It’s time to get out of the weeds.

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I attended a brainstorming session this week. One of our teams was stuck. The creative team and the client couldn’t agree on a way to move forward. The client thought we were close. But clearly something had to change.

Within the first hour I knew the problem.

The team, both client and agency, were stuck in the weeds. The small stuff.  The functional stuff. They recognized that their product could do some amazing things, and they wanted to talk about all of them.

But they were missing the point.

The combination of all of those things leads to a much bigger idea. If we stopped thinking about how it worked, we could get to a much more interesting idea.  We had to raise our game. Instead of focusing on the small pieces – we needed to look at the whole. Because the whole story was pretty amazing. In fact, it’s so amazing, it’s almost unbelievable.

And that was the point.

In a category that has had no good news in decades – we had the ability to change everything. For people who had no hope – we had the opportunity to be a beacon in the night. And for the people in the room – we had the responsibility to make sure we didn’t settle for anything less than brilliant.

That also meant starting over. Examining everything. Questioning everything. And putting marker to paper.

But something else happened in the room that day.  Everyone felt liberated. By throwing away the baggage from the past, it allowed everyone to dream a bigger dream for the product. But not being concerned about each individual data point that may or may not be better than a competitor, we allowed ourselves to imagine a new path forward.

It was magic.

The logjam that had paralyzed the team for several weeks was suddenly open to new possibilities. The different factions of the company all suddenly agreed on what was possible for the brand. We talked. We created. We voted. We disagreed. We argued. But in the end we came together.

We now have a single purpose. We now have a vision for what was possible. We now have a way to go.

It’s this clarity that will help us all get to an amazing new idea. And is a great reminder that sometimes the best way to find the path forward, is to take a step back.

R

11.13.13

I made a client very unhappy yesterday

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When you work in a service industry, we’ve all been told to ‘keep the client happy.’ Happy clients say nice things about you. Happy clients want to give you more business. Happy clients don’t call your boss and tell him/her that you’re being a horse’s ass.

And yet, yesterday I made a client very, very unhappy.

Because I told him that I thought he was wrong. I told him that in my experience what he wanted to do would backfire. I told him that one of his ideas was in poor taste. I told him that what he wanted to do was off strategy, would potentially do harm to his business, and would potentially harm the reputation of his brand.

And he didn’t want to hear it.

I knew within 15 minutes of the beginning of the phone call that I was not on solid ground. The client had already made his decision. Testing would prove whether he was right or wrong – and he really didn’t want to hear my opinion. And yet, I feel my job is to scream when I see something dramatically wrong.

He didn’t agree.

So where does that leave us? We’re doing what he wants. Plus we’re doing what we think is the right thing to do. If he is completely reliant on testing to make his choices, we have to trust that testing will prove us right or wrong. But that’s putting a lot of faith in 8 people behind the two-way mirror. How do I know that? The most famous campaign I ever created – the Verizon Wireless ‘Test Man’ campaign – came in second place in nationwide focus group testing. That’s when I learned one of the most valuable lessons in my entire career. The Chief Marketing Officer of Verizon Wireless said something to me that I thought was amazing. “Research on a campaign is but one data point. Our judgment is a data point. What we think will propel the brand forward is a data point. What will motivate our sales force and store employees is a data point. Our own history of what drives business is a data point. Research is a data point. An important one. But not the only one.”

I have never forgotten those words.

The other thing I will never forget is that research results are interpreted by humans. And humans make judgments on what they see and hear. Results are not always 100% factual. You can spin the results to get what you want. I’m not saying that happens often. But I’ve seen it happen. And in this case, it scares me to death.

What’s next? Research begins next week. There are 5 pieces being tested. And while I never want to make a client unhappy – I really think the research will prove that what our client wants to do is the wrong thing to do.

I could be wrong. I’ve been wrong many times in the past. But just as I knew that the Verizon ‘Test Man’ would be a huge success – I know that this project will be a huge failure.

My goal is to always make my clients happy.  But I also have to be truthful.  No matter what.

