Why Award Shows Matter


Advertising award shows.

I’ve heard everything there is to say about them. “Advertising awards shows are all about the industry celebrating itself.” “I don’t enter award shows, because they not really about our clients’ business.” Or my favorite one: “It’s just a beauty contest – and the best work really never wins.”

But advertising award shows do matter. They matter on many levels.  Here are my top three reasons why award shows matter.

  • Celebration of Work. I never understood this complaint.  Why shouldn’t we celebrate the work we create? Advertising is like most businesses ­– we look ahead. Far ahead. We’re currently working on products that won’t launch until 2020 and 2021.  When you work on one project for two, three or four years before launch – when your peers recognize it as breakthrough work – damn right we should celebrate.  Unlike non-healthcare advertising, we toil for years on a product waiting for clinical trial data to be released. Waiting for the FDA to approve a product (or not). Waiting for the office of OPDP to review our work before it can be published. (By the way – I was going to spell out the acronym OPDP – but then I thought if you don’t know what it stands for – you won’t care.)  The healthcare advertising community is incredibly small. Everyone knows everyone else. We enjoy celebrating our friends and co-workers and former co-worker’s successes. If one agency or one campaign elevates the work of the entire healthcare industry – we all benefit.
  • Talent. Talent. Adverting award shows help us find, recruit and retain the top creative, planning, account and activation talent from around the world. And in an incredibly small industry – the agency that has the best talent usually wins. How do I know this is true?  After Cannes this year – a year when our healthcare network won more awards than ever before – I was contacted by creative talent from all over the globe. London. Dubai. San Paolo. Not to mention New York, Boston, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago and even Columbus, Ohio. I’ve also had students emailing from all the top portfolio schools.  Never before has working in healthcare advertising been viewed equally as working in non-healthcare advertising. It was only 4 years ago when I did a poll among college students entering the workforce. At that time 89% of advertising students said they would only work in healthcare advertising if they had no other choice.  Clearly that has changed. Finding the best talent has become (slightly) easier. And by continuing to create amazing work will hopefully keep them.
  • Award shows motivate us to create better work. We hate losing. When was the last time you heard a co-worker say ‘I don’t want to win new business?’ That never happens.  As creative people we want to win all the time. So when our work doesn’t win in award shows – we don’t say ‘I don’t want to win awards’ – we say ‘Damn, that work was better – what do I have to do to make my work better.” By elevating the work, by challenging our own processes, by understanding what makes people change behavior all over the world, by not settling for just something that’s really good but great – that what makes us excited to come to work every day. And those nuggets can be found everywhere. In the back room of a focus group. Deep within a products data. By spending time listening or observing trends online. By looking at new thinking in other industries. By recognizing that you don’t have it all figured out.  Award shows make us challenge everything. Because we want to be the best in the world. And we hate losing.

So, if you’re one of the people who think that award shows don’t matter, don’t enter. Just know that while you may be saving the entry fees, you’re also missing  the opportunities. To shine. To inspire. To elevate an industry.



When Good Isn’t Good Enough

focus group image

I recently had a client say something very disturbing to me at the end of a creative review. He mentioned that he loved a specific idea that we had just presented. It was new, innovative and impactful. But then he said the following ‘my fear is that it won’t live past testing.’


If the work is connecting with the audience, is creating the type of behavior we desire and is differentiating in the category (and industry), why would it not live past research? His response: ‘people like what they’ve seen before, safe, easy to accept and non-confrontational.’ In short – work that’s good, yet comfortable.

I didn’t get in to advertising to do comfortable work.

The story I told him about another campaign is 100% true. I will leave out the names of the players – but I swear this is exactly how this played out.

The year was 2001. I was working on a large national business. We tested three campaigns all over the nation. Qual. Quant. Big cities. Small cities. I presented storyboards, animatics and scripts. After the research was over, it was clear there were two campaigns that could be produced and would do well in the marketplace. But with all research, there had to be one winner.

The research company recommended campaign A. The reasons were simple; people really liked it. It was consistently at the top in rank order of the campaigns. It was fun, easy to remember and said great things about the company and product. People felt it was ‘confident’ and ‘gutsy.’ Exactly what you want a campaign to be. As an agency, we did our homework and knew that we could create endless executions and that it would work across all audiences.

But campaign B also had good points. People couldn’t get it out of their head. It was sticky. Some people loved it. Some people hated it. But everyone remembered it. And the best part about it, people wanted to see more executions. But it also had some issues. People said that it only worked with a lot of executions. They would get tired of the individual executions quickly – which meant it would be costly to produce and maintain.

