It’s not how good you are. It’s how good you want to be.

Published 12.12.2013

Paul Arden wrote a great book. It’s not how good you are. It’s how good you want to be.

He’s right. Yes, this is a talent led industry. But it’s applied talent. And skills can be honed, refined and learned. Too many young and old talents give up too soon. They’re not critical of their own work. And don’t push themselves to be the best they can be.

One of the worst things I think a creative can say when they judge their own work is “Yes, it’s good enough” or worse still “how could the client say no”. I think a healthier approach is “how can I make it better” and “this is exactly what the client needs”.

The other thing I spot in great creatives, is they seem to know the difference between an idea and an execution. Ideas can be bought to life in a myriad of ways, across many media channels. Executions are merely an interpretation or expression of an idea. If someone doesn’t like it, perhaps the idea is still perfectly brilliant, but its expression is weak. Don’t always give up after one round of negative feedback.

But, learn to kill your babies quick. Not a nice phrase. But one that rattled around Saatchi for years. Just because you like your idea, doesn’t mean it’s a good one. Recognise it for what it is. If it’s crap. Move on. You’re a better creative for recognisng a good idea from a bad one. Only fight for good ideas. Then people will trust your judgement.

Push yourself to do the best work. NEVER lock yourself away behind headphones. If you’re not in the conversation, you’re not in the team. Push yourself. Tell your colleagues what you think of their work. Positively. If you let everyone around get away with poor work, they’ll do the same for you. Be honest to them and expect it back.

And help people. Help people to be brilliant. They pay it back. Consume everything you can. Be passionate about the business. Don’t talk about it. Do it. Obsess a bit. It works wonders.

But most of all. Have a life outside work. The ad game will drive you crazy if you don’t have something else. Do interesting things. Good things. Things that make you smile. And then do the same at work. Enjoy it. It’s one of the best jobs in the world when it’s going well.