R

11.06.13

 

 

 

Trust Us, We Graduated 163 Days Ago

As many of you know, I teach a portfolio class at the Fashion Institute of Technology. Two of my 2013 students, Priscilla Cutri and Olivia Maramara were hired as Junior Copywriters on my team.  This week I asked them to write a guest blog post. “Tell everyone what the real world is like,” I said. “Give them tips on what they should know, things they don’t tell you in school.”  

Below are 5 thoughts. I think they have an incredible insight on what it means to be successful at a large advertising agency. If they follow their own advice, they can go very far. Enjoy. 

You may think you’re ready for the proverbial “real world” once you graduate. Let us save you some time: you’re not. There’s so much more to this industry than designing three posters and an app.

You’re not a team player until you understand there’s no such thing as “my idea”; your great work ethic will be put to the test when your boss asks you to stay late; and your communication skills are challenged when your partner doesn’t like your brilliant concept. This is the real world, kids, and you have to prepare yourselves. Here’s what you should know:

1. DO WHAT YOU’RE PAID TO DO. THEN DO MORE.

Come in early. Stay late. Work weekends. Drink a gallon of coffee. Eat a bag of stale honey wheat pretzel sticks for lunch at 4:13PM. In school we were told all the time that this was the industry standard. We saw Mad Men. It was the “pitfall” of advertising, yet we all so badly wanted to be Don Draper. Here’s the thing: when you love what you do, you lose track of time, and 9pm doesn’t seem so bad.

Ask, “Can I help with anything?” Ask a hundred times. Bother people. Be proactive about learning and work on everything you can get your hands on.

Be that copywriter who can draw or the art director that can write. Don’t let your job description define your abilities. Show off. The more valuable you can make yourself, the more people will want you on their team.

2. GET WEIRD

Lose your inhibitions. This leads to creativity, which is why we’re all at this party in the first place.

Say your worst ideas out loud. Every bad idea has the potential to drive the thought process to an insanely brilliant idea. Don’t be afraid to get weird. And don’t think for a second that everyone else isn’t weird, too.

3. SPREAD YOUR LITTLE SOCIAL BUTTERFLY WINGS

Don’t be shy. Working in a large agency, you tend to regularly see a face you don’t recognize. Change that. Say hi to everyone in the hallway/break room/elevator/restroom. Chances are they won’t bite. Even better chances are that you’ll make really important connections.

Hit up happy hour. Connections are easier to make in a more casual environment. And it’s okay to have a beer with coworkers. Just don’t get up on the bar to do the robot.

4. BE TIGHT WITH YOUR SQUAD

Find your team synergy. Eat/work late/laugh/stress together + make weird nicknames for each other + have each other’s backs = create amazing work together.

Get excited about your stuff. Present your team’s ideas as if they’re going to change the world. 50% of the creative process is convincing other people that your idea will work. 100% of convincing people is believing in it.

5. FALL IN LOVE WITH YOURSELF 

Make choices based on your own opinions. Don’t listen to anyone when they tell you healthcare is boring or something is not for you. Experience it for yourself, and then decide.

Believe that you’re an adult. You may not feel like one, but you’re getting paid and trusted to be. The only way people will take you seriously is if you take you seriously. And that doesn’t mean you can’t break the rules once in a while, because let’s face it—everyone loves a badass.

Questions? Comment.

-Privia

[Priscilla Cutri + Olivia Maramara]

11.01.13

Three Great Ideas Virtually Nobody Has Seen.

I love great ideas. I love when we all are watching something and talk about it. I love when a few people come in to my office and say, “I wish I thought of that.” And recently that happened with the Carrie movie promo “telekinesis coffee shop” video that showed up on YouTube.  As of this morning, 39 million people have viewed the video. I’ve attached the link in case you haven’t seen it.  It’s really fun.

But I also wanted to show you three other ideas.  I love all three of these and less than 100,000 people have viewed these videos.  I think all are amazing.  They get me in my heart and in my head. They all make me feel something and think something.

I wish I had created all of these.

#1 – The Call Girl Next Door – This is an amazing idea that took a very simple idea and made it a national phenomenon. And while this took place half way around the world, the idea is so simple; it could have been done anywhere. How many views on YouTube? 90.  I love this. It should have 9 million views.  Take a look and let me know what you think.

