Portfolio Advice From 20 Top Recruiters.

How recruiters felt about videos in student books.
How recruiters felt about videos in student books.

Recently I had the chance to meet with and talk shi…. talk shop with some 20 or so creative recruiters from agencies all over America. It was a great opportunity to ask a bunch of top agency recruiters what they look for (and don’t look for) in student portfolios.

In particular, I wanted to know if recruiters took the time to play those concept videos students sometimes put in their portfolios. You know, videos that show how a campaign unfolds, with voiceover to describe the flow; one of those ideas that’s hard to show off with just a few flat pages, you get me, right?

While the recruiters’ answers weren’t unanimous (this is a creative business), they did agree on a few big things. So let’s start off with the majority opinion (and it isn’t good).

• “I hate every single video I see.”

• “The thing is, nobody wants to watch them because they take three minutes to explain what could’ve been covered in thirty seconds.”

• “I think videos are a catastrophic waste of time.”

Wow, thank you for that constructive crit….

• “My god, those videos, they take way too much time, especially when I have ten books to go through and 20 minutes between meetings to do it.”

• “The videos are all about five minutes too long because students don’t seem able to edit them down.”

Okay, everybody, so what I’m hearing you say is “maybe”…  No, it’s “no.”  A big fat no. Okay. Okay. Still, you gotta agree not every concept can be shown in….

• “Yes, an integrated campaign can be shown in 2-D.”

• “I think having a quick 2-D visual of the main idea of the campaign along with a very short description of how the idea translates across multiple platforms, I think that solves the ‘quick-look’ issue.”

• “And for those students who really want videos? Have ‘em do Vines. They’re just six seconds long and their length might actually inspire our CD to click on ‘em.”

Oooookay then. That went well, … right?

Good talk. Good talk.

So we chatted some more. Turned out not everybody hated videos.

• “Include a video only if you absolutely, totally and completely cannot show your idea on flat paper.”

• “If I see it’s longer than a minute, forget about it. A minute or less, always. We even have that rule for our own case studies.” 

• “It has to be engaging from the very start. Give me a reason to keep watching.”

• “If there has to be a case-study video, put a two-sentence elevator pitch right above or below it. Sell me.”

• “The set-up you put next to the video needs to sell it, needs to make me want to click PLAY. Persuasion is what you’re supposed to be good at, right? Selling? So … show me you can do it. Show me right here, right now.”

• “I’m in the minority, as I honestly enjoy a good case study now and then. (I’ll just watch one though.)  Figuring it’s their prized idea, if they can keep me engaged, I welcome it. I also love the personality that sometimes comes through these videos.” 

• “I’m seeing more people coming into the business being able to shoot and edit their work. These skills are becoming important to demonstrate.”

 • “Once I narrow the books down based on other things, maybe then I’ll start looking at a few videos.”

• “I’m a little more willing to watch a video … if the rest of the book is killer.”

We also had time to talk about other stuff, just some general do’s and don’ts, one of which was, surprisingly, don’t suck. (Nah, I threw that in.)

• “It’s really simple. From writers I wanna see great writing. From art directors I wanna see great design. And from everybody, great thinking. Period.” 

• “I want the creativity to jump out of the book and slap me.”

• “Make it fast. If I can look at it and love it in two seconds, there’s nothing more powerful than that. I want to fall in love in two seconds.”

• “Have a pdf version of your book. It’s faster for us to review pdfs.”

• “I’m tired of ‘fancy’ websites that work only on specific browsers and make me all batshit crazy trying to navigate. I usually just go right to the pdf anyway.”

• “The first thing I assess is how the work looks. I want to see the kind of attention to detail this person puts into the way a thing looks.”

• “At the top of the page, have one single sentence to intro the campaign. No, target audience stuff. Just have… well, here’s a good example in a student book: ‘Citi Bike: How do you take an activity New Yorkers already do and turn it into something that does tangible good?’ See? It’s one sentence.”

