Ad writing is much easier to teach than ad strategy.
A child is a caterpillar. A young adult, a butterfly. Adolescence is that time when we’re wrapped in the cocoon of our own private world and no one, not even ourselves, knows in the least what we shall become.
A company without values and traditions is a train without a track, unable to gain momentum.
A cost-cutter buys grapes and makes raisins. An entrepreneur buys grapes and makes wine. You’ll never see a person arrive to a celebration carrying a box of raisins.
A good idea is a moonlit fish that flashes beneath the waters of the conscious mind. How good a fisherman are you?
PS – Big fish swim in deep water.
A joke is told and people laugh. But not everyone. Not always.
Food is served and people eat. But not everyone. Not always.
A threat is made and people quake. But not everyone. Not always.
The sun will rise and people wake, But not everyone.
A man without purpose walks through his day like a man who doesn’t know where he is going.
A nitpicking needle-snout can always see a problem and will happily poke holes in whatever solutions are proposed by others. Like a mosquito, he sucks the life out of those around him. Slap the bastard and move on.
A paragraph feels casual and informative. A numbered list feels authoritative and useful. When presenting a big idea, reduce the big idea to a numbered list and your audience will more quickly grasp it.
A person not doing anything is often exactly what they seem.
A polarizing mission statement forces the reader to choose between two sides of a line drawn in the sand. Rare is the business owner who has the courage to craft such a statement.
A promise was broken long ago, and now I grow old in mirror after mirror.
A realization is fully original to every individual it comes upon, even if that same realization has been had by millions of other people over the centuries.
A resort is where you go to have it all.
A retreat is where you go to get away from it all.
A smokestack is spewing.
Don’t look up.
A tornado is dropping.
Don’t look up.
A drone is bombing.
Don’t look up.
If you don’t see it, it isn’t there.
A visual portal makes a 2-dimensional surface psychologically 3-dimensional.
A willingness to write badly is the key to writing well.
A wise man sees both sides of a matter. The fool sees only one.
Ad writing is much easier to teach than ad strategy.
Adjectives, adverbs and exclamation points are crutches used by writers unable to craft a sentence that can stand alone.
Advertising is what companies say about themselves. This is a simple thought, I know, but it’s too often overlooked.
All the things you didn’t do are the price of the choice you made.
Allow yourself to like people for the most ridiculous of reasons.
Although he wasn’t known for his sweetness, Marvin showered like he was made of sugar: rarely, reluctantly, and very quickly.
America’s grand celebrations of willful ignorance are daytime television and country music.
An incompetent person with a great attitude is still an incompetent person.
And there are other secrets I have not told you.
Anthony Fidget was a twitchy little bastard. I’m glad he was the first to go.
– the opening line of a chapter yet to be written. When you’ve finished writing the rest of that chapter, please send it to me. I’m anxious to read it:
Roy H. Williams
16221 Crystal Hills Dr.
Anxiety is anti-hope. It is the fear of things not yet known, the fear of possibilities.
Are you stayin’ up late and doin’ wrong or gettin’ up early and doin’ right?
have you heard the chimes at midnight?
Art is valuable to the degree that it triggers emotions. But it isn’t always the art, itself, that triggers the emotion; sometimes the art is merely a point-of-contact with an iconic figure with whom we identify.
As a marketing consultant, I’m very territorial. I can work with you, or I can work for your competitor against you. If you don’t respect the size of my gun, you leave me no choice but to shoot your ass with it.
As long as Mick Jagger struts the stage and Keith Richards acts like he doesn’t care, the 70’s will never end.
As you read, so will you write.
Atlas Shrugged is an anthem of individual achievement and exceptionalism. If you want to fall to your knees before an idol of yourself and worship your own magnificent greatness, Ayn Rand will happily be your prophetess.
Meanwhile, I will read Ozymandias and laugh at you both.
Authority can be given to a person. Leadership cannot. People with authority often have no followers. People with followers often have no authority.
Average people are afraid of looking stupid. This is what holds them back. It is only by attempting the ridiculous that we can accomplish the miraculous.
