Wednesday, November 20, 2013

It's Time

It's time to admit, I need to update the name of my beloved blog. Confessions of a Creative Recruiter just doesn't hold true anymore. I haven't been a creative recruiter for almost two years now.

Five years ago, a good friend knew I liked to give advice to young creatives aspiring to be in advertising and he suggested I start capturing the advice in a blog. I couldn't imagine having something to write about for more than a few weeks. Ha! That certainly hasn't been a problem.

Yet, my personal branding is all over the place. My Twitter name is @WorkLifeAdvice, My consulting company is Cecilia Gorman Training Services and then this blog with my old recruiting title.

It's time to line it up.

When I think about this blog I realize it is just a place where I can offer advice (to anyone willing to listen) - sometimes it is about getting a job, or keeping the one you have. Sometimes it is about being a better co-worker or a nicer person. Other times it is about what not to do in an interview or a reminder to not have typos on your resume. Just pieces and parts of this thing called life. That's it.

Work. Life. Advice.


(My new blog can be found here... )

Thursday, November 14, 2013

There is PLENTY of money to be made...

There is plenty of money to be made as an advertising creative.

I guarantee you that.

If I hear one more junior/student/person say you can't make money in advertising I might scream. Where are these people getting their information from - a state fair fortune teller?

Your uncle or grandpa or dad's friend's brother is not right. Whomever is telling you that you cannot be successful and make money in this industry is dead wrong.

Folks, as a recruiter, I have seen salaries over the years, lots and lots of them. They are good, great, stellar even.

Below are salaries I have personally seen or heard of (in thousands). Granted I am sure there are exceptions that are less and lots more that are even higher...

Junior anything - $30, $35, $40, $45K (heck I even hired a junior in a time of desperation for $52K).

Mid anything - $45, $55, $65, $75K

Senior anything - $80, $85, $95K

ACD - $95, $100, $125, $140K

CD - $135, $160, $185, $235K

ECD - $185, $225, $350, $400K

Who cannot live on this amount of money? The Kardashians?!

Recently someone was lamenting a decision to go back to school and follow his true passion in copywriting. He said his dad's friend (who apparently is in the industry) told him you can't make any money as a copywriter.

True. If you suck.

Not true if you have stellar writing skills, work hard, deliver top-quality work and strive daily for an amazing career.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Four Seconds

You have approximately 4 seconds to impress a recruiter when using an automated application system. The kind where your resume is uploaded then auto-populates certain parts of the application.

First, know that it never auto-fills properly. DO NOT TRUST that it does.

Second, fill in any blanks with as much information as you can.

The 4 seconds that a recruiter glances at your application, searching for nuggets of information to show them you are an ideal candidate go by very, very fast.

I just got done looking at 20 candidates who applied via our online application system. 17 of them sucked. And by sucked, I mean they were practically blank. That tells me their resume did not upload properly nor auto-filled properly. It also tells me the applicant didn't double check the final content.

So 17 people got stopped in their tracks. Who knows, there may have been quite qualified people in that group, I just didn't see any of their information to tell me so.

I myself applied via this same online system about 2 years ago. It was the first time I had applied for a job in 13 years! It was brutal. The system hated my resume (which was in InDesign). I had to reformat it in Word. Then it hated the icons I used for my Twitter, Blog and LinkedIn profiles. I had to delete those. It took about 5 attempts to get it to upload my information correctly.

Then I spent another 30 minutes crafting/fixing/adding to what was there. If this was my only means of getting an interview, I wanted it to read stellar. Then I clicked submit.

Make that 4 seconds worth it.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Uncommon Sense

I gave a presentation recently called "Leadership Sound Bites." It covers some basic tenets of leadership and reminds people to own their personal development and grow their leadership skills.

After I spoke, one person said, "it's common sense."

Yes, my friends! Yes, it is!

Unfortunately, most of us forget to use our common sense-ness quite frequently.

It is common sense to believe in yourself.
It is common sense to quit doing things that limit your potential.
It is common sense to own your mistakes.
It is common sense to have authentic conversations.
It is common sense to purposefully craft your legacy.

In fact it is all so common, it has become uncommon to see it happening on a daily basis in the workplace. We forget the simple things when we are bogged down by projects and deadlines and other day-to-day junk. Remind yourself on a regular basis that the basics are what are building the foundation of your career. You can't climb higher up the rungs if your ladder is on shaky ground.

Start with the basics folks. Start with common sense. 

Friday, October 11, 2013

The Letter

Have you ever written "The Letter?" The one that, at the time, seems perfectly needed, perfectly justified yet years later the memory of writing it makes you cringe? I'm sure loads of you have written The Letter to a boyfriend or girlfriend, but what about to your boss? I wrote one years and years ago and still cringe at the memory.

Here's what prompts writing it:

1. You're rockin' your job
2. You're getting a lot of great projects
3. You're getting a lot of great compliments
4. You love what you're doing and know you are good at it

All that sounds great, right? Well, then there's this last one:

5. You've been snubbed for something you feel you deserve

Thus, The Letter.

I was at my first job right out of school. I had the blessed fortune to work for a couple who owned a printing business and who made it a high priority to teach me everything about their business. Essentially my entire career in printing, production and creative management is owed to them.

All I can remember about The Letter is I was clearly mad. Mad that I wasn't included on some trip to some meeting that I felt I deserved. I worked hard preparing for it, I contributed to the presentation at a senior level and really felt like I made a difference to the project. Yet, I was not asked to attend and man, that pissed me off.

So all my anger and resentment went down on paper (pen and paper back then). I thank the Lord that I don't still have a copy of it and I have no memory of what I wrote. What I DO remember is the look on my boss' face after he read it. TO THIS DAY, I shudder when I think about the immaturity of my actions. If I could take one single thing back in my 20-year career, this letter would be it.

When I gave The Letter to my boss, he in turn gave me the silent treatment for a few weeks. That's it. No discussion, no rebuttal, no response. It was the worst few weeks I've ever had at work. And to this day, I feel like a shit. An ungrateful shit. I learned so, so much in that first job. I had incredible opportunities. And that job essentially launched my entire career.

So just a word of caution if you're ever feeling the need to get all your angst down on paper (on email). Don't. Big Capital D. Don't.

What you can do -- in this temporary moment of despair -- is remind yourself of what's great. How much you are learning. How amazing this creative industry is. That you actually have a job. And again, that you HAVE A JOB. That you are really good at what you do. That people are noticing. Think of these things, take a breath and step away from the keyboard.

20 years later, that, you won't regret.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Today's Horoscope

The horoscopes on are always true. I swear. Or at least they are when they are good and I really want them to be true.

Today's says this: The politics surrounding the events of the day will be quite ugly.

Ugh. The P-word. What workplace is without politics? None, my friend. None.

Politics are a weird thing. You need to admit there is a game to play, without overtly participating in it. You need to respect the existence of it, without paying it too much respect. Weird stuff indeed.

I think the word Politics is just code for Meany. I mean really, if we were all kind and helpful and genuine and respectful at work would there even be any Politics? I doubt it. Because there are Meanies there are Politics. So what's a girl to do?

1. Be kind. Self-explanatory.
2. Be helpful. The favors you extend come back to you double.
3. Be genuine. Everyone can sense phony-ness and we tend to avoid people we label fake.
4. Be respectful. You are not an island unto yourself. Respect that every person can teach you something if you just give them half a sec to do so.

Practice these four simple things daily. All four work together to stifle the efforts of the Meanies in this world. Less Meanies = Less Politics = Better Horoscopes.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Relentless Attention

First, can we all just agree that relentless is a great word?

Seriously. Doesn't it just say so much in a mere 10 letters?

If you know anything about me, know that I am sucka for great quotes. I found one that uses the word relentless and thought I'd share:

"To devote relentless attention to doing one good thing after another, however small, is the only path to becoming and remaining a great boss."

But what I would like to suggest today is that you switch out the word boss with any other word that applies to you. Like friend. Or wife. Or parent.

Devote relentless attention. To whatever you are focused and passionate about. Surely words to live by.

Friday, September 6, 2013

A Tale of 2 Art Directors

This is a story about two art directors.

They went to the same graphic design school.

They graduated the same year. With the same degree.

They both got junior designer jobs right out of college.

They both have been in the business 18 years.

One makes $54,000. One makes $180,000.

