BABY FOOD FOR CREATIVES: Back2Work: First Day To Do List

Reposting today for all those starting a new job (*ahem* Tracey and Ronnie).

BABY FOOD FOR CREATIVES: Back2Work: First Day To Do List: A dvertising is one of those industries where people are always coming and going. Accounts go into review, clients adjust budgets, manage...

Your Costume Is Racist

I love when people use advertising for good*. And I hate racism. So of course I love these ads from Students Teaching About Racism in Society

Just in time for Halloween weekend.

(*You should try to have at least one social cause/PSA in your book. You know, just to show you have a heart.)

Fail Big

At the One Club's Where Are All The Black People? event during Advertising Week, Danny Robinson of The Martin Agency said you should fail in massive proportions. (Or something close to that, you can watch the video here and tell me I'm wrong)

I love that he said that. I think if you're not failing, you're not trying. And following his train of thought, if you're going to fail, fail big.

Earlier in the year some of my students came up with an idea to promote Indiana Popcorn: they were going to try to ship some to Kim Jong-Il. It was so ridiculously perfect. Even if they didn't get the popcorn to him (I mean, I'm pretty sure it's illegal and may be considered treason) just trying to would have made a big splash.

That's what you should aim to do with every campaign you come up with.

Be outrageous.

Be daring.

Be stupid. (Loved Diesel's campaign manifesto)

Go big or go home. 

What have you got to lose?

If you're a student - absolutely nothing. You have no budget, no client, no lawyers, no consumers to write angry letters and boycott your product, no repercussions, nothing.

So push your work. Be creative x 10. You know that saying "Aim for the moon and maybe you'll end up in the stars?" Well aim for Pluto.

This is not the time or place for mediocre, safe, in-between-the-lines work.

Go Kanye West with it. 

Come up with the biggest, ballsiest, off-the-wallest ideas. (Yeah I made up a word. What are you going to do about it? Nothing. That's what I thought.)

As a junior, you should do the same. You have the excuse of being young and not knowing better.

So push it. Push it real good. (*does a quick 90s dance*)

When you realise how meaningless failure is in advertising, it becomes easier to fail, and consequently, easier to get back up again. I mean, you fail so much, after a while it stops hurting and it become a part of the process.

What about this? No? This? No? How about that? No? That?

It's a dance of sorts.  You try, you fail, you try again, fail again, try some more....

Like I said a few weeks ago, your ideas are going to get killed and sometimes no matter how hard you work, you just might not get it. There's a long series of NOs in store for you over the next few years. So why not make them worth your while?

Don't "I don't know" Me

My high school business professor used to say "I don't know" isn't an answer. It's an excuse. It's a cop out. "I don't know" means you're not thinking. You're not even trying. You've pretty much said "I quit."

His point of view was, you should always at least give it a shot. You never know, you may be right, or half right.

One of my frustrations sometimes dealing with students, interns and juniors is this business of "I don't know."

I've had people come back empty-handed with nothing but a shrug and an "I didn't know" or an "I wasn't sure."

*insert bbm huh face* 

I mean, I don't understand.

Speak into my good ear.

1. Why did you wait until the assignment was due or until I checked in to say you were unsure?
2. Why did you being unsure make it okay for you not to do the assignment?

Seriously guys. If you don't know, ask a question. And ask it early. Ask when you're getting briefed. Ask right after you've gotten briefed. Ask when you sit down to work. Ask until you are 100% clear on everything. I wasn't kidding when I said Always Ask Questions

No one is going to be mad at you for asking questions. They will be mad, however, if you miss a deadline.

And if no one is there to answer, just try. Make something up. Take a guess. We're creators. Create something.

This business is about solving problems. So solve a fricking problem. 

All that can happen is that you're wrong and have to try again.

And here's the best part about advertising - there are no wrong answers. And better yet, there are 50 right answers.

So try this. Or that. Or something else.

If you're wrong, learn from it and try again. If you're right, learn from it and try again.

