Should I go to Portfolio School?

This is probably the question I get asked the most.

You should.

Or you shouldn't.

It's not my decision to make.

What you need to do is have a portfolio.

You need to have something showing your craftmanship as a writer/art director/graphic designer, your style and problem-solving skills and evidence of your understanding of how advertising works.

However you get to that point is up to you.

My only advice is to be amazing. 

Here's some reading as you weigh it out. If this doesn't help, try Rock, Paper, Scissors. (Remember, rock always wins. Always.) 

Some of the Pros & Cons of going to School 
Some Portfolio Schools to consider 
How to apply to portfolio school
What's Portfolio School Like 
The POV of two Portfolio Schoolers
The POV of two Non-Portfolio Schoolers
Some things you won't learn in portfolio school

Preparing for an Interview — 5 Big Questions Answered

Recap post from NY Creative Intern's Interview to the Top event.

Preparing for an Interview — 5 Big Questions Answered

As we all know, before receiving any internship or job offer, an interview will be required. For many of us the interview can be the most intimidating part of the application process.
Only July 24th at AOL Headquarters, NY Creative Interns hosted “Interview to the Top,” a panel moderated by Founder and President, Emily Miethner.
The Panelists included:
(in order pictured below)

Neisha Tweed- Senior Copywriter at Publicis Modem
Chris Lesser- Senior Human Resources Manager at AOL
Susan Karlin- President at Suka Creative
Matt Mullin- Digital Content in the Barnes and Nobel nook division
What followers is part one of a three-part series that will delve into the important questions answered at this event.

1. What do you want to see in a cover letter?

Chris:  A cover letter can come in various forms depending on how you apply for the position. For example, if you are applying via email the cover letter can be the body of the email.
Be sure to cover key points such as what you are applying for, how you learned about the position, highlight key skills and experience, and then finish with your contact information. When highlighting your skills, make sure you include additional information that cannot be found in the resume.
Think of a cover letter as your pre-interview. A resume highlights your skills, but the cover letter calls out your finest skills and tells a good story as well. The letter should also touch on what you know about the role, and how you fit the role specifically.
Susan: It is important that the cover letter is not generic. “Do your homework” and make sure you research the company and employees via the company website or LinkedIn. For example “I saw on your website that you have worked with X company on Y campaign. I have worked on a similar style campaign at Z internship.”

2. What makes a great resume? 

Neisha: Typos are the biggest mistake you can make on a resume. Always proofread your resume and cover letter multiple times, give them to another person to proofread, and then proofread them again one last time. One small typo could cost you a meeting or job.
Just like a cover letter, never send a generic resume. Customize your resume to best highlight your skills that match the position.
Matt: Resumes should always be actionable and measurable —  include data. For example, if you were the editor of your college newspaper, include the papers circulation numbers and how many people you managed.

3. What are the best ways to prepare for an interview? 

Chris: Make sure you research the company before hand. You aren’t researching the company to impress the interviewer, but to understand why this role and company would be a good fit for you.
You’ll never be able to predict the questions that will be asked at an interview, but there are certain things you can do to prepare. Keep in mind experiences where you exhibited qualities such as strong attention to detail, successful teamwork, and problem solving.
Susan: Never walk in cold and think you can just wing an interview. Be prepared, confident and most importantly; be yourself and answer questions truthfully. It is obvious when someone has gone to the employer’s website and is actually interested in what the company is doing.
Neisha: Have stories to tell. Remember: if you have an interview that means they’ve already seen your resume and work, so now they want to get to know you beyond your accomplishments on paper.
Matt: Once again, you can never be generic. Prepare for an interview like you might a presidential debate. If they ask you a question and it catches you off guard, think about how you can move the conversation back to a story that highlights your strengths.

4. How should you dress? What if the interview is in a less formal environment? 

Susan: When in doubt dress more formal. A suit may not  always be necessary, especially in creative or start-up environments, but always come to an interview looking professional. A firm handshake and good eye contact is just as important as how you’re dressed.
Neisha: Always dress the part. Dress the way you want others to treat you.

5. How much time do you spend looking at a candidate’s social media presence?

Chris: Be cautious. Employers will likely look at your Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn profiles before an interview; but the amount of time an employer spends looking at your social media presence really does depend on the role. For example, if you’re applying for an editorial position, the number of Twitter followers you can effect your performance in the role, so they are more likely to take that into account.
Matt: Using social media is a great way to have a voice and share who you are. For example, if an employer sees that the interviewee follows some of the same people as him, there’s a good chance they will be more inclined to like you.

I won't hire people who use poor grammar

Proofread everything. Cover letters. Your Resume. Emails. Notes. Then give it to someone else to proofread. Then proofread it again.  

Recruiters hate typos. And you look stupid when you write foolishness in emails

We all slip up sometimes of course, but it's really important you take the time to get things right. 

Especially when you're asking someone for a job.

Check out the article below.

I Won't Hire People Who Use Poor Grammar. Here's Why.

If you think an apostrophe was one of the 12 disciples of Jesus, you will never work for me. If you think a semicolon is a regular colon with an identity crisis, I will not hire you. If you scatter commas into a sentence with all the discrimination of a shotgun, you might make it to the foyer before we politely escort you from the building.

Some might call my approach to grammar extreme, but I prefer Lynne Truss's more cuddly phraseology: I am a grammar "stickler." And, like Truss — author of Eats, Shoots & Leaves — I have a "zero tolerance approach" to grammar mistakes that make people look stupid.