Bad advertising is about you and your product. Good advertising is about your customer and their life.
Before you can take people where you want them to go, you have to meet them where they are.
Blue is the color of darkness.
Bright blue be the blood of outer space.
Red be the blood of John Paul Grace.
Green be the blood of dark brown earth.
Gold be the blood of sparkling mirth.
White be the blood of times gone by.
A winter’s day.
A walk alone.
A quick goodbye.
The whitest lie.
Business is nothing more than a search for purpose and adventure.
If you believe otherwise, you’ve obviously never really thought about it.
But we are of those who dream by day.
Girls in black spandex pants, high-heeled boots and baggy leather coats punctuate Las Vegas. Vodka fumes trail like invisible puppies as they pass the dead-eyed, spent ones going through the motions of having fun without having any of it.
CURIOSITY… If I could, I would inject it into your arm with a needle. It will take you on trips like no other drug.
Cherish the caterpillar. Trust in the butterfly you cannot see. An angel is dressed as a beggar. Wisdom wears the hat of a fool. Power hides behind the eyelids of a quiet old woman. Every miracle wears a disguise.
Clarity follows commitment more often than commitment follows clarity.
Collaboration is promoted on the assumption that 10 people are smarter than one person. But breakthroughs are usually the gift of a solitary figure, often working alone through the night.
Commitment happens when something is more important to you than yourself.
Confidence and humility are not opposites. In fact, you can’t have true humility until you first have confidence. Confidence without humility is arrogance. Humility without confidence is an inferiority complex.
Consulting is not merely the business of having opinions, but of selling them.
Courage might look like confidence to onlookers but confidence and courage are not the same. Confidence means you’re not afraid. Courage means you do your best even though you’re scared half to death. Courage does not rely on confidence. Courage relies on commitment.
Creativity is pointless until clarity has been achieved.
Cuff-links and a Rolex don’t mean a man is rich. They mean only that he wants you to think he is rich. Our eyes can easily distinguish the well-groomed from the scruffy. But the assumption that grooming indicates wealth is a mistake that con-men count on you to make. Don’t be fooled. Posers work hard to look wealthy.
True wealth works hard to look common.
Cultural icons are the contemporary embodiments of Archetypal Patterns.
Daytime television and country music are America’s grand celebrations of willful ignorance.
Do not confuse pleasure with happiness. Unhappy people can have pleasure. And uninterrupted pleasures are not happiness. Happiness is the result of knowing who you are, why you are here, and what you should do.
We need identity, purpose, and adventure.
Do something that needs to be done. Fight for someone who needs you to fight for them because they cannot fight for themselves. Rise up from the pleasure-saturated society in which you live and tackle a problem that is bigger than you are.
Do you have a quiet ferocity? Are you willing to take a chance? Will you throw your cap over the wall, kill the ox and burn the plow, run toward the sound of the guns?
Don Quixote is a book about a man who sees beauty where others do not. He selects an identity, announces a purpose and launches an adventure. Can there be a better book for the budding entrepreneur?
Don’t do what you’re passionate about. Be passionate about what you do. Don’t follow your passion. Let your passion follow you.
Duality is marked by the contrast of opposites. This is the essence of successful marketing and the underlying theme of the Magical Worlds Communications Workshop. The truth is never black or white or ‘somewhere in the middle.’ The key to miracles is to recognize the beauty of both sides of a duality – black and white – while not allowing yourself to get trapped in the perspective of either side. Please don’t think I’m saying there’s no such thing as Absolute Truth. Of course Truth exists. But not everything is objective. There is also a subjective reality – a perceptual reality – that lives in the heart. It is to this reality that persuasion is aimed.
Each of us is a time traveller, moving forward at a single speed.
Education is theoretical. Experience is practical. Battle scars are the marks of a warrior. Happiest are those moments when you rise from the ashes of bitter defeat to try again, smarter, wiser, unstoppable. Everyone is watching you. Smile at them. Show your teeth.
Encouragement happens when a person needs courage… and you give them yours.