So the research company’s vote was solidly behind campaign A.

Where it got tricky was that the CMO and I both believed in campaign B. It was a bigger idea. I could be rolled out for years. And the best part, it differentiated the company from its competition better than campaign A.

So when we brought both campaigns to the CEO of the company, we recommended campaign B – even though the research said to produce the other work.

The CEO completely agreed.

In the meeting – the CMO said something that I will never forget, and I repeat time and time again. He said, “Research is only one data point. Our experience is a data point. Our common sense is a data point. The experience of our agency is a data point. And they all are important. But research isn’t the only data point. And people who make all their decisions based 100% on research will eventually fail. Because they’ll accept a good idea while overlooking potentially a great idea.”

Campaign B ran for over 10 years. We produced over 100 TV commercials, print, out-of-home, events and radio. The tagline is engraved in bronze on the Advertising Walk of Fame on Madison Avenue in New York City. It won countless awards. But most importantly, it proved to me that they only way to get to great – is not to settle for good.

Even when the data says that good is good enough.




You can learn a lot from a 30 minute coffee chat

About three months ago, I realized that I hadn’t spent as much time as I’d like with some of our creative team members.  So I decided to do something about it.  I decided to meet with everyone — over 250 people — over coffee for 30 minutes.  The questions were simple: what’s working?  What’s not working? What would you like to be doing more in 2018? What can I do to help?

coffee barI learned a lot (so far — I’m not finished).  The most important thing I learned was location is everything.  The first few meetings I held in my office — and they felt a little forced.  Not relaxed. Not free-flowing.  And that’s when I realized — I had to move the meeting from my office to a neutral location.  Coming to my office felt like you were being summoned to the Vice Principals office.  Something bad was coming. Everyone was waiting for the other shoe to drop.

That’s when I moved the meetings to the coffee bar. Yes, we have a coffee bar in our office. There are four high-top cafe tables. I’ve been having the meetings there — in full view of everyone in the office.  And magically, the conversations were loose. Fun.  Energetic. And dare I say, productive for everyone.

But most importantly, I’ve learned a lot.  And those learnings are setting multiple work streams in motion.  New agency projects have begun. New opportunities for team members have unfolded. And (hopefully) a more open line of communication between me and the rest of the group has emerged.  Here’s what I’ve learned so far:

  1. Everyone feels like they could be doing more. “Challenge me.” “Make me accountable.” “Let me take risks and fail.” “Help me learn by doing.” “Don’t assume that lack of experience means lack of ability.” These are the common requests I’ve been hearing. Virtually every person has said some variation of these words. “I can offer more. Put me to the test and I won’t let you down.” And the most important part — these requests are coming from people who are the busiest. Who are working the hardest. Who probably don’t really have the time to do more. But they’re willing to do more if it means more ownership.  I love this.  I love the concept of ownership and accountability.
  2. Everyone wants to be a part of the new business process. Pitching is incredibly hard work. But its also the one time when you can do work exactly like you want. You can create concepts without thinking about legal and regulatory approvals. You can just create great ideas. And everyone wants in.  Luckily, we can always use more help in new business. Welcome to the party.
  3. Everyone wants someone to go to when they’re stuck, have a question or just need something. This was an interesting comment.  One part mentoring program. One part ‘Genius Bar’. One part wise sage. I didn’t realize how many people just needed help with a lot of simple agency stuff.  These are ‘part time’ relationships. Not really long-term mentors. But someone they can turn to when they have a stupid question.  And I realized that realistically, that person can’t be me.

There are more micro-suggestions on how to make things better. I’ll save those for another day. But once I’ve finished meeting with everyone here, I plan on taking this on the road. Listening to people from our other network agencies. To colleges and universities around the nation on what students are looking for in a new career. And I plan on attending multiple conferences to hear some of the best and the brightest in the industry on how to make our working environment even better.  Our agency philosophy is ‘Never Finished.’  And when it comes to learning — that couldn’t be more true.

Thank you




SCAD Grad Gives Recruiting Advice

Recently, I asked one of our copywriters — Kristine Brown to guest write for this blog entry.  I asked her to write about anything that she thought would be helpful to students graduating college and entering the workforce. These are her words. But what Kristine doesn’t mention is that since she’s joined the agency she has produced her first TV campaign, an internal promotional campaign, attended a brainstorming session in Amsterdam and created countless ideas that have helped us win new business.  It seems we both chose wisely.  Enjoy Kristine’s entry.