Now, Truss and I disagree on what it means to have "zero tolerance." She thinks that people who mix up their itses "deserve to be struck by lightning, hacked up on the spot and buried in an unmarked grave," while I just think they deserve to be passed over for a job — even if they are otherwise qualified for the position.

Everyone who applies for a position at either of my companies, iFixit or Dozuki, takes a mandatory grammar test. Extenuating circumstances aside (dyslexia, English language learners, etc.), if job hopefuls can't distinguish between "to" and "too," their applications go into the bin.

Of course, we write for a living. is the world's largest online repair manual, and Dozuki helps companies write their own technical documentation, like paperless work instructions and step-by-step user manuals. So, it makes sense that we've made a preemptive strike against groan-worthy grammar errors.

But grammar is relevant for all companies. Yes, language is constantly changing, but that doesn't make grammar unimportant. Good grammar is credibility, especially on the internet. In blog posts, on Facebook statuses, in e-mails, and on company websites, your words are all you have. They are a projection of you in your physical absence. And, for better or worse, people judge you if you can't tell the difference between their, there, and they're.

Good grammar makes good business sense — and not just when it comes to hiring writers. Writing isn't in the official job description of most people in our office. Still, we give our grammar test to everybody, including our salespeople, our operations staff, and our programmers.

On the face of it, my zero tolerance approach to grammar errors might seem a little unfair. After all, grammar has nothing to do with job performance, or creativity, or intelligence, right?
Wrong. If it takes someone more than 20 years to notice how to properly use "it's," then that's not a learning curve I'm comfortable with. So, even in this hyper-competitive market, I will pass on a great programmer who cannot write.

Grammar signifies more than just a person's ability to remember high school English. I've found that people who make fewer mistakes on a grammar test also make fewer mistakes when they are doing something completely unrelated to writing — like stocking shelves or labeling parts.

In the same vein, programmers who pay attention to how they construct written language also tend to pay a lot more attention to how they code. You see, at its core, code is prose. Great programmers are more than just code monkeys; according to Stanford programming legend Donald Knuth they are "essayists who work with traditional aesthetic and literary forms." The point: programming should be easily understood by real human beings — not just computers.

And just like good writing and good grammar, when it comes to programming, the devil's in the details. In fact, when it comes to my whole business, details are everything.

I hire people who care about those details. Applicants who don't think writing is important are likely to think lots of other (important) things also aren't important. And I guarantee that even if other companies aren't issuing grammar tests, they pay attention to sloppy mistakes on résumés. After all, sloppy is as sloppy does.

That's why I grammar test people who walk in the door look
ing for a job. Grammar is my litmus test. All applicants say they're detail-oriented; I just make my employees prove it.

Interview to the Top Recap

Last night's Interview To The Top event by NY Creative Interns was very informative and interesting. Not just because I was there. (hardyharhar)

Everyone overall had interesting experiences and lots of advice to share, from their own lives to things people have done.

Here's a quick recap and some takeaways from some of my MAS students and the lucky ticket winner, Ronai.

Things That Stood Out To Me:
 * Always follow up with an email within 24 hours. An additional handwritten note never hurts.

* If they make an offer that's too low, counter respectfully and honestly. Say what you bring to the table and why you think you deserve more money.

* As an intern, make yourself essential so they'll want to keep you long term.

* Network, network and network. Employee referrals are a big thing.

* Be likable. Be engaging. Be confident. Always remember - you're amazing. Live it, be it, show it.

Things That Stood Out to Them:

* Turn the interview back on the recruiter.
* Best ways to answer the question, "Tell Me About Yourself."  These include telling the recruiter where you come from, what you are doing, and what you would like to do (both personally and professionally) as well as framing your answer to answer a more specific question.

* Tell stories.  
- Andrew

* The cover letter advice was really helpful because introductions can be a bit awkward if not done right.

* Social Media is an opportunity that I haven't fully taken advantage of yet. I can do Facebook stuff, but I'm not good with tweets.

* Salary Negotiation - I'm really humble with money, but I don't want to undervalue effort. When I'm starting out, there won't be much leverage but it's good to know for the future.
- Ken 

* I learned today that when it comes to an interview, every little detail counts. From your tone of voice, to the smile on your face, to the way you shake hands, everything is being analyzed. Ironically, the best way to deal with all these things is to not think about them. Just be yourself, and everything should be fine.
* Dress is very important. If you're in doubt about what to wear, its always better to overdress than under. Interviewers can tell if you were unsure about the dress code, and they'd rather see that you made the choice to look nice.

* Your resume and cover letter should be altered to match whatever company and type of job you are applying for. Still, however, both should be able to tell your story. Some interviewers read just the cover letter and not the resume. Some read just the resume and not the cover letter. In either case, you want to represent yourself well.
- Greg 

* The importance of having a social media presence and more importantly actively engaging with those in your industry. This not only gives you a heads up on industry news/ gossip, but provides you with the information to converse with industry professionals should you be awarded the opportunity.

* Think about the total package. Salary, PTO, Insurance, etc. All are equally important.

* Research. Do your research. Know the company. Find out who the Hiring Manager is. "To Whom This May Concern" is a faux pas. Put Linkedin to good use.
- Ronai 

Definitely stay connected with NY Creative Interns and check out their intern and entry-level job board 

Shyness Will Get You No Where

There's this young female afroed intern I see around here quite a bit (She stands out because I was once a young female afroed intern and honestly, there aren't that many other black people around so it's hard to miss her. ) Anyway, I don't know her name. What she's doing here. Where she's from. What school she goes to. Nothing.