#2 – 12th Man – This video has the most views of any. A little over 60,000. And yet the idea was so simple. The results so amazing. I instantly said, “I wish I had done this.” Of course, it’s incredibly sad that this APP had to be created. It’s incredibly foreign to us in the USA that these rights could be taken away. But this is proof that a simple idea can unite people. Enjoy.

 

#3 – September Surprise – This is a heart-warming story of a little girl with cancer. And an idea to make her feel special, while she was dealing with her illness. I can’t watch this without thinking about how I should be doing more to help people. Only 41,000 people have watched this video.  I think its special.

What makes these special?  They’re simple. They’re true. They could have easily have been done before, but nobody did it. And they force you to have a response. I think you can’t watch these without feeling something.

And that’s what good advertising is supposed to do.  Make you have a response.

Enjoy.

R

10.16.13

The Mayor Of New York City Can Never Be A Fan Of The Boston Red Sox

Screen shot 2013-10-15 at 10.43.07 AMSomeone just brought something to my attention that I find very disturbing. That mayoral candidate Bill De Blasio is a Boston Red Sox Fan. What? Really? Impossible. This must be some kind of joke. The man who’s leading in the polls and has a very good chance of leading New York City is a fan of the Red Sox?

What has this world come to?

Let me remind you what that means. October 2004, Bill De Blasio is stilling at home watching Curt Schilling take the mound for Game Six of the American League Championship Series versus the Yankees. And he’s rooting for Schilling. He’s sitting at home wearing his Jason Varitek jersey and going crazy when Kevin Millar scores.  He curses the Bambino when Bernie Williams hits a home run. And he laughs at Alex Rodriguez when he’s called out for interference. And when Tony Clark strikes out to end the game, he sits around with his Sam Adams Boston Lager and is thinking “Why Not Us?”

Do I have to ask if Bill owns a 2004 American League Champion Boston Red Sox t-shirt that was given to him by his buddies Johnny Damon and David Ortiz who both homered in Game 7? Was he the guy who made millions over the ‘reverse the curse’ t-shirts. Was that Bill sitting at the Stadium in a Red Sox hat laughing at Rudy Giuliani? Was he the guy who has a framed copy of the Daily News in his office? You know the one with the headline “The Chokes On Us?”  And this guy wants to be our Mayor?  Really?

Let’s rewind to 2007. You remember, Bill De Blasio screaming like a mad man as the Red Sox nipped the Yankees by 2 games to take the American League East. You remember Bill; he’s the guy laughing as the Red Sox swept Colorado in 4 straight games. I think he was probably the guy who made millions off the ‘Who’s Your Daddy Now” t-shirts.

We shouldn’t forget that as soon as the election is over, Bill is probably going to grow a beard just like every other Red Sox loving fan. And he’ll claim it’s for Mowvember to support a charity – but we’ll all know better. He’s growing it to support his favorite team. The Red Sox.

Now I don’t live in New York City. And I don’t get a vote. But I know plenty of you out there DO live in New York City and DO get to vote. So I’m starting a protest, right now. The Mayor of New York City can not – can never – ever be a Boston Red Sox fan. Imagine our mayor sitting in the Stadium wearing a ‘Come back Mo, we need another blown save” T-shirt. Imagine him laughing as Derek Jeter hobbles around shortstop next year. Imagine him cutting off funding for ticker tape parades when the Yankees win the World Series (again).

If he’s a Red Sox fan, does that mean he’s also a Patriots fan? A Bruin fan? A Celtics fan? Are we going to elect this guy? (And by we, I mean you.)

This cannot happen.

I could accept a Mets fan. I could even accept a Dodgers or Giants (baseball) fan – as they can claim some family heritage to the New York team.  But in the words of Taylor Swift – I can never ever, ever, ever accept a Red Sox fan.

Don’t comment here. Comment with your vote.  Read the attached link:

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/08/21/nyregion/de-blasio-gingerly-acknowledges-red-sox-allegiance.html?pagewanted=1&_r=0

R

10.15.13

I (don’t) miss the movies

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I used to go to the movies all the time. I can remember first dates, last dates, special occasions and rainy days. I remember my first movie and taking my children to their first film.  But lately, movies have fallen out of my routine. Partially because I’m doing a lot more ‘other’ things that I never did before. Partially because my wife and son don’t crave going to the movies. But mostly, because I’ve lost interest. Whenever I look at the listings, there’s nothing I’m excited to see.  Even when I look at the movies on cable, there are very few times when I say “Gee, this would have been much better if I saw this in the theatre.”

