I shall be at the nineth annual portfolio review thingy in Chicago on Thursday

It’s taking place this Thursday the 26th of May at the Sax Hotel from 6 to 9.

in preparation i wrote this hopefully helpful list for ad creative wannabes.

it’s what i needed to hear back then. that’s for sure.

Here goes….

Ten things I wished I’d known when I was in your shoes

1. Purchase a solid pair of shoes. The journey to your dream job in advertising may well take much longer than you’d like it to. That’s just part of the process. The reality is that you could just be wasting your time and maybe advertising just isn’t for you. The people that actually do get the great jobs are praying that you’ll have exactly this thought and give up on your advertising dream. It’s a war of attrition. Persistence pays. Up to a point ;-)

2. Target somebody. Whose work do you admire most? Well why not just impress the shit out them somehow. Focus on the place(s) you really want to work right now. The clock is ticking here. If you don’t make a name for yourself quickly in advertising, it probably won’t happen later in your career. Advertising is a race.

3. Your first job matters. Who does the basic programming on your future career? Your first creative director. Work for someone whose work you respect and steal their act. This is very important

4. Don’t try to be funny. I know ad award shows reward comedy but that’s because comedy is easy to agree on. You’re not a comedian, you’re an advertising person. Show me that you can actually sell things. And that you have emotional range. The ad world is filled with vaguely funny Chandler-from-Friends types. We’re good for that! Thanks!

5. Work like a dog. You are probably young, cheap and single. Take advantage of this. Work your ass off. Prove yourself fast.

6. Exit your comfort zone. Right now you are also probably flexible and mobile. This doesn’t last. Use it. Leave the city/country you grew up in. Have an adventure. Why not?

7. If you want money you have to ask for it very directly.

8. Do something famous fast. Focus on building your personal brand and make sure you are eminently marketable at all times. Advertising can be a crazy business. Don’t get too comfortable. You will probably get fired a couple of times in your career. Always be ready for that.

9. Learn to stand up for yourself. Bill Bernbach said something to the effect that the the right doesn’t always displace the wrong but the energetic always displaces the passive. Having a lot of energy and attitude gets you a long way in advertising. Because sometimes being loud and passionate makes everyone who isn’t loud and passionate shut the f**k up. So you win!

10. Cultivate your mind. As advertising creatives we literally live by our wits. So the more you nourish your mind the better. Follow your passions. You never know how they can pay off in the future.

10 responses to “I shall be at the nineth annual portfolio review thingy in Chicago on Thursday

  1. wow, I wish I read this 10 years ago.
    few things I never tought of.
    will pass this on.

    btw Vinny, as an Irish guy this should make you proud:

  2. glad it was of use to you riki. yes i saw that. a very Irish comedy moment.

  3. i understand that Mary Harney was in the back of limo –

  4. Great advice. Ironically I’ve seen, experienced and had to do all of the above. And I’m only 3 and half years in. Couldn’t agree more on the foundation though. Having a great mentor to learn from in the beginning is vital!

    • well it’s a craft Ciara. that’s what it is. there are way too many self taught lightweights in this biz. shocking, i know!

      • Vinny, don’t push it. I’m a self-taught lightweight.
        just kidding :-)
        I had really bad luck with mentors: some got drunk, some got mentally ill, some were just fakes.
        that’s why I really appreciate any advice, POV or little trick I can find or read. especially in blogs like yours, Trott’s, Sell!Sell’s!, B-Kay’s, Scamp’s and alike.

        I’m too old now but I can proudly say: I’m the world’s oldest wunderkind!

  5. I can imagine Riki! Advertising has some interesting characters. I was lucky to get a good 1. Still remember getting that job and and he told me I had something but he was going to break me down and build me back into an ‘ad soldier’. I didn’t know what he meant but now I do. I couldn’t just do pretty pictures and nice ideas, I also had to learn the ad craft.
    I’ve come across other CDs since (even at big shops) and they are not mentors. I think you either have that ‘thing’ or don’t to be one. And like you said Riki, all the guys who write (this and) those lovely blogs – they’ve got the mentor ‘thing’.

    • Ciara, tell me about it. without mentor it takes much longer cause you sweat through your own mistakes.
      with all these blogs you really stand on the shoulders of giants.

      but funny thing is, looking back I’m 100% certain that everything led me exactly to my personal style I think I’m best at. that was un-avoidable, if you know what I mean. I would just get there faster.

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