"I don't know" is accepting defeat and if you're not going to fight, then take your toys and go home.

BABY FOOD FOR CREATIVES: Back2Work: Presentation 101

BABY FOOD FOR CREATIVES: Back2Work: Presentation 101: This post is late because I had a presentation today and 99% of the rest of the world ceased to exist. It's over now. Welcome back. ...

Reality Check: Nike doesn't need more ads

Students keep filling their books with fake ads for clients who already have real amazing work.

Stop it.

Unless you can come up with a ground-breaking, eye-bulging, world-changing new idea or extension to a current idea/product for a company that's already doing award-winning advertising - don't even bother.

For one, you'll automatically be compared to work this brand has already done (and won awards for) and you'll always come up short.

Two, it's too easy to do something good for a well-established brand. Everybody knows Coke by the logo or bottle shape alone. Everybody knows what Nike sells and stands for. Everybody drinks, has drank or knows someone who drinks Bud Light. What can you say that's new or different? What problem are you solving for the brand?

My favourite thing about my job is that I solve problems. (Not serious problems like globalwarming or cancer, thank goodness. I couldn't take the pressure.) But business problems and communication problems.

Use your student book to show that you understand that. Create campaigns that demonstrate your ability to come up with creative and engaging solutions to business problems.

Yes, you work should look good and sound good. But it should also be strategic. For instance,
Old women don't need/want/understand an app for stool softeners. Don't just create an app for the sake of creating an app - create with purpose. Whatever you do should make sense and help or engage people in some way. (Initially I wrote "entertain" instead of "engage" but not everything is fun and games. If you can engage people emotionally, whether it's making them happy or sad or angry, then you're in the right direction.)

That's how you truly show how talented you are. If you can do something smart for a seemingly "hard" product. (Remember, nothing's really that hard for you as a student. You don't have to worry about clients, budgets or lawyers. The world is yours. You can create anything you like. Just make sure it's great.)

Pick challenging products to work on. Brands that have built-in business problems - maybe no one knows about them, maybe they're the 3rd most popular in their category, maybe they just had a rough time in the news recently, maybe they haven't done new ads in over 50 years.

Pick something that will make people go "OMG I never would have thought to do that!" (And then under their breath go, "I wish I did.")

I saw this recent work for Ivory soap and got a little excited. It's soap. Who makes ads for soap? Who cares about soap that much? Yet we all use some sort of soap every day and really never think about it.

Check out the work:

Read This: How to Put Your Book Together and Get a Job in Advertising

Another book to add to your Must Read list: How To Put Your Book Together and Get A Job In Advertising

I love you all, but realistically, there's only so much I know - and so much I can do/say. That's why I'm always posting books, articles and guest posts and such to make up for what I lack.

This book is great no matter what level you're at. If you're just starting out, it'll help guide you as you start gathering the skills, knowledge and work you need to get your book together. If you're about to graduate, it'll help you refine your book and interview and job search tips.

You need all the help you can get right now. So seek out every resource and soak up as much as you can. Don't say I nobody ever told you...

Get it on Amazon now

It's almost Christmahanakwanza and/or your birthday is coming up. Add these to your wish list:
Breaking In Book 
The Copy Book

Beef Up Your Book

Creative people create.

Sounds crazy, I know.

But as a copywriter or art director, your job is to create. You do also have to write, and design, and think, and strategise, and present, and manipulate... but ultimately, you have to create.

So include things in your book to reflect that.

Have an extras section in your portfolio to feature your other interests, skills and outlets.

Add your videos, music, poetry, blog, photography, art, research presentations, sculptures - whatever it is that shows 1. you're passionate about something 2. you're talented 3. you're a creator.

This is not your book and shouldn't take place of actual ads, ideas, campaigns and such. Your book is the main course. But include these extras as a digestif, a little something to round off a great meal and keep a good taste in your mouth.

How to stand out in the creative crowd Read post 
What goes into your portfolio Read post 

Apply now: Multicultural Advertising Internship Program

Ready to work?