Hmmmmmm. Word up with that? Well, pay attention because 18 years from now you may find yourself in the same kind of chart. On which trajectory do you want to land?!

The difference in these two folks is the skill and will to lead. Think about that. As you grow and develop in your career, perhaps choosing to learn more about managing and leading will change your trajectory.

Some say leadership is an innate skill, you either have it or you don't. I doubt that. I know you can learn to improve your people skills, you get practice at it daily from 9 to 5. Some people just pay more attention to the lessons they are learning. They apply the daily lessons, improve their abilities with every opportunity. Others, well, others just work from 9 to 5.

Exercise your leadership muscle at every turn. Offer to take on an intern and learn management fundamentals. Watch the senior folks in the office, take notes. Pick up their good habits and learn from their bad habits. Read books, watch TED videos, research past great leaders. Invest in your noggin.

Those who move up faster and further have a genuine desire to develop themselves AND others. Don't remain a party of one and forget to focus on what's going on around you. You can't just show up to work every day and expect a phenomenal career path. You need to put the time and effort into being more that you ever thought you could be.

Aspire. Act. Grow. Make $180K.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Where's Waldo?

I ran into a girl who works in our department last week and actually thought to myself, "Wow, I didn't know she still worked here."

I can't imagine this is a good thing. In any way. At any time.

If people haven't seen your face in so long that they think perhaps you don't work there any more, you have got to be doing something horribly wrong.

Like not eating your lunch in the lunch room occasionally, like not grabbing a coffee with a co-worker every so often, like not speaking up in any meetings, like not walking through the department like, ever.

People! Showing your face is the easiest career move you can make. Do Not Hibernate! Do Not Hide in Your Cube! Do Not Keep Quiet! Once you realize that a face seen is a face remembered (especially with the upper ranks) you start to steer your career in a better direction.

I say this because I know there are some people who wonder why they've never been promoted, it's because they've spent too much time blended into the background that no one recalls they exist!

Purposely I walk into my building through the front door every day. Why? It's a longer route to my desk. I do it because it ups my chances of being seen (well partly, we also have the coolest f-ing lobby on the planet, as described in this post).

What are my chances of running into the CEO in the back stairwell? ZERO. What are my chances of having a chat with the CFO, CMO or C-whoever in the back stairwell? NIL. What are my chances of running into any one of these folks -- and being seen -- in the lobby? Higher. Much higher.

Now I know it is not just a matter of seeing your face to help you get ahead but I can assure you when the upper ranks are making decisions on staffing, their ability to recall you, your face AND your work performance is key. If they don't even know you, well then, they don't even know you.

Monday, July 29, 2013

The Mic is Always On

I am reading an article on the book "Speaking as a Leader" by Judith Humphrey and it makes a good point. One we often forget.

The Mic is Always On.

This is a good lesson for anyone in business, but an even better one for managers. Once you start leading other people, your responsibilities change. You are no longer a party of one. You are holding the careers, aspirations and livelihoods of a greater group of people in your hands. And a key responsibility of any manager is to lead (and speak) by example.

So remember, that mic is always on. Capturing your words and blaring them out for all the world to hear.

That means when you think you are off the "manager" stage: at lunch, out with friends, on Facebook; you in fact, aren't.  

The words you say (and write) will always be heard. They create people's impression of you, of your company, of how they think you are as a person and a manager.

I know I have caught myself on occasion saying things that later I wished I hadn't. Either I spoke less-than-kindly about someone at work, or complained unnecessarily, dropped an f-bomb, whatever. The mic is on and people are hearing what I say. I may think the audience may not matter at the time, but who knows how what I say will get shared around.

This is especially true in the crazy social world we now live in. Your words can get repeated, misinterpreted and broadcast out to very large audiences in a millisecond.  So be careful around that microphone, for a manager, it is always on.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

You Never Know

Deja Vu post again (thought I had written on this but not finding it).

Ever had those moments where you walk by someone who is on the phone and you catch only like one sentence of their conversation? Yea? Pretty funny sometimes. And you've probably seen those "OH at work today..." posts on Twitter.

Yesterday it happened twice to me, only on the not-so-funny side.

First one I was walking to down the hall to the bathroom and a guy on the phone says, "Hi, I need to schedule a CT scan." Later in the day I passed a guy on his phone outside a side door who says, "it's going to be a big legal matter now."

On top of that, I myself went out to the hallway to call the Sheriff's Department to follow up on a robbery that happened to me a few days prior.

All sucky life things. Big ass sucky.

It's serves as a reminder to me -- to all of us -- that you never know what people are going through on any given day. Maybe they just found out they have a tumor. Maybe they just found out they're getting divorced. Maybe they just had every single piece of sentimental jewelry stolen from them. Who knows.

But man, we need to remember to cut one another some slack. Perhaps your co-worker is slightly grumpy because of a sad/mad/heartbreaking phone call they just had. We are all living life here. Bad stuff happens, happy stuff happens. And for 40 hours a week of it, we are at work when it happens.

I'm going to call it Grace. Let's give each other Grace more often. Give it now before your phone rings.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Capital G Grateful

It is so easy to get caught up on what your work doesn't provide. Much harder to grateful for what it does.

Didn't get that day off as planned? Yet, you get free breakfast on Fridays.

Didn't get the hugest raise? Yet, you can bring your dog to work.

Working some long hours for a few weeks? Yet, your work has a free gym.

Bummed you didn't get recognized for that great project you did? Yet, your company holiday parties are pretty legendary.

Complaining about the size of your desk? Yet, you play foos ball/ping pong/pool whenever you want.

Snarky that you have to travel on a Sunday? Yet, you can crack open a beer at 4pm and nobody minds.

Be Capital G Grateful folks.

We all work in creative, cool, fascinating, amazing places.
NOT like a lot of people.

We can express uniqueness, ideas, craziness daily.
NOT like a lot of people.

We arrive to work at 8, 8:30, 9, 9:30, whatever.
NOT like a lot of people.

Before you bash the don't's. Pause for a second about the do's. There are so many stuffy industries that are so unlike ours that we should be grateful for the mere fact we get to go work each day.

In the grand scheme of life, the simple gratefulness for your participation in this world of creativity and advertising is worth so much more than a foot more of cube space or an extra day off.

Capital G folks, Capital G.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Sit Up

I have the privilege of speaking at our new hire orientation every two weeks. I introduce myself, the creative department and talk about the importance of brand consistency both within and outside our four walls.

Not only do these new hires get to hear from me, they hear about benefits, perks, our charity causes, our parent company, they get a tour, they see demonstrations of our proprietary technology, they get to shop in the employee store, and they have safety training. A big, long day filled with everything to get someone started off on the right foot. I myself found the day fascinating when I was a new hire.

Now of all places to sit up and show interest, I would imagine new hire orientation is probably one of the most important.

Cut to two weeks ago. I am doing my section, which is all of 10 minutes. There is a young women a few rows up that is slouched so far down her seat that her head was resting on the back of the chair. Not only was she slouched to oblivion, her eyes were half mast. It is 10:15 in the morning.

Call me ADD but I get easily distracted when I am speaking to an audience. It comes from my teaching days when I literally would ban students from their phones and computers when I was lecturing. All eyes on me.

This young woman was killing me. It was one of those times when I was thinking about saying something when all of a sudden I realized I was saying something. "You may want to sit up," I tell her. "Huh?" she answers. "If you sit up, it will be easier to keep your eyes open," I say back. She seems confused when I finally say, a bit forcefully, "Sit up."

Folks! It is your first day. At a new company. You should be EXCITED. You should be oozing interest and passion from your pores. Sit up and pay attention. Sit up and participate. Sit up and be grateful that you were chosen over others to have a place in that orientation. You must remember you reflect outward how you feel and if you are feeling slouchy half-mast on your first day at a new job, man, things will only get worse every day forward.

Friday, April 26, 2013

My F'ing Front Door

Let me tell you about the front door of where I work: It's pretty f'ing cool!

Seriously, the first time you walk up to my building you'll mutter, "holy shit" under your breath. The building is cool, the lobby is cool, the reception chairs are cool. Cool-o-rama all around.

There are plenty of other doors to get into my building. The back door, a couple of side doors. Just regular ones, nothing cool about them.

So here's the choice I have daily: enter through the f'ing cool one or enter one of the regular ones. Every day I get to decide where I walk in. A basic, elementary decision. One most people don't even consciously make.

