Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Steve Hayden, Hall of Famer.

Last night I was lucky enough to have cadged an invitation to the American Advertising Federation’s Hall of Fame induction ceremony. I say lucky because my mentor Steve Hayden was there and finally, after nearly 40 years of doing great work and building great businesses, he was enshrined into the Hall.

I was already in the business for about 15 years when I finally started working for Steve. And in fact, I had already worked for four previous Hall-of-Famers: Ron Rosenfeld, Len Sirowitz, Amil Gargano and Mike Tesch. All of them created reams of great business-building work.

But there was only one Steve.

He made you better—maybe because he believed in you, more than you believed in yourself—the moment you met him.

Early during my time with Steve, I was in a van with he and Susan Westre, his art director, going to a shoot. Steve got a call that the spot we were slated to shoot had just been killed by the client.

I was sitting in the back of the van, shyly, far away from Steve and Susan. Steve turned around and handed me his PC.

“They’ve just killed the spot,” he told me. “Write a new one.”

I’ve felt pressure before in my career, but never like that. But Steve told me to write a spot. So I wrote.

I thought at the time maybe he was being a jerk, putting me—brand new in the agency to the test.

Looking back on it now—19 years later, what Steve was doing was showing me love. He was letting me know that he believed I could do the job.

In about 30 minutes, filled with fear, I handed the computer with my script on it back to Steve.

“This is good,” he said.

At least that's how I remember it. And that counts for something.

There are a lot of big reasons Steve was inducted into the AAF’s Hall of Fame last night. And chances are, I’m the only one who remembers that morning in the van and what Steve did, and what he made me do. It was a small thing.

But as far as I’m concerned, that morning 19 years ago is one more reason Steve deserves every honor he gets.

And then some.

No comments: