Breaking into advertising is obviously a tough nut to crack or they wouldn’t have written a book about. I’m really not one to ask about this as: (1) I didn’t go to school for advertising/design/writing/what-have-you (2) I didn’t even go to school (3) Since I didn’t go to school, I didn’t intern anywhere & (4) I had no aspirations as a kid to one day be a creative director – no way, not ever.
It may sound cliché, but what me got to where I am today and what keeps me from shagging golf balls; is blood, sweat, tears, the ability to laugh at myself and a life outside the office.
I broke into this business by via the backdoor. I came into advertising after having worked 6 years as a rep/buyer/marketing director in the action sport industry before I took my first advertising job. For me, there was no school affiliation, past internship, or spec work to rely on – just my street smarts. So, a book focused solely on “breaking into” advertising via the above didn’t really apply to me.
Don’t get me wrong, I love what I do and work my ass off daily to get better at it. But, I took risks and put myself out there and said fuck fear and just went for it. My skill is I have a knack for creating ideas and communicating them to people, but just cause I can do that didn’t mean that an agency recruiter was going to spot me at the mall and sign me to a contract as a creative. Far from it (but, wouldn’t that be something?!?). Let alone, pick me out of a file cabinet full of others with the same skill set.
No, I cut my teeth smiling & dialing for an agency in their new biz department hoping against hope that some brand manager would pick up the phone and just listen. I beat on doors pitching creative ideas that didn’t exist yet, but were cobbled together with quick glances of what I saw on that person’s desk or wall. I searched out the communication weaknesses, found the story gaps and put the missing pieces in place that would move the needle, nod heads, and turn skeptics into evangelists.
Maybe you need a book to tell you that, but I was less than impressed by Vonk & Kestin’s 240 pages of PICK ME. If you want a cheaper version (read: FREE) of the book, check out http://ihaveanidea.org/askjancy/ where they got the material for this book.
Where PICK ME does strike a chord are the interviews from some of advertising’s greatest creatives like, Neil French, Mike Hughes, Chuck Porter, David Droga and Bob Barrie. It’s in these interviews where you’ll read about guts, courage, and the fearlessness I believe it takes to crack the nut of getting a gig as an advertising creative.
Lastly, I’ll quote a McCann CD I met while honeymooning in Paris. After we sat and bullshitted over a cup of coffee asked me what I was doing for a beautiful afternoon in Paris. I said, “my wife and I are going to Père Lachaise Cemetery” and he said, “you know what they say about cemeteries – they are full of people who thought they were more important in life than they actually were.” At which point, I kindly excused myself and went back to living life outside of the office.
On September 12, 2008 I was on my way up to Madison, WI with my buddy Disch to see The Walkmen play a show with Okkervil River. Both bands were on tour, but just so happened to be sharing the bill at the Barrymore Theatre in Madison. We had just pulled up to our hotel when over the car radio NPR reported that David Foster Wallace was dead of an apparent suicide.
Disch was crushed. I mean despondent, down and out defeated. As a recent MFA graduate and a working librarian, DFW was near and dear to his heart. He was only one of a handful of folks I’d known who had loved (let alone finished) DFW’s seminal work, Infinite Jest. It was an incredible literary loss, but I didn’t know that at the time.
I had tried to read Infinite Jest multiple times. Disch and a mutual friend of our’s, Eric kept telling me the book is amazing and all I had to do was get passed the beginning (read 300 dense, punctuation & paragraph barren pages). But I couldn’t muster it. And like 99.999999% of the people that attempt to read it, getting through the beginning (read: junior tennis in Arizona) was a no go. So, I compromised and read some of his other works including Consider The Lobster, Broom of the System & This Is Water. Then I re-read This Is Water. Then I read it again and then again and again. I could read that novella/speech/rallying cry over and over.
Foster Wallace writes with such a simplistic beauty in This Is Water. He deconstructs our every day rat-race/struggle/monotony and spins it backs to us in a way only he knows how. And when we read the words on the page we aren’t interpreting them with our brains, but with our hearts and inner voices. The same voices that we shush and shut-up with our conscious minds - cause adults don’t think like that. It’s in these heart to heart conversations that we rebel against our conscious ego and take back our actions, our perceptions, our choices and ultimately our lives.
This Is Water is an ethos, a tenet, a call to pause and think, is this the path I want to take? It’s a reminder that the road goes both ways, that options exist, that we’re not trapped, that we can stop and go a different direction. It is the heart’s “capital T-truth” and it’s all wrapped up into a 25-minute essay David Foster Wallace wrote in his commencement speech for the 2005 graduating class of Kenyon College.
The takeaways from this book are bountiful, I mean you can read the whole thing in under a half hour, but what rang truest to me is the last paragraph, which is quoted below.
“I know that this stuff probably doesn’t sound fun and breezy or grandly inspirational. What it is, so far as I can see, is the truth with a whole lot of rhetorical bullshit pared away. Obviously, you can think of it whatever you wish. But please don’t dismiss it as some finger-wagging Dr. Laura sermon. None of this is about morality, or religion, or dogma, or big fancy questions of life after death. The capital- T Truth is about life before death. It is about making it to 30, or maybe 50, without wanting to shoot yourself in the head. It is about simple awareness — awareness of what is so real and essential, so hidden in plain sight all around us, that we have to keep reminding ourselves, over and over: “This is water, this is water.”
So, why include this book in 52n52?
Because we need to be reminded that what we do for a living is not as earth shattering as we make it out to be.
Because, we need an ego check, slap in the face, simple pause…that there is more to our existence than a title or an award or a stellar book.
Because life is about living.
Because this is water, this is water.
oh yes. you will be mine. #twinpeaks
(Source: iwillsparethedetails, via golden-noise)
(Source: sepluv, via allthingsstylish)