• Dear Me, On My First Day of Advertising #16: Tom Van Ness

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    Tom’s Top Tips for Young, Stupid Tom. (Or any young creative for that matter.)

    Be obnoxiously curious. If you don’t know exactly what’s going on, just ask. Now is the time to be naïve, not eight years from now. Ask a question. Then ask a few more. It’s better to look curious and eager than dumb. More importantly, you can get yourself in a lot of deep shit by just nodding your head when you don’t know what something is. It’s a trait that will benefit you for a lifetime.

    Become an MBA on the side. Well, it doesn’t have to be MBA level, but the more you can learn about business, the better. After all, advertising is business, not just creativity. An ACD or CD or even junior creative that knows about how the bottom line becomes the bottom line is a very valuable commodity. How does the agency earn money? What can you do every day to help profitability? This too will serve you for a lifetime. Especially when you try to open your own agency in the middle of the worst recession since the 1930s.

    Practice your presentations. Your life depends on presenting. Well, the career side of things at least. Improv. Just do it. It’s ridiculously fun, and it not only helps your presenting, it helps your brain think quickly and in different ways. Voice classes, why not? Public speaking. Hell yes. Then practice your presentations. Even the little ones. As a creative, you’re on stage every time you present. The more often you kill it, the more often you’re the trusted go-to. Remember, any good actor rehearses. Great actors rehearse until they vomit. Rehearsals give you the chance to build the bridges between ideas, and polish the concepts so that you can sell what you want to sell.

    Sorry for being so practical, young Thomas. I would have woven some heart-wrenching, emotional storytelling into this letter, but there’s a guy here in the future they call Jim Elkin. And he owns that shit.

    To read the entire 2013 'On My First Day of Advertising' series, click this.

  • Dear Me, On My First Day of Advertising #15: Jasper Gray

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    To young Jasper,

    This is some advice for your first day on a film set. Because you don't know yet that you even work in advertising. You'll learn that eventually, but not today. You don't even know who those stylish people are behind the video-assist monitor or what they are doing. Although I will say it's good to get to know them as most of them will turn out to be pleasant company and good to have a drink with. And after all they did come up with the idea in the first place and are really the reason we are all here. But that's way too much for now and we can get to that much, much later.

    So first things first...

    Get to set early. Seriously. Not right on time and definitely not late. Double check your call time, the map to location, and your calculation of the time it takes to get there, but especially your alarm clock. This is going to be a tough one for you, I know. But you will have to learn quickly because if you show up late you won't get get hired again and your film career will be short lived. So take this seriously and I promise it will make you a better person. Or at least a better prepared one — which is almost the same thing.

    Shut the fuck up. At least at first. No one is going to want to hear about your student film, your experience gained shooting your student film or your shot by shot breakdown of Hitchcock's Vertigo. You are working with professionals who have more experience than you can imagine and sometimes you have to shut your mouth to open your eyes and learn and this is definitely one of those times. There is no way that you can impress them with what you think you know. But through a willingness to learn and by busting your ass you can at least earn their respect. Maybe, just maybe during lunch someone will want to know about your student film award or why Tippi Hedren wore a green dress but probably not. This is also going to be hard for you. But soon you will learn not only how, but why.

    Now that is out of the way….

    Absorb everything. The fascination you feel right now will be your greatest asset. It will drive you to learn about every aspect of filmmaking. It will give you the enthusiasm and energy to make a career in the filmmaking. When you don't yet have the experience, the connections or the know-how, this is what will drive you through.

    You are going to work with hundreds of crews, thousands of people, all over the world. And every new day on set you will have to prove yourself all over again. Some people are going to yell and scream, some people are going to test you, tell you what you can't do, even try to demean you (hey — it's the film business, and sometimes it's like that). Smile politely and then work to prove them wrong.

    But more people will take you under their wing and mentor you. Sometimes this will go beyond filmmaking, some will also be your mentors and role models in life. Repay these people with the utmost loyalty, and when the time comes follow their example.

