With thousands of graduations happening this month, ‘tis the season for new beginnings. And from someone who has been around the block a few times, believe me, it still all starts with a little confidence and a lot of enthusiasm. Hang in there with me and I promise there is a moral to this story.
I have had the privilege to mentor some very bright young people who were starting out in this crazy business called advertising. It’s always a delight to see their unbridled enthusiasm making ads. After all, most have taken courses in college named Campaigns or Communication Planning. Or Integrated Communications (one of my favorites). And many have degrees in marketing, which certainly provides a solid base for seeing the big picture. But some of the best creative and account management people didn’t start from there at all. The best account manager I ever worked with walked in the door at Ogilvy without an appointment and said he would like to talk with the person responsible for hiring account service people. I was so impressed by his boldness, I had to meet him.
Gary told me he had been a music teacher for seven years and just didn’t love going to work. He thought he might like advertising from a class he took in college and felt he would be good at it. He referenced Ogilvy On Advertising and decided he should go to Ogilvy & Mather.
The funny thing, as usual, was timing. Not more than an hour before, one of the selected summer interns called to say they had to drop out of the program. A spot was open. I asked Gary why he thought he would be good at this advertising business. He succinctly told me in five minutes, and then said he would work as a summer intern for no pay so he could learn about advertising – to see if he was good at it and liked it. I told him I couldn’t hire him without pay as an intern. His disappointment lasted about 10 seconds when I said I’d like him to be an intern and we’d pay him the normal $10 an hour (this was 20 years ago so not bad) and he lit up. “When can I start?”
He already had. His enthusiasm walked in the door with confidence, anticipation, desire and a lot of guts. I hired him full time as an assistant account executive two months later because he came in everyday and learned by listening, doing the unexpected for his coworkers and delighting our clients. With a great attitude, not entitlement.
Today, he is a successful marketing director, I’m sure still walking in the door every morning to learn something new and make something happen. Oh, and he can still play a mean sax.
The moral… do something you love with a positive attitude – never be afraid to learn something new, and you’ll do great things.
Ahhh, I love this advertising business.