have passion. Because tact, and judgment and poise can all be taught. But passion; either you have it or you don’t. And passion is a rare thing. So congratulations, kid. Congratulations, go blow your nose, and get back to work.
Which, 20 years later, is still pretty good advice for all of us:
Congratulations on having passion.
Now go blow your nose.
And get back to work.
To read the entire 2013 'On My First Day of Advertising' series, click this.