    And when the Prop Master asks you to separate the best cornflakes from a case of cornflakes boxes do this with pride and whatever cornflake wrangling skill you can muster. Make sure those 'hero' flakes are set and ready for their close-up when the time comes and that you have even more triple A+ flakes in reserve. Try to realize that one day you may need someone to do something like this for you, and if they half-ass it then it's your shot that could suffer from shitty looking cornflakes. And if that's too abstract then just do your best because you want to get hired back and because everyone on the crew gives their very best work even on something that seems completely trivial.

    And through all of this make sure that you enjoy yourself. Because you've just stumbled into what could possibly be the greatest job in the world.

    Oh, and yes, that table full of snacks, you can help yourself — just try not to overdo it.

    To read the entire 2013 'On My First Day of Advertising' series, click this.

  • Dear Me, On My First Day of Advertising #14: Jim Glynn

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    Dear 22 Year Old Jim

    Congratulations on surviving your first day at Foote, Cone.

    Sorry the Chief Creative Officer got so pissed at you for not bringing any ideas to the Shout gangbang.

    How was he supposed to know it was your first day?

    The memory of the door jam shattering when he stormed out still makes me laugh.

    It does get better, but why ruin the surprise.

    I do have two pieces of advice, though.

    Every time you meet a girl with any ties to Indiana, run.

    You’re gonna have to trust me on this.

    And in 1980, a company called Apple will start selling stock.

    Hock everything and buy all you can.


    Slightly Older Jim

    To read the entire 2013 'On My First Day of Advertising' series, click this.

  • Dear Me, On My First Day of Advertising #13: Mike King

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    Dear Me,

    I am writing to you from December 2013. I am now in my thirties, married and have a 7-month-old baby. But that’s a different letter. Today we’re going to talk about your career in advertising. By this year, you will have worked at five agencies. Five. So yeah, I have some advice for you.

    1. Hone your writing skills. You’ve probably been skimming through a 2003 Archive saying, “I wish I’d have done that” about a visual solution for what most likely is a fake client. But the truth is, you’re going to need to know how to write a good headline, radio script or website in a pinch more often than not.

    2. Scare yourself. You’re going to be presented with opportunities that will bring you out of the state and out of your comfort zone. Feel them out and if it feels right, don’t be afraid to go for it. A new city, new agency and new people will teach you more than you thought possible.

    3. Get serious about digital. Don’t just concept microsites and banners, learn to create them. Even if you’re terrible at it. Trying means learning and learning digital will be more important than you could ever imagine.

    4. Sweat the small stuff. The details matter. Do your research. Triple check things. Stress over words that seem insignificant. Spend hours finding the perfect music or voiceover for a project. The little things can make a big difference. Sometimes, all the difference.

    5. Be more creative outside work. Write that damn screenplay already. Or that book. Fuck, write a blog if you want to. Actually learn to play the guitar. Collaborate with friends on stupid ideas. Creativity outside the office fosters creativity inside of it.

    6. Fail smarter. This is one of the most worn-out expressions in the industry, but it’s so damn true: Accept failure. Don’t be afraid of it. Embrace it. Learn from it. Let it light a fire under your ass and push you forward.

    7. Don’t use exclamation points. Never try to make your own sushi. Travel more. Ride your bike. Drink good beer. Help people. Make shit happen. Have fun. Be happy.

    Best regards,

    To read the entire 2013 'On My First Day of Advertising' series, click this.

  • Dear Me, On My First Day of Advertising #12: Steve Babcock

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    SENT BY: Google FluxMail
    TO: July, 1999

    Dear Steve,

    Today is your first day as a Jr. Copywriter at EURO RSCG DSW Partners in Salt Lake City, Utah. You did it. You graduated from the mailroom. You’re officially official!

    And now, some advice. It’s a quote from David O. McKay.

    “No other success can compensate for failure in the home.”

    What does this have to do with advertising, you ask?

    As you’ll soon discover, the advertising industry is funny. It’s not just about making ads that drive results for clients. For many, it’s largely about creating work in hopes of gaining recognition. Whether that’s winning an industry award, being featured in an article, impressing the boss or outdoing a coworker.

