I get it. You’re anxious. A bit stressed. One life stage comes crashing to an end and a new, unfamiliar one is about to begin.
You want a job, a paycheck and something that validates the last four years of life and the $200,000 you just forked over to prepare for — or perhaps delay — this very day.
Over the last few weeks I’ve had no shortage of students seeking advice on their portfolios, websites, cover letters and resumes.
Is my work portfolio good enough to get a job? How can I make it better? What should stay in? Should I take this out? Does this cover letter work? Do you know anyone at (fill in the name of virtually any advertising agency in America)? Would you mind looking at my resume? What’s better, any job inside a good agency or the position I really want at a lesser agency?
But there is one question that no one ever asks. A question that is far more important, at least in the long term, than, “How can I make this cover letter better?”
And it’s this.
“How can I be happy in my career?”
Given that I’ve somehow managed to survive for 35 years in a business that I love. Given that I actually looked forward to work every day for 30 of those years. And given that I never felt that I had to answer to anyone but myself I thought I’d share the six tips that I’m convinced lead to happiness as well as success.
Avoid working for (or with) assholes
You’ll recognize them right away. They throw their weight around just so you know who is in charge. They take credit for your ideas and blame you when theirs don’t work. They compete against you instead of working with you. They tend to say, “no because,” instead of “yes and.” They defend the past rather than embrace the future. They take the joy out of both the work and the workplace. Life is too short to spend any of it working for an asshole. Please don’t.
Find clients you believe in
Not everyone gets to work on Apple or Nike or Dove or Chipotle. You may find yourself selling fast food, sugar-laden soft drinks, SUVs or hair dyes. And that’s OK, too, if you believe in those products. But if that’s not the case, find a way to get off that business and onto to one you do believe in. Otherwise — even if you are engaged with the team, and stimulated by the challenge — you’ll never love the work you do or be proud of your accomplishments.
Pursue the work not the money
You want to wake up every morning excited about what you will create not about how much you’ll get paid. It’s the work that will make the day fly by. It’s the work that will keep your brain engaged. It’s the work that will make you want to come back tomorrow. And, no surprise, if you love the work and what you’re creating, you’ll do a better job and end up making more money anyway.
Control your own career
You have two choices. You can let your career happen to you. Or you can take charge. My suggestion? Don’t leave things to chance or to someone you work for. Plan ahead, leverage every experience, seek new challenges, stay impatient.
You may or may not have a 10-year plan or even a five-year plan. But as soon as you have your first position start plotting how to secure the next one. Know what it takes to get there and take the first steps sooner rather than later. Volunteer for additional assignments, develop relationships outside your immediate circle, build your personal brand with online content network, and stay open to any and all opportunities that present themselves.
Share everything you learn
If you really want to be happy, pass it forward and give it back. Few things can give you as much joy as teaching others what you know. So help someone older learn a new technology that keeps him relevant. Show a newbie the ropes. Save others from making whatever mistakes you made as you learn and grow. You’ll feel good about yourself. And set a good example for anyone inclined to be an asshole.
Got other tips for the next generation of makers, creators and doers? Please comment.
Yesterday, in a class at BU, I gave a lecture and led a discussion about “advertising” creative ideas. We explored “big” ideas: Let’s build a smarter planet; Giving wings to people and ideas; Day One. We dissected “campaign” ideas: A long day of childhood calls for America’s favorite pasta sauce. We thought about “advertising” ideas.
While some are clearly the creation of a traditional advertising creative team, the higher up the idea food chain you get, the more you can see the contribution of the strategist, or at the very least the strategic side of the creative team.
Ideas like “Day One” don’t happen without a pretty deep understanding of the user.
With the proliferation of screens, the mainstreaming of social media, the omni-presence of digital technology and the arrival of the Internet of Things, it becomes essential to know a lot more than how a consumer feels about a category, a company or its advertising.
How does she use technology? When does she access content? What role does her community play? How does context affect her willingness to engage? What kind of value and utility does she expect from a brand? What inspires her to share? Can you turn her into an advocate?
