Ben Yabsley's postcard from New York: Ten lessons from the last ten years in advertising

Photo Sep 16, 1 43 31 PMBen.jpgBy Ben Yabsley (left), ex The Monkeys and M&C Saatchi Sydney, now a senior copywriter at Anomaly, New York.

Ah, 2008. What a year. We said, "yes we can" to Obama, "no you can't" to Lehman Brothers and "hey... you okay there?" to Britney Spears. In amongst this chaos, I was ignoring the wishes of my parents by being a part of the "dreaded" advertising industry.

Fast forward to 2018 and I'm a Senior Creative at Anomaly in New York, and finally talking to my parents again. To mark the last ten years, it seemed appropriate to pause for a moment and consider what I've learned along the way. So here are my top ten learnings from the last decade in the industry:

1.    You don't have an idea until you can sell it. The first part is relatively easy. That next bit will take you your entire career to master.

2.    Being an asshole in meetings just means you're not confident enough to have your ideas challenged.
3.    Before you can sell anything to your client, you have to really understand what they want. Dig around. Ask them what's keeping them up at night. Be an ally. When you understand their political landscape, you can predict how they're going to react to an idea, and then shape it accordingly.

4.    There are no geniuses. Only people who work harder than others. Glasses and accents just make us think they're geniuses.

5.    Don't underestimate the effectiveness of a power nap. Seriously. You can't think when you're tired. If you have an hour to come up with ideas and you're tired, spend 20 mins of that asleep.

6.    Never take a job for the money. Follow creative opportunities instead. You can only sell out once in your career, and the later you do it, the more money you'll make from it.

7.    Confidence comes from preparation. Practice presenting your ideas before you get into the meeting. You don't understand your idea properly until you can articulate it.

8.    Production caterers make the best breakfast burritos. Don't bring your diet to the shoot.

9.    It doesn't matter how many award winning ideas you've created, all it takes is one tricky brief to make you feel like a fraud. Embrace it - that's what growth feels like. Be patient. The tide will come back in.

10.    There's nothing more boring than someone who is really, really into ads. If you study ads you're studying the past. If you study art and culture, you're studying the future.

Assuming this trajectory of knowledge acquisition holds true, and barring the complete collapse of capitalism and the extinction of the advertising industry as a whole, lessons 11 through 20 should be ready around October 2028. So pencil it in your calendars and check back then.

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