No, seriously? This is a legit opportunity to spend 10 weeks working in an agency next summer. Apply to the 4A's internship program, MAIP. 

Here's why MAIP is awesome:

* You get to work in top-tier agencies doing real work in the department of your choice - from account to traffic to media to creative.

* You can intern in several cities across the country - from New York to Chicago to California and in between.

* You get paired with a mentor who works in advertising and probably did MAIP as well

* You get to network with professionals at the agency you work at plus other agencies involved in the program

* You get to come to New York for the end of internship celebration and career fair in August

* You get paid.

* You meet people who will later on be your coworkers and/or help you get a job.

* I did it and I'm awesome, so by association, it's awesome and you can be too.

I did MAIP the summer between college and portfolio school and it was a great experience. Well, kinda great. I hated Chicago. And some of the people. And the weather. But I started running (prior to this I thought only stupid people and people being chased by dogs should run) learned a whole lot, got to work on some real campaigns, go to recordings, live in a new city, wear blazers and jeans and meet a ton of great people - one who I now work with, and two of which I am very close with. You can't beat that.

If you're a junior or senior or in portfolio school, I think you should apply. Even if you don't get to intern in the creative department, you'll get your foot in the door, meet the right people, learn the right things and start setting up a network.

Applications are due Nov 4th so get on it. Today.

Download the application
Connect with MAIP on Facebook

Back2Work: I hate my partner

What do you do with 120-200 lbs of dead weight? 

You're going to hate me for this one, but the simple answer is: Deal with it.

When you have a partner who is not doing their part it is the most frustrating thing.

And even more frustrating is being stuck with that person - whether for a semester at school or at a job. 

But it's just one of those things you have to deal with and grow through.

I've had a partner that only worked in Photoshop. One that would decide the project wasn't important enough for his time. One that I had to draw everything out for first. One who told me to figure everyone out and then just give him the copy to lay out. One that always ended up putting typos in our ads even though I clearly said to just copy and paste everything from my Word doc. And one gem who would sit and concept with me but then only mock up his ideas.

Good times. 

I'm not gonna lie. I've crawled into a bathroom stall and cried a few times. I've also plotted putting pencil shavings in someone's food. 

When you have to rely on someone else to help you create something, and they suck, it hurts.

But it didn't kill me. (And I didn't kill anyone.) 

Now I can work in Photoshop and inDesign. I have a better design eye and can draw a mean thumbnail. I have  friends or colleagues I can reach out to to bounce ideas off. I know how to grin and bare it like anybody's business. 

You still have to go up and say "our idea" even though you're the one who came up with it. 

And you have to accept the praise and criticism together, even if you're the one who did 90% of it. 

And you can't go whining to every and anybody about your piece of shit partner because that makes you look like a whiny, needy brat. (Sucks for you. Twice.)

Use this time to sharpen your skills. 
Work on writing if you're an art director or art direction if you're a copywriter.
Work on biting your tongue. 
Learn to negotiate, barter, bride, beg. (Whatever it takes to get your partner to do what you need. People rarely change. You have to adjust yourself to make the best out of bad situations.) 
Take notes for the kind of partner you really want/need and look for that person. (Read my post on Picking A Partner)

And remember, what doesn't kill you, makes you stronger. And this won't kill you. (Another one of my life mottos)

So get to work.

Article: Do more on LinkedIn

LinkedIn is your friend.
 (Me, not so much. Read: Develop a Split Personality)

Unless someone specifically asks you to, don't reach out to recruiters, creative directors and business connections on Facebook. Go to LinkedIn.

Start building your professional network now. Even if you're in school, set up your LinkedIn profile and keep it updated as you go along.

Get recommendations, whether it's from professors, or from internships or freelance, nothing beats having someone else sing your praises.

And, I cannot say this enough, include a personal note with your LinkedIn request.

Here are some other tips to get the most out of your LinkedIn profile.

