Recently an overly ambitious young copywriter came into my office and asked, “How do I become a creative director?” My answer was simple. “First you’ll have to work your ass off. Nights, weekends, whatever it takes. Second, you’ve got to be incredibly prolific. Plan on coming up with at least 12 ideas for every project you get. If those ideas meet with rejection, plan on coming up with another 12. Third, volunteer for the toughest assignments, the ones everyone else runs away from. And finally, assume total responsibility for the quality of your work by paying attention to every single detail.”
“Wow, that’s great advice,” the copywriter responded. “So that’s what it takes to become a creative director?”
“Oh, no,” I corrected him. “That’s what it takes to become a senior copywriter. Then you keep doing it over and over and over.”
The lesson: focus on performance, never on title or power.
The above story is “borrowed” from a tale that former secretary of state, Colin Powell, likes to tell. The original story is actually about an army private who aspires to become a general.