I will tell you (as I tell every person who reports to me) walk in the front door folks! Every. Single. Day.

Even if your building or lobby isn't an oozing temple of coolness, walk in the front door. It will remind you of why you came to work at your company in the first place; it gives you the same rush that others get when they walk in for the first time (by the way, most every ad agency or design firm is pretty cool); and is a thoughtful choice on how to start your day. It is you doing your small part to validate your company, your job and the utter coolness of this creative industry we all get to work in.

Shirking in the side door just doesn't feel the same.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

More About: About Me

People seem to have a hard time knowing what to write in the "About Me" section of their resume. Not sure why. I guess people just struggle with identifying what is truly unique and interesting about themselves.

The About Me part of someone's resume is always my first stop. The most important stop in my opinion (especially, especially for juniors!). I am dying to know what somebody is about - what they do in their free time, interesting hobbies, weird travels, whatever. These interests are what differentiate one candidate from the next. Oftentimes it is the deal breaker.

Here is are two simple, good examples:

Sean O'Connor, student at Massachusetts Art & Design:

Marc J Fisher, Art Director:

Take a moment and reflect on yourself. What makes you, you? Certainly anything is more interesting than this:

Friday, March 29, 2013

Be here. Now.

Ever been in a meeting and a couple folks bring their laptops? Then they spend the entire meeting typing away and half listening to what's going on? I don't get this.

First, it is definitely not quiet. Second, what good is half listening? Half good in my eyes.

Nothing says "I'm really much busier than all of you and being in this 30-minute meeting is a cramp to my style" then bringing a laptop, phone, ipad and doing something else while you should be listening.

Be here. Now.

Not half here. Not half digesting what is said. Not half participating. Half contributing. Half everything.

Physical presence is one thing. Intellectual presence is another. When you attend a meeting, participate. And to fully participate you must be paying attention. Replying back to emails can wait. Seriously, I wonder who the heck is that important that their emails must be returned right that second.

Not to mention, it is rude.

When you are somewhere with someone, be there now. Physically, mentally, emotionally. Half there is half good.

Friday, March 22, 2013

God Bless the A**Hole

Could have sworn double pinkies that I have written on this topic before, but for the life of me I cannot find it in my blog history.

Bear with me if I am repeating, this topic is worth it.

God Bless the A**Hole. Yes my friends, bless that jerk that sits next to you or the one who's currently your boss. God Bless everything about them and every shitty thing they say and do.

Here's why.

The jerks of the world are teaching you. Skills like tact. Grace. Diplomacy. Patience. Self-control (hopefully, self-control). The jerks of the world are put in your life for a reason. To teach you how to deal with the jerks of the world. And that business skill is essential.

People who work with lovely co-workers -- ones who are kind, courteous, and easy to get along with -- may have less migraines, but folks, they also are NOT learning coping and conflict resolution skills.

Bless too the A**hole Situations. Like having to fire someone; or deal with a bawling employee; or needing to layoff a group of 10. These too are tough situations, not ones I would wish for daily but certainly ones I have had to deal with and I am thankful for the experience.

You want them in your life. Trust me. Grab a hold of every difficult challenge and let it teach you what it must. I read this somewhere; "You can gauge the measure of leader by the number of difficult conversations they are willing to have." Amen.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Empty the Dishwasher

One simple thing has changed my life: emptying the dishwasher.


It sounds weird. Really weird. But seriously, it has CHANGED my life.

Here's why.

I HATED emptying the dishwasher. I would put it off for days. No big reason why, I just did not like doing it. But here's what happens when you don't empty it: Dishes pile up in the sink. Crap piles up on the counter. The dining table gets cluttered. The counters get dirty.

The whole kitchen slowly becomes a big fat mess. Then when I'd come home from work, I'd walk into the kitchen see that big fat mess and feel bad. But still, not bad enough to empty the dishwasher. I'd just ignore it and cook around it and make the piles bigger.

Then one day I emptied the dishwasher immediately after it was done.

Ahhhhhhhhhh. Then I put the other dirty dishes in, I cleaned the counter and cleared the table. And the place was clean. And I felt good. Great even. And the next morning when I woke up and walked in the kitchen, I felt great again. My emptied dishwasher made me feel great. Simple.

From that moment on, I realized feeling great - however small level of great - was worth it. The 2 minutes it took to empty the goddamn dishwasher was so worth it.

Why did I dread such an easy thing? It's not like it takes hours; it takes minutes. Dunno. But man, once I realized that feeling great can be easy and small and make such a difference to my demeanor and my day, then taking that 2 minutes became a non-issue.

I came to this realization a couple years ago. And I'm not joking how it has changed me. Now that silly dishwasher stands for so much more. When there is something I dread doing, I remember how great a clean kitchen feels and somehow it helps me tackle other things.

Brian Tracy, a motivational speaker, has written a book on a similar topic. He calls it "Eat the Frog." He says if the worst thing you have to do all day is eat a frog, then wake right up and choke that thing down. Then it's over. The anticipation is over. The dread is over. The act of eating a sick frog is over. Then you can move on with your day. Done and done.

Unconscious dread is a weird thing. It's like a low grade fever that doesn't quite go away and doesn't quite come to fruition. It's there making you feel some level of bad and you don't even realize it. But the second it is gone, man you feel it. Something lifts off your back and it wasn't even that heavy. It was just there.

Do yourself a favor and rid your life of a few of these. I guarantee you it makes a difference. Wash that car. Pay those bills. Or empty that goddamn dishwasher.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Thou Shalt Not Have It Easy

I read this quote recently and loved it!

Thou Shalt Not Have It Easy.

Seriously, how great are those words? We go through life expecting everything to be so easy for us all the time. Easy calms us. Easy makes the day go smoother. Easy is just easy so why shouldn't we want it 24/7?

We want our home life to be easy. Kids changing easily into their day's attire after easily brushing their teeth then easily getting into the car for school (yea right).

We want our jobs to be easy. Assignments that are clearly spelled out with timelines that are cushy with co-workers that are happy and nice (can I get another yea right?!)

We want our love life to be easy. Partners that are compassionate and loving while equally supportive and thoughtful while they go out and pick up the dry cleaning and roses. Hmmm, you are getting this right?

Easy. Easy. Easy.

It's just the sooner we realize that everything isn't supposed to be easy. It isn't supposed to be anything else but what it actually is. And that may be easy, hard, fine, great, boring, sucky, completely screwed up, whatever. These adjectives aren't under our control. Things just are whatever they end up being. We are not so privileged to get easy delivered to our doorsteps on a daily basis.

When we lose that expectation, we open ourselves up for experiencing things just as they are. We learn to deal with problems and unexpected outcomes. The things that are hard are what teach us about life. And love. And work.

Thou Shalt Not Have It Easy. Remember that and life just might become a tad bit easier.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Two Words on Leadership

Next in the series on Leadership. Two words.

What two words can I use to talk about the foundation of leadership, the traits of leaders, and the path to start you on your way to leading?


Lots of folks waffle before they act. Hem and haw while thinking through all the angles. Oftentimes, a little debate can help in decision making. Just don't let it cripple you. Don't take days to decide something that should take an hour. Avoid going into a week-long black hole while your staff is wondering what the outcome will be. Leaders act swiftly.

Leaders make the best decision they can, with the best information they can gather, as swiftly as possible. Maybe they don't know 100% that something will work, but they have a strong sense of intuition (and experience) that guides them.

Colin Powell has a great presentation on Leadership that is favorite of mine.

He uses a P = 40-70 rule. P = Probability of success and the numbers indicate the amount of information you have. So if you have less than 40% of the information, not a good idea to act. If you have more than 70%, you've most likely waited too long. Between 40-70%: Go with your gut.

Obviously in Colin Powell's former position (and the military in general) waiting to act means life or death. Procrastination with the goal of getting more information and lowering your risk of making a mistake actually increases your risk by taking a lot of time.

I used to have a manager that would take FOR.EVER. to make a decision, finally decide something, then two days later bring the issue up again, debating the answer that was already made. It was maddening.