7 Surprising Things You Can Do On LinkedIn
from The Brain Yard 

LinkedIn is a rich networking environment that is getting richer all the time. We've put together a few suggestions for new ways you can use the platform.

LinkedIn may be your go-to tool for professional networking, but are you using it to its full potential? Following are seven things you may not have known you can do with LinkedIn.

1. Get Found: Recruiters and potential employers often use LinkedIn to identify talent. Whether you are looking for a job or not, make sure that you are including words and terms in your profile that are current and compelling in your discipline and your industry. "You may not be looking for a job at the moment, but employers with great opportunities may find you if you fill your LinkedIn profile with the types of keywords employers might use to find someone with your expertise," said Wayne Breitbarth, author of "The Power Formula for Linkedin Success." He added that these keywords should be included in the Headline, Summary, Specialties, Experience, and Recommendations sections of your LinkedIn profile.

2. Demonstrate Expertise: Once you get found, you want to be able to demonstrate expertise. There are a great many ways to do this on LinkedIn, but one you may not know is that you can use to add documents to your LinkedIn profile. "The key to networking is freely sharing your knowledge and expertise with others. This builds trust. Once they know and trust you, they will want to do business with you," said Breitbarth. " enables you to post PDF, Excel, or Word files to your profile. This is a great place to post whitepapers, articles, company brochures, pictures of your projects or products, customer testimonials, and other documents that increase your credibility and helpfulness."

3. Showcase Experience: Users can leverage tools such as Google Presentation and SlideShare via LinkedIn to post slideshows that demonstrate personal experience, presentations about your company, and/or pictures of projects you have been instrumental in completing.

4. Show Your Mad Skills: LinkedIn earlier this year added a section to profiles that enables users to promote their general skills and assets. "The skills section is searchable via LinkedIn, making it a great way to stand out," said Greg Hakim, account executive at PR firm Corporate Ink. "It's different from your specialty and summary sections. Most people don't have this on their profiles." Adding skills is as easy as tagging, and skills appear like tags before the Education section in your profile.

5. Plot Your Career Path: "One very useful function that's not too widely used is Career Explorer," said Hakim. "It allows you to take a look at others in your industry and see the path they took to get where they are today. It also helps you make connections with those in the positions you eventually want to reach-- ultimately helping you move forward."

6. Create A Printable Resume: While we do so much of our job searching and networking online these days, when you finally get the interview, you'll want to bring a hard copy resume with you. LinkedIn provides the ability to create a print-worthy version (with a couple of tweaks here and there) of your resume with just a push of a button. "Most LinkedIn users see the site only as an online resume and don't realize they can export their own resume for in-person meetings," said Hakim. "It just takes a couple of tweaks to the formatting and you have a nice, professional handout."

7. Alert Your Boss You Are Looking For Another Job: Yes, LinkedIn can let you do some things you didn't want to do. For example, if your current manager sees via LinkedIn updates that you are suddenly (and often) being recommended, he or she may grow suspicious that you are getting ready to jump ship. That may or may not be a bad thing, depending, but it's important to remember that your LinkedIn activity is broadcast to contacts unless you change some settings. "If you keep your activity settings in the default position, your connections can see when you make profile changes, get recommendations and add connections," said Michelle Metzger, president of Metzger & Associates, a marketing, communications, and social media consultancy. "A significant amount of activity will alert your employer that you are positioning yourself for a career move."

Must Watch: Art & Copy

A movie about advertising! Holy fisherman's bowtie!

I remember sneaking out of work with an art director I'd maybe met once to go watch Art & Copy. The theatre was one of those small, indy type spots where you wouldn't eat the popcorn if they had any. It was about four or five of us watching the film but I don't remember anything or anyone until the credits started rolling.

I'm not into documentaries, but this was a documentary about what I do. There were no fight scenes or love triangles or anything super exciting honestly. It was so interesting and informative though. You see the campaigns and the people behind the campaigns - like Nike, iPod, Milk. It also goes into a bit of history and basically shows you how no one really knew what they were doing back then. And still kinda don't know honestly. We have better titles now and job descriptions, but we're all just making it up as we go along. And I love that about advertising. I love that we're all just moving and shape-shifting and evolving and translating and taking something old, something new, something weird and something familiar and merging it all into something real. Something people see, hear, experience and respond to. Something people remember.

