If you’re like most creative people in advertising, you have heroes. Who doesn’t dream of working and learning from the best people in the industry? If you could get them in a room together, imagine what you could learn.
I asked ad pros who have worked on some of the world’s most iconic brands to answer the questions young people continually ask me. Print out their words and paste them to your fridge. Practice what they say and one day you could be in their shoes.
Q: Describe the type of person you most want to hire.
David Baldwin, founder of Baldwin& (Raleigh, North Carolina) | Ad Age Small Agency for 2012
We hired a kid a few years ago who, when he took me through his book, began each sentence with the phrase, ‘We were trying to reinvent …’ He showed that he was interested and capable of thinking beyond advertising.
Q: What one thing should a person applying for a job with your company never do?
Never be unable to articulate every aspect of the problem you were trying to solve and why you did what you did to solve it. I want to know how you think because I hope your work is smart and well thought through.
Q: Define the one thing a person should do if they don’t get the job they had hoped for.
Dave Holloway, ECD of McGarrah Jessee (Austin, Texas)
Show persistence. If I suggest changes to the work, the person should consider making them … they could also send new work, updates, articles … again, showing passion. It's incredible how few people actually do.
Q: How should a person determine which company is best for them to work?
Carolyn Hadlock, ECD of Young and Laramore (Indianapolis)
Find the person, not the place. Working with the right person early in your career makes all the difference.
Q: How can I know if someone likes my work but really doesn’t have a position?
Cameron Day, ECD of Gyro (Boulder, Colorado)
If you have a good interview but there is no opening, ask for names. IF they really like you, they'll send you to their buddies. If they're reluctant, they probably don't think your work is worthy.
Q: What is the No. 1 thing that concerns you about those young professionals entering the industry?
Cathy Carlisi, CCO of Brighthouse (Atlanta)
In addition to great work, great understanding of where advertising is going (content vs. media). I think that passion and understanding for your agency and deep professionalism is critical. The rudeness and sense of entitlement out there is crazy.
Q: How do young professionals most often miss their opportunity?
John Boone, co-founder of Boone Oakley (Charlotte, North Carolina)
You are a brand. Go advertise yourself. And keep an open mind. One of my best jobs was at a new agency no one had ever heard of: Team One.
Q: Who in the next generation will lead our industry?
Woody Kay, managing partner and CCO at Arnold DC (Arlington, Virginia)
The kids who succeed will be the ones who embody and embrace this culture of ‘fluidity and diversity,’ but also have a commitment to craft. Not just innate talent, but a confident command of the tools they need to use — words or pictures — to express ideas, to tell stories in a compelling and persuasive way.
There was a lot more valuable information these people shared. Unfortunately, there isn’t enough space here to elaborate. But these words of wisdom are enough to show that the secret to success is available. You simply need to ask those who have succeeded.