And it kind of bothers me.

It must be me. Maybe it's my ego.

She's never said hey, waved or even smiled at me. She's even been alone next to the microwave with me before. And silence.

Am I terrifying? It must be me. 

I've thought about making the first move. But no... (again, maybe it's my ego) She should be the go-getter here.

Maybe she's shy. I donno. But this is your career, hun. There's no time to be shy or reserved or unassuming. This is a critical time and you need to be making critical connections. 

She should be the one making eye contact, saying hello, sending emails, asking to go to coffee. And in return, I'd return her smiles, say hello back, respond to her emails, pay for her coffee, give her advice, introduce her to people and help her in any way I can.

Sooo many people did that for me. So I think nothing of doing it for someone else (time permitting). Especially if they look like a younger version of me.

When I was an intern, I was in everybody's face - saying hi, sending emails, asking questions and being friendly. Also, I just smile all the time. (It's a hobby of mine.)

I am still reaching out to people above me - and beneath me to make connections. You want as many people as possible on your side. You want people to be able to remember you, to recommend you for jobs, to put you on project and to speak for you when you're not around.

A lady I met when I was interning in 04 wrote an entry to the Rising Star Tumblr. She wasn't a creative. And I've not seen her since that summer, maybe have spoken to her twice via email, and she not only remembered me, but felt compelled to share something about me.

That floored me.

That's testament to the power of smiling, networking and talking to people - no matter who they are and what they do.

The moral of the story is: Don't be shy. Talk to everyone. Be seen, heard and connected. 

Remember, there are less than Six Degrees of Separation in Advertising and you want to be nice to everybody, because you never know where you or they may end up, who they know or what they will say about you when you're not around.

p.s. Thanks to all the amazing people who smiled back, emailed me back, bought me tea or lunch and inspired, supported and guided me. I'm still trying to pay it all forward.

Tuesday Event: Interview to the Top

Interviews are first dates. You have to sell yourself and make a good impression to get to the next step.
Once your book entices people enough to call you in for a meeting, you're half way there. All you have to do is show that you're smart, awesome, funny, great to work with, an asset and an all around amazing human being. Super easy. 
I've written about it here 

And now, I'll be joining a panel of awesome people (who definitely know more than me) on Tuesday July 24th to discuss interview tips and more. 
Register and stop by and say hi.
Aaaaaand one lucky Creative Wannabe will get a free ticket to come out if you comment on this post and tell me why you need to go to this panel.

: Tuesday, July 24, 6:30 pm
Address: AOL HQ, 770 Broadway, 6th Floor
Dress: Business Casual
Tickets: Students $10, Recent Grads $15, Young Professionals $20

Refreshments will be served.
We’re sure you’ve been told what you should do on an interview, but do you really feel prepared? Whether for a phone interview or a chance encounter at an event, you should always be prepared to show some strength – when talking about yourself. NY Creative Interns is here to help you learn the interview skills you need to land your dream job or internship.

Panel includes speakers from AOL, Polo Ralph Lauren, Suka Creative, and Publicis Modem.

What's Your Two Cents?

Warning: Shameless plug below.

My agency has nominated me for the AdColor Rising Star award.

Apparently I've been doing something right. (Afro-Wearing and Looking Like a Bag of Skittles)

There is a tumblr where people have been sharing what those two things I'm doing right are. (Blushfest 2012)

If you have anything to add, please email 

I'd really appreciate it and mention you to God in my next People Who Deserve A Unicorn For Christmas list.

If you don't, that's okay, too. I just can't promise that I won't put you on the People To Swat If They Get Reincarnated As Flies list. I'm sure you understand.

Things Creatives Do When They're Bored

Creatives get bored. We need side projects and outside stimulation. Advertising is amazing and exciting, but truly creative people need other outlets.
Here's RC's story.

(Side note and portfolio school plug: One of the best parts of portfolio schoo is the people you meet. For example, Caroline, who is now one of my best best friends. And RC, who I haven't seen since 2006, but follow on Facebook, Twitter and his blog. Not because I'm obsessed with him (not like with Cullen Jones) but because I'm entertained and inspired by him. 

Hopefully you will be too.)


Who are you?
RC Jones, Senior Copywriter, Chicago, Wunderman

Why did you start this tumblr?               
A tweet I wrote in the spring of 2011 was the inspiration for the first coolness graph. "Whoopie cushions are cool, but I'm pretty sure that an entire Whoopie couch would be awesome." My friend/coworker Dave Theibert stopped by and said "Yeah, but Whoopi Goldberg wouldn't be cool at all." I added that to the graph, and what started as a silly one-off idea has transformed into a hobby that helps me express my creativity in a way I'm not necessarily able to at work. And best off all, I have the only say and the final say. I'm both the creative AND the client, and there are no restrictions.

In December 2011, I decided to create and began uploading graphs. For the first two months, I would get a couple of comments, likes or reblogs with each post. I didn't think many people were looking and that was fine. I wasn't looking for creative validation, I just wanted to have a place to collect and show the graphs. 

Where do you get your inspiration? 
Conversations are probably my number one source of inspiration, followed by TV shows and movies, pop culture, Twitter, The Onion and the Internet. My wife, coworkers, and friends are big contributors, whether they realize it or not.

How often do you work on it? How do you keep it going?
I post anywhere from 1-10 graphs a week depending on how much time I have to draw, scan and upload them. I have an ongoing list of ideas still to be graphed. As long as I stay curious and keep my eyes, ears and brain open I have no doubt that I can keep this going for a while.