    Everywhere you turn there will be opportunities to pursue recognition – all for the sake of feeling important.

    And by all means, please pursue these opportunities.

    But never let the desire to be important in the workplace outpace your desire to be important in the home.

    This doesn’t mean you can’t desire to go to Cannes. It just means that desire can’t be stronger than your desire to attend your daughter's piano recital.

    Definitely strive to impress your boss. Just make sure you never let up striving to impress your wife.

    Bring home all the trophies you can. Just make sure you bring them home in time for dinner.

    Get the idea?

    You’ll find that the advertising industry is a constant struggle to achieve balance. But an emphasis on home and family is an emphasis worthy of your pursuit. Home is the sure foundation. You’ll experience many jobs. You’ll get laid off a few times and even fired once. You’ll have ups and downs. Wins and losses. Times of happiness and times of utter insanity. It will be tempting to dabble in workaholism. None of which will truly bring happiness. Even the shiniest of titanium trophies will pale in comparison to the smallest of moments in the home.

    So go be great. Work hard. Be passionate. Earn recognition. Just remember that if you make your family your priority, regardless of what’s going on in your career, you will always be successful.

    Take care homie,


    PS: SPOILER ALERT: The band never ends up making it big. Sorry. But it’s a fun ride anyway. Enjoy it.

    To read the entire 2013 'On My First Day of Advertising' series, click this.

  • Dear Me, On My First Day of Advertising #11: Pat Feehery

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    When I first got this assignment to write a letter to myself I thought, “Shit, I’d never read it.” It would lie on my nightstand next to unpaid parking tickets and prayer cards from my mom, who was probably scared I’d never make it through the Pearly Gates (and rightfully so). So I thought, where would impressionable me be? Ah yes, the bar. The Park Tavern to be specific. I can still smell the stench of cigarettes and cheap beer permeating off my oversized, blue-collar body. Look at you, Philly construction worker turned creative. You did it. Now here are four things I wish I knew when I started in "the biz."

    Have fun with advertising. When you start to stress out, realized that you’re one of lucky ones, not many people have the opportunity to do what you do. The stress of advertising is manufactured; it’s put on us, by us. Remember we’re not saving babies; we’re probably making them talk and use financial software.

    Keep your family and friends above advertising. Your professional loyalty is commendable, but don’t sacrifice relationships or experiences because of it. As much as you care about advertising, advertising doesn’t care about you, because it inanimate and it certainly doesn’t have feelings. This time around don't miss your grandfather's funeral because of work, I promise you'll regret it.

    Work smart, not hard. The more efficiently you work the more you will enjoy life outside the confines of Adobe Creative Suite. The more you enjoy your time off, the more you will enjoy advertising. Consequently the more you enjoy advertising; the more it will pay you back. So, yes Miller Lite will only be a life choice in the future, and not a budget conscious decision. Trust me you'll still drink it, they release this Vortex bottle that becomes a cult classic with you and all your juvenile friends.

    And last but not least, don’t be a dick, because you never know who that person you piss off turns out to be. Unless he’s an dude who went on your computer and stole your files. That dude you can still threaten to kick his ass with every being in your body, because that’s just not cool.

    In closing, just keep advertising a cool, humble place to work for yourself and others. I wish you realized this a long time ago, but know that one day you’ll be happier than a pig in shit. Oh and speaking of shit, stop smoking and lose some weight.

    To read the entire 2013 'On My First Day of Advertising' series, click this.

  • Dear Me, On My First Day of Advertising #10: Anne Macomber

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    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.

    Love, me

    To read the entire 2013 'On My First Day of Advertising' series, click this.

  • Dear Me, On My First Day of Advertising #9: Jeremy Seibold

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    Dear Me,

    Congratulations on your first real job. Now quit. Get out of there right now. You’ll leave in October anyway and you’ve got more important things to do. Go give Effie a kiss, then get on a plane to California. Go home and hug your Mom. Squeeze her until you can’t anymore — which will be roughly 5 months from now. Tell her twelve times a day how much you love her. Thank her. No matter how many times you’ve said it, you haven’t said it enough. Rub her feet. She likes that but you won’t realize it until she is in so much pain that foot rubs won’t possibly make a difference. Get on an airplane with her and visit her hometown of Rockland, Maine. Walk the Breakwater and when you get to the end just sit there. Sit and talk until there is nothing left to say.

