Advertising is a stressful industry (relatively speaking, of course). Long hours, demanding clients, shifting goals, and expectations set by multimillion-dollar investments – any one of these could cause angst. Together, they guarantee it.
Some folks hang it up quickly, having discovered that the stress-to-lifestyle ratio doesn’t pay out for them. Others, like me, hang in for the long haul. Why? Because although there’s stress, there are also the exhilaration that comes from new challenges; the constant drumbeat of youthful energy; and the interesting, clever, creative, and passionate people you meet along the way.
I have met three types of people who have had the greatest impact on my 26-year career: mentors, role models, and shoulders. I think a healthy mix of all three is necessary to survive in our industry.
Mentors are your personal board of directors. They provide constructive criticism, help you find answers to difficult questions, and make you a better professional. I have three mentors across various agency disciplines, and each provides a different – but so very welcome – perspective. This trio has helped me grow personally and professionally over the years.
Role models are the folks you respect and try to emulate. You may not really know them or even work closely with them, but you watch them handle pressure with grace. You see them project confidence. You marvel how, when in the lion’s den, they basically kick ass at every turn. (They usually dress well too.) My role models range from the brand-new intern who bravely shares her ideas in a group meeting to the founder of our agency, who always says hello and treats his employees with courtesy and respect.
Shoulders are the folks you’ve come to call friends. You’ve been through the battles together; you’ve celebrated victories and commiserated losses. Sometimes you’ve let them see you cry. They are your work family, the people you look forward to seeing every day. The ones who keep the work fun – per Stan Richards, this is what we should all be doing.
Mentors, role models, and shoulders: You need all three to have a successful career in this industry. In gratitude for the guidance, good examples, and friendships I’ve enjoyed through the years, I strive each day to honor my supporters by offering the same support to others.