Every writer of fiction must decide how many days of his life he is willing to give to that other world. For while he is there, he is here no more.
Facts are stacked like bricks in the sea to become a tower that stands above the waterline. But a story is a wave that takes us on a journey and leaves the memory of the tower far behind.
Failures are footlights along the dark pathway to success.
Faith can find logic. Logic cannot find faith.
Fame is the girlfriend of Success. They often walk hand-in-hand.
Fantasy is frozen and changeless in the mind but a worthy objective is durable and alive. Your objective will grow and mature as you do. Don’t be surprised when it changes, because you are changing, too.
Fargo. The Big Lebowski. No Country for Old Men… The Coen brothers fish the dark waters.
Fear of failure causes people to be afraid to experiment. Consequently, most people with 20 years’ experience really have just 1 year’s experience 20 times.
Few of my friends believe in God but I have had many encounters with him. To speak of these encounters makes me sound like a loon and that doesn’t help anyone. God is undeniable when you have met him. But you cannot explain him to someone who wasn’t there without sounding like you need therapy and pharmaceuticals. Seven billion of us are crammed on a tiny speck of dust circling an 11,000-degree fireball as it shoots through a limitless vacuum at 252 times the speed of a rifle bullet. We are passengers on a world spinning out of control.
Having wrongly been taught that God is in control, we blame him for every sadness.
Few problems are so big they cannot be successfully ignored.
Few things turn out as well as we had hoped or as badly as we had feared.
Follow a trail of bold mistakes and at the end of them you will find a genius.
God and I spoke further. I will not tell you what we said.
Grasp your courage. See your objective. Identify your adventure.
Gurganus is right. The truth happens to everyone, but stories only happen to people who can tell them.
Happiness is not an outcome. Happiness is a choice.
Have you ever noticed that most suggestions are really just complaints wearing a cheap disguise?
He arrived at Perfection, sat down and sighed, ‘Now what?’
He lays quiet in the darkness and we cover his grave with platitudes and clichés and words so thin you can see through them.
Headlights pierce the darkness, Narrow needles of light. I don’t remember any of this. Things look different at night.
His moustache and beard were the color of a Siberian saber-toothed rat, the mean kind, and his eyes sparkled with mischief. I liked him.
Hope is the glow that surrounds creativity and courage is the confidence we gain in that light.
How do we answer death? When she speaks softly we have no words. When she speaks darkly all light is swallowed. When she speaks sharply time collapses into a moment and that moment lasts forever.
How many things have you learned that you no longer know?
I allow myself to like people for the most ridiculous reasons.
I am paid shocking amounts of money because I write ads that bring in customers. Yet when I attempt to describe how to sell art, for example, the lesson quickly degenerates into a discussion of what is ‘true’ art, versus artists who ‘sell out.’ The emotions and opinions of the unlistening student bubble over the top and out the ears and any lesson is instantly ended.
I come from Oklahoma where we believe you should always keep a watermelon in the refrigerator because you never know when company might drop in.
I did not choose it but it chose me.
I don’t teach anything new. I just bring to people’s attention things they’ve always known.
I hate dimly-lit rooms and barren landscapes; patches of death and malaise. Give me indirect lighting with hot spots and shadows and landscapes filled with too much to see. Give me life and life abundant.
I have many irrational idiosyncrasies. I refuse to listen to country music, drink Budweiser, watch NASCAR or eat white bread. I will never drive a minivan or embrace multilevel marketing. And unless I suddenly become a 14-year-old girl, I will never create a Facebook page and ask you to ‘like’ me.
I like Quixote because he is heroic, ridiculous, and utterly, irrevocably committed.
I love, as did Cervantes, the Romantic icons of my day. Yet not those that are shabbily and predictably and hollowly done. These, Cervantes and I do mock. But even in our mocking is a little love, for the silliness of Romance is never boring.
I make no apologies and offer no explanations for what the beagle finds in the rabbit hole.
I place my cell phone on the marble-topped sofa table, not because that’s where it belongs but because that’s where I’m most likely to look for it.