    When you’re out of time get back to the airport and head to Idaho to see your future father-in-law. You’ve still got 7 months until your next job. That’s not nearly enough time to learn everything he has to offer, but you’ll have about 6 more years to pick his brain. Don’t take this time for granted, though, because I promise you it will fly by. Learn modesty. Learn to tip when no one is looking. Learn to fly fish. It is excruciatingly slow and uneventful, but I think that’s the point. And if it’s not, who cares? It’s time you’ll spend with him and that’s something you’ll wish you had more of when you’re my age. And for Christ’s sake, travel! Be in Pretoria, June 23, 2010, standing side-by-side with him when Landon Donovan makes history, bringing the crowd to fever pitch with a game-winning stoppage time goal against Algeria.

    Now get on with it. Let these things steel you but not shape you. And stop being a slacker. It’s fear and laziness that prevent you from writing, and you can’t fix one without fixing the other. Write. Write short stories. Write songs. Write a book. Just write. And show people. The sooner you get over that fear, the better you’ll become. I think. We’ll never actually know if you don’t try.

    Before I go — enjoy it. Smile more. Hug your loved ones. Your liked ones. Hug strangers. Enjoy every moment you have because the best ones seem to go the quickest. And try to relax. Everything works out, I promise. The stress really messes with your sleep in a few years, and sleep is something that’s hard to come by as of 11/20/12.


    To read the entire 2013 'On My First Day of Advertising' series, click this.

  • Dear Me, On My First Day of Advertising #8: Ryan Johnson

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    Dear Me,

    Congratulations! You’re a copywriter. In about four years, your parents will figure out what a copywriter does. Good for you.

    So, you’re feeling overwhelmed. You’ve got a brief on your desk with three tactics—some print, a TV spot and a little radio. What’s that? You only have five weeks to concept? Dear lord! How are you keeping it together? You should be curled up in a bathtub right now, drinking peach schnapps and listening to Joy Division on repeat.

    Oh you precious little kitten, get over yourself. Cherish this time. Cherish it like a simple ball of yarn that’s going to turn into a 12-page media flow chart.

    The Internet (or information superhighway) is about to get all up in your business. You currently use it to pass along obscene photos your brother sends you or to watch cartoon hamsters explode in microwave ovens. Well, apparently they’re researching bigger and better things to do with the Internet. By “they” I mean the people who invented it, which is the government, the porn industry and the NFL. Never mind that.

    That list of tactics you’re sweating is going to multiple by 50 and the timeline is going to get hacked. But the Internet will provide countless opportunities to reach consumers. You’ll get to do banner ads, which are like miniature outdoor boards except they animate. Or sometimes they animate and sometimes they don’t. Or sometimes you’ll think they can animate and you’ll concept them like that, and then you’ll find out the ad servers have a file size limitation and they can’t really accept anything more than a flattened image or something like that.

    Whoa. Don’t freak out, kitten. Everything is going to be all right.

    Technology is your friend. And it’s a friend to your friends. See all these friends you’re making now and you think you’ll lose touch with after careers pull everyone in different directions? You’re going to be connected forever. More than that, you’ll know exactly what they had for breakfast, when they buy new pants and when they’ve got a violent case of the flu. Also, you’ll share photos of sunsets, which are nice things to share.

    I understand this is probably a bit much to take in. And, quite frankly, there are going to be plenty of times in the future when you’ll certainly want to curl up in the bathtub with that bottle of schnapps. The good news is you’re going to have a crazy-ass smart phone from which to write this note to yourself.

    To read the entire 2013 'On My First Day of Advertising' series, click this.