My Recruiting Advice by Kristine Brown

Being recruited is a whirlwind of confusion, anxiety, and what if. What if I pick the wrong agency? What if I hate the office? What if my boss is mean to me? What if I don’t like the accounts i’m working on? What if the agency is boring? What if!

There is no easy answer to calming the what if’s other than asking the questions you want answered, doing your own research, and trusting your gut.

My recruiting journey started out like any other recruiting story. I was primed and prepped to enter the consumer world of advertising. My teachers had trained me to write witty body copy about chapstick and window cleaners. I met with numerous recruiters who promised me big brand names paired with beer carts and ping-pong tables. Yes that sounded great, but they never spoke about the agency life, or whom I would be working for, or what I would be doing, or how I would grow. My teachers repeatedly said, “ you’re interviewing them as much as they’re interviewing you”, but I never left an interview really knowing what I was signing up for. Before I knew it those same recruiters were emailing me. Pressuring me to accept offers that just had too many what ifs attached them.

That of course changed when I met my current boss. He was my last interview I had while attending SCAD. I will never forget how he stopped my perfectly planned presentation 30 seconds in to ask me if I already had job. At the time I did, I had accepted an internship that I had been pressured into taking. And it was secretly freaking me out. Rich was the first person I interviewed with that spoke to me honestly about his agency, the expectations of the position, and the work he believed in. I could tell right away he was genuinely interested in furthering my career. And that was something very new.

I was lucky enough visit FCB Health and meet the creatives I would be working with. Meeting possible mentors and late night pitch buddies made it all very real for me. I realized I had found my niche in the most unexpected place. I quickly realized the decision I made based off of what my teachers and recruiters wanted, wasn’t what I wanted anymore.

So this is where I give you the secret I learned way to late in my recruiting process. Do what you want to do. Trust the process, ask the questions, and find the place that makes you tick. Find the agency full of passionate people that get you and want to grow with you. Because who cares if the agency is big or small, if it’s consumer or healthcare, or if it’s in Texas or New York. It’s about the people and the work they create. Make your decision based on what excites you the most. Pick the agency that makes you want to get up everyday and create work that you’re proud of. I was really afraid to make the wrong decision, but I’ve realized looking back the only wrong decision I made was not following my own path.



I learned how to staff an agency from Fantasy Football

Screen Shot 2015-11-19 at 10.21.02 AM

I play in a fantasy football league with 9 other members of my family. We enjoy the trash talking. We enjoy the competition. And we enjoy winning. I recently gave my wife some advice about setting her line-up, and I realized it’s the same process I use to staff our office in advertising.  So here are a few things I’ve learned over the years.

Pick the best players. I know this is simplistic, but just as the best football players score the most points; the best creatives do the best work. And this is true no matter what level you’re hiring. Best junior books out of college are your long-term investments. They’ll pay quick dividends some times and long term dividends most of the time.  Senior level creatives who have done great work in the past will some times do great work again in the future.  They may be more consistent. But they may not be as spectacular.

Have a deep bench. Football players have bye weeks. Creatives have vacations, holidays, sick leave and creative dry spells. Having a deep bench will allow you to bring in reinforcements when you need them. And the interesting thing about advertising is you never know when you’re going to need them.  You can’t look at a calendar and say, ‘oh, this week I’ll need to swap out my best player for someone else.’ You need as many really good people as possible. (As I’m writing this – I got an email that an incredibly talented ACD is leaving for another agency. Having a deep bench makes this a little less painful)

Pick your best line-up and let ’em play. Once you’ve brought in your talented people, you have to let them play. You can coach them, you can put them in the best position to succeed, but you have to let them play. You can’t bench them if they have a few bad presentations or new business pitches or weeks.  You brought them into your company because you thought they were talented. Let them do their thing.

Always look for value players. Just because someone didn’t succeed at a competitor, doesn’t mean they won’t succeed under your system. I always tell a story about my first day on the job at another agency. The current CD’s told me that this art director needed to be terminated. I refused. And after 6 months in the new system he was winning awards and being promoted. I can point to 10 different stories like this one. Where someone flourished under a new system or a new team or a new partner. These team members can be the most valuable and loyal on your team. Because your need each other to succeed.