I left feeling so inspired and proud. This is what I am a part of. Seeing these ad legends talk about the how and why behind campaigns and hearing their stories made me want to do something great. Something iconic and memorable. I left that dingy old theatre feeling compelled to create something new.

I hope you feel even half of that watching Art & Copy.

Here's the trailer:

Read about Art & Copy
Buy it now 

Get Involved At School

Around my second year of undergrad, I discovered portfolio schools. And it pissed me the hell off. Why didn't somebody tell me about this before? Why am I sitting here, bored to pieces, in Media Planning and Strategy class when I could be taking Storywriting or Photoshop II?

I did not drop out of school and join the Circus then and there. (My mother would have hopped on a plane and flogged me wherever she found me.) But knowing that there was a copywriting program out there where I'd have the opportunity to build my portfolio more than Copy & Vis I and II gave me focus. And hope. 
I spent the next two years making sure I got the most out of my college experience (study abroad, work study, drunken Mondays, hungover know, the usual) and prepping myself the career I wanted. I did a summer program at the Creative Circus to get a feel for what portfolio school would be like (turns out it was just like my creative writing workshops). I increased my involvement in Ad Society, UF's student advertising club, worked at the school's newspaper and wrote the newsletter for the Caribbean Student Association. I applied for every internship under the sun (did one in account services at BBDO NY and one in the creative department at then FCB Chicago) and won a student Addy for a ad I did for a class.

I knew my degrees in Advertising and English wouldn't land me exactly where I needed to be at the end of those four years, but I was going to make sure I got as close as I could. (Yep. I'm a huge nerd)
Okay okay okay. Enough about me. What are you going to do? Here are some tips about how to get more involved while you're at school (undergrad or portfolio school).

7 Ways To Get Involved With Advertising At School:

Join student clubs. There was a napping club at UF. Napping. Yep. So I'm pretty sure your school has an ad club. The American Advertising Federation (AAF) has student clubs at colleges and universities all over the country. They have speakers, panels, social events, agency visits, competitions and other great opportunities for you to learn more about the industry and connect with people. If a club doesn’t exist at your school, start one. 

Get a student membership in professional organisations. Most of these big name organisations like the One Club and the Art Directors Club offer student memberships for a discounted rate. I know as a student it may still seem expensive, but consider it an investment. Start putting aside your beer/pizza/shoe money to save up for it.

Find a teacher to be your ally. Find a professor who you respect and feel comfortable with to get career guidance and personal and professional feedback. They can introduce you to people, put you on to books, websites and techniques to make you a stronger creative and they can give you personal and professional feedback to help you grow. And now you have someone who you can count on as a reference. 

In undergrad, Dr. Duke was my hero. She taught one of the few creative classes at UF, Copy & Vis, and was a copywriter, so I aligned myself with her early on. I ended up taking an independent study with her my senior year where I worked on my portfolio and portfolio school application. Her insight, advice and feedback were instrumental. One time, dangerously close to graduation, she told me to focus on my poetry instead of advertising. (Sometimes I wish I'd listened.)

Find an industry mentor.
Connect with someone who currently has the job you want. Even if it's a junior at a local agency. Get advice, tips, feedback and a real look at what it takes to get and keep a job in advertising. One of the things I appreciate at the Circus was that for my last few quarters I had a mentor who was currently working in an ad agency to give me feedback on my book. She told me what was working and what wasn't and while our relationship wasn't deeper than a few emails every few weeks (mostly of her tearing my work apart), it was very helpful to me. Reach out to someone whose work you respect, start a relationship and ask them if they are willing to help you. (Sometimes using the term "mentor" is overwhelming so use it sparingly) Meet for coffee or start emailing and see where it goes. (In the meantime, you have my blog!)