I shield myself from the barbs of my critics, happy in the illusion that I am understood.
I should not have conquered until first I conquered the government.
I think I’ll write a book about people moving from California to Oklahoma and call it The Wrath of Grapes.
I was told that story by a multimillionaire Wall Street speculator. He says American businesspeople have a peculiar blind spot to the all-at-once backlash that comes from watering the soup. He said American businesses expect to see incremental declines when they are incrementally abusive, but that’s never how it works. When the wife packs up to leave, she takes the kids and leaves all at once.
I woke up this morning and turned 48 which is funny, because yesterday I turned 25.
I write only for people who like my writing.
If I let you keep the cheese will you let me out of the trap?
If an hour has passed since the sales lead was generated, you’re no longer following up a lead. You’re making a cold call.
If it turns out well, they will say you were dashing and bold. If it turns out badly, they will say you were reckless and foolish. But ‘say’ is all they do. They say.
If making a profit were quick and easy everyone would be doing it.
If we train our children only to harvest, who will plant the seed?
If you will see into the heart of a people, look closely at what they create. Examine the inventions to which they pay attention. Read their bestselling books. Listen to their most popular music. This is how you will know them.
Impact in advertising today is 80 percent strategy, 20 percent copy. This makes it nearly impossible for good copy to compensate for weak strategy.
In the subterranean symbology of the Monday Morning Memo, the female beagle is Intuition. The male beagle, Indy, is reckless adventure and discovery.
Intensity of effort is the seed of passion.
Introspection, like every other medicine, is beneficial in small doses. Consumed in quantity, it is a deadly poison.
Is commitment a manifestation of passion, or the cause of it?
Is it wise to protect the ones we love from the hardships that taught us all we know?
Is your mind broad enough to hear the beauty of birdsong in the land of your enemy?
It flashed a sparkle of water as if to say goodbye and then the river curled away to go searching for the sea.
It is a harsh mirror that lets us see ourselves clearly.
It wasn’t the truth when I began the sentence, but it became the truth before I finished it.
It’s never the wrong time to hire the right person.
I’m sorry if my mention of God annoys you. (Just for the record, He is never annoyed when I mention you.)
I’m thinking about writing a book called Agonies of an Ad Man. There are some fundamental truths in this business that are difficult to learn and almost impossible to teach. We have to learn them again and again.
I’ve arrived at that age where you begin to realize that all the things you thought mattered, don’t.
Journalists write about important moments. Novelists write to make common moments important.
Knowing and doing are entirely different things.
Knowledge is not ability. Just because you understand how to do it doesn’t mean you can do it, too. This is our fundamental misunderstanding of education.
Lions are external.
The tiger is within.
Little girls grow up and become adults. Little boys just grow taller.
Live each day as if you believe it to be your last. Because one day you’ll be right.
Lives, like money, are spent. What are you buying with yours?
Loyalty is an expression of commitment. Determination is an extension of commitment. In the words of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, ‘At the moment of commitment the entire universe conspires to assist you.’ Kill the ox and burn the plow. Throw your cap over the wall. Strike the ground.
Razor thin, we edged our way through the day jamming chips and cheeseburgers into the white-hot furnace of youth.
Mediocrity comes from having perfectly implemented tried and true, traditional wisdom.
Methinks Opportunity and Equality are in a cosmic tug-of-war, like Justice and Mercy, Honesty and Loyalty, Protons and Electrons, Objective Science that speaks to the mind and Subjective Art that speaks to the heart. Yes, a cosmic tug-of-war.
Momentary clarity. Ocean deep, mountain high. Then we return sadly to sea level.
More irritating than the person who has many faults is the person who has none at all.
Most ads underperform because they say, ‘Here’s what we do and here’s how we do it. You should buy it.’ Ads that change hearts and minds say, ‘This belief is why we wake up in the morning. It’s why we come together. Here’s how we live out our belief. Do you believe what we believe?’
My insurance company has hired a chauffeur for my youngest son. They’ve calculated that it will be cheaper than letting him drive.
My nose banged into his sternum with such vigor it began to bleed. So no, you cannot say we stepped through a doorway and met face-to-face.
Come with me and I’ll take you to where an invisible ballerina shoves icy clouds through the night, pausing only to spin on hilltops and watch the leaves fall sighing to lie quiet among the bones of other white leaves from other cold years. Down in the village, little dogs bark like freight trains. Or is this only the ballerina’s song? Come. It is time for us to go.
Never assume that other people think like you do. You’ve got to be willing to see your own opinions as those of an irrelevant freak.
No business ever failed due to their ads reaching the wrong people.
No man is so unnecessary as the one who states the obvious.
No person can make another do anything. The most one can hope to do is to cause the other to want the thing. But in the final moment there is only Choice.
Nostalgia is a dangerous drug.
Obstinate people are not determined.
They merely suffer from too much pride.
Endurance is determination; the willingness to pay the price.
No turning back.
No turning back.
One of our number is missing… 2011 is gone.
One should never attempt to launch a revolution with people who are content with the status quo.
Opportunity begins as a window in the mind through which we glimpse possible futures. And then one day we leap through that window.
Others may cheer for the giant with a spear but I sing for the boy with a sling.
Our actions are all that separate our daydreams from our goals.
Our paths have crossed and our lives have intersected.
Owl was neither wise nor old. She was just a teenage assassin whose large, dark eyes said she was sleepy or depressed or bored. I was never really sure which.
Particle Conflict is created by adding an element that doesn’t belong, but fits.
Symbolic Thought is accessed by linking the unknown to the known.
Procedural Memory is a product of Relevance x Repetition.
Passion does not produce commitment.
Commitment produces passion.
People with no stomach for conflict are quick to gloss over problems. They dodge a small problem now and create a bigger problem later. I’d rather feel the needle of inoculation than the symptoms of disease. Give me the small pain now.
Pete Hamill’s bestseller, Why Sinatra Matters, is not so much about a person, but about a time. Read it and you’ll have a better understanding of how we all became America.
Politics in a Thimble: Guilt makes a man a Democrat and Fear makes him a Republican.
Pomp and circumstance are hollow and silly things, unless, of course, your goal is to cause men and women to rise up and accomplish the impossible.
Predictability requires no investigation.
Put together a group of intelligent strangers and move them beyond small talk. This is how you change the world.
Quit looking for the right customer. Start looking for the right moment.
Raisins are grapes that didn’t have the courage to be crushed into wine.
Reaching a person once is cheap and easy. But reaching that same person a second and third time in that same week is expensive and difficult. Yet the success of your radio campaign depends upon it.
Reality is for people who don’t have enough imagination to make things up … Quixote forever.
Religion is that cage into which man tries to coax a too-large beast named God.
Ritalin is a stimulant to normal people but acts as a depressant when given to a hyperactive child. For me, the book of Ecclesiastes is like that. I’ve been fascinated by it all my life. Ecclesiastes is depressing to a person in high spirits, but when I’m feeling dark, it lifts me out of my gloom. Here’s an example from Chapter 8: ‘For every matter there is a time and judgment, though the misery of man increases greatly. For he does not know what will happen: so who can tell him when it will occur? No one has power over the spirit to retain the spirit, and no one has power in the day of death. There is no release from that war.’ See what I mean? It says ‘Nothing really matters because you’re going to die. And so is everyone else. So the thing that has you down is really no big thing, see?’
Like I said, it only works if you’re feeling depressed.
Rules are demanded by people who have not the wit to understand and apply the appropriate, all-encompassing principle.
Sad is the man who has no place to put his faith other than in himself.
Sarah invaded the room in full cocker spaniel romp, flinging her paws and tossing her rump like Bronc 14 coming out of chute number 3 at the Friday night rodeo.
Shadows speak of mystery. Light speaks of revelation.
Overmuch shadow is gloom, then darkness.
Overmuch light is boring, then blinding.
Photographs, paintings, literature and romance require navigation of light and shadow, the revealed and unrevealed.