• “Don’t do an app. Please, stop with the apps already.” 

• “Here’s what I think a student book ought to have: three or four integrated campaigns, obviously, plus one digital-only campaign, a couple of 2-D campaigns (print/outdoor/etc.), plus a few things that’re just … cool: inventions, evolutions on existing products/services, etc.”

Looking back on all the comments, a theme jumps out – speed.

Obviously, your concepts have to communicate quickly. But so does your whole website. Recruiters should be able to fly through your site, startin’ with your best work upper left (that’s how we read), then click in the center, then click on the right, just barrelling along clickety-split with no videos-as-speed-bumps to slow ‘em down.

My two cents?

Yeah, I think you probably oughta have at least one cool video; one big-ass integrated idea, if only to show your chops in using Adobe programs for visual storytelling. Set the idea up with a one-sentence caption, park it under the PLAY frame, make sure the video starts fast, no set-up, just get right to the coolest part, and be gone in sixty seconds.

Oh, also… it shouldn’t suck. Sucking, apparently, is bad.

 

 

 

Guest post from Ryan Carroll on why you need to be more than just a CW or an AD.

Your substitute teacher today is Mr. Carroll.
Your substitute teacher today is Mr. Carroll.

Okay, class. Today’s substitute teacher is Mr. Carroll. You remember Mr. Carroll. He was here two weeks ago. I expect you to give him the same respect you give me. People? Settle down, people.

• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

T-shaped skillset. I hate using this term since it’s so overplayed, but the truth behind the word is important. As a CD, I don’t want just a strong writer; I want a writer that can flex other muscles – shoot and edit content, or write code, or who are DJs at night, or write for McSweeney’s. I need to be able to lean on you for other skill sets beyond advertising writing or art direction.

Any given day, we may be building prototypes for clients, shooting and editing stop-motion videos for Instagram; we even develop new products. There isn’t a “Miscellaneous” department at the agency that handles this work. It’s up to our creatives to execute.

And beyond the tactical value of having these skill sets in the building, when you have skills beyond your core craft, it shows me you’re a hard worker. It shows me you’re a well-rounded thinker and you have a curiosity that pushes you to discover new things.

Side Hustle. I love juniors who have entrepreneurial drive or at the very least have built a their own brand. When I see an art director who has 20,000 followers on Instagram, it shows me they understand branding. When I see a junior writer who built an online Queso business, it shows me she thinks like a businessperson.

It’s this kind of junior who intuitively understands the realities our clients live and breathe every day. Combine this side hustle with the other things I [wrote for this blog two posts ago] and you’ll be an unstoppable force. The days of “crazy creatives” with crazy ideas are gone. Budgets are smaller, problems are aplenty and it’s nearly impossible to find a client who will gamble on an idea that isn’t directly tied to solving an actual business problem. That’s not to say audacious ballsy ideas aren’t still needed. But when they’re tied to a solid strategy and solve a business problem, they aren’t audacious anymore. They’re just smart.

• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

Ryan’s bio: Hello. I am a Group Creative Director at GSD&M. My work has been recognized by Cannes, The One Show, Communication Arts, The Webbys, FWA, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, The Early Show on CBS (which made my Mom proud) and Maxim magazine (which made my Dad proud).  I like tacos. Follow me @digiryan

Examples of Work –

http://www.adforum.com/award/showcase/6650183/2014/ad/34499149

http://www.adforum.com/award/showcase/6650183/2014/ad/34493944

http://www.dailydot.com/technology/avoid-humans-sxsw/

Guest post: Ryan Carroll, GSD&M, on getting hired.

This is Ryan. His partner, Scott Brewer, is much better looking.
This is Ryan. His partner, Scott Brewer, is much better looking.