Enter student competitions. Competitions are great ways to get work for your book, to work on something you previously may not have considered, and if you win, to get your name out there. There are always competitions going on. Always. Check out the AAF. One Club, Cannes Young Lions, Young Guns, Art Director's Club, D&AD... Start googling chicklets.

Read. Stay up on what's going on through industry publications. Creativity, Com Arts, Archive, award books and so on, so forth. Get a student subscription or check it out at the library. This not only serves for inspiration for your own ads but it gives you something to talk about when you do connect with professionals. (Read up on small talking tips)

Get relevant experience. Start writing or designing ads for whatever organisations you are involved with. Or offer your services to others. Work on everything and anything you can to increase your skills and add bullets to your resume. You may not end up doing anything that could go into your portfolio, but nothing beats experience. (Except for Rock. Rock always wins.) 

Back2Work: Dealing with death

You came up with this awesome idea. You loved it so much you sat staring at it in awe for a few minutes.

You came up with 5 ideas, but this one right here, this one's a gem. It's definitely the One. Everyone is going to love it. They're going to look at all your great ideas and their eyes will fill with tears of envy. And then you'll unveil the Gem. If they thought that was great, wait til they see this! Then you pause for effect. And drop the mic triumphantly, waiting for the applause. 

Butt your partner just doesn't get it.

And your CD doesn't like one of your other ideas.

Another team presented practically the same thing you had, but a bit better.

And the the account team kills another one.

And the client kills the last one.

And at the end of it all, you're left disappointed and disillusioned.  

*cue violin solo and sepia-toned sad walk home montage* 

There's a lot of killing in advertising. Good ideas die left and right. Bad ideas are taken outside and shot, execution style, by a four man shooting squad. 

This happens to everybody. Every agency. Every project. Every day. Maybe I should've saved this for a Friday Reality Check, but it's just an everyday truth. You will always encounter disappointments and failures in this line of work. (I warned you here)

* Get over it.  You'll here no more often that you hear yes and people will sooner point out where you're wrong than what's right. Get used to it. You can't get too attached to an idea. Nine times out of 10, it will die or get transformed into something unrecognisable or get watered down into something you hate. And just like in the movies, they always kill the one you love the most.

* Come up with 3 times more ideas. The more ideas (or headlines or thumbnails) you go in with, the more you have to left over when the massacre ends. Plus it shows that you're thinking and you're trying.

*  Save it. If you really love an idea, hold on to it. Ask others for feedback and try to fine tune the idea to make it work. Sometimes it's not that it's a bad idea, maybe it needs more thought or a different way in, or maybe it would be better for another campaign or another client. Save it and see what you can make happen.

* Start over. Seriously. Just shake off that disappointment and go at it again. Come up with 5 new ideas. And 5 more. Every time you hear no, take notes and start again. Sometimes that great idea is a merger of two or three dead ideas. Or maybe it comes from something someone said about why one of your other ideas didn't work. Or maybe it was right there waiting for you all along but you were too busy looking at the newer, flashier ideas.

There will always be disappointments. But always be ready to get back up and start over.
And remember, there's no crying in advertising. 

Get to work!

Reality Check: There's someone better than you

Arrogance is pretty high on the Asshole List.

Despite everything your Mom says, you're not the best. And whenever you start feeling yourself a little too much, come back and read this sentence. There is someone out there that's a better writer/ art director/ designer/ creative/ everything than you. 

Keep them as close to you as possible.

I was talking to my partner the other day and she said "I don't want to be the best. I'll get lazy. I need to feel like I'm the worst so I can keep working to be better." And I fell in love with her all over again.

I'm the same way. I need negative feedback. I need criticism. I need to hear that good isn't good enough. This is what moves me. Knowing that I can do better is what keeps me energised and inspired and pushing for greatness.

When I see work that makes me go, "Crabs! I wish I thought of that!" or "&^#&^$%@ that's a good line!" I revel in that delicious mixture of awe and envy.