When you do this, your staff gets confused. As their leader, you should evoke a sense of confidence and certainty on behalf of the entire team. You may be faking that confidence sometimes, but your gut tends to be fairly accurate.  And, yes, you can always change your mind. This is not about sticking to your guns at all cost. It is about trusting your gut and using momentum in your favor.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Glamour Don't: silly subhead

I've seen about a billion LinkedIn profiles over the years. As a former recruiter, I've spent a fair amount of my time searching profiles, reading resumes, making connects. I am still on LinkedIn daily.

This is a word of caution for crafting your subhead on LinkedIn.

It should be your current job title, but often people get creative here. Sometimes it'll say "Currently Looking." That's a helpful subhead. Sometimes it'll list a couple skills "Writer, Photographer." Also helpfu.

What it SHOULDN'T say is something funny that only you think is funny. And I, said recruiter, may also think it is funny...But rarely the 3 or 4 folks I have to forward your profile to as part of the candidate review process will also think it is funny.

One that's killing me: "P.T. Barnum in a skirt producing intelligent creative to sell your stuff."

So first I don't really get it. Second if I did, I'd be somewhat embarrassed to forward it to an ECD with the expectation that this person, with this silly description is the best person I could find. Then I am getting judged on the level of someone else's attempt at humor.

It is a fine line between standing out (perhaps P.T's goal?) and causing you to get filtered before you even are considered.

Consider it.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

One Word on Leadership

I'm working on a Leadership presentation and wanted to start simple. With just one word.

What single words can I use to talk about the foundation of leadership, the traits of leaders, and the path to start you on your way to leading?

Here's the first.


First and foremost believe in your ability to become a leader. Whether you feel like you are worthy of it yet or not. You must believe in your own potential. I liken it somewhat to that book The Secret. In The Secret you wholeheartedly envision things (your potential) constantly and visually, then they happen. Same here with leadership.

Believe that one day you will lead people. Believe that you are worthy of followers. Believe in your own great potential. Above all else.

Even if you are a student in college or a mid-level worker bee. If leading teams is what you truly want to do, who is anyone else to get in the way of you visualizing that destiny? I can tell you that without belief in yourself, it is much, much harder to obtain.

Friday, November 30, 2012

2 Questions

These two simple questions will save you a lot of headache.

Ask them before you speak. Before you click send. Before you act.

1. Is it kind?
2. Is it necessary?

I find myself rethinking things quite a bit when I take the couple seconds to pose these two questions. In business and in personal relationships.

(This is my secret parenting tip too - I use it on my kids constantly).

Here's an example when I saved myself from myself by asking these questions. I was about to send an email out of exasperation to a fairly high up in my company complaining about one of our vendors. My first sentence was the complaint I felt I had the right to voice. My second sentence was the solution, me offering to do the work within my department rather than at this vendor.

I had my finger on the mouse, luckily I stopped. Was what I typed kind? Umm, not if you were the vendor it wasn't. Was what I typed necessary? Offering to help, yes; throwing mud at the vendor, no.

This fairly high up co-worker knows this vendor has problems. He didn't need me to point it out. I had nothing to gain by adding to the mud pile. What this fairly high upper needed was my offer to help. Only that.

That was kind. That was necessary.

I deleted sentence one, clicked send on sentence two.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012


I just spent a week working myself into a fury over a work situation. Literally kept me up at night and was on my mind near constantly.

Ruminations. They'll get the best of you if you don't watch out.

I keep finding myself in situations at work when something goes awry, I furiously work to try and solve it, put a lot of time and energy into figuring out the consequences, ruminate (read: worry) for days then, just as frantically, the problem dies out.

For whatever reason this keeps happening. The person who brought up the problem didn't have their facts straight. The accused wasn't asked their side of the story. Key pieces of information somehow got twisted. And ultimately, what appeared to be, really wasn't.

Wasted worry on my part. Time lost all around. Big fat lesson learned. Again.

Maybe I need to go back and read Take a Breath again. The advice I gave to stop and take a breath before doing anything rash. Though I wouldn't consider most of these situations rash.

Really what this comes down to is remembering to respond with patience. When someone comes to you with a problem, listen to them, then stop for a minute.

See, this is usually when I get worked up over what they are telling me, responding to their "facts" with all the sympathy and concern that a manager should and then rush off to solve their problem.

When in fact, I should really just have stopped. Just for a minute and consider that thorough investigation is really what I'm responsible for. So instead, I should go ask a couple questions of other folks, review paperwork a second time, play devil's advocate against the situation, think on it for a few and then, have a go.

Worry isn't worth it. And a lot of times, there was nothing to worry about in the first place. Next time you find yourself frantically trying to solve a work problem, stop for a sec and make sure you've got a problem worth solving in the first place.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Such a Good Example

Lately I feel like juniors have a sense of privilege that the second they are done with school the industry should have a job ready for them. When that doesn't happen, graduates are deflated and discouraged, cursing the very industry they aspire to be in.

When you search and search and no job turns up, you gotta look beyond your resume and put some other efforts in. I have counseled so many students about cultivating themselves outside of school and what is on their resume. Constantly read, research, listen and learn. Find interests, travel, explore and expand their horizons. Most times it is through these extraneous efforts that a job ends up popping up.

Following is a note I received and I thought I'd share it as an example of someone discouraged by not finding what she wanted and then deciding one day to do something about it. She analyzed what she truly loved, she spent time researching, she took other related-to-advertising jobs, learned what she could and came at the industry in a whole new way. Such a good example of initiative we can all learn from:

Dear Ms. Gorman,

I hope this email finds you well. 

I am not sure if you remember me but my name is Lizette Lee and I am from Sydney, Australia. Over a year ago, I asked for some advice with regards obtaining an internship in the US as I was then studying Pre-press and Graphic Arts. The reason for this email is that I want to take the time to re-thank you for sharing your wisdom regardless of your very much limited time to do so. You were very nice to me, even though I came from a land far, far away and was lost as a street puppy. 

I would also like to let you know as well how I am doing. After our brief email exchanges, I was fully frustrated with the results of my applications, decided to give up and be complacent with my dead-end waitress job as it was paying the bills, anyway. I must say that I never stopped reading your blog along a lot of other resources you constantly post on Twitter. After a year of suppressed frustration, I decided to re-jumpstart my career track. I also was able to determine that advertising was not really what I was looking for but rather, I realised I am more passionate with marketing. I believe I was not fully able to distinguish the both so well and it led to confusion of what I really wanted. Blogs like yours and those you link out (i.e. Baby Food for Creatives) gave me a clearer understanding and drew the big picture of the advertising world that textbook definitions could not. 

For now, I am re-opening my career path by doing a lot of self-studying, offering myself to work for free in marketing agencies and studying how Social Media works in a bigger perspective by reading plenty of published journals, researches and statistics. I've grown to learn that I want to build my career towards specialising in Social Media strategies when I worked as a research assistant (Mostly doing proof-reading work, but I learned a lot!) for a German(why he needed a proof-reader) researcher from the University of Sydney in the subjects of Disaster Management using Social Media. I've just started to to create/use Social Media streams(Twitter, LinkedIn) to learn from usage and stabilise a public identity for potential employers. I also started a new blog, which I hope, someday, could be as insightful as yours. Once again, thank you very much for your generosity of sharing your brain and maybe 10 years from now I will bump into you and be able to personally thank you.


Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Movin' Up

The great reward for all your years of hard work and talent is the eventual promotion to manager.

For some folks, that means managing their peers. Can y'all say ugh?

This has happened to me and from experience it is not an easy road to navigate. People who were your buddies, who lunched with you, who listened to your boss-griping are now your subordinates. Kinda awkward.

I recently coached a group of new managers, a few of whom are now managing former co-workers. These are the four tips I shared:

1. Establish a safe distance.
You definitely don't want to snub your past co-workers, but you must establish some managerial distance however major or minor you need it to be. Think of it this way, you can no longer gossip with these folks. You can no longer bitch about the company. You can't laugh as they snake office supplies or ignore their spent hours online shopping. Yes, you can still grab lunch together but maybe now not every day. Your allegiance shifted when you became a manager, you are now a representative of the company more so than a worker bee. Just a bit of social space will serve you well, especially when tough issues come up - like layoffs.

2. Firing always sucks.
There is no way around feeling like shit when you have to lay off or fire a past co-worker. It feels bad. It will always feel bad. No two ways around it. Accept that and then do the best you can when faced with reducing staff. My trick is to cut their head off. Not literally :), but mentally. It works for me if I look at them as a headless worker that may require removal from the company for whatever reason. When their head isn't attached (in my mental picture), I can be less personal and more objective about the business decisions that need to be made. May sound harsh, but this remedy came about after crying alongside folks I had laid off because I felt so bad about doing it. Boss crying = not good.