  • Dear Me, On My First Day of Advertising #7: Mark St. Amant

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    Dear 1991 Mark,

    First, get comfy, because this is a long one…

    Congrats, 24-year-old Me, on your new job as Junior Copywriter at one of Boston’s top ad agencies, Arnold Fortuna Lane! I guess recently getting fired from your account coordinator gig at that high-tech public relations firm – your first real, big boy job post-college -- was a blessing in disguise, eh? Hey, don’t get pissed that I brought that up; I would have fired you, too. All you did was write terrible short stories in your cube all day when you were supposed to be pitching high tech magazine editors on behalf of your clients.

    So, if you’re reading this, former PR boss Marijean Lauzier: on behalf of both 1991 Mark and 2013 Mark, you were right to shit-can us. No hard feelings. We were the polar opposite of a good employee. (And we were hungover at work a lot, too. LOOK AT ME, I THINK I’M STILL IN COLLEGE! WHEEEEE!) So I guess this is Advice #1: Mark, do the job you were hired to do. Every time out. Do even more whenever possible, of course. Be reliable, and at the very least deliver what they expected of you when they started paying you. If you don’t, they will – and should -- fire you.

    Speaking of Arnold, you will work at the many iterations of this particular agency on three separate occasions between now and 2009. Arnold Fortuna Lane; Arnold Fortuna Lane & Cabot; Arnold, Fortuna, Lawner & Cabot; Arnold Advertising; Arnold Worldwide; Snyder Communications (for a brief moment, more on that below); Arnold again; and inevitably Arnold-Publicis-Romijn-Stamos-Omnicom-Sleater-Kinney-al-Qaeda-Cougar-MDC-Mellencamp. So Advice #2 is: Just roll with the changes. Sorry to get all REO Speedwagon on you, but advertising is a transient, often heartless, cold, all-business business. People get laid off/move around all the time. There’s little to no loyalty, and everyone – even those with their names on the door -- is expendable no matter how important they believe they are. So when Arnold lays you off eighteen years from now, in 2009, seriously, don’t sweat it (even though your wife will be pregnant with your second child and you’ll freak a little bit). It’ll lead to your landing in gorgeous Boulder, working at Crispin, and eventually starting your own agency up near CU with some awesomely talented friends. So it’ll be for the best, trust me.

    Anyway, as I write this, it’s December 12th, 2013 and I’m – we’re – 45-years-old now. We even have tiny flecks of gray in our stubble (when we don’t shave) and go to bed, on average, around 9:30 p.m. most nights. Terrifying, right? You think I’m pretty lame, admit it, what with my wife of twelve years, two kids, mortgage, Subaru Outback, and other trappings of middle age. And I laugh at your Harry Potter glasses, 21 Jump Street haircut and non-existent savings account. So suck it. Which leads me to Advice #3: Don’t take jobs for money. Yes, agency-hopping is one of the primary ways we get raises. But there will be jobs you almost take for a small bump in salary, and I’m happy to report you turn most of them down. Key words: most of them. Not that I have THAT much more money in 2013 than you do in 1991, but please be smart with your cash. Save enough to live for a couple months if the shit goes down, which it usually does in this business. (Thankfully, you’ll marry a woman who’s much better with finances than you are -- a former broadcast producer, of course – but still, don’t go buying that matching set of gold-plated jet skis after your first raise.)

    Advice #4: Sometime around 2015, “Advertising” will officially change its name to “Prankvertising”. So start thinking of some brand-building pranks, stat.

    Actually, according to my iPhone calendar, we’ll be 46 in ten days. Sorry -- an “iPhone” is a futuristic communication/information/fellow human-ignoring device created by a brilliant sociopath named Steve Jobs. Jobs’ company, Apple, created that 1990 Macintosh Classic upon which you’ll now be writing your god-awful headlines and scripts, and whose various technological iterations – laptops and such -- will be your life’s blood for the next two-plus decades. Get used to Apple products, man. They’ll be more vital to your survival than your spleen (whatever one’s spleen does). And speaking of headlines and scripts, for a long while, you will do nothing but write shitty ones and have hare-brained ideas that you think are brilliant. But they’re not. They’re probably derivative and unfunny. So I guess Advice #5 is: Don’t get indignant when your Creative Director kills them. Because better is always out there. Don’t be so blinded by pride or frustration that you miss it. And when writing, be brief. Sparse. Economical. Don’t say in ten words what you could say in five. Ironic advice, considering this letter will go on for another 27 pages. But in the future, due to a lethal cocktail of text messaging-fueled laziness, high-fructose corn syrup and something called “Twitter” (don’t ask), peoples’ attention spans will be shorter than a hummingbird on crack. So write accordingly, because annoyed commenters in blogs like the Denver Egotist will bitch and moan that you yammered on too long…and they’ll be 100% right. (But for those of you who stick with me until the end, there’s a reward of sorts waiting for you. Promise.)