She panthered up to him, slipped her arm into his, and smiled a broken smile.
Small thoughts fit easily into a closed mind, but big thoughts require an open one.
Some people are blessed with fame and others are cursed by it.
Sometimes I look in the rear-view mirror and notice myself looking back at me. I look tired.
Sophistication is the art of looking slightly bored and a little condescending.
Sports: the opiate of the masses
Springtime pierced the pale heart of winter
with a shout of green and a blade of grass.
The rumbles of summer are wooden wagon wheels
banging hollow in the dust far away.
Autumn sings of passage in a minor key
as the quail fly up for the hunters.
The white of winter
is a splinter
under a fingernail.
Strong young men too crazy or too lazy to do any work stand on the street corners in the town where I live. Staring, they expect you to give them money. Someone always does.
Success stories are dangerous if you don’t tell them right. Improperly presented, a success story promises miracles to people who are never going to do their part to make those miracles happen.
TRAVEL ADVICE: If you are a people person, go to Newfoundland. If you are not a people person, go to Newfoundland.
Take your inspiration from wherever you find it, no matter how ridiculous.
Talk is cheap and dreams are free but actions come at a price. Lives – like money – are spent. What are you buying with yours?
Technology is a freight train that doesn’t care who is standing on its tracks.
Tension and stress simmered like summer. Anxiety and impatience weighed heavy like a blanket. Shortness of breath; a fever’s heat; contractions of muscles all coming together for a black explosion in that dreadful and holy dark temple of rage.
The American Success Myth of the 20th Century taught us to buy things we didn’t need with money we didn’t have to impress people we didn’t like. We were told, ‘Whoever dies with the most toys wins.’ So we chased happiness with dollars in our hands and it fled from us faster than we could run. Exhausted, we sat down and learned the truth: ‘The key to happiness is an ability to celebrate the ordinary.’
The Blackberry is an evil, mechanical fruit of a technology out of control.
The Problem With Being There…
We rarely recognize significant events while they’re happening. The most insightful business strategies I ever developed and the most successful ads I ever wrote weren’t considered exceptional by the people for whom they were written. Those ads made them millions, but when they first saw them, they sighed as though they were hoping for something better. I share this only because I know it happens to you, too. Take heart. I know you’re good. You know it, too. Aren’t we two enough?
The advantage of the written word is that it allows each hearer to listen at precisely his own rate of comprehension.
The dragons are too many, Lord, and I am weary.
The future seems inevitable once you’re past it.
The goal of communication is to cause another person to see in their own mind what you see in yours. The goal of persuasion is to cause another person to believe what you believe. Unless, of course, you are lying. Then the goal is to cause another person to believe what you, yourself, do not.
The hardest part of public speaking is escaping the nitpickers; those annoying people who hover offstage, mosquito-like, to tell you how their opinion differs from your own.
The key to happiness is an ability to celebrate the ordinary.
The lamb was not given the ability of the lion. Is this the fault of the lamb? Survival of the fittest says, ‘The weak are meat and the strong do eat.’ This will forever be the result of any system that promotes equal opportunity without acknowledging inability.
The media doesn’t make the ad work. The ad makes the media work.
The old lion is dead. Where shall we find another like him?
The problems that come with a too-much focus on ‘reaching the right customer’ are:
1. it keeps us from seeing the importance of delivering the right experience
2: it keeps us from feeling compelled to explain our offer in the most compelling possible way.
The quality of an hour is determined by where you choose to turn your attention.
The quality of a day is determined by where you choose to turn your attention.
The quality of your life will be determined by where you choose to turn your attention.
The risk of insult is the price of clarity.
The secrets of telling a story well are three:
1. How to end
2. Where to begin
3. What to leave out.
The truth wears many faces. Loyalty, but one.
The willingness to risk a big mistake is often the birth of big success.
The ‘Follow-Your-Passion’ myth is pervasive because successful people are usually passionate. But those people would have been passionate about whatever they chose to do. Their jobs don’t give them passion. They give passion to their jobs. The same is true in successful marriages.
