The Calm-Your-Nerves List: 5 Things for Soon-to-be Grownups/Graduates

Dear Gators and other students and young people who may read this but may or may not be as great,

It’s 2016 and you have another year or two of school and have about 5,983 questions on what to do between now and then. And worse yet, what to do after that.

After meeting and talking with many young Gators last week, I have a few things I want to share with you.

1.     It’s Ok If You Don’t Know What You Want To Do.
You can be a strategist. Or a media planner. Or a copywriter. Or a lawyer. Or a street artist. Or you can move to Costa Rica and teach English? (I legit was planning this after portfolio school.)

It’s okay if you’re not sure what your exact career path is. You don’t have to decide what you want to spend the next 10, 20, 30+ years doing right now. You don’t have to have all the answers.

Why People Don't Reply

When I was finishing up portfolio school, I had a theory that ad people were free/had more time at 2pm on Mondays.

The 2pm Theory: 
Monday morning, your inbox is full of things from late Friday, the weekend and of course, lots of spam. So you spend the first part of the morning deleting and responding to emails and getting your life in order. Then there are the Monday meetings - which no one likes - but by around 2pm, you have that moment in your day when you're on top of everything and can cruise Facebook and/or respond to emails from creative wannabes right away.

Now that I've been working for a few years, I want to laugh in the face of younger me.
Silly girl.

Handle Your Feelings

There will be rough creative days.

Your ideas will get shot down. The budget will be cut (after you've put in 233 hours of work) and now the project will never see the light of day. The client will say their ten-year old could do a better job than what you just presented. You will get taken off a project you were really excited about. Your partner/coworker will spazz on you. Your computer will quit life and you'll lose everything you've been working on.

There'll be days when you want to storm out of the office before you set it on fire, or worse, lock yourself in a bathroom stall and cry. (I know I've written before about this and said There's No Crying In Advertising but if you absolutely have to, go to another floor. And if someone hears you, pick any line from this song as your reply.) 

Here are a few things I do to help me get through a rough day. 

1. Tell Today to stop it. Sometimes I speak directly to Today or write it a little note, "Dear Today, you won't win this time. So just quit it." I also remind myself that tomorrow is a new day. And who doesn't like new things?

2. Think about what you've learned from the experience. I try to figure out why XYZ happened and what I can do to avoid it in the future, and if it that's not possible, then I find new ways to respond/recover. There's always something you can learn. Always. 

3. Talk to a friend. Off the clock and outside of the office. Sometimes I just need to vent and rant and get it all out of my system. And sometimes in the middle of the vent-rant I realise it's not such a big deal and maybe I should calm the hell down. 

4. Do something to cheer yourself up. Beware of turning to drugs or alcohol or some other self-destructive faux-solution. Instead, I look for something positive that is fulfilling and gets my mind out of that negative space - like dancing, volunteering, peanut butter ice cream. 

5. Let it go. Seriously, don't bring it into tomorrow and definitely don't let it flow over into your other projects. Don't be a Negative Nelly or the lead writer at (This isn't a real site.) I always remind myself that I'm not saving lives.

6. Look for other ways to be awesome. I try to find a way to counter that loss with a win. Maybe it's in another project or in a whole other way outside of writing copy, but I look for any opportunity to get my mojo back. 

Watch Out For That Bus

Thick skin is an unlisted job requirement. So is smiling when you don't want to, and making awkward small talk before meetings. (Here are 10 tips for making small talk

Honestly, it's also part of growing up. As you get older, you realize you can't take 90% of things personally and you will have to do things you don't like doing. It's one of the less fun parts of work, but one of the parts that keeps you employed - which is kinda important if you like doing things like having a place to live and/or eating.

The post about What Would You Do if someone at work gave you a verbal butt kick/ Get-Your-Shit-Together speech made me think of this post from 2011 that also deals with people doing/saying crazy shit and the necessity of having thick skin.

We've all heard the saying about how you react to things being the most important - it really is. Even if what happened effing sucks. How you respond - to others and to yourself - is going to determine your happiness (and success.)

The below post gives 4 things you can do if someone throws you under a bus and makes you look bad. 

Back2Work: Watch out for that bus!

Because sooner or later, someone is going to throw you under it. #killerwhaleshrug 

It's usually not out of malice, it's probably more based on self preservation. (Or maybe I'm too naive and hopeful. Evil does exist. Have you watched Fox News?) 

Everybody is just looking out for Number 1 so if they can find a scapegoat, make themselves look better, or just provide some juicy water cooler talk - they will do it. Twice.