I’m trying to remember the last movie I saw in a theatre. I think I took my son to see Avatar in IMAX 3-D. I’m pretty sure that we the last one. But to be honest, I’m not 100% sure.

So I decided to look at the listing of the movie theatre near my house to see if there was anything that caught my eye. Hmmmmm let me search. Ok, here are the choices:

Captain Phillips – Hmmm, Tom Hanks vehicle. I’m sure he plays a really nice guy caught up in a tough spot. And everything comes out OK at the end.  IMDb rating of 8.1, which is pretty good. This one goes on the maybe list. The fact that its PG-13 means I can bring my son. Although the Somali pirate thing scares me off a bit.

Gravity – Sandra Bullock and George Clooney. I like them. IMDb rating of 8.7, which is excellent for 56,000 users.  Metascore of 96/100. Also PG-13.  This has real potential. I may have to go see this.  Gravity seems like a movie made for a big screen.  OK, this one is officially on the must see list.

Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 – Pass, I think I’m past going to kid movies.

Insidious: Chapter 2 – I didn’t know there was a Chapter 1. IMDb rating of 7.1. Looks scary. I don’t think so.

Rush – Isn’t that the Ron Howard directed movie I see on TV commercials every 5 minutes? It got an IMDb rating of 8.3, that’s pretty good. Better than Captain Phillips. But for some reason, I have no desire to see a movie about racecar drives. I guess “Days of Thunder” spoiled the entire genre for me.  Pass.

Baggage Claim – never heard of it.  IMDb rating of 3.5. Wow, I didn’t know that ratings went that low. I spend too much time in airports. Nope. Pass.

Don Jon – the poster says its ‘Stellar’ ‘Hilarious’ ‘Genuine’ ‘Emotional’ – That must mean it sucks.  IMDb score of 7.3, Metascore of 66/100. The write up says, “A New Jersey guy dedicated to his family, friends and church, develops unrealistic expectations from watching porn.” Hmmm, this is a comedy & drama? Yeah, I don’t thing this one is for me.

That’s it.  Those are my choices.

Going by everything I just read, I would say Gravity is my next movie. Except I have no time to go to the movies. Which means it will have to still be in the theatres in November when I have time.

But by November all the Oscar hopefuls will be flooding the theatres, and I’ll have a whole new batch to choose from.  Ahhhhhhh!

Well, I’ll let you know if I get to the movies. In the meantime, if you’ve seen any of these and would like to give me you encapsulated reviews, just leave them below.

Thanks, and happy viewing.

R

10.14.13

Top 40 Radio in 1973 Sucked, too

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I think we tend to romanticize things from long ago. How things were better. How things were cooler. That’s not always true. In fact, this morning I was listening to the radio with my 11-year old, and was thinking how much better music was when I was his age. So, I decided to look up the top radio hits from 40 years ago, just to test my theory. And guess what? I was wrong. Top 40 radio sucked in 1973, too.

Here are the top hits of that year.

#1 – Tie A Yellow Ribbon Around The Old Oak Tree – Tony Orlando and Dawn. Really. That was the best song of the entire year? We couldn’t do any better than that? My guess, it was one of those songs that got into the public’s head, and wouldn’t let go. Let’s face it – this is a song about an ex-convict coming home from prison. Who know what he did. Yet, it was the #1 hit of the entire year. It must get better.

#2 – Bad, Bad Leroy Brown – Jim Croce.  A song about another really bad guy. In fact, he was the ‘baddest man in the whole damn town.”  But this guy got what’s coming to him. While Tony Orlando’s bad guy got the girl in the end, Leroy Brown got into a bar fight and ended up looking like “a jigsaw puzzle with a couple of pieces gone.” I have to admit, I remember when Jim Croce died and was very sad. My school played “Time in a bottle” over the PA system the day he died.