Their sister’s name was Stormy, the boys who lived next door.
There is a spot from which your next step, regardless of the direction you choose, will be perfectly North.
They said, ‘Debt is a tool.’ But debt, in my mind, was bondage; an occasionally necessary evil, but always to be escaped at the earliest possible moment. ‘You just don’t understand finance,’ they would say as they patted me on my head.
Things rarely turn out as well as we had hoped or as badly as we had feared.
Think about it. We live in an age when something can happen – anywhere in the world – and be known moments later throughout the rest of the world.
1: You are the product of your genetic code, hardwired to behave in certain ways.
2: You are a product of your environment, the sum total of your influences.
3: You are the product of your choices. It is your preferences, not your surroundings, that define you.
I believe it is a mistake to cling too tightly to any of these 3 ideas. Each of them is true, I think, but not to the exclusion of the other two.
Time, like money, is spent. What are you buying with the hours of your life?
To gain and hold attention, you need only to introduce an enigma, write a riddle, make a mystery, pose a puzzle.
To see yourself as you really are is to spiral downward into depression. To see yourself as God sees you is to rocket upward to the skies.
Transition is that moment when we are dissatisfied with where we have been and frightened by where we are headed.
Trendy marketing cookbooks teach us how to mix the dry powder of jingoistic buzzwords with the water of passing fads. But I have no tongue for mental Jell-O and I’ve long doubted its nutrition.
Use half as many words and you’ll hit twice as hard.
Violence may kill the body, but criticism kills the spirit. If you hope to bring about change, you must armor your soul against it.
Waves of Sadness
wash through me,
tumult over me,
ripple around me,
as I ride the escalator
upwards in an airport
to a new and
to meet new and
We are passengers on a world spinning out of control.
Having wrongly been taught that God is in control, we blame him for every sadness.
We awaken in a semi-transparent world to the touch of a doctor’s rough fingers, expectations of mothers, echoing voices of fathers, instructions from teachers, rebuffs from lovers and a final, big surprise.
We buy what we buy to remind ourselves – and tell the world around us – who we are.
We create failure when we pretend creativity can overcome the fact that the advertiser has nothing to say.
We do not remember days. We remember moments. Change the moments you remember and you change your expectations. Change your expectations and you change your actions. Change your actions and you change your future.
We drag the corpses of our mothers and fathers throughout our lives, each of us responding in our own weird way to their expectations.
We feel for them.
And with them.
And through them,
these characters in good books.
We tend to remember people as much better or worse than they really were. And thus we create the mythologies that haunt us the rest of our lives.
What is it that you think you have to say? And what makes you think anyone will care? These are the questions that underlie great ads.
When you’ve said it aloud in front of people you care about, you are no longer a spectator. You are a player.
Where do years go when they’re over?
Whiners piss me off.
I’m not trying to be shocking or crude, I’m just trying to make a point.
The reason whiners piss me off, I think, is because they seem to believe that injustice and hardship have somehow singled them out for a special beating.
Listen, whiner, everyone is ambushed by catastrophe occasionally.
Quit acting like you’re someone special.
The other people who piss me off are the ones who pretend like they’ve got their life so together that they live each day with their chins held fearlessly high and their hair blowing carefree in the wind.
Those people are posers who want to be admired.
Everyone gets tackled from behind occasionally.
Bad things happen to good people.
Bad things happen to bad people.
Bad things happen to everyone.
So yes, you’re going to get clobbered.
You’re going to occasionally find yourself on your hands and knees asking, “What just happened and how can I stop it?”
Getting clobbered doesn’t make you exceptional.
Getting back up, dusting yourself off, finding something to smile about and continuing on your journey, those are the things that make you special.
In the 24th chapter of the ancient book of Proverbs, we read,
“A good man will fall seven times and get back up again.”
It does not say, “A good man never falls.”
So get back up.
Dust yourself off.
Find something to smile about.
And continue on your journey.
Why I refuse to deal with advertising committees:
1. Committees force you to spend precious time and energy debating things that should not have to be discussed. Every committeeperson feels it is their job to question and challenge and make demands, even when they have no idea what they’re doing.