It's a harsh world out there, folks.

People will steal you ideas. Your thunder. Your glory. Your red stapler and your yogurt (even if it clearly has your name on it and says "Don't eat me. I am poison.") 

Some people are just super competitive. Some people don't realize what they're doing/saying and how it may affect you. Some people get scared when backed in a corner. Some people are just assholes.

When it comes to whether or not you or I will look bad/get fired/fail, who would you pick to save?

People (your coworker/friend/partner/ account person/planner/guy who sits next to you) will sell you out at some time or another, for one reason or another.

What can you do? 

Be amazing. Don't give anybody the opportunity to say something negative about you. Go above and beyond to show you're a hard worker and consistent so if something comes up, at least one person can say "Hmm, that's very unlike him..."

Have an ally. Get a work buddy (someone who is not your partner or direct superior) who you can build a work relationship with and who can vouch for your skills and integrity when it matters. This person isn't your mentor or your friend. They are a coworker who knows your work ethic and can be an impartial source of advice, support or backing up when necessary.

Shake it off. It happens to the best of us. Consider it a compliment that someone saw you as enough of a threat to try to take down.

Be the better person. Do your damage control and make up for whatever was said/done next time by being amazing x 100 trillion. But don't fight fire with fire. It's not worth it.

Just start thickening your skin, keeping your eyes open, watching your back and working harder than hard so if (when) something happens, you'll have a good enough reputation to fall back on and recovery will be quick and painless.

And most importantly, don't be that guy. You don't have to put someone down to bring yourself up. Either you're great or you're not. Making someone else look bad won't make you look any better.

The advertising industry is small and burning bridges will leave you stranded and hungry on an island one day.

What Would You Do?

What would you do if you were in the room for this speech? 

I can't say that I've actually seen Glengarry GlenRoss but we're all familiar with the term "Always be closing." 

My old boss had sent me this clip during our talks about me joining his team. I watched it three or four times. I googled the transcript and read that a few times. 

Then I wrote my resignation letter. 

I was reminded of it again reading 6 Harsh Truths That Will Make You A Better Person and the author quoted a piece talking about the three responses people usually have to it. 

Fix Your Face: 9 LinkedIn Pic Tips

There’s Facebook, Twitter, Instagram where you hang out with your friends and post pics of whatever the hell you please.

And then there’s LinkedIn where you’re presenting yourself to potential employers, colleagues and other professionals.

How you look on your LinkedIn profile is just as important as what you say on it.

Here are 9 Tips to Look Better on LinkedIn:

Get Recommended on LinkedIn

60% of getting a job in advertising is based on who you know. 30% is based on whether or not they think you're awesome. 10% is whether or not you actually are awesome. (I made those percentages up, but you get the idea.) 

LinkedIn is a great platform for career growth because it quickly and easily shows who you know, And when you get recommended on LinkedIn, the whole world knows that they think you're awesome. 

You didn't even have to toot your own horn, name drop or do some big song and dance. 

Too easy. 

3 Quick Tips to Help You Get LinkedIn Recommendations:

How to Be Creepy on LinkedIn

The Internet is a stalker's paradise. A little Googling can give you someone's life story. Half the time, people are vomiting their day-to-day movements on blogs, Twitter and Instagram so you don't even have to dig too deeply. 

So how can you make this work for you and your career? 

Whether or not you're looking for a job right now, connecting with people who share your interests - and future job title - is very important. And worth the semi-creepy research. 

This guest post was written by Michelle Tran, a junior art director who's okay with being overly nosy. 

The Creepy Things I Do on LinkedIn:

How To Burn A Bridge

The advertising industry is a small town. Everybody knows somebody that knows
somebody that knows you. Which is great when you're looking for a job, a recommendation or a connection to another person. Which is why I say things like Don't Be an Asshole, Watch Your Step at the Front Desk and You're Kevin Bacon.

And that is why when you burn a bridge in this business, no matter how small it may seem, it's a big deal. 

I saw a bridge go up in flames at work recently. A young writer had struck a few matches, perhaps practice shots, and then threw three solid molotov cocktails in one conversation. For example, saying things like she didn't want to make updates and didn't care about the project since she was leaving in a week.

2014 To Don't List: 7 Things To Stop Doing Today

Yes, it's February. And yes, I'm talking about changes to make for the new year. (Studies show only 64% of people maintain their resolutions past the first month. 46% make it 6 months.) And honestly, it doesn't matter if it's February 6th, April 21st, August 24th or November 2nd. Every day is a chance to do something amazing.

We should always aim to be better today than we were yesterday and almost as awesome as you'll be tomorrow.

So here's your official Shit To Stop Doing Starting Today List 

2014 To Do List: 7 Things To Start Doing Today

Let's not even call these resolutions actually. Consider this a To Do list - well, actually - a Start and Keep Doing list.

Things to Start Doing

- Read Articles. On Adage, Adweek, Forbes, Wall Street Journal, Wired, Huffington Post - wherever. Just read things and be up to date on what's going on around you. Trust me. "I read this article that said..." is always a great way to start a conversation. 

Renew Your Creative Resolutions

We're definitely in 2014, there's no denying that right now. How's it going with those things you promised you were going to do or not do this year? 

I read a study that said only 8% of these people achieve their resolutions. So... yeah. Maybe I should ask about last year's resolutions? Or ones from the year before? 

We essentially always want the same things - to be better. Whether it's losing weight, saving money, working less, sleeping more or getting a new job - they all lead you to a better you. And require a lot of hard work and discipline.

So let's be realistic and set some reasonable and achievable goals. Goals you can accomplish within the next week, month and three months. 

Here are the resolutions I posted in 2012, which are still relevant, funny enough. Have a read and pick 3 to jump right on immediately. Write them on a post-it and put them somewhere you can see every day so you don't forget. 

Back In Business: 2014 Let's Go!

Guess who’s bizzack

Happy New Year. Happy Lunar New Year. Happy February. Happy Monday. *lights fireworks filled with confetti*

I had to pause on posting for a bit but now I'm back. 

So let's do this. 

There is so much I want to share with you all.

There’ll be lots of new posts – covering  some topics  based on questions and conversations with creative wannabes and my personal experiences at work.

 There’s also a contest coming up. Plus a meet up. And a Google+ Hangout.

With the new year, there’ll be some changes – more to come on that later – but please continue reading, liking and sharing.

Get more Baby Food on Facebook and Pinterest.

New Posts Coming Feb 3rd

Work, holidays, family, friends, brunch... I swear to you all types of things are trying to keep us apart. But I promise I'll be back. Posting and sharing and yelling so we can collectively get our shit together.

Look out for new posts on Monday February 3rd, but in the meantime, feel free to search the blog for whatever you may need right now. You never know what you'll find.

Continue being awesome!

Repost: Inspiration: Sites That Spark Creativity

BABY FOOD FOR CREATIVES: Inspiration: Sites That Spark Creativity: One of the best things about working in Advertising is that gallivanting across the whole world wide web isn't slacking off, it's pa...

50 Resources That Will Make You An Awesome Writer

Here are 50 Free Resources That Will Improve Your Writing Skills. As usual, this isn't just to
benefit writers - all you art directors and designers have can learn too.

50 Free Resources That Will Improve Your Writing Skills

Effective writing skills are to a writer what petrol is to a car. Like the petrol and car relationship, without solid skills writers cannot move ahead. These skills don’t come overnight, and they require patience and determination. You have to work smart and hard to acquire them. Only with experience, you can enter the realm of effective, always-in-demand writers.

You're Underselling Yourself

Bios, resumes, profiles and self-evaluations. You're going to have so, so, so many times
where you're going to have to talk about yourself. Times where you have to talk about why you're great, all the great things you've done and why you deserve to be hired/promoted/given more money.

This is a challenge for some people (ahem, me, ahem) because it feels awkward to boast and talk about yourself in that way. It feels awkward to say "I'm awesome! Look at all the fantastic things I've done!"

But you know what, if you're great, you're great. And if you're great, you deserve to be hired/promoted/givien more money. So you have to speak up.

Funny things is though, the minute you start putting it all on paper, on something someone else will read, it feels like you're 

The Truth is I'm Great

Finding that sweet spot of talking yourself up enough to not be boasting is quite a

You don't want to undersell yourself, you don't want to oversell yourself and you definitely don't want to turn anyone off.

It's a delicate balance and one that will serve you well throughout your career.

Here are a few tips from previous posts:

Past Me Gets It

Funny thing happened recently - I searched* my blog to look for advice.

Luckily, Past Me is kinda smart and super helpful when Present me is kind of a mess.

I kicked myself pretty hard for being a dummy. I know that stuff. Past Me was on the ball. Present Me needs to get her life together ASAP.

Then I was reminded of the fourth lesson of the Four Agreements: Always do your best.