Study Life, Not Advertising

I want to make a pledge right now. A pledge to never get sucked into the minutia of office politics, industry BS, or the mood changing occurrences that can kill the ever sought-after creativity that is so imperative for a happy life. And a happy life is what I desire, both on a professional and personal level.

Study Life, Not Advertising. I read this on an “inspirational” poster the other day.

And it blew my mind.

Advertising may pay the bills and allow us executives to live out the fantasy we call life, but the experience of life itself is what really matters when we are at the end of the road.

I have said it for years. Years before I was in advertising (although one could argue I have been in advertising and marketing since I was 5), I was constantly saying that I wanted to live without any regrets. To me, being at the end and looking back saying “I wish I would have done this, done that” is a terrible injustice people put on themselves. Why go through life being afraid of experiencing all that this world has to offer?

“In twenty years, you will be more disappointed by what you didn’t do than with what you did do” – Mark Twain

It is uncanny how closely advertising and life play together. They are essentially the same thing. To create award-winning campaigns, one must be smart enough to look at facts and research, throw it all away, and think in the shoes of the audience we are essentially trying to sell to. No easy task, especially to a normal person. An advertising executive, especially one that has “been there, done that” has the experience and thick skin to put an idea on the table, own it, and fight for what we think is right. And if our idea isn’t the one that gets produced, we shake it off and move on. We have to roll with the punches, like the punches that life gives us.

Advertising isn’t for the faint of heart, the ultra-emotional (although crying is a common occurrence), the jealous or the unfaithful… But these attributes exist in the business. It’s a matter of how we deal with it. When we study life, we learn that it isn’t the act that is harmful, but our emotion towards the act that can ultimately bother us.

As I sit here and think about personal and professional goals, I am reminded of the stoic philosopher and Roman emperor, Marcus Aurelius. If you are thinking “does he use Stoic quotes in almost every piece he writes? Well then, yes, you are right.”

He was an avid student of life and how the experience of it makes you a better man. It was often said that he did not set out to be a emperor, but since it was bestowed upon him, it was his duty as a citizen of the world to be the best emperor he could be. The same is true for our industry. No matter how we got into the advertising / marketing profession, it is our duty to be the best we can be. It is our duty to study the nuances that makes this industry so fascinating, to keep up with the trends and to ensure that our life experiences allow us to continue to be creative and push the boundaries of the status quo.

Study Life, Not Advertising. It’s amazing how such a simple statement has far reaching implications.

Could people who turn that statement around be doomed? Could those who only look to further their “craft” be the ones who ultimately live a desolate and isolated life?

Don Draper – Does he study life or advertising?

It’s a rhetorical question that I hope everyone can ask themselves at some point. For me, life comes first. Life is advertising. I do not necessarily go to work, but I wake up and do what I do. I develop relationships, think of big ideas, and help grow the agency.

It’s a passion. It’s a drug. It’s a way of life.

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