Don’t be afraid to cut big name players. Some times you just have to admit you made a mistake. You spent a lot of money on someone and it’s just not working. They’re just not performing, as you would have hoped. And sometimes its just time. We all know people who stayed in jobs way too long. And we also know people who are on our staff who would probably be doing better some place else. But we’re afraid to make the big move, have the tough conversation or rock the boat.  You have to rock the boat. Believe me, its better for everyone.

If you’ve done your homework, if you’ve hired correctly, you should have a winning year. But remember – your team is a reflection of you. How well you hire is how well they’ll perform. Good luck. And may the best team win.





How To Create Your Best Campaign In Your Portfolio

Screen Shot 2015-11-12 at 9.15.11 AM

When I’m sitting with someone and they want to show me their portfolio – I always have the same request “show me your favorite campaign.”  And I’m surprised how few people know the answer to this question.  Some say, “I like everything in my portfolio,” which you and I both know is not true.  Everyone should have a favorite campaign. A campaign that you loved when you created it. A campaign that you still love.

And if you don’t have a campaign that you love, here is the easiest way to create one — I call it a passion project.  Create a campaign for something that you are incredibly passionate about. Maybe you were a ballet dancer as a child and still love dance. Maybe you have a passion for Ultimate Frisbee. Perhaps you always loved to travel and spent 3 weeks in Prague. Do that campaign.

There are two reasons to create a passion campaign.  First of all — it won’t be in everyone else’s portfolio. Every year there are advertising college competitions. And every year I see hundreds of campaigns for the same product.  One year it was KFC. I can’t tell you how many KFC campaigns I saw. And I would always ask the same question — “did you win the competition?”  And everyone says, “no.”  (BTW – if you enter a student competition – don’t put the work in your portfolio if you didn’t win.)  The second reason (and the most important) is when you present a passion project; you present it with more passion. You know the subject matter inside and out. Your face lights up. And as a viewer, I can feel your excitement.

A former student of mine created my favorite passion project. On her resume, in the about me section, was a line about the Girl Scouts of America. She told me that she loved being a Girl Scout. So she created a campaign to try and persuade tween girls to stay in scouting longer. She told me a story about how Girl Scouts actually gets better as you get older. That you get to do more meaningful community service. That you get to make a difference. I loved the campaign before I even saw it. Because I loved her explanation.

From that moment forward, I have always encouraged students to create passion project campaigns. Every time I see one, I’m happy to see how much heart and soul go into those projects. The projects are always about something very personal. The arts. Dance. Theater. Hiking. Travel. Someone even create a campaign about their favorite biker bar.

No matter how ‘finished’ your portfolio, you can make it even better by creating a passion project campaign. Trust me on this one. It will become your favorite campaign. It will be the first one your present in an interview.  And it will be better than anything you create for KFC.




My New Favorite Advertising Idea

You have to watch this video. You have to share this with everyone you know. You have to help Mollie’s Fund change behavior around the world.  The first time I watched this video my heart skipped a beat. Granted, I knew the punchline. I heard about this idea months ago in an office when the creative team was pitching the idea.  I loved it then. I loved it even more after the production.

Now it’s your turn.  Share it. View it. Spread the word.  If we can save one person, we did our job.  If we can save thousands, it would be a miracle.  If we can save hundreds of thousands, then our work would be done.

Thank you all in advance.



What the #@!*$#% Was Coke Thinking?

Coke billboard

I haven’t written in a long time. But I had to write about this. I hate the new Diet Coke campaign. I’ve been walking past the same bus kiosk for weeks now and I keep looking at the campaign is disbelief.

You’re on Coke.

Really? The great American icon Coca-Cola is running a campaign with the tagline ‘You’re on Coke.’ At this moment, I feel like my father ‘I remember the good old days when Coca-Cola stood for something good in the world.’

I work in advertising. I’m familiar with the thought of getting attention. But I think this crosses the line of taste. This also seems like a bad fit for the brand. I’m a huge fan of the work done by Droga5. Not this. I don’t like this. The fact that virtually every parody online is a drug reference only makes the point – Coca-Cola Company thinks the only way to perform at your best is to be coked up.

Coca-Cola’s response? “This advertising is one part of the new campaign for Diet Coke, which is called ‘You’re On.’ It celebrates ambitious young achievers from all walks of life and reminds them that Diet Coke is there to support them in the moments when they are at their best. Diet Coke in no way endorses or supports the use of any illegal substance.”

No – that’s not what the campaign says. It doesn’t say we’re there for you when you’re at your best. It says to be at your best you need coke. The brand has become a punch line.

It’s Monday. It’s still too cold in New York. And I’m not feeling like I’m at my best. Maybe I need a Pepsi.

I start teaching again this week at FIT

Screen Shot 2014-01-27 at 5.54.08 PM

This year will be different.

I will not curse within the first 5 minutes. I will not make sarcastic comments when someone says something that makes no sense at all. I won’t lock the door at 6:30 so late arrivals can’t get in the classroom. I won’t tell anyone they’re completely full of @#$#.

That’s what I keep telling myself. I will behave. I will be kinder and gentler. Unfortunately, I know the truth. This year won’t be any different. Someone will say something and I’ll jump on it. Someone will show up late for the first day of class and I will pick on them immediately to answer a question. Someone will spend the entire class looking at their laptop and I will call on them when I know they have no idea what we’ve been talking about.

But this year will be different.

This year the students will come prepared. They’ll be passionate, hard working and dedicated. They’ll want to improve and get great jobs in advertising. They’ll want to explore their own creativity. They will want to stand out. They will not give up. They won’t care that they have to work hard. Just like some of the best students from years past.

This will be my third year teaching ‘Senior Portfolio Design’ at FIT. And I’ve had some amazing students. Of the 28 students I’ve taught, 6 currently work at my agency. Ryan, Liz, Jenny, Candice from 2012. Olivia and Priscilla from 2013. All have amazing potential. All can be stars. There are several others I’ve tried to hire but lost to other agencies.

This year will be different.

This year I’ve completely changed the way I’m teaching this class. This class will be as individualized as humanly possible. Each student will be treated differently since they will all have different strengths and weaknesses. This year each will reach their maximum potential. Everyone will get an A.

Thursday is the first class. I’ll let you know how I made out. I may also ask one of my students to guess blog on this site – so you can hear their point of view.

Now that would be really different.

Stay tuned….



One of the classiest creative directors I ever met.

I only met Mike Hughes a few times. I was working in New York; he was in Richmond, Virginia. Our companies were both owned by the same holding company, IPG. Mike passed away recently. He wrote his own obituary. I thought it was amazing. Please take the time to read it all.



Screen Shot 2013-12-16 at 11.21.00 AM

Just a little over a year ago, on Dec. 12, 2012, Mr. Mike Hughes started posting his thoughts on living and dying on a blog, Unfinished Thinking, which he used as a way to update his friends and family about his health while he was in hospice.

Frank, shocking, funny, heartwarming and completely human, his reflections, ultimately, were not about death, but showed how much Mr. Hughes embraced life, love, his family, friends and colleagues.

Mr. Hughes made his final post on the day of his passing today, posthumously, in an autobiographical obituary that he had asked a member of his team to put up once he passed away. We share his parting words here.

An Autobiographical Obituary by the Late Mike Hughes

After many unexplained delays, I have finally lived up to my prognosis and have at last departed this life. It’s been a life I’ve loved.

In the months leading up to this moment, I was astonished at the outpouring of love and caring and respect from hundreds of people. There were handwritten notes, emails, blog posts, comments, letters, magazine articles, personal visits and phone calls. The tsunami of glorious thoughts sent my way has made it increasingly hard to justify my deep insecurity about my place in the world—an insecurity I’ve clung to all my life.

I want to take this last opportunity to clear up one common misjudgment in the oft-repeated, highly exaggerated list of my virtues. Many of you have credited me with humility. That’s not even close to true.

No one has ever been prouder of a marriage than I’ve been of my 38 years with Ginny. There have been outrageous laughs, tears, squabbles, joys, illnesses, heartbreaks and thrills. We’ve shared eye-opening travels and surrendered to high-calorie challenges. We’ve held hands during quiet moments that I’ve treasured more than any other. Although we’ve never quite recovered from it, we somehow survived Preston’s death, holding on to each other the whole way. I’m proud of that. There’s been love and friendship and high expectations. She’s made my life feel extraordinary even in its most ordinary moments.

Our sons have been the source of unending pride. Preston, who provided some of the biggest adventures in my life, was always a handful, but he was also always his own man. What father wouldn’t be proud of that?

And Jason. Quick and smart and passionate and outspoken and funny and competent and good and nurturing. I’ve never met a better man.

Jason brought us Carley and Ella, the daughter and granddaughter we wanted and needed. There’s no room for humility in my feelings about my girls. Carley is the best baker in the world and Ella is, as she’s quick to tell you, “the best drawer in the world.” I’ve always been afraid of women and I’ve always been a feminist. These are two of the reasons why.