What do you hope people would gain from it?

Laughter, entertainment, a break from the day, a different perspective, money for college (my son)

What feedback have you gotten? 
Tons, and it's all been positive.

Around Valentine's Day I shared a graph on Twitter about cool and uncool places to declare your love. Nick Seaman, a friend and follower, unaware the graph was mine, sent a tweet to the guys behind "I Love Charts." One of the creators of that site then wrote an article about Coolness Graphed on I was blown away, and my graphs were no longer known to only a handful of people. Along with Forbes and I Love Charts, a number of other sites have written about the Tumblr, including SNAP! MagazinePleated Jeans, and The Fail Blog. One graph has been liked or reblogged over 30,000 times on Tumblr alone. A couple are in the 100s, some are around 50 notes, but most range from 4-20 reblogs or likes.

Does this help or hinder your work?
Both. When I feel I've hit a wall on an assignment I can take a couple minutes, make a graph, and come back to it with a fresh perspective. It's a release. If an idea for a billboard or radio spot gets killed I translate it into a graph and redeem the idea. Likewise, I’ve written copy based on ideas from graphs I’ve made. At the same time though, in less-than-entertaining meetings I find myself brainstorming graphs only to realize later that I might have missed some important details.

What's next? 
More graphs. I've had a number of people tell me I should make a book of them. Or try to syndicate them. We'll see. I'm not sure which of those things is cooler.

What advice do you have for creative wannabes?

Look, read, walk around and take in the world. Do things that seem like they have nothing to do with creating. Not only are those healthy habits, chances are they'll provide insights you can draw from. Your brain is a well, and the more you fill it up the more you can draw from it.

Make what you'd like to look at. If the copy you're writing, photo you're taking or layout you're creating doesn't interest you then chances are it won't interest anyone else. Make something you like and at least one person will dig it, the most important and critical one you know: yourself.

Don't worry about not being known when you start. Or for awhile. It's okay to be obscure. Do good work and people will notice. In the meantime, you can work out the kinks and develop your style and hone your craft. By the time people catch on, you'll be better than when you started.

Play nice with others. There's no reason to be a jerk. Any creative field involves collaboration and being easy to work with and open to others' ideas and opinions, and able to build on them, will take you far. Besides, it's a small world and word'll get out if you're difficult to work with. Be kind, be a breath of fresh air to those around you. Be a lamp or a ladder or a lifeboat. (I read that somewhere.)

Also, get a candy bowl. That's great for making friends.

The Most Creative People In Advertising

What can you learn from these folks?

Start taking notes.

The 25 Most Creative People In Advertising 
from Business Insider

1. Gerry Graf, Founder/CCO of Barton F. Graf 9000

When three separate big agencies nominated Graf as one of the most creative people in advertising, we knew he had secured this spot on the list. The veteran has spent time at Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, BBDO NY (on two separate occasions), TBWA/Chiat/Day, and Saatchi & Saatchi NY—until he left his job as CCO to start his own shop. Graf takes creativity seriously. So seriously, in fact, that when Colleen Decourcy was on a panel with him at Creative Week and announced that she thought "creative departments are shit" (but she's cool with the people), he stormed off the stage, never to return.

The entire advertising world is watching what BFG9000 is up to. Graf is known for his absurd, laugh out loud work. He created the "It's time for E*Trade" campaign (remember the monkey?), did the Skittles ad where everything a man touches turns to Skittles, and has done work for FedEx, Red Stripe Beer, Kayak, and Mayor Giuliana's "New York Miracle" campaign spot after 9/11.

2. Elvis Chau, Executive Creative Director of JWT Shanghai

2. Elvis Chau, Executive Creative Director of JWT Shanghai

Chau has become one of the biggest names in Chinese advertising, which was solidified when he brought home the country's first-ever Cannes Lion in 2008 and then Cannes Lion Grand Prix in 2011. The Thai creative has worked for TBWA Shanghai and three different branches of JWT: Singapore, Thailand, and now China.

Chau is known creating ads that are visually detailed and stunning. His print ad for Samsonite (next slide) called "Heaven and Hell" garnered wide critical acclaim and received a bevy of prizes, including the Grand Prix Lion. Chau also won awards for his Adidas Chinese Olympics campaign. Chau modestly told Campaign that "advertising has no value after one year...That’s the sad thing about it. It doesn’t have the longevity of movies, art or books.”

3. Mark Fitzloff and Susan Hoffman, Executive Creative Directors at Wieden+Kennedy Portland

3. Mark Fitzloff and Susan Hoffman, Executive Creative Directors at Wieden+Kennedy Portland
LinkedIn and YouTube Screengrab

Fitzloff and Hoffman helped push W+K Portland to be the critically aclaimed advertising house that it is today, reeling in some of its biggest clients yet.

We can all thank Fitzloff and Hoffman for one of the best known ad campaigns to date: Old Spice's "The Man Your Man Can Smell Like." They (along with Iain Tate, now at Google Creative Labs) are the reason why Isiah Mustafa was in the spots and is now a household name. "The executive management team in Portland oversees every piece of creative from our office," their colleagues say. That includes Chrysler's poignant "Imported from Detroit" Superbowl campaign as well as Levi's "Go Forth."

4. David Lubars, BBDO North America Chairman and CCO

4. David Lubars, BBDO North America Chairman and CCO

According to Lubars' colleagues, "David has been, by far and away, the most successful creative leader in our industry whose name is NOT on a door." He helped build Monahan, Fallon, and BBDO, proving that he could adapt to small, medium, and large-sized shops.

