Hey everyone, I’ve moved my blog

Just a reminder, if you follow my blog and would like to continue following, here is the link to the new Tumblr. I wanted to make this my primary blog and apparently Tumblr doesn’t allow you to switch. So I had to recreate it under a new account. Same exact blog, just a new link. Please check it out if you can.

Thanks, TJ

http://creative-direction-blog.tumblr.com/

Hey everyone, I’ve moved my blog

If you follow my blog and would like to continue following, here is the link to the new Tumblr. I wanted to make this my primary blog and apparently Tumblr doesn’t allow you to switch. So I had to recreate it under a new account. Same exact blog, just a new link. Please check it out if you can.

Thanks, TJ

http://creative-direction-blog.tumblr.com/

Shelly knows what she's talking about

Words of wisdom from an advertising legend. She targets some of it towards women, but it’s all equally relevant for men as well. Do things you love. Be with people you love. It makes life so much easier. 

Creating a killer online portfolio - mostly great advice

This is a nice piece on how to wow people with your online portfolio. And I agree with pretty much all of it. Except for the part about sharing the backstory. Maybe this is relevant for other industries, but not so much for advertising. Most CDs and recruiters don’t have time and don’t really care how you got to the finished product. They just want to know you can get there. Your ‘process’ might be interesting to your friends or your mom, but to the people responsible for hiring you, it’s just fluff. 

Advertising. Love it or leave it.

You have to a have a sense of humor to work in advertising. But guess what? That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take the job seriously. Our work generates billions of dollars in economic value. And our clients put their trust in us to make intelligent decisions on their behalf. Decisions that can affect their livelihood. So yeah, we get to wear jeans to work. We probably have more fun than the average office worker. And apparently, some of us are high all the time. But when you put out a self-loathing list like this, all it does is make you look like the kind of idiot you mistakenly think we all are. 

The myth that work-life balance is a myth

Fast Company ran a piece recently claiming that work/life balance is a myth. I’ve heard this notion before. And it’s total crap.

The author tries to justify his stance by saying no one can achieve absolute, 50/50 balance. Therefore, balance is unachievable. 

Brilliant. If only his logic made a lick of sense. 

Does anyone really set out to achieve perfectly symmetrical balance between their work and home lives? No one I know. The author’s argument comes down to semantics (taking the word ‘balance’ incredibly literally), which is a pretty weak premise for a piece in a major magazine.

For most people, the idea of balance simply means paying attention to all aspects of their lives. Work should be inspiring. Relationships should be fulfilling. Home life should be rewarding. 

Make all of those things happen and I’d say you live a pretty balanced life. And it’s really not that hard to do. It just takes a little focus. 

You need to treat each part of your life like it matters. Work isn’t the only part of life you need to work at. Relationships take effort. Taking care of a home requires constant attention. 

Yes, it can all be overwhelming. And there will always be times when everything feels out of control. That’s normal. But that doesn’t mean balance is unachievable. It simply means it’s not easy. 

But who ever said life was supposed to be easy?

The New York Times agrees with me.

Nice to see that my ideas about collaboration and open-space office plans are shared by someone at The New York Times. I hope this viewpoint gets more press so we might start reversing the open-office trend and move towards a more suitable environment for creation.

When your feelings get hurt, don’t take it out on your career

Rejection is a part of life. And it’s a huge part of life in the ad business. Our work gets rejected every day. Our portfolios get rejected by on a regular basis. And more often than not, prospective employers reject us as well.

And it sucks. Every time.

But, suckiness aside, you don’t want to respond in a way that might hurt you down the road. So you learn to keep your emotions in check. It’s okay to express honest disappointment, but you should always treat even your harshest critics with respect. 

Easier said than done, I know. When responding to negative feedback, there’s a fine line between disappointment and dickishness. And that line gets even blurrier when you communicate via email or LinkedIn, where your words can easily get misinterpreted. 

This blog entry from ResumeBear.com is a great example. The author was considering two highly qualified applicants for a job. One ultimately rose to the top. The other received a personalized note offering some hope of future opportunity. 

The spurned applicant offered this brief reply:

“Thank you for your response.  Obviously, I had wished that it had been a more positive message.  Personally, I thought my skill set and those required for the position were a reasonably good match.”

Now, how do you interpret this? I see it as a genuine expression of disappointment. But the recruiter thought otherwise. She felt he was being ‘passive-aggressive’ and exercised ‘poor judgement’. Pretty harsh criticism. And unwarranted, in my opinion. 

But recruiters and hiring managers can deal with hundreds of people per week. And the differences between candidates are often minimal.  Even the smallest misstep (unintended or not) can put you in the ‘not worth it’ pile.

So you should probably err on the side of caution. When composing a reply to a rejection letter, always take a pause before sending anything. Chances are, even if you’ve tried to be uber-composed, some hurt feelings will seep into your prose. Give yourself an hour to simmer down and then re-read your email. If it still feels genuine and positive, send it off. If not, take another crack at it. 

This same notion holds true in our face-to-face interactions as well. When someone criticizes your work, take a breath before bringing the full force of your fury upon them. It’s not easy, I know. Like most creatives, I’ve tossed my share of sarcastic barbs in my day. And I’m sure it will happen again. But as a general rule, you don’t want to alienate yourself from every person you come in contact with. So pull a few punches once in a while. Force a smile. Swallow your pride.

That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t defend your work. Just try not to be an asshole about it. This is an incredibly small industry we work in. And we’ve got enough assholes already.

Back to life, back to reality

So the long holiday break is over. Time to get back to the grind and settle into our usual routines.

Or not.

Chances are you did some cool shit over the break. Maybe you hit the beach. Or the slopes. Or perhaps you just spent some quality time at home, getting reacquainted with your couch.

Whatever floats your boat. The point is, you did stuff you don’t normally get to do. You got out of your regular habits. And you may have even (God forbid) spent a little less time in the digital world and more time in the real world. 

Now, don’t get me wrong. I love the Internet. I love social media. I’d be lost without either. But there needs to be a balance. The internet should be a tool to help make your life better, it shouldn’t actually be your life. Going on eBay to find a new pair of skis is great. Spending ten hours a day on eBay trying to win every auction you can find—not so good. Using Facebook to connect with friends, family and work colleagues is awesome. Spending hours on Facebook creating a simulated personality for games that simulate reality is a bit ridiculous.

So for those of us who spend most of our workday in front of computer, let’s not be so quick to jump back into our usual routine. Let’s have lunch with coworkers. Let’s meet up with an old friend for drinks. Let’s go see a movie. 

The beauty of doing more in the real world is that it will actually make us more capable of creating fascinating content for the virtual world. Let’s face it, the Internet is largely filled with people trying to mimic today what they saw on the Internet yesterday. Wouldn’t it be nice if someone actually created something original, based on a genuine real-life moment? 

You remember real-life moments, don’t you? They’re those things you capture on your iPhone camera every weekend. 

You don't do your best work at work

That’s the provocative theory put forth by Jason Fried at a TED conference back in October 2010. And I think he’s on to something. People need space and time to create. Today’s workplaces are over-crowded and our schedules are over-booked. Take a moment (okay more like 15 minutes) to watch his talk and see what you think. 

Top of Page