This is possibly the most important lesson I can give anyone in advertising.

Six months into my first job, I was lucky enough to do an ad that got into the One Show. Here it is:

Bolstered by this confidence, my art director and I were certain the same ad would get into the Communication Arts annual. We submitted it. And months later, we got the call. It wasn’t on the shortlist.

I’m not exaggerating when I say I was supremely bummed. The fact that I was in the One Show annual was no consolation. I spent the day in a funk. I was blue. Cranky even. I remember going to sleep that night resolved to work harder than ever. I would never miss an opportunity like that again. I was going to do whatever it took to make award-winning ads.

That was September 10, 2001. The next day, getting into CA didn’t seem so important anymore.

I’ve been fortunate to have great creative directors and great partners and great clients who’ve helped me win awards and appear in annuals and other publications. And I haven’t received a single accolade without reflecting on that experience.

Years before 9-11, Neil French put it another way: “It’s kind of tragic that you can spend an entire lifetime turning out four great pieces of work, and they’re all ads. Nurses and ambulance drivers do something a thousand times as important, five times a day.”

Advertising is a lot of fun. We get paid to think. To come up with ideas. To make people laugh. To change their behavior. We’re very lucky to be in this business. Let’s not be jerks about it. Let’s keep things in perspective. Let’s do good work.


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