3. Be consistent.
Most people want to know what to expect from a manager. Being consistent in your methods, your style, your conversations is a good thing. Yelling one minute, coaching another is the kind of psychotic manager stuff that leads good people to quit.

4. Be you.
Authenticity reigns. I manage people with the same style I do most everything else in life. Straight-forward, to the point and quick with a dose of teaching and mentoring. Staying true to my human nature helps to make the relationships with my employees more real and easier to maintain. I am not faking anything. And you know they can see right through any behaviors that don't seem like "my style." Your style may be a whole different collection of adjectives, but the goal is the same: be you.

Friday, July 13, 2012

My Bad Advice

After years of writing advice to young entry-level talent, I recently made a blunder and handed out some bad advice. Of course, I didn't think it was bad advice when I gave it (it's the old hind-sight is 20/20 thing). Unfortunately, for the young women who heeded my advice, this admission doesn't do much for her situation.

And so it goes.

An aspiring creative recruiter discovered my blog and read more about my background. She contacted me to ask some advice about a junior creative recruiter job she was pursuing. The hiring recruiter asked a brilliant thing of her as part of the interview process. The candidate was to re-create a resume that showed her background and experience 5 years from now.

What a unique challenge to hand someone! Create your future resume. This is one of those things I wish I had thought of myself. It gives the candidate the opportunity to present their passion and drive by believing and visualizing their own future. I'd bet you can tell a lot about a person by seeing how they view their future.

This woman had a great resume, but she did not have any creative recruiting skills. Somehow she had to show her past experience was applicable to this future career. What better way to do that then by describing her aspirations on a "future" LinkedIn profile.

We talked about all the ways she could do this. She researched creative recruiters on LinkedIn and reviewed all the skills, accolades, accomplishments and groups these folks had. We talked about her goals and how she saw herself as a contributor to the advertising and creative industries. This wasn't a poorly thought out plan.

Or so we thought.

Fast forward 3 days. Her "future" profile is on LinkedIn. She creates an amazing infographic version of it on and responds back to the hiring manager. All is well in Cecilia advice-giving land.

Coincidentally, another recruiter for another junior recruiting job stumbled upon her "future" profile on LinkedIn. Obviously these are not her real jobs, real accolades or real experiences. She is accused of fraud and dismissed from consideration.


My bad advice with good intentions. And so I ask this recruiter, and any others who may have seen this profile -- which was intended to be up only a few days and is now deleted -- to see the flip side of this situation.

This young woman showed initiative. She researched, explored and spent a great deal of time thinking about her future in recruiting and how she saw her career foundation build. And she is confident about being a creative recruiter.

Let's learn from this situation. LinkedIn is a public place with thousands of people clicking though it a day and what you put on your profile is a direct reflection of who you are.

I'm hoping she reflected her passion and drive.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Stop and Take a Breath

This is a piece of advice you will use for the rest of your career, so listen up: Stop and Take a Breath.

There are many situations where this advice applies (I know because I have been in many situations where I didn't apply said advice).

Before you send that lengthy, passion-infused email to a whole slew of folks.

When you are about to say something is when it isn't.

Prior to saying, sending, speaking, alluding, guessing, whispering anything to your boss that hasn't been thought through.

Ahead of raising your voice.

Just before you glare, smirk, or roll your eyes.

Before you ever, ever do one of these things...
Please stop and take a breath.

You will save yourself from yourself a hundred times over throughout a lifetime following this advice. Remember, I'm speaking from experience. The experience of NOT doing this.

Take a minute (more like an hour) before you send anything to your boss. Or to anyone whose title is higher than yours. Re-read or re-think what you are going to say. Take that cleansing breath and make certain you're sure about it. Be succinct, non-judgmental, and clear. If you are presenting a problem, give a solution. If you are giving an opinion, include an alternative. If you are just plain ranting, perhaps don't.

Take a quick second before you speak. Collect your thoughts, ponder your sources, have a point and (again) be clear. People will listen to those who have something to say. They tune out those who don't. Once you've been tagged as someone to tune out, it's super hard to turn that around.

Take a breath before you send any email to a big group of people. Especially if higher-ups are on the note. Re-read or re-think what you are going to say. Be succinct, non-judgmental, and clear. Make sure everyone you are cc'ing is critical to the information being provided. Check for typos. Speak and spell like an adult.

Stop and take a breath if you feel your voice rising; if you know your eyebrows are starting to slant inward; when your smile edges toward a smirk (oftentimes accompanied by an audible sound); or your eyeballs begin to roll upward.

Before you ever, ever do one of these things...
Please stop and take a breath.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Storm off the Stage

I was in awe of Gerry Graf in this article about a Creative Week panel where he immediately walked off the stage after hearing a fellow panelist state, "I think creative people are interesting. I think creative departments are shit."

In one simple statement of "I'm done," he made everyone well aware of what he stood for.

It makes me wonder, what "issue" would I storm off a stage for?

I'm thinking we all should have at least one thing in our life that is worth storming off a stage for. One single thing that embraces all our beliefs and values. I can't put my finger on what mine is, but I hope with all my might that when the moment comes that someones go against it, that I instantly and confidently storm off the stage.

Friday, April 13, 2012

The Four Agreements

I've been reading a lot of non-fiction lately, so here's another lesson regarding a book I just finished. Finished for the second time I might add, as it's not the easiest read.

It's called The Four Agreements and if you manage to get through it, there are 4 lessons in it that you can twist to apply to your work life.

1) Be impeccable with your word: This seems similar to what we all learned growing up - be honest. Yet being impeccable with your word stretches a bit beyond that. Not just speaking the truth, but doing what you say you will. At work, it's easy to agree to things, say generally what we might do and then let our commitments fade into the night. Now that I manage people, I find that this rule is the hardest and most important thing I can do. People who report to me are looking for honesty, they are looking for someone who will do exactly what they say they will. The easy thing is to kinda say what you're going to do, and then kinda not really do it.  We all must practice each day being super, super true to our word; what you say is just as critical as what you do.

2) Don't take anything personally: All I can say about this one is it is very hard! We all take everything personally, especially at work. Say someone criticizes your creative concepts, just you try and not take that personally! Very hard. When I started at my new job I had meetings set up with key people in the company to get to know them and their area of work. One guy no showed our meeting. I waited for about 10 minutes, then sent him an email asking if we were still on. No answer. This is exactly the circumstance that we all take personally, I sure did. Why didn't he come? Why didn't he reply to the email? Why didn't he reschedule? I wasted a good hour of brain power on the speculation about this person. If I didn't take it personally, I wouldn't have spent more than a minute on it. We all waste precious energy and brain power taking things personally. When at work, try try try not to do this. What others do and say has absolutely nothing to do with you.

3) Don't make assumptions: This rule goes hand-in-hand with the one above. Because right when we are taking things personally, we are making assumptions to justify how we feel. Back to the no-show guy - I assumed he was blowing me off. I assumed he got my email. I assumed he would politely provide a reason for not coming. All my assumptions fed into me taking it personally. When we assume things about our co-workers it makes life complicated. We almost always assume people feel the same way we do. When we assume everyone is in agreement things start to disintegrate before they even start. Account folks assume the creatives know the background on a client/product/project. Finance assumes production overspends without regard. We all assume all day long...because it's easy. Easier than asking questions to clarify. Questioning takes more time and mostly we are in a hurry. Questioning demands smarter folks to provide answers. Lots of problems come with questioning, but I'd counter that lots of problems come from NOT questioning, from assuming.

4) Always do your best: Don't let laziness take over your work ever. As the years go by in your career, laziness gets harder to fend off. We get better at what we do, we get promoted, we get to a point where the work is easy, we get comfortable, then we get lazy. This last rule is the reminder to never get to that point in your career. Always doing your best is the antidote to laziness. Look around at the folks working around you, I bet you see a few who aren't always doing their best and I'd bet it shows in the work they produce. I'd also bet a lot of other co-workers notice them too. When someone is disengaged, is not doing their best, it shows. And when someone is lovin' their job, doing their best work, it shows. It's just as easy to do your best as it is do be lazy, so opt for your best always.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Take the Stairs

I just finished a good book called, "Take the Stairs." It's written by Rory Vaden, a motivational speaker, and has a few good nuggets of advice about getting to success in your life.

