The invention of the time machine and the “A-ha” moment

Ever since I started working in this business I’ve been wondering what was the “A-ha” moment for the world’s most renown creatives. You know, that moment when they said to themselves, “oh shit! I really wanna do this for a living”—or something close to that.

I know that the Boguskys, the Drogas, the Grafs or the Royers of this world have already talked about their beginnings in the industry, the things they did to become geniuses and more. But correct me if I’m wrong, I haven’t read or heard them talking about that “A-ha” moment.

When we are young, we are naturally attracted to anything that’s creative. We’re born creative. And some people cling so hard to that feeling that they grow up to become artists, entrepreneurs, mad men at a very young age. They say they were always attracted to that life and that job, but they never mention the moment when they make that decision.

Take me for an instance. I’ve always loved creativity and took it as a hobby when my life/school took me to the boring corporate world (the kind that wears ties and suits everyday because they’re told to, not because they need to). When I was a pubescent teenager trying to decide what I was going to do with my life, nobody told me that this ad world existed (my school didn’t have career planning or counselors). So when I had to make a choice, I chose business. Cool, exciting, boring business.

That choice led me to a wealthy and successful career path. The money was good, the people were good, but I wasn’t happy. I was just going with the flow.

Then it happened.

Out of the blue, a teacher at a course I was taking explained how the ad industry worked.

My eyes opened wide, my pupils dilated, my adrenaline spiked and my mind was blown (okay, I might have exaggerated a little bit. But for the sake of argument, let’s all think this actually happened).

I had my “a-ha” moment.

I wanted to be a creative. I needed to be a creative. I suddenly got the courage to drop everything and pursue my passion. And four years later, here I am. Writing a blog a lot of people read one day (thanks AgencySpy) and having a blast at life (thanks boss).

So if I ever invent a time machine (or someone does before me). I’d travel to that moment where Gerry, David, Ted, Alex, Steve, Bill and more got that “a-ha” moment. Just to see if they were once as lost as I was.

Or…

On a second thought, I’d better travel back to when I was a naive and clueless teenager and counsel me to become a creative sooner in life (and how to successfully hookup with my high school crush before my worst enemy does—sorry, not sorry).

So M, if you read this. I’m coming for you (or coming back for you?—I’m confused).

*This article happened thanks to “The Time Machine”, a TV spot for one of my clients that you might or might not see on your screen soon (I haven’t sold it to the CD yet).

 

Ad Quote #368

“Can we make a song spot? Not a jingle, a song… I’ve always wanted to make a song spot, dude.”

-Immortal words from a “slightly” high Copywriter talking to his dog at the park

The dilemma of presenting live vs. presenting digitally

Ok, I have to come clean. I love Mad Men as much as anyone else who works in the ad industry does. But this post is not about how much we love this show. It is about what this show can teach us (aside from drinking and sleeping on the couch during office hours).

Like presenting an idea live.

Remember this scene from Mad Men?

Yes, I know. This is one of the most famous scenes in the whole show and everybody has talked about it before on countless blogs (some of which I have read). A former teacher from ad school even used to say that this is the pinnacle of how a client presentation should be set.

But today I’m not digging into the mechanics of how to build a deck (that might be a topic for another post). Today, I’m going to talk about the dilemma of presenting your creative live vs. the comfort of presenting it digitally.

 

While sending a deck to the client over email and waiting for their comments might sound like the comfiest thing to do (especially if booking a meeting is near to impossible). Sometimes you need that extra “oomph” (this is not a word, obviously). What I mean is that sometimes you need to paint a more comprehensive picture to your client other than just words and images over a PDF.

For example, a few months ago, we presented a couple of ridiculous radio spots to a client. For the first one, I had to act the voice over and the SFX so the client could imagine how the final product would sound. The second one was presented with a spec spot that we badly recorded on our computers.

Both were sold and produced.

Why?

Because the client didn’t have to imagine them.

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I know that this might be harder to do with TV spots or more innovative ideas. But that’s why I started this post with that Mad Men scene. Because if Don Draper had put that speech on a deck and emailed it to the client, he might not have sold the idea.

When we present live, we can act, we can paint, we can play with our client’s imaginations. Guide them to see and think the way we did when we created the idea.

When we send it digitally, we can only hope they see it the same way as we imagined it.

And let me ask you a question. How many of you have sent or received an ambiguous text message that could be interpreted in so many ways?

Exactly.

So if you really want to sell an idea, book that meeting. Don’t leave it to chance.

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?