    Speaking of crack cocaine, here’s Advice #6: Mark, I know it’s your first day, but get out of advertising and into politics, get your Canadian citizenship and become the Mayor of Toronto. Talk about job security! You can apparently do anything short of choking out an underage hooker on top of the CN Tower -- and you could probably even do that – and still remain employed. Just a thought.

    Now, Advice #7: Lose the tie. Even though it’s your first day and still a relatively prehistoric 1991 where you are, creatives just don’t dress like Don Draper anymore. (Sorry. That reference will be lost on you. The advertising-themed television show known as Madmen on a cable network called “AMC” won’t exist for another sixteen years because its creator, Matthew Weiner, is still writing for Becker and its handsome star, Jon Hamm, is still playing Hamlet in summer stock theater in Bakersfield. Madmen will also make AMC think viewers would enjoy another advertising-themed show called The Pitch, which, in actuality, will only make them want to brutally murder people in advertising. But I digress…)

    So, yeah, no necktie. But just for now. Because this dovetails nicely into my next word of semi-wisdom. Actually, that reminds me, let me first inject Advice #7.5: Never use business cliches like “Dovetail”, “Think outside the box” or “Ideate”. And certainly don’t refer to even the most talented ad professionals as “rock stars”. Jimmy Page is a rock star. Eddie van Halen and Davie Lee Roth (he wrote, only to appease his myopic colleague, Jeff Graham) are rock stars. But a senior copywriter wearing sunglasses indoors at Chez-Jay? That’s just an asshole.

    On a related note, Advice #8: Don’t waste energy and time trying to look creative; just be creative. Too many closet hacks – many of them your future colleagues and bosses -– will judge you on style over substance and make you secretly worry that you’re not as “cool-looking” as those sporting gang tats, quintuple lip piercings and generally disguising themselves as 16-year-olds straight outta Dogtown despite being 38-year-olds straight outta Dartmouth…all to hide the fact that they couldn’t write a coherent sentence or come up with an original idea if their clip-on dreads depended on it. So don’t lose a second of sleep about why you’re not being given the secret handshake to the Cool Creative’s Club and getting those killer creative assignments as quickly as you’d hoped/expected. Instead, make the best of what you ARE given to work on. Make your own great projects. Keep your head down, keep working your ass off and trust that you have the talent to succeed. People who know the difference will be able to spot the genuine article, and won’t hire/encourage/mentor/promote you simply because you look like Travis Barker. Some of the best creatives you’ll ever know over the next twenty-plus years will just be regular guys and girls who aren’t trying too hard. Who aren’t spending an hour in the morning making their hair look like they just rolled out of bed AND TOTALLY DON’T CARE. Be yourself, yes. But if you have to emulate someone, be more like those folks who just ARE creative. Shut up, listen, and learn from them. Everyone else is just meticulously unkempt static with relatively short shelf lives.

    Advice #9: No matter how attractive it might seem at the time, do NOT start an agency with Wade Paschall. Just don’t. This is non-negotiable.