I’m proud to have been the son of Ann and Jim. They loved each other as much as they loved Patti and me: there’s no better gift parents can give their children. I’m proud we shared our home and I shared my room growing up with my uncle, Jim Kennedy, known to all as Foo Foo.

You can’t help being proud if Patti Hughes is your sister. My whole life has been a quest to be as funny as Patti. She’s lived a life filled to the top with great friends and great adventures around the world. She’s taken care of our mother with a gentleness and strength few people could muster.

“Uncle Doctor Todd” Jarrell is an honorary third son and I’m proud to have him in the family. And I’m equally proud to have Preston’s partner, David Jackson, as an honorary son-in-law.

I’m proud of my most intimate friends. I won’t name them all, but it would be wrong not to mention George and Megan Douglas; Craig and Beverly Bowlus; Larry Hall and Flinn Dallis; Bruce and Nancy Mansfield; Ed and Eileen Kitces. Over many years, they’ve put up with my crazy work hours and my general unreliability. The conversations we’ve had have been invigorating. I am especially proud to count many of their grown kids among my closest friends today.

I’m proud, too, to have lived and worked alongside incredibly talented people who were also incredibly good and generous people. My mentors always treated me as valued friends. Father Augustine made high school bearable and made me try new things. During my newspaper days, Jerry Finch was the editor every young reporter should have. Larry Kaplan was my first advertising boss, encouraging me early on to reach higher—even if it meant working somewhere else. Bill Wynne was my first partner/mentor. He brought out the entrepreneurial side of me.

Then there was Harry. Harry Jacobs made The Martin Agency a contender in the industry worldwide–and he made me an advertising man. He put me on a wonderful track that I’ve stayed on for 34 years. I hope he’s half as proud of me as I am of him.

I’ve learned from many of the industry leaders I’ve worked with at The Martin Agency, but none taught me more or stuck with me longer than John Adams. He’s the wonderfully stubborn, highly principled partner every creative director desperately needs. He and I have had the extreme good fortune to work side by side with the best agency management people in the business.

I’m proud to have been one of the hundreds of people who put The Martin Agency on the map. We owe a lot to our clients and stockholders, of course, but no one gets in this line in front of the men and women who earned their paychecks doing things a little group in Richmond, Virginia, wasn’t supposed to be able to do. I can’t begin to list the account, planning, media, design, tech, administration, finance and business partners who have done the work for which I’ve been given so much credit. I hope they know how much I’ve needed them and how much I’ve loved them. I can’t remember the first time I said “I do work I love with people I love,” but I know I’ve said it thousands of times. Every word is true.

A special call-out is due to the magnificent, crazy, elegant, messed-up, damn-near-perfect gaggle of creative partners who have put up with me for so long. Hundreds of writers and art directors have come through the doors of the agencies I’ve been lucky enough to serve. A huge number of those writers and art directors taught me valuable lessons—not just in advertising, but in how to live a meaningful, all-in life. The greatest joy in our business comes not from a gold medal or a place in the industry hall of fame—it comes from doing the work and from doing it with people of integrity and ambition and good humor.

I’m embarrassed that I get way too much credit for the success of the VCU Brandcenter. Diane Cook Tench, Rick Boyko, Gene Trani, Helayne Spivak, the students, the alumni, the faculty and the administration deserve all the bows. Still I’m proud (if a little self-conscious) that my name’s on the side of the building. And I proudly liberate the current administration from any obligation it might feel to keep that giant painting of me hanging over the stairway.

I should say I’m proud of all the honors I’ve been accorded in my career, but the truth is, I’ve never been sure I deserved them. I’m a Hall of Fame creative director because I’ve worked for and with Hall of Fame caliber people. My honorary doctorate—and every other citation and award I’ve collected–is also an honor for those people. I am inordinately proud to have represented the groups I’ve represented.

I’m both proud of and grateful to the people who have taken care of me in the cancer years. Julie Garner made the appointment for me to visit Johns Hopkins. Helen Vennard and Susan Lueke have been eternally patient with America’s medical systems and with me. I have no idea how they do that. They wrapped their arms around Ginny, Jason’s family and me and made us feel safe and protected and indulged.

One final thought. I hope each of you enjoys every minute of your life. You’ve all contributed so much to mine.

And one last favor. Keep me in your thoughts. I love you.