You’re looking for your first job. You’re not picky. You just want a job. Any job, really. You need the work. You need the resume builder. Okay, this first one doesn’t define you. You’ll just take it and then move on. Sure, it’s not the same career you were looking for, but it’s a job and you need a job and you won’t be there for long…right?

You ever notice that there are a few situations people find themselves in their careers? It’s a balance between the job and the place.

  1. Right job in the right place
  2. Wrong job…

When you see an ad, can you identify the insight that led to the idea? Can you do it every day? For a month?

If you can reverse engineer insights that others found, you can find better ones for your own ideas.

So, I challenge you. You did an ad-a-day. So are you up for this?

When I teach for The Book Shop, I make my students to bring one thing to every single class. Written on a big sheet of paper, in big black Sharpie, in one sentence each, are two things: their insight and idea.

It’s because…

Creatives love “big ideas.” We love talking about “big ideas.” We love putting “big ideas” at the front of the advertising world. We remind every creative that their portfolio should show off the “big idea.” And we even have award shows to validate our own “big ideas.”

But what is a “big idea?” I mean, in the real world, has anyone ever seen a big idea? No, they’ve seen executions. Yet, nine out of ten times, when I ask someone to show me a big idea in advertising, they show me a TV spot. …

This is a quick one, because I want to make it clear. Because this is one of the most important portfolio tips that I can give. One that I hadn’t been doing, myself, actually.

I’m often asked, “How many pieces should I have in my portfolio?” And I usually direct that person to my article about that. (Spoiler: about 10–15.) But the truth is, that’s not a rule. It’s just a guide. A way for you to avoid over-presenting in your portfolio.

The truth is, there’s only one rule: be proud of every single piece in your portfolio, as…

Remember the Lorax? He was that funny looking little orange Dr. Seuss dude with the amazing catchphrase: “I speak for the trees.” He spoke for those that couldn’t speak for themselves.

That’s kind of what ad agencies do, when you think about it. Our main concern isn’t to speak for the brand, it’s to speak for the audience.

Because while we work for the client, we’re not the client. We’re everyday people who are trying to connect with other everyday people. We’re creating things that we hope others will enjoy, so we need to put that first. …

Anselmo Ramos, former founder of DAVID and current founder of GUT (the agency, not the bowel), shared a somewhat poetic and highly debatable post on LinkedIn. Here’s what he said:

“Brands should behave more like people.
People are complex.
People are unpredictable.
People are all over the place.
There’s no ‘People Manual & Guidelines.’
Let you brand live.
Set your brand free.
Let your brand be more human.
There’s no perfection in life and brand building.”

Now, I’m not saying that I’m a better creative than Anselmo. The dude is very, very good at what he does. But in…

There’s an anthem in the pessimistic corners of advertising: “The industry is dead.”

“We need to be more creative, or the industry is dead.”
“We need to stop only focusing on creative, or the industry is dead.”
“We need to celebrate with rosé and yachts, or the industry is dead!”

I’ve got good news for you: the industry isn’t dead. It isn’t even dying. But just like always, it’s changing. And the latest change is a four-letter word.


But really, that’s just a tool. Just like TV is a tool, and Instagram is a tool, and print is a…

Can you make an ad in a day? Every day? For a month? I did. And it was the best decision I made as a student.

I challenge you to do it, too.

I was in college, earning my BFA in Graphic Design, when I decided advertising would be my focus. So, to prove myself, I entered a few of my old pieces in our annual Ad Show. I was excited to be the belle of the ball.

I didn’t get a single piece in.

Well, I knew that there was no way I could make it in an agency…

YouTube broke out of being a video hosting service and into a content delivery machine with one tool: their recommendation engine.

It creates the “YouTube Vortex” we all get stuck in. You know the one: where you started watching TED Talks about cold fusion and eventually found yourself engrossed in fail videos of people making slime and destroying their kitchens.

It’s a fantastic algorithm, earning them billions because of how long it keeps people on the site. But it’s constantly evolving, with machine learning and tweaks to the code. …

Your heart’s pumping. Adrenaline rushing. Palms are sweaty. Knees weak. (Mom’s spaghetti…)

You’ve spent weeks leading up to this moment. Hundreds of emails sent, and so many fewer of them received. Calendars are coordinated and booked. And now it’s time for it all to happen.

Sitting down for an interview.

Are you ready for it? I bet you aren’t.

Really, nobody is 100% ready. You’ll always forget something you should’ve brought, think you should’ve said something you didn’t, wish you didn’t scratch something you scratched.

There’s a lot about the formality of interviewing that people talk about, but there’s so…

jeremy carson

advertising & design creative + writer of thoughts @ / social @thejeremycarson

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