I'm flying out to LA this morning--the whole family is going--to see my younger daughter graduate from college.
I've never been asked to speak at a college graduation, but if I were invited to give a commencement at an ad school, I think this is what I might say:
When you're in the real world, it's easy to get buried.
We can get buried with the daily efforts of life. Finding and apartment and affording one. Juggling expenses and commutes and all the quotidian shit that comes at you fast when you're heading off on your own.
We can get buried by the burdens of jobs. Of finding one, of keeping one, of performing in one and trying to find a better one, with bigger paychecks, greater responsibilities and more opportunities.
We can be buried under ambitions and pressures and agency politics. Buried under six page briefs and two-day deadlines and stupid bosses and obnoxious clients.
We can be buried to the point where everyday feels like the Bataan Death March.
It's easy to be buried.
It's not so easy to keep what you have today.
Which is a spark.
The spark of optimism.
The spark of fight.
The spark of not settling.
The spark of trying.
That's your real job. Whether you're a planner, or an account person, or an art director, or copywriter. Or whether you're anything else.
To take all the "no's," all the fears and all the doubts and burn them into oblivion with your spark.
Very few people rise to the top of our business.
It's notorious for chewing people up and spitting them out.
Of calling them "old" when they're not much older than you.
Of schmising and destroying their perfectly hewn ads.
But the people with integrity, the people who will make it, the people who will rise to, dare I say it, happiness, will keep their spark alive.
In the words of my best friend's father, they keep laughing, keep learning, keep loving.
They won't be mere agency technocrats.
Or worse, supervisors.
They'll get up earlier than most and do something great.
They'll do something great and even if it doesn't get bought, they'll be better people for having done it.