For my first blog post, I decided not to write the usual “How I got this sweet internship” and “I’m having fun and I learned a lot” entry. Of course, if you are having fun and learning a lot from your gig, I applaud you, because I am too. But for this, I wanted a bigger theme to write about. I wanted to share something – something hopefully with value to help you out there in the cold, cruel world. This, I believe is an important ability that will not only help you in advertising but anything else you do in life. This is about being resilient. This is about taking something broken, and making it stronger. This applies to the interns, the job seekers, the underdogs, the writers and so forth.
(A more proper title would’ve been “One element to help you succeed in Advertising” but I had to get you here somehow right?)
A quick introduction of me – I’m a part-time junior copywriter at… a big ad agency*. It’s a weird position that has a place somewhere in between an intern and an actual copywriter. The biggest quality of this position (and the reason I get up in the morning) is that I am writing actual ads that you may have seen or heard somewhere.
There’s a unique satisfaction to your client approving your first (official) radio script, being at the recording and hearing your words come alive in the finished product (I’ll be doing a backflip if I ever hear it live on some radio station). But to even get to that point, you need to understand the stages of how this comes about. I’ll breeze through it for all the non-creative majors.
1) You write it.
2) You edit it.
3) You show it to someone in a higher position. They edit it. They may reject it, which takes you back to step one.
4) You present it to the account managers.
5) You present it to the client.
6) You wait.
7) You get approved, you’re gold! You didn’t? You go back to step one.
Actually, it always goes back to step one. But how you get there is a difference between walking back to your desk defeated and doing cartwheels back to your cubicle. And after a few months of working here and having written and presented (and sold) a few ads, here’s what I’ve learned. Sometimes, you can’t win them all. There are a lot of factors that play into this, especially in Advertising. First off, this is a very subjective industry (like any creative industry). Everyone will always think they can do something better than you. There will always be some criticism. The key is to maintain your creative confidence (or just confidence for you non creatives) and to continue to strive for a better performance.
If you’re really passionate about your work, these rejections will hit you hard, like a train that just ran over you. Like Robert DeNiro eloquently put it when announcing the winner of the 2014 Academy Award for best Writer: “The mind of a writer can be a truly terrifying thing. Isolated, neurotic, caffeine-addled, crippled by procrastination, consumed by feelings of panic, self-loathing, and soul-crushing inadequacy. And that’s on a good day” -(Stay with me on this)
Writers feel this way partly because of the fear of failure, which is quickly followed by rejection and etc. I know I can definitely relate to DeNiro’s quote. But to be resilient and to continue is the only thing that will help you stay alive. Most likely, you’ll do even better the second time around. And if you’re lucky, you’ll have people who will lighten the blow will some positive suggestions instead of them barraging you with negative criticism.
You need to understand that when you’re rejected - it’s not personal. Sometimes, that great idea you had is not that great. Sometimes, someone else will have a better idea than you. And sometimes, your boss may have a bad day and
decide everything you wrote sucks not really comprehend your idea. These are some of the many factors that can play into your failure. None of which are directly reflected against you as a person**. So all you need to do is to just get better. Start with getting back on that proverbial horse. And speaking as someone who doesn’t believe in no-win scenarios, there are multiple solutions to a problem. If you didn’t do well in the interview, you’ll do better in the next. And that one idea that you thought was “so great” but now it resides in the bottom of your trash can, it’s okay – there are better ideas that you can come up with. Take the criticism, make it constructive. Babe Ruth had bad days too.
I believe if it wasn’t for failure, you’ll never do better. You’ll never learn. It is the strength you find in getting back up that will make you stronger against the obstacles that will continue to stand in your way the further you go. I’d much rather have someone challenging me for better work than to just approve of perfunctory for the sake of my feelings***. Failure itself is the silver lining. So keep trying. You’ll go further. Don’t let one defeat make you reconsider everything, even if you can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel yet (it’s probably turned off due to the rising cost of energy).
Take care of yourself out there.
And if you have any questions and comments for me, please feel free to leave them. By all means, let’s start a conversation.
My job is the best I’ve ever had. I’m having a ton of fun. I’m also learning a lot. I really am.
*This incredible opportunity was offered to me so I can legally write ads for the clients. Big props to my Executive Creative Director. I am also a 10-year Veteran of the U.S Army who has had a recognized leadership position.
**If you’re sure your boss actually does just hate your guts for no reason, then it is not a productive working environment and lacks proper leadership and guidance. You should either deal with it, or find a job somewhere else because there isn’t a future there (in my opinion).
***This doesn’t happen where I work. I would hope this doesn’t happen anywhere.