I met Ryan Carroll when I worked at GSD&M in Austin. He was a young writer then, and now he’s a big shot, group creative director and won’t take my calls. It was his team that came up with last year’s Radio Shack spot on the Super Bowl: “The ’80s Called.”  You can read a bit more about that spot and about his partnership with Scott Brewer on FWA. On a recent phone call he told me he was frustrated, looking through too many junior books to find a good creative hire. I said, dude, write a guest post for me, and he did.

Most student books look/feel/sound alike and most CD’s I’ve talked with agree. This shouldn’t be too surprising. There are really five or six solid portfolio schools out there. Schools teach a method and students apply that method and so perhaps it’s no surprise most books look similar. The gene pool is pretty shallow.

So as you build your book and your site, it’s more important than ever to find your own voice and style. Just like you do for the brands you work on, you need to make your own brand stand out; to take those lessons you’re being taught and make them your own.

Here are some things I look for when reviewing a book:

1.) I want more than just ads. I want to see you solve business problems. Identify a problem for a brand and then show me how your idea can make the client money. How your idea will attract more customers or make people look at the brand in a completely different way.

Here are two great examples from a student book. His name is Maxx Delaney and we just hired him.

Citibank

Netflix

As you can see in the video, for Citibank, he (and his partners) invented a product that would attract an entirely new group of investors. And in the Netflix video, his idea gives millions of users an entirely new reason to use the product. These are the types of problems modern creatives need to be able to solve. This is much more than advertising. It’s about business.

[HeyWhipple’s note: I love Maxx’s About Me paragraph: “Maxx Delaney likes to think about stuff and then write about those thoughts that he thought while he was thinking about things.”]

2.) More than integrated campaigns, I want to see you execute an idea brilliantly with a given technology.

Too often, I see this – an integrated campaign that shows me how your pantyhose idea can work for TV, works on Facebook, works in a bus shelter and then – drum roll – an iPhone app. (Because we all know people can’t wait to download another brand’s app.) The problem is that the extension ideas are rarely as strong as the initial idea.

When I see this, I believe the student is trying to convince me it’s a big idea because, look, it’s in all these places. Instead, just pick a technology (mobile) or platform (Instagram) and show me a brilliant idea that makes the most out of that technology or platform. Make me look at using Instagram in a way no one’s thought of and I will love you forever. Or at least hire you.

[Ryan had lots of other cool stuff to say and we'll be posting that in a week.]

A Condensed List of Some of the Stuff I Teach at SCAD.


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I once read that smart companies should give away what they know. I didn’t get it at first but the more I read, the more I saw how these “generous brands” actually attract paying customers. Cool. So, with that in mind, here is a condensed version of pretty much everything I try to cram in my students’ heads every quarter.

What is the truest thing I can say about my product or category?

It’s not a very big idea if it doesn’t fit on a Post-It note.

Platforms start talking to you and won’t shut up.

Where is the emotion in this product, service, or category?

Identify and leverage the conflicts/tensions/polarities in your product or category.

All drama is conflict. Find a “bad guy.”

When everything is okay, people are not interested.

Bad is stronger than good.

Without is stronger than with.

Remember, it’s “got milk?” not “have milk.”

If tension’s not evident in your category, make it up.

What is the wrong thing to do? Be disobedient at every turn of the way.

Will people talk about this idea?

Are you sure they’ll even let us do this idea?

Don’t make things for the internet, make things out of the internet.

It’s less about messaging, more about content.

It’s less about ads, more about experiences.

It’s less about talking to, more about talking with.

It’s less about making people want stuff, more about making stuff people want.

The new ideas may not look like ads as we know them.

The new ideas come from culture not commerce.

The new ideas don’t just fill media spaces, they create them.

The new ideas are shareable and participatory.

Would the press cover it?

Would a person use it?

Would a person share it?

“Is what I’m working on beautiful useful or entertaining?” (from R/GA)

You can’t become X by saying you are X.

Brand actions speak louder than brand words.

A brand can’t claim it’s authentic. It must be authentic.