Take the Stairs basically means most of don't take the stairs, we look for the escalator. We look for the easy, lazy way purely out of habit. Taking the stairs is a small outward gesture that reflects an inner commitment to stop doing things the easy way.

Other ideas from this book that I loved and are worth repeating:

1) Be the Buffalo - When a storm hits, cows run away from it. Cows then end up running in the same direction of the storm, prolonging their exposure to it. On the other hand, when a storm hits, a buffalo turns and runs directly toward it. Their exposure to the storm is lessened when they hit it head on.

Think about it in terms of the problems you face at work. Most of us act like Cows. Run away and run fast! Right?

A simple reminder to Be the Buffalo is what we all need. Turn and face a problem, head on and right away. The problem is addressed quicker and goes away faster.

2) Do it Scared - The author included a story about a women trapped in a high rise during a fire. She is terrified of small spaces and refused to exit the building down the stairwell. Her coworkers can't convince her to go and she ends up resigning herself to die because she cannot face her fear. She'd rather die! A fireman finds her and she still refuses to leave, telling him she's scared. "That's OK", he tells her, "Do it scared."

Such a simple statement. It acknowledges fear and yet forces action. I shared this one with my daughter who constantly answers "I'm too shy." Whether she is meeting someone new or asked to speak in front of her class, this is her standby answer. Now she's got a different way to face it, "Do it shy."

Myself, I battle with the things I simple don't want to do. I procrastinate those to no end. Perhaps now I can say, "Do it even though I really don't want to." It doesn't have the same ring to it, but maybe it'll get me to do a few of those things that I have been dreading.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Rise Above

Your definitely don't learn this in school, but important nonetheless.

In fact, there are a lot of lessons in life (business life) that you can't or don't learn in school. You just have to get out there, get job and learn by trial and error. And so I hope to spare some of you learning this one the hard way.

Learn to Rise Above.

Learn to Rise Above the politics. The pettiness. The immaturity. The fray.

Learn to Rise Above the chaos. The indecision. The safe.

You all have seen these types of things in action. You've seen meetings where the politics start taking over. Or immaturity starts leaking into people's actions. You've seen it I am sure.

Once you've seen it and learn to recognize it, it then becomes easier to know when to Rise Above it.

You'll want to engage in it most likely because that's the easy thing to do. When people are being catty, it's easy to join in. When people are becoming argumentative, it's easy to fight right back. When meetings are going on and on in their usual indecisive ways, it's much easier to keep your mouth closed and sit there doodling.

I know. Easy is our default action.

So I am telling you: Rise Above.

Rising Above requires courage and action. It requires you to stand up and say something. Something like, "why do we have this meeting? it seems redundant to that other one we have?" Instead of week after week of non-productiveness.

Rising Above sometimes hurts egos and feelings. People will want to protect these at all cost.  Rising Above sometimes requires change and newness. People will want to keep what they are familiar with.

Rising Above requires you to NOT add to the gossipy conversation going on. Which I know is hard. It requires you to treat your coworkers with respect. Though I know it is easier to make fun of them. It requires you to be bold in your decision making, confident in your abilities and respectful of everyone's skills and contributions.

I know this is hard. It's hard and takes practice. Ultimately you'll learn a skill worth having, worth envying.

Rise Above folks. The air up there is so much better for you.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Mike Scioscia's Rear View Mirror

One of the really cool things about working at Oakley are Fireside Chats.
An athlete/someone famous/inspiring/passionate comes in to speak to employees.

Last week Mike Scioscia was here. First, that man should be a stand up comedian. We were laughing practically the whole time. Second, as someone who knows absolutely nothing about the man, I left respecting him immensely.

One story he told was worthy of re-telling. Mike talked about the people in his Rear View Mirror.

Now if I didn't have a slight case of Alzheimer's from raising 2 kids, I'd remember the coach he was referring to, buuuuut. . . .that doesn't matter. Mikes' point was that as you look back on your life, reflect into your rear view mirror, there you see the people who helped get you where you are. You'll see the people whose impact on your thoughts, your actions and, ultimately, your career is profound.

Mike was recalling a certain catching coach who he sees in his Rear View Mirror. Mike said he wouldn't have gotten where he was without this man. This coach was like a second father to him, he mentored him in numerous untold ways and taught him so, so very much throughout his career.This coach was standing boldly and profoundly in Mike Scioscia's Rear View Mirror.

My own mirror: perhaps less profound, but mine nonetheless.

In it I see Mr. Christenson, my 6th grade teacher who gave me an early appreciation of the arts. Pete & Sonja Tripodi, my first bosses in the real world who taught me everything my young brain could absorb. My Dad, who in his own quiet presence, taught me and my sisters we could pretty much accomplish anything in this world. My list goes on.

Think about your Rear View Mirror. Who do you see?

It goes without saying that we get where we are with the help of others. Remember those who've taught you a thing or two. Who've guided you subtlely or overtly. And, as Mike Scioscia did, appreciate that you got where you are because of them.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Aspiring Creative Directors

I feel funny that I even have to write this, but it's come up enough to warrant a few words.

Y'all know that in order to be a Creative Director, you have to start out as an actual creative person. Like an art director, designer or copywriter. See you spend a few years as a junior, a few as a mid level, a few more as a senior, a few years as an ACD, then you get to be CD. There is a logical progression here folks.

I am continually surprised by students or entry-level people when I ask 'what do you want to do?' They answer I want to be a creative director. Then I counter with 'well, first, what do you want to do?' And they answer creative director. By this time it's clear they don't understand that's not an entry-level job.

Think of it as school. You can't be a college graduate without going to grade school, middle school AND high school first.

It worries me that students aren't learning (or understanding) the progression of titles in advertising.

The students must pick a discipline first: art or writing for instance. Spend a heck of a lot of years learning and growing in that discipline. Be good enough to be promoted. Learn how to manage people and departments (we often forget this one). Then, maybe, you become Creative Director.

Just remember in order to direct creative, you have to have been a creative first.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

It just takes a little

This advice may be more for senior folks, those who have been in the business for a long time. But, as a junior, pay attention.

Sometimes it just takes a little thing - define thing however you'd like - to make someone feel appreciated.

It might be saying thank you.  Or buying them a coke from the soda machine. Or acknowledging long hours. Or calling them out in front of the agency for a job well done.

Sometimes that one little thing makes a person feel appreciated. And I can tell you, that goes a long way.

As our days get more hectic and we are cranking on more projects, the niceness and gratefulness get forgotten. We forget to say "thanks" and "good job" and "you are so great at what you do" cuz we're just too, too busy. Well, be as busy as you want, but when someone gives their notice I'd bet that makes you stop for a second. Why not stop for a second while your valuable employees are still with you?

Because these little things add up. Either in a bad way, when time after time an employee feels slighted because no one is appreciating them. Or in a good way, when an employee feels great about what they do and they become all that much more committed to the company and the job they are doing.

Today, I was genuinely and wholeheartedly thanked by someone for showing them an ounce of appreciation on a project they'd worked their ass off on. Genuine proof that small gestures have big impact.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Taking a Dose

This week I am heeding a dose of my own advice. Taken from my one of my favorite posts I've written, titled "QUIT." In that post, I say that quitting is a fantastic way to grow yourself (and your career).

"It’s not quit in the sense of giving up when things get too hard. This isn’t about hopelessness or a sense of failure. It’s quit in a much bolder sense. Quitting to try something new, to gain a fresh perspective, or to embark on a new endeavor. Quitting is risky. And risk is an exact expression of your courage."

This week --after 13 years-- I am quitting.

My time here at Y&R/Wunderman has been amazing. I can't even being to capture it in words. It's not just years spent, it's people met, skills learned, positions held, problems solved, networks expanded, fun had, people recruited. Good times all around.

So though the venue may change, my passions remain.

I will continue to author this blog and provide advice and snippets of counsel to those fresh to our business. I will continue to mentor young creatives seeking advice on their portfolios. I will continue to dedicate my time to those who'll be the future of our industry. Those are my passions and I am so lucky to be able spend time doing them.

I hope you'll all continue to read and, when the time is right, do some quitting of your own.