#3 – Killing Me Softly With His Song – Roberta Flack. I guess this was the beginning of the soft rock ‘70s.  While this is a beautiful song – where are all the rock and roll songs? Where are the Rolling Stones or Led Zeppelin?  This is the early ‘70s.  Didn’t it rock?

#4 – Marvin Gaye – Let’s Get It On. I can’t argue with this song. An all-time classic, which I would listen to today if it came on the radio and not cringe. In fact, there’s a new song in the top 40 called “Classic” by MTKO that references Marvin and this song. (As well as Michael Jackson’s Thriller and Prince’s Kiss.)  Go Marvin.

#5 – Paul McCartney & Wings – My Love.  Before Sir Paul was Sir Paul, we was still the ex-Beatle with a new band. The only problem is Linda McCartney is singing background instead of John Lennon. And while this song is #5 – I won’t be learning to play this any time soon.

#6 – Kris Kristofferson – Why Me. I have to admit, I have no idea what this song is.  I don’t remember it. I don’t think I ever heard it. It could be great. I don’t know.

#7 – Elton John – Crocodile Rock. The beginning of the end for Sir Elton.  I liked his music before he became bubble gum with this song. His first 3 albums were among my favorites.  Never loved this song.

#8 – Billy Preston – Will It Go Round In Circles? A catchy little tune. The Beatles Apple records freshly signed Billy. Had played some back up tracks on the Let It Be album. And then this hit.   But I still notice. No rock and roll.

#9 – Carly Simon – You’re So Vain.  Huge break out hit. Everyone wondered whom she was singing about. Was it really Mick Jagger? Was it someone else? In the summer of 1973, this song was everywhere.

#10 – Diana Ross – Touch Me In The Morning. Uggg. I hate this song. “We don’t have tomorrow, but we have yesterday.”  Kill me now.

So I scanned the rest of the list. There had to be some rock ‘n roll in the top hits of the year, right?

Not at #11. The was Vicki Lawrence, you know the woman who played Carol Burnett’s mother on her TV show. She did “the night the lights when out in Georgia.”

The right Rock ‘n Roll song shows up at #16 – Edgar Winter Group’s Frankenstein. Next #23 – Grand Funk Railroad – We’re an American Band.

I next pass John Denver, Maureen McGovern, Barry White, the O’Jays, Anne Murray, Gladys Knight and The Pips to finally get to a real rock song.

Buried at #50 – Deep Purple – Smoke on the Water.  Finally. They just beat out Loggins and Messina, Chicago, The Carpenters & Gilbert O’Sullivan.

And if you’re wondering, The Allman Brothers? #79 – Ramblin’ Man.  The Rolling Stones? #85 – Angie. Pink Floyd? #92 – Money. Led Zeppelin? They lost out to Donny Osmond. He has the #99 song of the year – The Twelfth of Never.

That’s exactly how I felt about the music from 1973. So the next time you’re in the car and complaining about Katy Perry or Lady Gaga or Imagine Dragons or even One Direction, remember Top 40 music sucks. And it always has.

R

10.12.13

The most important thing to do at work: get noticed.

No matter the size of your organization, the best way to move up, get promoted and get the really juicy projects is to get noticed. Somehow, you have to catch the attention of the person making the decisions and make sure you get what you want.

Now here’s the tough part. You can also get noticed in a bad way. Whether we want to admit it or not, we are constantly being judged at work. What we do either confirms a belief or changes a belief.

So what are the things you can do to get noticed?  Here’s a simple guide:

1)    Do great work. I know that sounds simple, but the better the work, the sooner people start talking about who created it. Nothing is an important as positive office buzz. If you are attached to a great body of work, people will notice. There is a team at my office that always does great work. I know I can count on them (virtually) 100% of the time to come through with winning ideas. They have never disappointed me on any project. Their supervisors rave about their work ethic and creativity. Clients love their work. The exude confidence when they present internally. And what has happened, they’re getting more and more responsibility. Their work demanded they be noticed. And it worked.

2)    Have a point of view. There is nothing worse than sitting in a meeting with people who don’t have a point of view. Want to get noticed? Speak up. Challenge a creative brief. Challenge the direction being given if you don’t agree. Make sure people understand why you created a campaign or idea.  Ah, but here’s the double-edged sword on this, you have to know when to stop. You can just as easily get noticed as the person in the room who is always wrong and convinced their right. You don’t want to be THAT person. You’ve been at parties with THAT person. You’ve been in meetings with THAT person. Eventually, people stop listening to that person. Make sure that’s not you.