Authenticity doesn’t mean no agenda, just transparency.

Can you tell the idea to your best friend with a straight face?

Simplicity: You idea should communicate in a FLASH.

Product = Adjective

A platform is an idea that creates ideas.

A platform is not a story. It is the mother of stories.

Big ideas are good. Long ideas are great. (Doing one good idea is kind of like doing  one push-up. It’s pretty easy. The trick is to do it a lot.)

 

Cool New Book Explores, Explains What I call “Problem Finding.”

Screen Shot 2014-09-13 at 1.31.46 PM

I just finished reading a really good book, a new title from Warren Berger, who’s been writing about the ad industry for a long time. Smart guy.

Book’s titled A More Beautiful Question: The Power of Inquiry to Spark Breakthrough Ideas.

What Berger calls “inquiry” or “questioning,” I’ve been calling “problem finding.” But I’ve never found as good an explanation for why questioning or problem finding is becoming such a big deal. And I’ll put it this way:

“There was no ‘job order’ for the Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s album.”

Sounds weird, I know, but when you think about all the coolest things you’ve seen in the world, heard in the world, read in the world, how many of them were ordered, you know, like a hamburger? How many of them were a solution to a problem?

Don’t get me wrong, many great things have been creative solutions to problems. But the coolest things out there, the stuff that blows us away are things that are answers to problems we didn’t know we had.

When asked if Apple depended much on consumer research, Steve Jobs responded, “People don’t know what they want until you show it to them.” He’s right. I never sat around the house goin’, “If only there were a pocket-sized digital device capable of holding thousands of songs.”

The really spectacular new stuff comes less from problem-solving, and more from the kind of exploration and play that uncovers whole new worlds. (Here’s my new word for that: “Terra mensa incognito.” Chicks dig it when you speak Latin, seriously.)

The reason why this is such a valuable skill is that most brands have the marketing basics all figured out, you know, the blocking and tackling of marketing, they got that stuff down. Agencies that can solve only problems that are handed to them, well, they’re just not as valuable a business partner. Problem-solving is good, but it doesn’t result in sea changes or giant leaps forward. I’m reminded of that cool quotation, “Good advertising builds sales. Great advertising builds factories.”

The author quotes business consultant Min Basadur who says “If you’re able to find a problem before others do and then successfully answer the questions surrounding that problem, you can create a new venture, new career, new industry.”

Berger’s shorthand for the process of problem-finding is asking “Why? What if? And how?”

Why is most music sold as vinyl or magnetic tape? They both degrade.

What if there was a way to store music the same way we store regular old data?

How can we use digital technology to create a new music platform?

Voila, the iPod.

As the school year starts, I hope to keep reminding my students that there are plenty of creatives out there in the world who know how to read a client job order and solve the problem. Rarer are the ones whose intelligence is amplified by a consuming curiosity, a curiosity that has them questioning basically everything.

 

 

World Stops as Area Blogger Unveils New Look, Greatest Hits List.

The world today is full of pain and bad news. In the streets of Aleppo, of Gaza, and Ferguson, Missouri, bad shit is happening. Which is why the world needs a really stupid blog like this one.

It’s stupid mostly because I wrote it. But it’s also stupid because the main focus is advertising, a profession (affliction) thought by most to be immoral at worst, irritating at best.

Seriously, what the hell is wrong with us ad geeks? Caring as much as we do about something as nerdy as advertising?

Well, I don’t get it either, but here we are ¬– stayin’ late at the office or stayin’ up all night at school, trying to come up with a new way to make people give a flying f••k about Mrs. Paul’s Fish Sticks. And so I figured, we need something to read in order not to get too depressed about Aleppo, Gaza, and Ferguson.

I hope you like the new design. (Done by a SCAD ad student; a paid gig, btw.) HeyWhipple’s been up and running since 2010 and over the years I’ve managed to post a few things that didn’t suck too bad. And so, by way of reintroduction, I include below a list of links to some of my favorite posts over the years.

I hope to start posting again with some regularity, now that school’s about to start. Feel free to follow me on Twitter, Facebook, or to subscribe. (Buttons below to the right.)

ESSAYS ON ADVERTISING:

Is Your Ad Complete Bullshit? Try This Simple Test.

“I See Dead Ad Jobs.” Thoughts on an ad business facing the digital tsunami.

How To Advertise to a Nation of Eye-Rollers.

Content Is King. (Excerpt from new edition of Hey Whipple, Squeeze This.)

Big Ideas vs. Long Ideas.

On Making Things Better Than They Have To Be Made.

ADVICE TO STUDENTS AND JUNIORS:

How I Learned Not To Suck. As Much.

Advice on Putting Together Your Book.

Do Not Tolerate Brutal Creative Directors.

How To Last in a Tough Business That’s Filled with Rejection.

An Open Letter to a Creative on the Ropes.

Please Give This Essay Your Full Attention. (The power of focus.)

The New Creative is T-Shaped.

Interns Should Be Paid. (With Money.)

On Picking Your Favorite Flavor of Suck.

Get Great at Writing Radio and You’ll Probably Always Have a Job.

Problem Solving vs. Problem Finding

Why Creativity is Exactly Like Washing A Pig.

Good Creative People are NEVER Bored.

On Presentation Skills.

What I Learned About Presenting From Doing Stand-Up.

ESSAYS I WISH CLIENTS WOULD READ:

On Being a Devil’s Advocate vs. an Angel’s Advocate.

An E-Mail I Came THIS Close to Sending to a Client About Her Micro-Managing.

Why You Shouldn’t Put Too Much Stuff in Your TV Spots.

The Home For Tired Old Ideas.

The Two States of Consumer Awareness: Shopping for Vegetables vs. Being a Vegetable.

What Having a Bad Client Feels Like, as told by a Plumber.

The Best Client I Ever Had: Wendy Ludlow Clark, now of Coca-Cola.

HEROES

R.I.P. Mike Hughes, The Most Loved Man in all of Advertising.

On Having Heroes.

My Favorite Writing Teacher: Poet Billy Collins

One of the Best Pieces of Creative Advice I Ever Received. From Anne Lamott.

The Day My Favorite Writer Ray Bradbury, Died.

REALLY STUPID STUFF

My Pitch to Chiquita Bananas.

Social Media vs. Those Whacky Waving Arm-Flailing Inflatable Tube Men.

Advertising after the Zombie Apocalypse.

Who Else Hates those Pop-Up Ads That Show Up in the Middle of Your Movie?

The Ad Industry’s Most Common Error: Media vs. Mediums.

A Stupid Film I Made to Make Fun of Pat Fallon’s new Big-Ass Office.

The Prestigious “Pardon Airport Construction Signs Creativity Gala.”

SELF-PROMO STUFF (Me, Wonderful Me.)

An After-Effects Self-Promo Piece Done by a SCAD Student.

The Most Interesting Night I Had in all of 2012.

My Single Fave Thing I Ever Did While Working for Norwegian Cruise Lines.

33 Years in the Ad Biz, and This Was My Favorite Campaign. And it’s Radio.

The Day My Picture Showed Up In The Onion.

A Delightful End to My Week. A Clever Assignment from a SCAD Design Prof Results in Sweet Gift from SCAD Ad Student.

HALEY

A couple of weeks ago, a freshman ad student here at SCAD — Haley Kochersberger — contacted me and said she’d like to interview me for a “writing assignment.” I thought it was just one of those assignments students sometimes have, you know, to go interview people in the industry.

So, we met, and of course I went on and on about my excellent self. She asked some interesting questions, and then we parted.

Three weeks pass.

Today she shows up in my office with a gift. (See pic)

Turns out “the writing assignment” was a ruse. The real assignment was to interview someone and figure out what would be the perfect gift you could make for them.