Lubars has recently done highly recognizable work for the Superbowl: Betty White shilling Snickers, and the recent introduction of M&M's Ms. Brown. Furthermore, "his “BMW Films” series is legendary.  But at BBDO, his HBO Voyeur multimedia program was the most awarded piece of work at Cannes in 2008.  That was followed by another breakthrough effort for HBO, “Imagine,” which was similarly applauded at Cannes two years later.  For Starbucks, he conceived the “Love Project,” which set a Guinness Book World Record for the single largest global live event." He has won multiple Cannes Grand Prix and Emmies.

5. Stephen Goldblatt, Executive Creative Director at EVB

5. Stephen Goldblatt, Executive Creative Director at EVB
Goldblatt moved from doing creative at Goodby to making award winning social at EVB "while still rocking traditional creative" his colleagues mentioned.

While at Goodby, Sliverstein and Partners, Goldblatt did the creative for Subway, Comcast, Saturn, and HP—for which he co-created HP's award-winning "hands" campaign starring Jay-Z, Jerry Seinfeld, and Serena Williams. More recently, he has done particularly noteworthy social work for Skittles ("Mob the Rainbow"), Altoids ("Curiously Strong Awards"), and Juicy Fruit ("Serenading Unicorn"). These did well at Cannes as well as Facebook's inaugural advertising awards.

6. Nick Law, CCO of R/GA North America

6. Nick Law, CCO of R/GA North America
Nick Law, R/GA North America's executive vice president and CCO.

As CCO, Law is responsible for the creative vision of R/GA. He has two decades of agency experience in the United States, UK, and Asia and has assumed many roles, from design to traditional advertising to digital marketing.

Law blended the aesthetically pleasing and artistic with the technologically advanced when designing the Nike+ Fuelband, a social platform that allows users to track their fitness goals and progress on cool-looking wristband. This earned R/GA two Grand Prix at Cannes.

7. Linus Karlsson, Chairman and CCO of McCann NY and London
Description: . Linus Karlsson, Chairman and CCO of McCann NY and London
McCann NY

Karlsson has already had an illustrious career in the advertising agency. He began in a Swedish start-up agency called Paradiset that later got acquired by DDB. He then moved to Fallon and then opened the doors of Mother NY as a co-founder in 2003. He joined McCann from Mother, named Creativity's 2009 Agency of the year, in 2011.

His colleagues told us that "Linus Karlsson leans into the future with his big conceptual vision about how brand experience needs to be created in today’s technology world." He has a reputation for transforming creative shops and has done innovative work for big name clients including: Target, Stella Artois, Coke, BMW, MTV, and NBC. Karlsson made waves as CCO on the first K-Y ad to star a lesbian couple (normalizing, rather than tantalizing, their sexual preference) while at Mother and more recently put Charles Barkley in a dress for Weight Watchers at McCann.

8. Mark Gross, executive creative director at DDB Chicago

8. Mark Gross, executive creative director at DDB Chicago

Mark  Gross started his career in 1990 designing movie titles and logos in New York City. He was a junior art director at Chiat/Day in 1991, creating work for MTV, Reebok, and American Express, and then landed a gig at DDB Chicago as an art director in 1994. Oh, and he flies a Cessna in his spare time.

Gross currently oversees the creative on Skittles (you know, those strange ads where kids have skittles growing off their bodies?), Starburst, (he did the Superbowl ad that starred a guy with two heads), and Bud Light. The creative famously penned Bud Light's "Real Men of Genius" radio ad and has won almost every award in the book from Clios, to Grand Prix, to an Emmy for "Outstanding Commercial."

9. Jose Miguel Sokoloff, President and CCO of Lowe SSP3 Colombia

9. Jose Miguel Sokoloff, President and CCO of Lowe SSP3 Colombia
Lowe and Partners Global Creative Council

Sokoloff's colleagues told us that "Jose Miguel is of that rare breed – a creative leader who is also a great business leader. He is brave and constantly innovates." He goes beyond creating traditional ads and is dedicated to big picture campaigns to achieve social justice.

Sokoloff headed a campaign called "Operation Christmas" for the Colombian Ministry of Defense that aimed to fully demobilize the FARC guerrilla terrorists from a war that has was waged over 60 years).  He got investment from the Colombian government to launch a clothing line called "Chance" that would be made and designed by former guerrilla fighter. The line launched at Bogota Fashion Week in May 2012. "Jose Miguel made Operation Christmas one of the most awarded campaigns in the world in 2011 and 2012, winning more Grand Prix in effectiveness and creativity than any other agency in the world," his colleagues said.

10. Jenny Nicholson, Associate Creative Director at McKinney

10. Jenny Nicholson, Associate Creative Director at McKinney

Nicholson joined McKinney as a proofreader in 2004—a year later, she was creating integrated campaigns for Travelocity and Sony. Her colleagues told us that Nicholson's work "often blurs the lines between campaign and conversation, whether she’s inviting consumers to sexy text with Virgin Mobile or challenging people to play a game about homelessness."

