9 Life Lessons I Learned From Advertising
Long before I was a coach and an entrepreneur, I was in advertising. My first job in New York in 1998 straddled strategic planning and account services. And though I've learned many things in the last 15 years of my rather eclectic life, I draw on those lessons almost daily in my personal life and current work as a wellness and life coach treating symptoms of fatigue and anxiety.
It’s not shocking, considering how both jobs are focused on creating real life change.
Here are 9 nuggets of wisdom from advertising:
1. Focusing on your "one true thing" will bring more ease and success.
In advertising, the "one true thing" is the key insight or feeling that drives your consumer’s behavior. All communication flows from this. So simple, it's brilliant. I use it to organize my own life by identifying the core feeling I seek and using it as a guide for how I live and the choices I make.
For example, my core has always been people and connection. As a woman and a coach, I choose relationships, clients, projects, and teams based on people and the connection. Focusing on what is most important to me simplifies life dramatically and ensures I am more satisfied and also more likely to be successful. This technique works well to calm anxiety and fatigue through simplifying life.
2. If you want to create big results, start by listening and accepting where things are right now.
When there is a problem, instead of walking in with the answer, listen, understand their situation and then respond directly to that with your objective perspective. You can’t go from 0 to 100 in a day. Good solutions are usually simple but highly relevant. As a coach, often clients want to focus on the future or be positive and ignore what’s not working. But that rarely works. It’s important to start with where you are, see, and accept it fully and then go from there.
3. Align on the objective & approach before you start work.
This is Client Service 101. It's essential that everyone is on same page before you begin. Some people like creative techniques, others are more cut and dry. Laying out the approach helps you and your clients understand what to expect and whether it's a good fit. A clear client is a happy client.
4. Once you have a clear idea, make it beautiful.
We are visual creatures – packaging matters. Don’t lose out because of it. Seeing something beautiful lifts our spirits, grabs our attentio, and makes us want to be a part of it. It’s worth it to put in the extra mile.
5. Don’t just sit behind your desk, trying to make things perfect. Go out!
You'll learn more, get more done, and build better relationships by getting to know your colleagues and clients. Many will become friends, some even lovers or your spouse.
6. See “the big picture.”
Take a step back to see what’s really important, like how you actually keep the lights on. This will ground you and make it easier to let little things go.
7. There is no silver bullet, so enjoy the process and learn from it.
There's a famous quote in the advertising industry: “50% of my advertising budget is wasted, I just don’t know which 50%.” It can be frustrating to not know the answer as you try new things. Embracing the process, testing, learning and optimizing takes the pressure off and makes it fun, which is the key to success in anything.
8. Know when to cut the cord.
Not everyone shares your vision. If two people are not aligned, it will be painful, draining and anxiety-producing. Respectfully acknowledge the situation and call it a day. All relationships benefit from this level of honesty.
9. Have a life, preferably something quirky and heartfelt.
Develop a regular practice of yoga, curling, or embroidery or whatever is your thing. Things with your hands or that get you to slow down and savor life are especially good. Do it deeply with joy and love and share it with others. This will rejuvenate you, acting as a meditation to energize you and calm anxiety.
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