At one point in the interview she asked me, “Tell me something quirky about your childhood.” So I recounted for her this silly New Year’s Eve ritual we used to have years ago in the Sullivan family. At the time, I was taking Latin in school and it occurred to me that the singular of confetti was arguably “confettus,” which I thought would be a fine word for Webster’s to include in their next edition, defining a single teeny square of colored paper.

So, from that New Year’s on, instead of throwing confetti, we invoked our annual ritual of the “Throwing of the Confettus.” At precisely 12:00am, my brothers and Mom would all cheer as I threw a single tiny square of colored paper into the air.

Silly, I know.

I just love this shot of Haley and her sweet gift. I know it’s impossible to see here, but nestled inside the box, set like a diamond in felt, is an actual confettus. And in the envelope under the band, a helpful instruction book on how one goes about actually throwing a confettus.

Congrats to both SCAD Design professor Warren Thorp on a brilliant class assignment and to student Haley Kochersberger on a brilliant execution. And such a sweet gift. Thanks to both of you.

Ad Coach’s Post-Game Locker Room Speech

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Hey everybody. Particularly you ad students who were in the national ad competition last week:

Professor Novak sent me an email last week giving me the results of the competition you all went to last week. Like him, I was truly bummed. Certainly not as bummed as you guys, but bummed just the same.

Empathy is probably way-more-called-for here than any lesson, but this is a school and I am a teacher, so… sue me, but I see a learning opportunity.

Believe it or not, I was once a young ad geek too, and back then winning in the shows was the most important thing to me. Nothing else mattered. This attitude served me well….but only on those days when I won a lot of awards. The days I didn’t do well in the shows, I got so depressed. It was kinda pathetic.

Fortunately, I managed to grow out of that phase and develop a healthy respect for my talents regardless of how I did in the shows. A big part of what helped me get to that place was what happened the first time I was invited to be a judge in the show of shows – The One Show.

There I was in Barbados (yeah, not too shabby) with all these big-shot ad stars, creatives I’d been studying for years. These were some really great ad people, okay? As the show was judged over the course of about five days – and to my dawning horror – I saw things die that just….well, shouldn’t have died. Great stuff, dying left and right. I was amazed at the capriciousness of the judges. One day they’d love a piece of work and move it forward in the competition. The next day, “What’s this crap still doing in the show?”

I came back to my job with a renewed vigor and, more importantly, a perspective I didn’t have before.

The shows – both the good and bad, local and international – the shows are all ruled by the Gods. Ultimately, you cannot control what gets in, even if you write the best single ad ever written in the space-time continuum. Sure, excellent work has better odds, but at the end of the day, it’s a roll of the dice.

So, to you guys on the team that competed last week, I say hats off to you. Yeah, goddammit, we didn’t win. It sucks. Fine, feel rotten for a day, but don’t let it keep you from getting in the ring next year. Same thing goes for those great times when you win – feel great for a day, and then get ready for the next one.

If only I’d listened to my old boss, the late Mike Hughes, when I was at The Martin Agency. All those times I came dragging into work depressed that I’d been shut out at some award show, Mike would say, “Luke (you whiny self-obsessed dingbat ….[okay, I added that part]), let your joy come from the journey, not the destination. Let your joy come from the working, not the results of your work.”

–See you in the hallways, Prof Luke

Intern Intel: Email from a happy SCAD student.

Alison Turner is one of our wonderful students here at SCAD in Savannah. Though she came here to study art direction or copywriting, she’s discovering a love of all things social-and-interactive along the way. Now even account planning is a possibility with Alison. She’s a delight to hang out with in the hallways of SCAD and, unbidden, she sent me this nice long e-mail with some good advice for students everywhere. Thanks, Alison. 