3)    Volunteer. Every organization needs people to help on projects. Raise your hand. Ask how you can help. Do things that are not ‘required’ in your day-to-day job.  In our company, we have an annual event ‘The Global Day of Giving’ when we help children’s charities. There are dozens of things that need to be done to make this a success. Volunteering to help will show you care. Volunteering shows you know that work isn’t the only thing that important. Volunteering shows you’re a team player.  There are plenty of examples of projects that could use extra help. Raising your hand is a great way to get noticed.

4)    Be a student of culture.  Know what’s going on in the world and pass along your knowledge to the organization. Have you seen a great new campaign? A video? An art installation?  Share it.  Here about an amazing movie? Comic? Share it. Better yet, know a great copywriter or art director or digital designer. Share it. We are in a hyper connected world.  Stay connected.

5)    Don’t give up.  When things are not going your way, it’s easy to retreat to a corner of the office and give up. Don’t. It’s easy to blame someone else for your troubles. Don’t. It’s easy to say that nobody appreciates what you do. Make them. The worst thing you can do is give up. You were hired for a reason. You have talent. You have a point a view. You have a voice. Don’t ever, ever give up.

6)    Find a mentor. Every company has someone who loves helping people. Find that person. If you’re doing an amazing job your mentor will make sure everyone knows. Your mentor will give you positive press around the agency. Your mentor will help spread some buzz about you and your work.  Find someone.

There are probably dozens of other tips I could pass. But I think these are the most important. Oh, and one other thing. Be yourself.

I’d love to know any stories of fun things that people got noticed. Comment below. Thanks and Happy Thursday.

R

10.10.13

I’m sorry I can’t possibly hire you – and other interview horror stories

If you read this column often, you know that I meet a lot of people. I interview, on average, 2-3 people per week. It’s part of our corporate culture. “Always know where your next great hire will come from,” is a mantra we all follow. I meet people who are coming out of school months before they graduate. I meet people who are running agencies. I meet people when I don’t ‘currently’ have a position for them. I meet people because I’ve heard good things about them.

But when you meet so many people, there are bound to be a few horror stories.

Here are a few.

You Created THAT?  I met someone recently. I had heard amazing things about him. Great with people. Great mentor. Really great work. The entire package. Then we started talking about work. He proudly mentioned a campaign that his agency created.  He told me that he was the driving force behind the idea and how hard we worked keeping it alive through multiple rounds of testing and client comments. The issue. I hate the campaign. In fact, in a recent speech, I used this campaign as an example of ‘old fashioned bad healthcare advertising.’ I think it’s one of the worst campaigns created in the last 5 years. And the worst part, he knew I hated it the second he mentioned it. My poker face betrayed me. He asked, “You don’t like it, do you?” I decided to tell him the truth. “Actually, I hate it. It feels dated and wouldn’t get approved to take to the client if you worked here.” As he tried to defend the campaign, I knew I could never work with this guy. Great guy. Not on my team.

Just come in from the bar? I remember being 25-years-old. I remember going out and having a few drinks with friends in smoke filled bars. I remember getting home so late that I decided not to go to sleep before going to work. But I never did that the night before an interview. This guy comes into my office. Clearly hadn’t slept. Clearly hadn’t showered. Was wearing whatever was on the floor and close to his bed. He smelled like beer.  No resume. No portfolio. No business card. Instead of my usual line of questioning, I decided to go for the quick exit. My first question: “Do you have any questions about us?” His answer: “Not really, everyone has already told me a lot about you guys.” I came back, “And you think this is a place for you?” He had the perfect answer, “I’m still not sure.” I stood up, held out my hand “Thanks for coming in, I’m not sure either.”  With that, he picked up his cat hair covered sweater off my sofa, and walked out. Never to be heard from again.