    What else? Oh, Advice #10: It will take you almost thirteen more years from now until you finally realize one of your childhood dreams and get a book published in 2004, and another in 2006. That’s great and all. Pop some champagne, for sure. But it should happen much sooner. You need to make the writing time while you don’t have kids whom you love more than anything and with whom you want to (have to, but mostly want to) spend all your free time. You need this other writing. Sure, advertising is fun and keeps your creative juices flowing. But you –- all creatives – need outlets with which you can express said creativity. Outlets that you AND ONLY YOU own. Whose edges can’t be sanded off by focus groups, hand-wringing account people, chief creative officers or anyone else offering what might pass as an “opinion”. Whether it’s writing poetry or screenplays, painting, sculpting, teaching SCUBA diving, rock-climbing, triathlon-competing, bull-riding, hobo-killing -- whatever it is, find that outside outlet, pursue it, and guard it as desperately and selfishly as Gollum guards his Precious. Unless that outlet is, in fact, hobo-killing. That I would not advise. Unless you’re really good at it, in which case I say, Godspeed, I-95 Rest Stop Killer!

    Advice #11: When a man named Kanye Omari West asks you to co-star with him in a music video titled “Bound 2,” respectfully decline.

    Time to wrap this up, 1991 Mark. I know you have to get back to that Boston Gas bill stuffer brief you were just handed. (For those of you here in 2013, a “bill stuffer” was a tiny little “ad” that retailers and utilities companies once “mailed” with “bills” and self-addressed return “envelopes”.) But before I let you go, I also want to give you Advice #12: At some point in the early 2000’s, a pint-sized jackal of a man, who made his millions in wallboard marketing, database marketing (a.k.a. junk mail) and product sampling, will buy and briefly own Arnold. One day you will find yourself standing next to him on the elevator. And due to the noxious aura of evil pulsating around him, you will just stand frozen, a little scared, staring at the wall, silent. Now, I realize this isn’t as historically impactful as those “If you could time-travel back to 1905 Vienna and kill a then-innocent Hitler, would you?” scenarios. But still, when you do find yourself standing next to one Daniel Snyder, please, when the doors shut, put him in a sleeper hold, force a cyanide capsule down his throat KGB-style, and dump his lifeless body down the elevator shaft. Legions of future Washington Redskins fans will thank you.

    Advice #13: Invent Facebook and/or the Tesla.

    Finally, Advice #14: You’re about to embark on a career that doesn’t involve shooting others, being shot at, or being imprisoned for your beliefs. It doesn’t involve smokejumping, digging ditches, assembling Steve Jobs’ tiny electronics, testing rectal thermometers, breaking up prison yard brawls, serving small children sloppy Joes, wearing theme park mascot uniforms, making change at tollbooths, handing out mints in restrooms, mining coal, cleaning up crime scenes, performing triple bypasses, or any other far more mentally/physically/soul-crushingly grueling tasks. No, we have it relatively easy in advertising. We’re lucky. We’ve worked hard and made our own luck, mind you. But still. So many others in this world have it far, far worse than we do. So, whenever you get “stressed” or “agitated” about something utterly insignificant in the scheme of life, please, appreciate every single minute you have not only in this business, but with your friends and family. Because when you turn 46, you’ll be more than halfway through the average white male lifespan. So do us both a favor and, when you get to December 12th, 2013, promise yourself – promise us -- to make the absolute best of whatever time we have left.

    Oh, and speaking of not wasting time, Advice #15: Don’t start watching Lost in 2004. When it ends six years later, it’ll just make you absolutely furious.

    Your pal,
    2013 Mark

    Okay, that “reward” I mentioned earlier. This is an advertising blog, as you know, and a very good one. Meaning some of you might be out of work creative looking for jobs/new opportunities, which is always harder and more discouraging around the Holidays. Trust me, I know. So if you are indeed job-hunting – in the Denver/Boulder area or elsewhere – send me a link to your work at mstamant@grenadierco.com, with the subject line “Your Egotist piece sucked & violated me with boredom” (or just a simple “My link”.) If your work’s good and you seem nice, I’ll happily pass you on to anyone I know in this business who might be hiring. (I wish we were, but Grenadier is still a relatively small shop and our hires are few and far between.) Maybe our great partner agency, Barkley. Maybe someone from my old haunts in Boston. Who knows. But we’ve all been there, and there are a ton of smart, talented, driven people in this region who just might need a little luck or extra push to get that “in” they need. So I’ll do what I can to help. Happy holidays and thanks for enduring my yammering.

    To read the entire 2013 'On My First Day of Advertising' series, click this.

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