First starters, I want to say that I’m absolutely in love with this place [Razorfish]. The people are amazing, they actually let us interns dive head first into everything; and of course also help us along the way. The work done here is so cool, and they work hard to educate us about every aspect of the industry. Twice a week we have “Lunch and Learns” where someone from a different department talks about what their department does. So far we’ve had HR, User Experience, and Account Planning.

I just ordered my copy.

Today the founder of Razorfish, Bob Lord, came to the Chicago office and gave a speech. He and another top officer wrote a book recently called Converge. Bob Lord was here to share some “Cliff’s Notes Insights” as he called them. Here are the top five insights he gave us:

1. Put, and keep, the customer at the center. I quote, “Treat the customer journey as Gospel.” I know we do a lot of this at SCAD, but it’s a good reminder that sometimes it can be easy to lose sight of the customer experience, in exchange for flashy things (it is at least for me; can’t speak for anyone else). Razorfish puts a ton of focus on making sure the customer has an easy time navigating everything and that everything we create is useful an/or fun. “Always make sure it improves their lives in some way.”

2. Think of the brand as a Service. I love this. It’s a great way of thinking to make sure everything you do serves both the consumer and client. A great example is Special K . They took the “Special K Challenge’” a campaign from decades ago, and turned it into an entire weight management service.  And it’s free. Basically, the CEO was saying “Fulfill a real need.”

3. Reject silos. This was probably the best advice I heard and basically it’s the whole idea of understanding more than your individual specialty. You are made better at your own job by understanding the jobs of others. It’s good to be curious and understand more than your own little box.

4.Act like a startup. Basically here he just meant don’t forget to be agile and take risks

5. Embrace Diversity. This is the idea of being T-Shaped. This one is all about how you need to understand more than just copywriting or art direction to be successful in today’s world. SCAD does a great job helping us remember this.

The last thing I wanted to cover here is the Account Planning Lunch-and-Learn we had today. I know a lot of students are starting to express interest in account planning as SCAD, so I figured I’d add the tips a  senior account planner here gave us. The type of person that tends to get hired in this position seems to have these attributes:

Curious: They REALLY want to see that you are curious about all kinds of people and curious about the way people think.

Confident: They want you to KNOW what you want and to know your abilities, but don’t get cocky

Demonstrate a basic understanding of what account planning is (obviously):  They recommended tarting with Truth, Lies, and Advertising by Jon Steel. They said it’s the quintessential account planning book. Treat it like your career Bible.

Take a class: They’d love it if you’ve taken courses in it

Have a good understanding of people: They want to see that you have good people skills, and one of the most important they mentioned is the ability to work with creative people.

Have a perspective: They want to see that you have a perspective on things, but not a harsh one. Have an opinion.

Last but not least?

Your personality is your best weapon: They said, and I quote “The truth is, at some level pretty much everyone has the same education. Everyone has the same resumes. What we value most is who you are. We want to know you’re passionate and that you’d be fun to work with.” They care a lot about personality in that department.

Sorry about the novel length email. I just had a lot of interesting experiences lately and I wanted to share them.

–Allison Turner

• • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

Thanks Alison: Here’s the intro copy of the book Converge taken from its amazon page.
The leaders of Razorfish share their strategies for merging marketing and IT.

To create rich, technologically enabled experiences, enterprises need close collaboration between marketing and IT. Converge explains how the merging of technology, media, and creativity is revolutionizing marketing and business strategy. The CEO and CTO of Razorfish, one of the world’s largest digital marketing agencies, give their unique perspective on how to thrive in this age of disruption. Convergeshares their first-hand experience working closely with global brands—including AXE, Intel, Samsung, and Kellogg—to solve business problems at the collision point between media, technology, and marketing.

With in-depth looks at cloud computing, data- and API-enabled creativity, ubiquitous computing, and more,Converge presents a roadmap to success.

  • Explains how to organize for innovation within your own organization by applying the principles of agile development across your business
  • Details how to create a religion around convergence, explaining how to tell the story throughout the organization
  • Outlines how to adapt processes to keep up with and take advantage of rapid technological change

A book by practitioners for practitioners, Converge is about rethinking business organizations for a new age and empowering your people to thrive in a brand, new world.