Then I put it in my pocket and save it for my next project and start plotting on ways I elicit that same response in someone else.

Look for the people and campaigns and things that make you jealous. Collect everything that showcases that you suck. Bookmark them. Scan them. Print them and keep them in your wallet. Do whatever it takes to highlight what great looks like and remind yourself that you are not great.

Your book can be better. Your writing or art direction skills can be better. You can be better. So go find that person that makes you feel stupid and useless. And use that as your fuel.

Mailbag: Switching from Pharma

Q: I've been working on pharmaceutical clients for the past three years and want to transfer to more general/consumer advertising. Does my experience here mean nothing? Is there hope for me? I know what I can do and I know that I can do this...heck, it's what I've wanted to do since junior year of high school...I just didn't know it was called copywriting and I didn't know colleges specialized in it, I guess I just hope I'm not screwed. Any advice? - Brian

A: Your experience in pharma means a whole lot. It's experience. You have produced work and written copy and worked in an agency. that counts for a whole lot. as long as there are ideas and it's clear you can write/craft, then you're good to go.

You just need to present yourself positively to agencies.

Meet with people and ask questions.

Add some spec work to your book. Show how you can handle non-pharma clients and consumers.

Start thinking about your elevator speech. What have you learned/gained from your experience in pharma and how can you be an asset to the next place you go? Why should someone hire you?

What does your portfolio look like?

What are you good at? 

Read switching into advertising for some tips in there that will be relevant to you when it comes to selling yourself and knowing how to talk the talk to get into consumer advertising.

Hope this helps.

Font Haiku Contest

Stumbled across this haiku contest on the world wide web and loved it.

Contests and competitions are are great way to stimulate your creativity and get you thinking in different ways.
This one is perfect because it's great for ADs and CWs and in this age of 140 characters or less, brevity is a skill.

How to play:

1. Choose your favorite Veer font.
2. Write a haiku* about the font.
3. Tweet your haiku with the hashtag #veerfonts.

Each day, one winning submission will be typeset in the appropriate font, and its creator will get a Veer T-shirt. Each month, the best of all winning entries will get $250 in Veer merch. And a very covetable grand prize will be awarded to the best overall submission.

Contest ends December 20, 2011.

Check out some of the previous winners.

* Haikus are short poems of 3 lines with the first line having 5 syllables, the second has 7 and the third has 5. 

Keep In Touch

Student meets creative director. Creative director likes student. Creative director goes back to work. Student goes back to school. Student graduates and contacts creative director. Creative director does not remember student. Student cries. The end.

Keep in touch with people you meet to keep yourself on their radars and in their minds.
Every time you meet someone new, send them a follow up email afterwards so that you stay visible, show that you appreciate them and most importantly, start a dialogue.

Even if you won't graduate in a year or so, or won't be looking for a new job for a bit, every few months, drop a note with a quick update about your progress and anything you've seen/heard about their progress. Don't just write to say hi. Y'all are not friends. Always write with a purpose, be clear, concise and personable. See my previous emailing tips here: The Art of Emailing.

Look, I'm going to make it easy for you. Here's a basic template to follow when emailing in general. And remember, keep it short, sweet and to the point. People are at work and don't have time to read your novella. 

Follow Up Email Template

Subject: Your name + reminder of how you know each other. Or something funny/ eye-catching. (This is a great time to show off your headline writing skills)



  • Greeting: Address the person by name "to whom it make concern" is like shoving a cold metal pole up... Oh look, an eagle!
  • Thanks: Thank them for whatever they did last you met. Talking to you, giving you feedback, adding you on LinkedIn, supervising you during your internship, cutting your hair into a mohawk.
  • Recap: Remind them where they know you from/ how you met. Add something they said or did the affected you if applicable. Describe yourself and something you did/said if it was memorable. "On the last episode of..."
  • Request: Be direct about why you're writing and what response you'd like from them. Is it just to share the updates of your book or tell them you graduated and are looking? what ever it is, be clear. Ask a question too, it gives them a reason to respond.
  • Closing: Thank them (again), add a touch of personality and look forward to a future connection. (So they know you want a response and possibly more)
Sign off: Include all of your contact information, your book, your social security number (kidding.)