Today, the very best creative people have to be able to ask and answer those questions. And the very best strategists have to be able to get to ideas as good as Smarter Planet or Day One.
Years ago, when we worked in a linear fashion – client hands assignment to account guy who passes it to planner who writes brief for the creative team – we didn’t need to be T-shaped or know all that much about each other’s roles. Now, however, we have to be 20 or 30 percent something else. A writer/planner. A designer/coder. A strategist/creative.
Which leads me to the second part of this post — my excitement about Planning-ness having its 2013 conference in Boston next month. There is certainly no shortage of conferences, planning or otherwise. But as we all know, too many of them are designed to have you sit and listen as opposed to think and do. Planningness labels itself an “un-conference” for creative thinkers who want to get their hands dirty, offering a bit more how-to and interactive workshop sessions than the typical conference.
That makes Planningness a good thing for strategists who want to get more creative, or for creatives who want to get a bit more strategic. There may always be a distinction between creative and planning, but look at the very best of new, big, or digital ideas and that distinction gets more and more blurred.
The Planningness Grant
This years Planningness is offering a $10,000 grant for anyone the best research idea or project designed to benefit the planning community and creative thinkers.
How do social ideas spread? Are smaller communities of influence a new trend? Does real time come at the expense of enduring ideas? Do we learn by iterating or by testing?
Come up with a proposal and get it in. You have three days left. But this is a great opportunity to learn something that will make you, your agency and the community of planners better.
Anyway, hope to see you at Planningness. Let me know if you’ll be there.
You may be going to SxSW for the panels, talks and keynotes. But the fact is you’ll inevitably pick some bad sessions, wishing you’d chosen something else and wondering how the one you’re suffering through even got in.
If you’re like some people I know (no names mentioned) you’re going only for the parties. And yes, some will be great, but others will be too crowded and will run out food too soon.
If you’re like most, you’re going for both. And to connect with industry friends and contacts.
But one of the best reasons to go to SxSW is to make connections with people you don’t know and may not meet anywhere else. Most of us tend to interact with the same 20 or 30 people every week. Maybe we tweet with another hundred or so.
The connections you can make at SxSW — sitting next to someone at a panel, standing in lines (there are plenty of those), hanging out at a charging station or a pop-up tent serving as a shared workspace — can lead to new sources of inspiration, a chance to meet potential collaborators, connections to people whose expertise may be very different from yours but relevant to your next big project.
So it’s pretty cool to see what the innovative folks at Hyper Island are offering. They’ve just launched Solo/Mates. Perfect for people headed to SxSW by themselves — or who want to connect with some new people — Solo/Mates is planned to be a series of daily meetups for people on their own, a reference source for best tips on what sessions and events are really worth attending, and a simple way to network, all filtered through the digital and collaborative mindset that defines Hyper Island. And given that Tim Leake is behind it, my guess it will actually attract the kind of people you might want to meet.
SxSW can be a zoo. In the midst of it all you try and find the best small gatherings where you can actually talk, learn, connect and perhaps plan. Consider checking out Solo/Mates.
Photo by : Amanda Hirsch
Their fourth quarter income was way up, double over a year ago. But they’re in the midst of some bad PR for serving horse meat. (What do you think would be in a $1.29 Whopper Jr?) And they’re challenged on the value front once again.
So what do they do? They imagine they’re CP&B (Whopper Sacrifice, Subservient Chicken) and hack themselves on Twitter. Making believe that McDonald’s bought them out, tweeting some nasty, tasteless stuff, and then disappearing in hopes of winning our sympathy or, better yet, inviting harsh criticism for their inability to handle the faux crisis.
Oh if only that were really the case. But it’s not April 1. So chances are they did get hacked. And didn’t notice soon enough. And weren’t ready with a response. Come on people, you are supposed to have real time crisis plans ready to go by now.
Anyway, here’s a few snips from the web gathered for what might become a story worth referring to when you need a SoMe case or example. At this posting a lesson in what not to do. But who knows, perhaps eventually something more impressive.