Nicholson is all about creative multimedia campaigns. She has put the Travelocity gnome on Chatroulette, created a Twitter enabled "Terrible Towel" that spun around whenever a fan tweeted #steelersnation, and created "promiscuous txt" training sessions called "Let's have Txt" for Virgin Mobile on Valentine's Day. Nicholson says, "Along with a team of trained operators, I personally spent 14 hours a day for almost two weeks posing as the fireman, the housewife, the nurse, the secretary, the plumber and the cowboy. As a result, I've got a vocabulary of euphemistic puns you wouldn't believe. Let's just say, it's quite sizable."
She most notably created a Clio award winning interactive game for the Urban Ministries of Durham called SPENT which tests users' abilities to survive homelessness and poverty.

11. Colin Jeffery, Executive Creative Director of David & Goliath

11. Colin Jeffery, Executive Creative Director of David & Goliath
David & Goliath

Jeffery has hopscotched from agencies around the world—Saatchi & Saatchi Singapore, King James Cape Town, TBWA Hunt Lascaris Johannesburg, Arnold in Boston—before settling in as executive creative director at David & Goliath.

If you've seen the ad with the Party Rocking hamsters driving Kias, then you're familiar with Jeffery's work. He's won a slew of Clios, Cannes Lions, One Show, and Effies. Jeffery's creative goes beyond traditional advertising and into user engagement. During NBA All-Star Weekend, he was responsible for Blake Griffin slam dunking over a Kia Optima.

12. Neil Heymann, group creative director, Droga5 New York

12. Neil Heymann, group creative director, Droga5 New York

Formerly at CP+B, where he worked on award winning campaigns for Burger King (remember "Simpsonize Me" and the "Whopper Sacrifice"?), VW, and Coke Zero, Heymann moved to Droga5 in 2009 to do digital work.

Heymann was the creative director of Jay-Z's campaign for his book, Decoded. Heymann "hid" blown up pages from the book in cities across the U.S. and, with a cross-promotion with Bing, set up an interactive treasure hunt which led fans to the pages. The winner got a lifetime pass to Jay-Z concerts. Heymann's colleagues told us that "Neil's background in interactive and years spent at advertising agencies has made him an industry leader in cross-media integration.  That, combined with his belief in the power of interactive media to connect emotionally with an audience, has seen him develop award-winning campaigns." 

13. Lincoln Bjorkman, chief creative officer for Digitas North America

13. Lincoln Bjorkman, chief creative officer for Digitas North America

Bjorkman has worked at Digitas since 2004—he was previously at Y&R and Brand Buzz—and has been a strong part of the agency's evolution. He has a list of over 30 clients and his colleagues told us that "creative: An all-around creative, strategic athlete, Lincoln is a welcome disruptor and admired leader."

Bjorkman has developed work for clients including GM and Comcast, but one of his most recent claims to fame is his role as CCO (with Rob Reilly and Jeff Benjamin) on American Express' "Small Business Saturday" campaign, which effectively mobilized consumers to frequent stores owned by small businesses. "Small Business Saturday" won Facebook's inaugural advertising prize along with a Lions Grand Prix at Cannes.

14. Wade Alger, Creative Director at The Martin Agency

Wade Alger has the self-proclaimed "least manliest dog on the planet": a schnoodle named Ginger. He's also a creative who has panned quite a few memorable ad campaigns. Alger has worked at TM Advertising, GSD&M, and joined Martin in 2008.
Alger co-created the "Life Comes At You Fast" campaign for Nationwide Insurance while at GSD&M and has created other award-winning campaigns at Martin, namely for Geico. His colleagues told us that "His comedy writing for GEICO is best showcased in the “Rhetorical Questions” TV campaign. Not only is the premise funny, but the punchlines are LOL. And his real-time re-creation of the 1969 moon landing for the JFK Presidential Library is considered one of the best digital experiences ever, winning more awards than any ad campaign in 2010."

15. Youna Chung, Yeonjoo Lee, Youbin Bang, and Misu Yi; copywriter and art directors at Cheil Worldwide

These four women make up a creative varsity team at Cheil Worldwide in South Korea. They were the first creatives to bring a Cannes Grand Prix to Korea in 2011.

Together, these women made up a team that came out with "Tesco's Home Plus Subway Virtual Store" which swept the awards show circuit last year. Basically, the campaign brought the grocery store experience into a subway station by blowing up an image of a super market fridge along with QR codes where the prices should go so that people can make real purchases with their phones. If one buys the items, they will be delivered by the time they get home from the subway. This mixture of ambient design and mobile commerce increased the store's online sales by 130 percent from November 2010 to January 2011.

16. Rei Inamoto, Chief Creative Officer, AKQA

16. Rei Inamoto, Chief Creative Officer, AKQA
Twitter Screengrab
In the words of his coworkers, "Rei Inamoto is one of the most influential individuals in the marketing and creative industry today." He has experience in advertising, technology, and design and has worked in Asia, Europe, and the U.S.

Since joining AKQA in 2004, Inamoto has worked for big-name clients including Google, Nike (featuring Lebron James), Kraft, Xbox, and Visa. But he has also made a name for himself by giving back to the community. He oversees the annual Future Lions global student advertising competition, was the driving force behind "Creatives Unite for Japan" (following the 2011 earthquake and tsunami), and did the creative for nonprofit Pencils of Promises' "Made with Pencils" campaign.

17. Doug Fallon and Steve Fogel, creative directors at Grey NY

17. Doug Fallon and Steve Fogel, creative directors at Grey NY
Grey NY
Although Fallon is a Grey veteran, Fogel came to the agency two years ago after working at Devito/Verdi and DDB. They first partnered up for a Dairy Queen campaign.