Back2Work: Small Talking Tips

One of my goals here is to be honest and direct with you at all times. Lying, coddling and misleading you won't get you anywhere in life. And puts me on a one-way, nonstop train to Hell. (aka front row at The View.) So let me get this out of the way before I go any further into this post. I hate small talk.

I hate it.

Most people are boring and/or poor conversationalists and I'd rather not force banter and waste my wit on them. And yes, you may be my best friend's boyfriend or the CEO of my company, but if I try and find we genuinely have nothing to talk about or you can't grasp the basic dynamics of a dialogue then I quit.

Then there are those people, people I admire in this realm, who are able to push past the awkward silence, the short responses and paragraphs about laundry, weather systems or teething. (Situations in which I usually find myself trying to come up with ways to frame other people for my suicide, you know, just to keep NYPD busy.)

Making small talk is a skill. And a valuable asset to have as a creative. Don't get me wrong, I'm a social butterfly. I've had conversations with homeless men and head honchos, however, I can't force it or fake it. If I'm not interested, I'm just not interested (why do people always want to talk when I've got my headphones in and it's before 9 AM. What do we have to talk about before 9 AM?) And if you're not interesting, I probably hate you.

You, my precious grasshoppers, should master small talk. Advertising is full of the most random group of attention seeking, socially awkward triviaphiles out there. (Is there a word for people who know a lot of random trivia? I made up triviaphiles.)

You should be able to own an elevator and make a client see your personality. (These are the two main times it matters: When you're stuck on the elevator with your boss's boss or before or after a client meeting, at a client dinner, on a shoot or out at a networking event.)

Here are some tips I gathered (aka copied and pasted) from these articles for us (I definitely need to learn) to get better at making small talk:

10 tips for making small talk

1. As you prepare for a function, come up with three things to talk about as well as four generic questions that will get others talking. If you've met the host before, try to remember things about her, such as her passion for a sport or a charity you're both involved in.

2. Be the first to say "Hello." If you're not sure the other person will remember you, offer your name to ease the pressure. For example, "Charles Bartlett? Lynn Schmidt -- good to see you again." Smile first and always shake hands when you meet someone.

3. Pay attention to what they're saying. When you're making small talk, follow up on phrases; for instance, if they say they're "excellent", ask why – ask where you can get some. If they mention that they're exhausted, follow up on it. When you're making small talk, remember that great conversations and good connections can be just around the corner.

4. Get the other person talking by leading with a common ground statement regarding the event or location and then asking a related open-ended question. For example, "Attendance looks higher than last year, how long have you been coming to these conventions?" You can also ask them about their trip in or how they know the host.

5. Stay focused on your conversational partner by actively listening and giving feedback. Maintain eye contact. Never glance around the room while they are talking to you.

6. Have something interesting to contribute. Keeping abreast of current events and culture will provide you with great conversation builders, leading with "What do you think of ...?" "Have you heard ...?" "What is your take on ...?" Stay away from negative or controversial topics, and refrain from long-winded stories or giving a lot of detail in casual conversation.

7. Ask what movies or books they've seen or read recently. Someone once asked me that at a party. Admittedly, at first it felt contrived, but then we had a fantastic conversation about the book I was reading! Making small talk is about trying new conversations.

8. Talk about TV. Share your favourite TV shows - whether it's Oprah's revelation of The Secret or the your favorite sitcom. If you're Canadian, Little Mosque on the Prairie might be interesting to discuss! Making small talk about pop culture is easy and fun.

9. Share an anecdote about your day. Did you lose your keys or find $10? Maybe you ate at a new restaurant recently, or found a great new CD. Making small talk is about sharing the little things.

10. Watch your body language. People who look ill at ease make others uncomfortable. Act confident and comfortable, even when you're not.