Could your skirt be any shorter?  I tell this to every female college senior I meet – don’t wear skirts that are too short on job interviews. It makes you uncomfortable. It makes me uncomfortable because I can tell you’re uncomfortable. I recently met a junior art director for an interview and she made the biggest mistake of wearing something completely inappropriate for an interview. Way too low. Way too short. And way too dressy for an agency interview. It was something I’d expect someone to wear to a dressy school social. For the next 30 minutes, all she did was fuss with her dress. And the pity, she had incredible talent. We may still offer her an internship in the spring or summer. Maybe she’ll learn on the job.  But she’s certainly not ready for prime time.

Are you always this boring? The biggest faux pas you can make is being downright boring. I shouldn’t have to struggle to have a 30-minute conversation with you. And lets face it; this should be the easiest conversation ever. You’re talking about yourself. You’re talking about your work. You’re talking about things your passionate about. But just last week, I met someone who almost put me to sleep. One-word answers. I would ask questions about his work, and this guy actually said, “I think its self explanatory.” Really? That’s your answer. It must not be self explanatory, since I had a question. Perhaps you should rethink that response.  Next question “Why are you thinking of leaving your current agency now?” His response, “I don’t know, you HR lady called.” Now that was at least a full sentence. “I see from your resume that you worked in Brazil, what was that like?” “Hot” OK, let me try a different way in. “I see you went to the SVA in New York, did you like it there?” “Yea.”  That was the end of the interview. I stood up, shook his hand. Said “bye.” If you’re going to be a part of my team, there’s one thing that you can’t be – and that’s boring.

Bad work. Beer guy. Skirt girl. And boring me to sleep.  Yup, another interesting week at the office.

R

10.08.13

 

300 songs in 2 days

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This weekend I had a goal.

I wanted to play every song I had ever learned to play on the guitar. I would play each song once, and move on to the next song. I would start with the song that I am currently learning (Eric Clapton’s ‘Wonderful Tonight’) and end with the first song I learned. (The Beatles ‘Hey Jude’)

In my estimation, over the 2-1/4 years, I’ve learned about 300 songs. I didn’t come close to playing them all.

I sat down with my music on Saturday afternoon. I cranked through about 20 songs pretty quickly. Eric Clapton, Beatles, Paul Simon, Led Zeppelin, Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, The Eagles, Pure Prairie League, The Allman Brothers, The Rolling Stones and even solos from John Lennon and George Harrison.

But I couldn’t play each song only once.

I found myself trying to improve small mistakes and difficult parts. I would go back and play a certain section over and over. Then I’d tackle the entire song again. I found myself trying to fuse together acoustic and electric parts together into one mega part – so I could play all my favorite parts of a song.

I started experimenting with playing songs in different keys, to make them easier for me to sing. (Down ½ step from standard tuning seems to be my magic key.) And of course, I played with different guitars, depending on the song, to see if I liked the way one guitar sounded over the other.

By the time that I realized that I was breaking my own rules, I decided that I was never going to make it through all the songs I’d ever learned.  So I started cheating. Tunes that are basically the same musically over and over again – I would play about ½ the song. Verse, bridge, chorus. Done. Maybe I’d play the ending, if it had an interesting change at the end.  But mostly, I’d just stop.

By Sunday morning, I had made my way through about 75 songs. I will admit my hands were tired. Somewhere I decided to figure out some interesting ‘walk up and walk downs’ to a song to give the impression of the bass line while playing the rhythm part. I switched to an hour of finger picking (which I’m not very good at doing, and I just wanted to force myself to do something that’s not easy for me to do.)

After a huge break to watch a football game, I got back to it after dinner on Sunday. At some point, my son joined me and started jamming with me on the drums. That was fun for a few minutes.

And then it hit me. Somewhere in the middle of playing a Neil Young song I realized that I didn’t have to finish. Pink Floyd would have to wait until another day. As would Lynard Skynyrd, Mountain and Boston and The Yardbird and The White Stripes, The Youngbloods, ZZ Top and dozens more.

But I did play ‘Hey Jude’ to end my weekend. I think it was a perfect song to finish on. It was the first song I learned. The song that got me hooked. The band that made me fall in love with popular music.  And I could sing along without changing the key.

What could be better.

I’m looking for more song suggestions. Please comment below some songs you think I’d enjoy playing.  Thanks and have a great week.

R

10.07.13