"By exposing yourself to change, by making the tough decision to switch jobs, by testing your courage, by quitting – you gain so much. And if you truly believe in the choices you make, there is no question you’re making the right decision."

Tuesday, January 3, 2012


I always say the “ABOUT ME” section is really what gets you hired.

I truly believe this. It’s certainly what gets you the interview in the first place.

I’ve said this before: You MUST differentiate yourself from the other candidates.

First assume everyone has a good book -- everyone that is your competition vying for the same job. If all the portfolios are good and make it past the first round, what is it then that gets someone selected for an interview?

The ABOUT ME section!

Here are some that have got my attention recently:

When I was 8, I trained myself to do the Vulcan Salute by duct-taping my fingers (both hands) together for an entire day. I hope I'll get the chance to meet you someday and show you.  (melissa ploysophon)

When you look at me you see Cary Grant, but without the height, handsomeness, acting talent, or overall pleasure of being around.        (jon miller)

A ginger. A copywriter. A regular writer. A former Swiss farm hand. A thinker. A big fan of Nicholas Cage movies. A former furniture delivery guy in Denver. A soul searcher. A former small time Chicago music critic. A former college boy; twice. A comedian / improv performer. A storyteller. A pretty cool guy.   (dave fox)

While I’ve never been a huge proponent of astrology, I was once presented with a horoscope that read, “You have a champion’s heart with the wanderlust of a gypsy.”  Truer words have never been written.
   (emily papp)

I leave you with some simple facts that you may not otherwise know about me.
1. My love for Coca-Cola outweighs my fear of inevitable diabetes.
2. Milk does a body good, unless it's mine.
3. People say I say funny things, I think they just misunderstand me.
(douglass huber)

Interests: Classic Nintendo games, rollerblading like it's 1995, gardening, cooking, kerning and obsessively watching The Food Network.                (shivonne miller)

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

10 Things Creatives should not have on a Resume

1. Listing Word, Excel, Windows, The Internet, Macintosh or Microsoft Office as skills.  Ummm, Duh.

2. Any of the following words: Team Player, Multi-Tasker, Hard Worker, Detail Oriented, World Class, Aforementioned, Right Brain, Whole Brain, Holistic Thinker, Marketing Professional.

3. A QR code.  I am not going to pick up my phone, take a shot, then peruse your portfolio on my phone. Ever.

4. More than 3 fonts. More is not more.

5. A 5-paragraph cover letter. I actually think creatives should skip the cover letter.

6. Links to a Blog or Twitter account that have content a recruiter really shouldn't see. If you are going to give me more content that you author, make sure it enforces the reasons I'd want to hire you.

7. Referencing yourself in the 3rd person. Creepy.

8. A design that makes any part of the resume hard to read.

9. A lack of personality. You must show something that differentiates you from the next person.

10. An Objective section that starts with "To Obtain. . ." I already know you want a job, no need to muddle it up with corporate speak.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Inspiration & Your Responsibility to Find It

Last night I gave a talk at Chapman University, as part of their Visual Arts Speaker Series.

One of the points I made was about inspiration and the responsibility of a creative student to continually find sources of inspiration. You can only concept ideas from the contents that currently exist in your brain. If you do nothing to increase those contents, well then, your ability to think up new and innovative ideas is somewhat limited.

But, those who travel more, read more, research more current trends, watch more of the best ads, solicit different points of views, eat at different restaurants, and generally indulge in random and varied activities more, those folks will be the ones who have a wider (and way more interesting) foundation to extract new ideas from.

In this interview of John C. Jay, Global Executive Creative Director and Partner of Wieden + Kennedy, Mr, Jay echos the same thought that creatives have an obligation to search out sources of inspiration. He says, "As a creative, it's your job to stay current. It's your job to make sure you look outside your own silos."

He also talks about his time working at Bloomingdale's under a CEO that made seeking out sources of creative inspiration a top priority. Have a watch of this video, you'll be jealous of Mr. Jay's early experience I'm sure. I am.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Yes, Atmosphere Matters

After a lot of years working at an ad agency, I take for granted the very cool atmosphere within which I work.

Unique Artwork - Check
Ping Pong Table - Check
Funky Wall Graphics - Check
Bright Paint Colors - Check
Dogs Afoot - Check
Amazing Patio - Check
Punching Bag - Check

Yea, coming to work at such a cool place doesn't suck. We say we need a creative environment to inspire creativity. But really, it's just plain fun. My friends who work at other substantially less fun offices are jealous.

This short video showing the walls of Toronto-based BizMedia being livened up a bit is equally as cool. (Thanks @AdBuzz for sharing!) And helps to prove that yes, atmosphere matters.

Hey Apathy! Wall Mural from BizMedia on Vimeo.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Cool Resume of the Day

By far, the coolest resume I have seen in a long while.

Vagelis Tassopoulus, a copywriter from Greece.  Go to his site to see the full version. A wonderful mix of work stats, awards, personality and creativity. I just love it.

p.s. If anyone knows anyone stateside, Vagelis is looking to relocate.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Art Center + Team One = Cool Stuff

I love when an agency truly embraces inspiring artistic ideas. Nice work Team One!

"Team One recently collaborated with Pasadena’s Art Center College of Design to transform our everyday white walls into a canvas for artists. In partnership with Art Center’s creative leadership, we launched Space Monkey, an exclusive, semester-long curriculum designed to transform our philosophy of “launching new ideas into the world” into student-created works of art. The course – managed by the school’s trans-disciplinary studio program – is an upper level course for students from different majors to collaborate on and execute unique art concepts. Taught by artists Mark Todd and Christian Clayton, the inaugural Space Monkey course featured 15 students from the college’s illustration, photography and advertising majors.

Throughout the four-month semester, students worked with Team One creatives to develop and pitch their recommended art installations. Space Monkey was the first opportunity for most students to work with a “real-life” client. Students proposed 19 distinct ideas, six were selected, and over three weeks during July and August, Team One’s hallways, collaboration spaces, kitchens and lobbies were transformed into canvases of creativity and energy."

Friday, September 16, 2011

Act like you own it

Last night I went to see a band at a local club. One of the singers was starting to bug me and it made me want to grab him after the show and give him a few performance pointers. Pay attention because these same pointers apply to any somewhat nervous person looking for a job.

1. Act like you own it.**
This singer had a great voice, he was just too nervous for his own good. 

Shore up your confidence, settle your nerves and you WILL shine through, especially when you have the creative chops to back it up.

**This is different than "fake it 'til you make it". This singer had a great voice, he just didn't share his confidence with anyone. I'd assume you had a great book until you prove me otherwise.

2. Find something to do with your hands.
This singer could not figure out what to do with his hands. After a while, that was all I could pay attention to. He'd hold them stiffly at his sides, then hook his thumbs in his back pockets for a millisecond, then put them in his front pockets, then back out again. 

Fidgeting gets you nowhere, just breathe and sit still. Sit on your fingertips if you have to.

3. Shut up. 
Once this singer started chatting into the mic, his nerves took over and he didn't know how/when to wrap it up and get back to the music. 

Nerves make all of us chatty and next thing we know we started a story about our portfolio and ended it talking about our cat. Again, take a breath and relax as much as you can. Answer the question you've been asked, then shut up.

4. Have fun. 
My guess is this singer loves to sing. But combined with being very nervous, not knowing how to perform in front of an audience and squirming a lot, he just looked like he wasn't having much fun.

Advertising isn't rocket science. It is an industry where you can have lots of fun. Remind yourself of that as you head into an interview and feel yourself starting to get nervous. 

Tell yourself: "This is fun. I am fun. This interview will be fun. 
And I will own it."

Thursday, September 1, 2011

If you want to leave, leave

It is a big decision to leave your current company. Perhaps you want to work on different brands or you want a better growth potential. Maybe you hate your boss or your boss hates you. Whatever. You have made the decision it is time to leave.

So you begin interviewing.

Remember now, you have made the decision it is time leave. First. Then you begin interviewing. The order of these two tasks is important.

DO NOT do it in reverse. Begin interviewing then figure you'll decide if you want to leave depending on the opportunities that come your way.

Here is why.

Companies spend time and money interviewing and selecting candidates. Sometimes a little, sometimes a lot. They may even fly in out-of-town candidates and put them up for a day or two while interviewing.

