The day I almost became a pro soccer player (or experienced the best scam possible)

Since I moved to NY and got my brand new NY area-code phone number, I think I’ve received at least one scam call a week.  Sometimes I hang up immediately. And sometimes, when I don’t have anything better to do, I actually listen to the things they have to say.

And I gotta say…

Scam artists are geniuses!

But today everything changed.

Hands down, I’ve received the best scam call ever.

So, cue the memory flashback sound effect and let me start with my story:

It was 10 or so in the morning. I was sitting down at my desk pretending to update some copy comments from last night. I was sharing with my ACD the next Stephen King movie he should watch when my phone started to ring. The number identified as being from Newark, New Jersey.

I was perplexed. I’m so unpopular, I receive fewer calls than a cow with a cellphone.

So I picked it up.

Immediately, someone called me by my name and started inviting me to what could easily be one of my childhood dreams. Play for a professional soccer team. Well… kind of a professional team. It was for the NY Red Bulls, who play in the MLS, which isn’t considered a real pro league (sorry, Red Bulls fans).

At first, I couldn’t believe my luck. Finally, I was being recognized for my talent to trip myself while dribbling the ball. And I knew that some MLS teams pay so little that often have players with side gigs.

Then, the questions started. How did they get my number? Maybe my old coach, who probably don’t remember me recommended me. Maybe they knew Mexicans kinda play good, so they’re calling every Mexican they could. Maybe, just maybe, they realized I have a dormant Messi-like talent nobody (not even me) knew about.

There I was, picturing me, in all my glory, wearing the red-white Adidas kit. The number 15 cradling my surname, while every fan at the Red Bull arena shouting my nickname.

And then, it hit me

This might be a scam…

…or a plot to get me killed.

So while I was trying way too hard not to shit my pants, I politely told them I wasn’t interested and hung up.

And that was it. Cool story, bro.

But, if this was a real call and any of the Red Bulls scouts is reading this, I have something to say.

I’M IN! I WANNA PLAY FOR YOU GUYS!

 

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I make ads. I block ads.

When I was growing up, I remember my excitement when my parents finally decided to get cable TV and I was gonna be able to watch as many ads and cartoons as I desired (I know, I was a weird kid). I grew up watching ads and I loved it!

So yeah, I grew up watching ads and I loved it!

Little me had no clue that one day I would become a proper ad man and be the mind behind those ads.

But what “little me” couldn’t predict is that “adult me” would also pay to block ads.

Let me explain.

I still love ads, any kind of ad. In fact, I spend most of my day watching new ads, good ads. But let’s be honest. There are so many bad ads that finding those few good ones is like finding a gold mine in your backyard (or any other analogy you’d like better).

For example, every time I watch The Daily Show with Trevor Noah on Hulu, I get this Bud Light Lime ad that’s, for the lack of words, bad (sorry if you’re the ones behind it, but you know deep in your heart that I’m right).

I think I’ve seen this ad at least 20-30 times in the past 3 weeks. But when I try to analyze the thought behind it, my only outcome is this:

Limes in a beer -> Hispanics -> Spanish

Refreshing -> Summer -> Palm trees

=

Palm trees speak Spanish

I know it’s really hard to get good ads out there (heck, I’ve done my fair share of embarrassing stuff that I’m afraid to look at). I know that there’s always someone in every department and every client that maims the original vision. I also know that as creatives, we need to pick our battles and only fight for the things that are monumental.

But now, technology is against us and those Ad Blocking plugins are just gonna keep on growing, and more people are going to start paying to block ads. Or if the Adblock Plus thing goes trough, see only the ads that pay to be seen (an extra to their media budget).

So unless we start educating ourselves and our clients to be bolder and create better content and better ads that people want to see and share, the people like “little me” that love to see ads will go extinct (and our jobs with it).

P.S. I also pay to see ads. Good ads.

How do I renew my passion to create everyday?

Working in any creative industry can sometimes be really frustrating. You know, having to go through endless changes, ideas getting killed, budgets being cut (or non existent), etc. It’s no surprise that many people think that the only ones that have what it takes to succeed are the ones with an unnatural talent, a really thick skin and luck.

I can vouch for the thick skin. It is true that you need it to see your mind-babies being killed and gather enough courage to keep pushing until you give birth to a new one.

But unnatural talent?

No, sorry.

Creativity is part of human nature. Which means, we all have talent. You just need to nourish it, unleash it and enjoy it.

Even though, sometimes you need to renew your passion to create. Find that fuel that makes you keep on going against all odds. It is a different process for everyone. Here is how I do it.

Ready?

READING

Say what???

Yes, reading. Everyone who knows me or has worked with me knows that I’m always reading something. I’m either stuck to my Kindle, to the endless tabs I have open in my browser (which make my computer crash regularly) or to any book that seems interesting.

Reading keeps me up to date with new tech, ideas being made, funny stuff, entertaining stuff—you name it. Sometimes I won’t even finish the article when I’m using it for an idea I just came up with. Reading is my fuel.

For example, on a recent trip back home, I dug out a gift package I got from AKQA back when I was a not-so-little fella attending ad school. It contained a book called “Spark For The Fire” from Ian Wharton.

I started to read it and oh boy, my mind was blown.

So much that it led me to set new goals for my professional career that will make me push myself even harder than before, and a new personal project that hopefully will launch in two weeks.

I honestly don’t know if the book is really that good or should be an obligatory read for any creative (sorry Ian). But I have been recommending it like crazy to all my office mates and friends (you’re welcome Ian).

Anyway. That’s how I renew my passion to create everyday.

Now tell me… What’s yours?