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photo cred: Sarah Kilian / unsplash

Some thoughts about what do to when your career goes off-track…
from someone who’s career has gone off-track more than once.

Oh to work in advertising/marketing/branding.
Oh to have budgets slashed and projects paused.
Oh to be ghosted by that recruiter, that client, that collaborator.
Oh to see one company after another lay big chunks of people off.
Oh to see other companies disappear forever.
Oh to watch LinkedIn light up with just about everyone you know hustling for work.
Oh to wait… and wait… and wait…

We’re an industry that gets beaten by busts, one that gets hit early and hit hard. Anytime we go through one of these cycles, it’s almost guaranteed that a good many of us get slammed by these downturns one way or the other. …

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Photo by Patrick Fore on Unsplash

You might chalk it up to the stupid idea to train for a half marathon as I approach 40 years old, or the fact that I’m doing a lot of miles on brutal hills. But, if I’m honest, these aren’t the reasons that I’m crying on these runs.

I’m crying lately because 2018 has been a tough year.

Until September of this year, I lived bi-coastal for about 14 months, working one job on one coast while keeping an eye on the company I founded and loved on the other coast. …

In my own life and in anecdotes from others, I’m well acquainted with the story of the colossal failure (the failed start-up, an epic burnout), walking away, learning an intense lesson and starting anew.

These colossal failures are really painful, but if you can keep going there’s often this phoenix thing happens where life feels positively refreshed and redirected by walking away. This kind of journey can profoundly transform and, added bonus, it’s the stuff of tear-jerking movies and Instagram inspiration.


But what about the kind of failure that you have to work through because you don’t want to go anywhere?

I get a lot of frantic, stressed-out college-age (and sometimes older) people who come to me wanting to know how to make a plan so that they have an amazing, successful, meaningful life.

I don’t think it works like that.
(It sure as hell didn’t work like that for me or anyone I know)

Life isn’t a plan. It’s a series of opportunities that you take runs at.
You try things.
You go hard.
You triumph.
You fall on your face.
You say stupid shit. You make mistakes.
You say brilliant things. You have shiny moments.
You do things you love.
You do things you’re fine never doing again.
Most of all, you learn. …


That has been the hotly contested word in the advertising world these days with the impact of Diet Madison Avenue and the (inevitable) backlash that it’s attracted.

Like most of us, this account and its approach has come up quite a bit among my conversations. And the debate almost always boils down to is it right that this account is anonymous?

I see DMA as one part of a larger activist and resistance movement. …

I wanted to take a moment and give a shout out to the ladies in the industry who have inspired me by building their own badass companies.

And then I paused.

Because when I reached out to my lady crew to write this post — the ones who I either watched from afar and were inspired by or watched from across the dining table over a giant glass of wine, trading war stories and words of support — I realized that almost my entire crew is white.

Which reminded me of this Ad Age picture. Sigh.

So, I almost didn’t publish this post. …

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Well, at least for a few hours.

There have definitely been days where Steven Slater, most famous for having one the most unbelievable quitting stories, has been my spirit animal.

For those that don’t remember, Steven is the Jetblue flight attendant who had had it. After a particularly rough day (after I assume what was a particularly rough period of time), this gem of a human got fed up, grabbed some booze, pulled the emergency slide and gloriously exited into 15-minutes of fame and eternal notoriety.

The fantasy of it all! Imagine, rather than logging into Headspace to do the 3 Minute Crisis Breathing Exercise, you just go fuck it, say your mind, pull the shoot and sashay away. …

It’s not a sentence that I thought I’d be writing at this moment in my life, but I suppose that whole “God laughs at plans” thing turns out to be true sometimes.

Over three years ago I founded Wolf & Wilhelmine. I love W&W. I love the work we do redefining what brand means today and helping our clients’ companies be awesome. I love the way that we have a strong focus on respecting the talent. I love the Pack of people in our walls and have a lot of love for this crew that has dug in and built this company with me. I even love walking into work on Mondays. I know. …


I run my own company, ride my motorcycle solo cross country, wear a lot of black leather and have a somewhat intense hair cut. Because of those things, and perhaps other things, I often get called a badass. It’s not unusual for me to hear — sometimes in jest, sometimes not — “I wouldn’t want to mess with you.”

But I have been messed with. Many times. …

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I used to be the worst kind of woman in my twenties.

I was one of those women who would proudly hold up pictures of me from age five to 11 where, because of my haircut and an absolute allergy to girly clothes, would be mistaken for a boy. I used to say, with more than of touch of defensiveness, “I just get along better with guys, what’s the problem?” I wasn’t particularly nice to women my age, didn’t feel the need to connect with them and couldn’t stand their “bullshit drama.”

Yup. I was a peach.

As one is wont to do, I grew up. Thank god I did. Because as I’ve grown not only have I realized how much time I wasted with that attitude and how much learning and support I squandered, but how utterly incredible the women in my life are. …


heidi hackemer

riding. running. living.

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