Whether you’ve just entered the advertising game or you’re hoping/planning on it, here are a few pieces of advice I personally think you should know before you commit your entire career.
You need to be resilient.
Man, oh man, is this industry a rollercoaster of amazing, kick-ass highs and gut-punching, hand-me-the-bottle lows. One day you’re Clio-worthy and the next you’re checking the internet for a one-way ticket to anywhere. And from what I hear, it’s not just that way for creatives. I have friends in account service who crush it in a new business pitch one month and then the next they get an angry call from a client saying, “you’re fired.” It’s an unpredictable pendulum that can weigh heavy on a lot of people. So it’s incredibly important that you have a thick skin. And don’t’ worry; that can grow over the years. But being prepared for it even a little bit can help ease the blow. Just know that we all go through it and it happens no matter how many years you’re in the game. Be okay with being wrong. Keep yourself motivated. Create a strong support system of family, friends and co-workers. And remember, there’s no such thing as constant perfection in this industry. Even Ogilvy struggled. I imagine. … Don’t tell him I said that.
It’s best if you have a sick desire for deadlines.
Deadlines are a guarantee. Lots of them. All at once sometimes. And they are relentless. And stressful. And some people can’t handle it. I remember being in a PR workshop in college; we had 50 minutes to take a page and a half of bullet points and turn that into a glistening press release. I thought, “Cool. Let’s do this.” My friend next to me, on the other hand, was flustered the entire time. She was used to having two weeks to write a paper – plenty of time for planning and research and organizing and writing and editing. Not always a luxury we get in this industry. So make sure you’re not only okay with deadlines, but you thrive on them. I like to try and make stress my friend, not my enemy. Not always easy, but it can make the job very fun.
Don’t be an asshole.
Look. There are a lot of assholes out there who might disagree with me, but I personally think this is an important one. And can be a challenge for everyone at times, including me. Here’s the thing. This is a passionate, subjective industry. Everyone’s got an opinion and they are rarely the same. (In fact, if they’re always the same, then you’re not doing it right.) But while disagreements are great, and healthy arguments are often productive, there’s a line that some people can cross. It’s business, not personal – sure, we get that. But when you make someone cry, it just became personal. And that’s honestly not productive for anyone – not you, them, the company, nor the client. How we deliver our opinions can be perceived differently by different people. So while we might mean well, the best thing to do is always try and reflect after a “discussion” and work on your approach if need be. I’m constantly trying to understand how to better communicate my thoughts because, in the end, that’s how we get better results overall.
Now these aren’t meant to scare you (unless they do, then you’re probably not in the right field), but rather to prep you for the unpredictable world in which we spend many, many hours of our lives. It’s a whole heap of fun and excitement, but it’s not for the weak. So be sure you love it. Like really love it. Cause then all of the ups and downs are totally worth it.