This creative team is the brains behind the DirecTV ads in which everyone's lives goes completely to hell for not having ordered the television service (don't have a grandson with dog collars, reenacting scenes from "Platoon" with Charlie Sheen). Heck, they're even Bill Clinton's favorite ads on television. Fallon told Creativity Online, "The nice thing is we write pretty much everything together. And we both find the same shit funny. We'll feed off each other and keep working until we feel we've got it."

18. Jerome Austria, Freelance

18. Jerome Austria, Freelance
Deutsch LA

Before Austria entered the advertising world, he fueled planes at an airport, collected carts in Costco's parking lot, and helmed the night shift at a security guard. Since then he has worked on award-winning campaigns at R/GA, AKQA, Wieden+Kennedy (building a 20 person interactive team from scratch), and most recently Deutsch LA. But a wild soul can never be tamed: Austria is currently on an advertising break and taking a four month surfing trip around the world. He'll be back in freelance capacity soon enough though.

Colleagues describe Austria as "easily the best hybrid creative in advertising... Jerome has been able to consistently and seamlessly integrate old school brand storytelling with cutting edge technology to produce some of the most original and innovative creative ideas that the industry has ever seen." He has worked on Coca-Cola's account, brought Dwayne Wade to Brand Jordan, created an interactive Nike commercial featuring Rihanna, and most recently created Volkswagen's 16 million view Superbowl teaser "The Bark Side" in which dogs bark the Imperial March. He continues to do great work for VW.

19. Carlo Cavallone, Creative Director/Writer for 72andSunny

19. Carlo Cavallone, Creative Director/Writer for 72andSunny
Carlo Cavallone's headshot.

Born in Milan, Cavallone is an ex-cartoonist, comic book translator, fanzine publisher and rugby player. He worked at Wieden+Kennedy as Nike, EA, Heineken, and Coca-Cola writer for nine years before he moved to Los Angeles to work for 72andSunny in 2010. He is now in the Amsterdam office.

In the words of his employers, "Cavallone's creativity lacks method. He keeps it quite stupid, naïve and follows his instincts. It is a very emotive process and never a rational one. He hates repetition and always approaches every project in an experimental way, not knowing what will happen at the end. He believes in taking risks and they usually pay off." His Grand Prix at the Cannes Lions for his work on Benetton's controversial UnHate campaign—featuring various politicians kissing—is proof that the risk is worth it.

20. Mark Lewis and Matt Fitch, creatives at BBH London

20. Mark Lewis and Matt Fitch, creatives at BBH London
Matt Lewis and Mark Fitch, as they like to see themselves on their joint personal website.

Lewis and Fitch have been friends since they were 12 and worked their way from VCCP to BMB to BBH, London.

Lewis and Fitch are the creative force behind numerous big-client campaigns, like last year's outdoor ads for Google Voice Search that showed phonetic spellings of tube stops in stations throughout London. But they've most recently made headlines for the Cannes Lion-winning "Three Little Pigs" campaign for The Guardian. The epic two-minute spot shows how print, broadcast, online, and social media coverage might shape news coverage of a fairy tale if it occurred in real life.

21. Geoffrey Hantson and Katrien Bottez, executive creative directors at Duval Guillaume

21. Geoffrey Hantson and Katrien Bottez, executive creative directors at Duval Guillaume
Twitter Screengrab

Duval Guillaume is an "idea-centric" communications agency that has become famous for its guerrilla marketing campaigns. The stunts merge the ridiculous with the real world, and the videos regularly go viral.

Hantson and Bottez have been the creative directors of many of Duval Guillaume's best viral videos. They are the brains behind TNT's "Push to Add Drama" stunt (which got 3.3 million views days after it was posted), campaigns for a parenting hot line in which children sang profanity-filled carols in a shopping mall, and Carlsberg's "Bikers" videos.

22. Rhett McLaughlin and Charles "Link" Neal

Rhett and Link have been comedy duo collaborators since meeting in the first grade at Buies Creek Elementary School in North Carolina.  The comedic duo also stared in IFC's reality TV show Rhett and Link: Commercial Kings.

Rhett and Link are famous for making hilarious local-style ads for real companies, like Ojai Valley Taxidermy and Red House Furniture, "Where black people and white people buy furniture." They seem to have found the key to creating viral videos, Rhett and Link currently have approximately 875,000 subscribers to their YouTube page and supplement their video-making by selling sponsorships on their page.

23. Jimmy Smith, CEO and CCO of Amusement Park Entertainment

23. Jimmy Smith, CEO and CCO of Amusement Park Entertainment
Screengrab Bloomberg TV

After spending years working at Wieden & Kennedy, BBDO, and TBWA/Chiat/Day LA, Smith decided to break off and create his own agency. Smith now runs Amusement Park Entertainment, which has a mission to create branded content for everything from film to action figures. Oh, and he has a "No Assholes Allowed" policy—it's a sign on his door. He's scooped up incredible talent, including Donna Lamar. EXPLAIN

Smith has served as creative director for Motorola, Nike (he wrote the MTV documentary "Battlegrounds"), and is best known for his work for Gatorade. He oversaw "Replay," which allowed high school sports teams to "relive their glory days," and re-branded Gatorade as just "G." Even though his new company is still developing, Kraft and Nokia are interested

24. Sara Rotman, Founder, CEO, and CCO at MODCo

24. Sara Rotman, Founder, CEO, and CCO at MODCo

According to her website, "Following a stint at what she refers to as “The Death Star” (known to the outside world as Saatchi & Saatchi), Sara came to the realization that she was no longer able to work where good ideas are unceremoniously shelved to make room for the banal and cost-effective. Thus, eleven years ago this spring, she started “My Own Damn Company” [MODCo]," a quickly successful branding agency.