If you are out interviewing, please be serious about actually taking the job. Do not use a job offer as leverage to stay where you are. Kinda sucky all around.

I've just flown someone in, had a wonderful interview, confirmed a great personality fit with the team, a super strong book, worked the mounds of offer paperwork through the pipes, presented an offer, then. . .

. . .was told "let me think about it."

Ok, that I understand. Perhaps this candidate is so good, there are other companies making offers at the same time. I can understand needing some time to gauge one place against another.

What I can't understand is someone needing time to decide if they even want to leave in the first place.

Remember, you have already made the decision to leave.

I'm happy I just got someone a big fat raise to stay where they are (if it is more money you want, please take a second to ask). I'm sad I used up a chunk of my recruiting budget for someone who deep down might not have been serious about moving on.

Think about where you are. Consider the money + the work + the growth + the culture. Then, decide whether or not to go out find something new. And if you could do that before giving me a call, that'd be great.

Monday, August 29, 2011

U really should use proper english

In this day and age of smart phones, texting and emailing on the fly, I know it is hard to maintain proper use of the english language.


Can we all agree when emailing a recruiter (or creative director, or HR person, or fill in the blank-person who might give you a job) it is a good idea to communicate as best you can?

Which means spelling out the word "you", not using U.  As in, "I'd love to send u my book."

Really? You are trying to get a JOB here, not pass me a note in history class.

The email that precedes someone reviewing your portfolio is in fact one of the most important emails you'll ever type. Take a few minutes, spell out the long words, proofread, show some personality, be succinct and then send.

Your future career will thank you.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Big Ad Gig

It's that time of year again. Time to prepare your video entries for the Big Ad Gig.

I was in NYC last fall to watch the finalists present in front of the judges. The room was packed with ad industry folks from all levels and all departments. Such great exposure for any aspiring ad student.

It's contests like this that give the forum to just about anyone to get noticed. Sometimes you have to take an unconventional route to get your foot in the door.

Plus, their website is pretty cool itself.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Portfolios aren't just for Creatives

I was an OC Ad Fed Career Night panelist last week and was asked about the importance of portfolios.

If you are a creative, this is like asking the importance of air. But, for non-creatives, I am finding more reason to believe a portfolio is a great idea.

In fact, in 1998, when I interviewed for a print production job the manager asked to see my portfolio. I was like, whaaa?? She wanted to see a sampling of all the things I had printed, which seems obvious now. At the time, I naively thought portfolios were only for creatives.

Even if you are straight out of college and no real work per se to feature, you could still create a portfolio of sorts to differentiate yourself from the candidate pool.

Take Lauren Murphy. She's in her senior year at UC Riverside, scored an awesome internship at Innocean last summer and has a passion for innovation and product design. Her portfolio site helps to showcase her critical thinking skills together with her creative side.  This is tough to do in an 8.5" x 11" white piece of paper we all call a resume.

Lauren's site gives a peek into her personality, has very cool formatting of experience and skills, links to the projects she worked on during school and an option to download her resume. An excellent showcase for someone looking for a position outside the creative department.

If you are interested in planning or art buying or account, you too could find a way to create content to showcase during an interview. I guarantee you will have such a different experience if you reference your portfolio site during the interview.

For instance, if you are interested in photography and a possible job in art buying. Wouldn't it be great to start researching photographers and shooting styles now? You could show what photographers you are inspired by and state why. You could collect and display samples based on different possible clients or brands. Now I am just making this stuff up here, but I can tell you if a young grad met with me and pulled out this great photo reference they'd been working on, I'd be blown away by their initiative and passion.

Think about your resume and the type of job you want to go after. Is there a way to translate it into a portfolio and give a bit more depth to what you're all about? I am certain those who take this step stand a head and shoulders about the rest.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

The Color of Diversity

Remember folks, the color of Diversity isn't black. Or should I say isn't just black.

Tamika Cosen contributed an insightful article on the advertising week blog today. She speculates that more black students are not seeking careers in advertising because ad schools aren't doing enough to articulate the successes of black people that made it on the creative side. (side note: watch our film, Pursuit of Passion: Diversity in Advertising; it's goal was to articulate the successes of folks from a variety of diverse backgrounds).

I love what she's written, but I wonder. Is the lack of diversity in advertising really about the lack of african american people? Diversity is such a big word with a lot of components: blacks, asians, hispanics, women, glbt. As an example, the holding company IPG promotes employee groups for each of these categories.

We have to ask ourselves what exactly is it we are trying to solve when we focus on Diversity efforts?

Maybe we really mean less white males. Recall the recent twitter chatter about the Award Show juries being about 99% male (#changetheratio, #toomanywhitemen).

Can you say more black, more brown, more yellow by in fact saying less white?

I don't have an answer on how to get there.

Yet as Tamika writes, exposure at the high school age is a good start. Then put the onus on colleges to inspire students toward advertising careers. Lastly, our industry must embrace and promote multi-cultural employees up through the ranks. Perhaps then we'll start to see less white men in the board room.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Ira Glass on Storytelling

Ira Glass on Storytelling from David Shiyang Liu on Vimeo.

Thanks to @flickster for sharing. Such a great video.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Brief, but worth it

Now is the time to switch your high school-ish email address.

No more "swiftygirl72" or "callmeswift" or whatever was cute in 1999.

It takes about 2 seconds to open an email account. I know I have previously posted about getting your own personal email to begin with (not borrowing your girlfriend's email to send out your resume on your behalf). Now it's time to make sure it named something slightly north of professional.

Some personality is fine. Silliness is not.

Friday, June 3, 2011

When in Doubt, Counter

Being offered your first job is exciting, and. . . super stressful.

How do you know it's the right place for you? What exactly are the job duties? How much are they going to pay you? What if everyone who works there is a dork? What if I hate my partner?

All valid concerns. Especially, the "how much are they going to pay you" concern.

The second you hear the actual amount being offered to you, you'll have one of two reactions: total joy or total bummed-out-ness. Hopefully the former, sometimes the latter.

Here's my advice: if you are offered an amount that you just can't swallow, ask for more.

This advice also applies when you've been somewhere a year and you deserve a raise. Ask for it. There is absolutely no harm in declaring your worth (as long as you realize others might not wholeheartedly agree).

My sister got offered a job last week. First thing she tells me is she can't get by on the salary. Mind you, she did NOT say she thinks she deserves more or is worth more or should be making more (all of which may be very true). She said she can't get by on the salary.

It's a great job at an interesting place and she really wanted to work there. Counter them I said. Call them up tell them how excited you are by the opportunity, how great a fit it is for you, AND that you would like to ask for 10K more. Then be quiet. Let them respond. Candidates usually mess up the opportunity by talking too much. Keeping quiet is key.

I can tell you no hiring manager wants to lose a candidate this far in the process. If they truly can, they'll see what they can do. If they can't, they'll say so. No harm, no foul.

She countered, they came up, everyone's happy.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Cute Resume of the Day

Just love the ones that stand out. . .

Head to Art Director Marcus Chin-Quee's site to see it close up.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Happy Graduation

Congratulations to all the advertising and design students that are graduating this week. Pure awesomeness.

Here is your post-graduation to do list:
1. have a beer
2. thank your instructors
3. take a vacation
4. get the crappy school assignments out of your portfolio

Last week I attended a senior portfolio show at a local college. As one student was showing me his work, I got stuck on a newsletter piece he had in his portfolio.

The newsletter had some pretty heavy, yet really interesting topics like 'Drinking and Sexual Abuse.' What tripped me up was his photo choice in the article. It was a huge, disproportionate photo of a banquet table. Yes there were wine glasses in the shot, which I guess related the drinking part to the story. The size of the shot was off the charts when compared to the copy and I really felt he could have chosen a more emotional and striking photo.

The next page showed something similar: huge photo, uninteresting shot, weird placement. As did the next, and so on.

Well, turns out, this newsletter was the by product of a photography assignment. The students did a large scale photography exercise and then as a subsequent assignment, had to create a newsletter around those same shots. Hence the shots that really didn't fit the stories.

Dude, take that crap out of your book. It is not helping you land a job.

Now that you are done with school, you can be done with the mandatory school assignments that might not be the strongest representation of your creative skills.

Filter through your book and make sure every piece that remains is 100% the best possible work you can do. No one needs to see the assignments that were, albeit for a purpose, not good for your final portfolio.