2. These tedious debates cause creativity to shrivel up. The joy is gone from advertising. The adventure is gone. It’s not the client’s competitors we must fight; it is the client with a thousand faces; the committee with eyes like a housefly, seeing in every direction at once, always frightened and skittish, quick to fly away, unable to focus and commit to a direction.
3. A committee waters down your plan and then blames you when it doesn’t work.
Wisdom is knowing what’s right. Understanding is knowing why it’s right. Wisdom is knowing what to do. Understanding is knowing why to do it. ‘With all your getting, get understanding.’
With every purchase we make, we shout who we are.
Wrap a small idea in many words and you will succeed in academia.
Yes, rejoice when you fail because nothing is more tragic than winning quickly.
You are in business for yourself and your only inventory is time.
What will you buy with the heartbeats of your life?
You cannot argue a person into faith. Faith is not logical. Faith is a choice.
You know, if you’re at all curious, I can tell you exactly how you’re going to die.
You looked directly into my eyes and asked, ‘What is the answer?’
I looked back as steadfastly as I could and said, ‘What is the question?’
You may cheer for the giant with a spear but I sing for the boy with a sling.
You say you have a goal.
Let me look into your eyes.
Now tell me what you did today.
You will hear people say, ‘Do what you love,’ but my experience has been that this is rarely an option. So here’s an equally effective alternative: Love what you do.
Young people in advertising have enthusiasm, theories and fresh ideas. Old coots have experience and answers gained by spending piles of other people’s money to learn what will and will not work.
Your choice of heroes changes your behavior, your future, the very trajectory of your life.
You’ve heard it said that, ‘Every person is entitled to their own opinion, but not their own facts.’ Yet we routinely craft our own facts from the fabric of personal experiences, preferences and prejudices. A stereotype is nothing more than a pattern we’ve observed. This pattern isn’t always predictive, but it is a pattern nonetheless and we trust it. We do this in the misbegotten belief that we have correctly interpreted our past experiences and that our preferences and prejudices are, in fact, correct and reliable interpretations of objective reality. We’re a funny, funny species, aren’t we?
‘Cream rises to the top’ is what we tell talented people who are frightened. It’s a lie, of course, but it makes them feel like they have a chance.
‘Haggard, Inconstant Splashes of Beauty…’ I stole that line from the ending of an Italian movie about a guy who, on his 65th birthday, begins to reevaluate his shallow life. The movie is visually arresting but a bit of a downer. Life can be like that, too, even when it’s not a shallow one. Visually arresting sights are all around us but we’re too pressed for time to notice. We’re in a mood, in a hurry, in trouble, in a crisis or incapacitated. We’re anxious or angry, distracted or distraught, bedazzled, bedeviled or bedraggled. But still those splashes of beauty creep in – barely noticeable at first – but there they are, haggard and inconstant, limping and laughing, splashes of miracles that would show up more often if only we would notice.
‘In a democracy it’s your vote that counts; in feudalism, it’s your Count that votes.’ Capitalism is economic feudalism; ‘Whoever has the gold makes the rules.’ Communism is Democracy applied to economics.
‘Let there be light!’ commands knowledge to spring from non-knowledge, revelation to burst from mystery. It is the shout of a guiding star that appears in the darkness, illuminating the path, showing us the way.
‘Talent’ is any natural ability to swim in the deep waters of the unconscious and pull up the timeless fishes.
“Preparation, mastery, can help you overcome your fear, but mastery alone is not enough. There has to be something you want that’s worth more to you than your fear.”
…sometimes winning, sometimes losing, but always playing. That’s how I’d like to be remembered. Now all I need to do is go and live that kind of life.
…the soft blanket of summer wrapped them all in her warm embrace. Around the swimming beagles, bright stars danced on rippling waters like a thousand little fishes of light scurrying in a sea of darkness. Night is a time of reflection. Not of stars in water only, but of times past and times to come. And such a night was this
…well-intentioned religious people, acting like gate-keepers to God.