Rotman, who literally has "Boss Lady" on her card, leads the creative force that deals with high profile, luxury clients. Some of her most recognizable work was for Tory Burch: She designed the iconic Tory Burch logo, the original store design, and the packaging. Rotman has also created the brand images for Vera Wang, Zales, Kohl's, and David's Bridal

25. Glen Hilzinger and Bob Veasey, Creative Directors at Leo Burnett Detroit

25. Glen Hilzinger and Bob Veasey, Creative Directors at Leo Burnett Detroit
Bob Veasey (left) and Glen Hilzinger (right). Both wearing glasses!

Sometimes ads actually make the world a better place. Creative partners Hilzinger and Veasey created one of those campaigns and swept every award ceremony this year as a result.

Last year, Michigan's Tory Public Library was at risk of getting shut down when Tea Partiers began to lobby against the library's budget. A vote would determine the fate of the library, which their kids actually use for school projects. To generate buzz and boost voter turnout, Hilzinger and Veasey created "The Book Burning Party"—a deceptive ploy that invited people to a book burning party on the day after the vote (making people equate voting against taxes with voting for book burning). After putting up signs around town and a Facebook campaign, the community and media were fooled. People showed up in record number to save the library and the hoax was finally revealed.


Storytelling: Told In Tweets

Happy Monday!

I came across this article in the Wall Street Journal this weekend and fell in love.

First off, it's in tweets - which I think most good ideas should be able to be expressed in 140 characters or less. (Reread: Keep it simple)

Second off, it's about storytelling. Whether you're an art director or copywriter or just a writer, you need to know how to tell a good story - whether it turns into a TV script, radio script, banner ad or manifesto, your job is to weave wonderful stories.

This article is chock full of tips, advice and ideas to help make your stories better.

Now get to work.

Tweets From Pixar's School of Plotting 

Emma Coats, a storyboard artist on the movie "Brave," on bringing Princess Merida and other animated characters to life.

For the past five years, Pixar has served as my film school. As a storyboard artist, working mainly on "Brave" but more recently on other projects, I had the privilege to collaborate with an incredible creative team.

As we hashed out the details of our narrative, I learned a lot about the basics of storytelling, and I have used Twitter to share them with others. Here's some of what I've road-tested from my work trying to bring Princess Merida, other Pixar characters and my own creations to life. 

1. You admire characters more for trying than for their successes.

2. Remember that what's interesting to an audience can be very different from what's fun to do as a writer. 

3. Theme is important, but you won't see what the story is actually about until you're at the end of it. Now rewrite.

4. Once upon a time there was ___. Every day, ___. One day ___. Because of that, ___. Because of that, ___. Until finally ___.

5. Simplify. Focus. Combine characters. Hop over detours. You'll feel like you're losing valuable stuff, but it sets you free.

6. What are your characters good at, comfortable with? Throw the polar opposite at them. Challenge them. How do they deal?

7. Come up with your ending before you figure out your middle. Seriously. Endings are hard, get yours working up front.

8. Finish your story and let go, even if it's not perfect. Move on, and do better next time.

9.When you're stuck, make a list of what wouldn't happen next. Often the material to get you unstuck will show up.

10. Pull apart the stories you like. You've got to recognize what you like in them before you can learn from them. 

11. Putting an idea on paper lets you start fixing it. If it stays in your head, you'll never share it with anyone.

12. Discount the first thing that comes to mind. And the second, third and fourth—get the obvious out of the way. Surprise yourself.

13. Give your characters opinions. Passive, malleable characters might seem likable to you as you write, but they are poison to the audience.

14. Why must you tell this story? What's the belief burning within you that feeds your story?

15. If you were your character, in this situation, how would you feel? Honesty lends credibility to unbelievable situations.

16. What are the stakes? Give us a reason to root for your characters. What happens if they don't succeed? Stack the odds against.

17. No idea is ever wasted. If it's not working, let go and move on—it will come back around to be useful later.

18. You have to know yourself: Learn the difference between doing your best and fussing. 

19. Coincidences to get characters into trouble are great; coincidences to get them out of it are cheating.

20. What's the essence of your story and the most economical way of telling it? If you know that, you can build out from there.

—Ms. Coats recently left Pixar and now works independently doing storyboard for animation as well as writing and directing live-action films. Follow her @lawnrocket on Twitter.

The Curse of Being Creative.

illustrated by Ian Kloster
Been having one of those weeks where everything I touch turns into gold flakes and then a gust of wind comes and scatters it all off to Texas.

Sometimes it's just like that. It's the curse of being creative.

You can give 284% and end up with one dusty pellet of goodness.
You can work 90 hours and only have one semi-presentable thing to show.
You can fall down, get back up, fall down, get back up then fall down and get back up again, only to fall down shortly after.

Being creative isn't easy.

(I've talked about it all before: There is always The Circle of Rejection, and Hard Work Doesn't Always Pay Off, so you have to learn How To Accept Feedback and suck it up or just Don't Get A Job In Advertising - because the bottom line is, There's No Crying In Advertising.)

The good news is, there's always tomorrow.

A new day and a new opportunity to start over and try again.

Maybe I'll fail. Maybe I won't.

Either way, I'll learn and grow. And then there'll be another tomorrow to try again. 

I like what Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love says during this TED Talk On Nurturing Creativity. My partner passed this on to me today and it was really what I needed to hear.

Hope it inspires you too.