Aussie expat Ben Yabsley: Ten lessons from the last ten years in advertising

Photo Sep 16, 1 43 31 PMBen.jpgBy Aussie expat Ben Yabsley (left), ex The Monkeys and M&C Saatchi, now a senior copywriter at Anomaly, New York.

Ah, 2008. What a year. We said, "yes we can" to Obama, "no you can't" to Lehman Brothers and "hey... you okay there?" to Britney Spears. In amongst this chaos, I was ignoring the wishes of my parents by being a part of the "dreaded" advertising industry.

Fast forward to 2018 and I'm a Senior Creative at Anomaly in New York, and finally talking to my parents again. To mark the last ten years, it seemed appropriate to pause for a moment and consider what I've learned along the way. So here are my top ten learnings from the last decade in the industry:

1.    You don't have an idea until you can sell it. The first part is relatively easy. That next bit will take you your entire career to master.

2.    Being an asshole in meetings just means you're not confident enough to have your ideas challenged.
3.    Before you can sell anything to your client, you have to really understand what they want. Dig around. Ask them what's keeping them up at night. Be an ally. When you understand their political landscape, you can predict how they're going to react to an idea, and then shape it accordingly.

4.    There are no geniuses. Only people who work harder than others. Glasses and accents just make us think they're geniuses.

5.    Don't underestimate the effectiveness of a power nap. Seriously. You can't think when you're tired. If you have an hour to come up with ideas and you're tired, spend 20 mins of that asleep.

6.    Never take a job for the money. Follow creative opportunities instead. You can only sell out once in your career, and the later you do it, the more money you'll make from it.

7.    Confidence comes from preparation. Practice presenting your ideas before you get into the meeting. You don't understand your idea properly until you can articulate it.

8.    Production caterers make the best breakfast burritos. Don't bring your diet to the shoot.

9.    It doesn't matter how many award winning ideas you've created, all it takes is one tricky brief to make you feel like a fraud. Embrace it - that's what growth feels like. Be patient. The tide will come back in.

10.    There's nothing more boring than someone who is really, really into ads. If you study ads you're studying the past. If you study art and culture, you're studying the future.

Assuming this trajectory of knowledge acquisition holds true, and barring the complete collapse of capitalism and the extinction of the advertising industry as a whole, lessons 11 through 20 should be ready around October 2028. So pencil it in your calendars and check back then.


But wait there's more said:

Nice one mate. Don't forget coffee, lots of coffee.

#10 is bang on, but watch out for #5 said:
Bluey said:

What a charming read. Can we get more from him please?

Copy Desk said:


Bec Rae said:

Love this Ben....can’t wait for 11-20! x

Yeah to #10! said:

The "been-done" awards annual huggers.
Spend no time being original, just mired in the past, telling others when they're not.

P said:

6. Never take a job for the money....

You can recover from this, but you'll have to bust a gut to make up for it.

I've done it. I definitely do not recommend.

Thanks for sharing.

Mike said:

Worked with Ben when he was as junior as possible back at M&C. The guy absolutely deserves every success and is a case study in don't whinge, work.

Juniors - soak this article in. He knows what he is talking about.

Junior creative said:

Thanks Ben!

Nic said:

Awesome Ben. Such wise words, well put. Reckon you should write a ‘Do’ book!

Spot on. said:

Spot on.

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