Ad School Ain’t Like School School. (Or “Problem Finding VS Problem Solving.”)

Here’s the thing. I went to a School School but now I teach at an Ad School. And it’s really different.

At School School, you study the books they assign you, do the homework they give you, take the tests they hand out in class. You’re checkin’ the boxes so you can make your parents proud and get good grades.

Good grades are fantastic if you want to be a certified public accountant or a lawyer. (Please, don’t be a lawyer.)

However, for those of you trying to get into the ad business (or any creative industry for that matter), let me assure you that no recruiter or CD will ever ask you what your GPA was. They will not care what school you attended, nor will they care if you even graduated. All that counts is your book. “Show me the work” comes before “Show me the money.”

But getting to a great ad portfolio is very different — and much harder — than getting great grades.  Mostly because there’s a single correct answer for any test question, one you can usually find written down somewhere in a book. A great portfolio, on the other hand, is a big hot mess of mind-roastingly cool ideas pulled out of the thin blue air and executed so well they raise the hair on an interviewer’s arms. But the main difference is this: the really great books are the ones filled not with problems someone solved, but problems they found.

Problem finding is way cooler than problem solving. Problem solving is easy. You just wait at your desk and after a while someone brings you a problem to solve. And even if it’s a hard problem, it still has an answer, maybe several, but there is an answer.

The thing about problem-solving in advertising? It’ll never take you to an entirely new place. And if you’re not doing something entirely new, well, it’s a little bit like this marvelously snarky news item from The Onion.

‘TACO BELL’S FIVE INGREDIENTS COMBINED IN TOTALLY NEW WAY.”

“LOUISVILLE, KY–With great fanfare Monday, Taco Bell unveiled the Grandito, an exciting new permutation of refried beans, ground beef, cheddar cheese, lettuce, and a corn tortilla. ‘You’ve never tasted Taco Bell’s five ingredients combined quite like this,’ Taco Bell CEO Walter Berenyi said. ‘With its ground beef on top of the cheese but under the beans, it’s configured unlike anything you’ve ever eaten at Taco Bell.’”

See? You’re just sorta reorganizing things, stuff we’ve all seen before. But problem finding?

Problem finding is about exploring a thing so thoroughly, digging so deep, and thinking so creatively, that you begin to see around corners, and start asking questions — usually really stupid questions – and finally you flip the game so hard on its head that instead of thinking outside the box you sell the goddamned box on eBay and reinvent the problem, opening a hidden door that leads to more doors that all open into new and interesting places.

Remember, there was no job order for, say, Halo, or iTunes. Nobody walked in anyone else’s office and said, “Damn, if only you could solve this problem.”

Back in school, yeah, we solved problems; we sought order and found it in the predictable corners of the isosceles triangle. But in ad school, we’re looking for solutions to problems we don’t even know we have. Think about it. What “problem” did Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band solve?  What problem did YouTube solve?

Where problem solving ends after you solve the problem, problem finding means you’re just gettin’ started. And these cool discoveries, almost all of them happen out of a sense of play, not work, but play; they come out of the clear blue; out of a “Hey what if we…”

This leads me to a piece of advice I see becoming more and more relevant: “Always be inventing.”

Inventing means making something new; which is basically problem finding in my book. Inventing things uncovers new problems because with each iteration of a new idea, we see what are called “adjacent possibilities,” the definition of which somebody (can’t find the source just now) put this way: “The adjacent possible is what can be done with the next iteration using the elements present in this one.” The boundaries of the adjacent possible just keep growing as you explore the boundaries; doors opening onto doors.

So, don’t worry about grades. Just keep inventing.

(Or if you prefer, the Ellen-DeGeneres version from Finding Nemo: “Just keep swimming, just keep swimming.”)