I'm often asked by students what it takes to become a successful strategist. The answer? There is no clear answer. But here are some things that have helped during my professional journey so far.
  1. Be relentlessly optimistic
    Problems are better solved when you're not whining or worrying. It's easy to be a cynic in this industry and many use contrarian positions to defend, or differentiate themselves in a meeting room. However it's a waste of your imagination. Don't fall into that trap. Instead learn how to be passionate and relentlessly optimistic. Your team members will thank you for being a source of positive energy. Use doubters to see another side of things; just don't join that side. No one hates the nice guy.
  2. Follow through
    Completion is the nemesis of a creative mind. Too often we become engrossed in an idea, but once initial excitement is over it's onto the next. Taking ownership of a task and seeing it to the end is not only satisfying, but speaks volumes about your work ethic. Don't play dodgeball when action items and next steps are being defined. Practice discipline, focus, and accountability; show your team members that you won't hesitate to step up and help wherever you can.
  3. Embrace your difference
    Your unique perspective is one of the most valuable assets to an agency. And I'm not speaking about the "work" you've done. Life experiences, cultural backgrounds, crazy hobbies, they're all avenues for insight. Knowing who you are and where your passions lay will better equip you to solve problems. Show your team how you look differently at the world but also show how it can ultimately differentiate the work. Hard skills are transferable between talent, unique perspectives are not.
  4. Brush it off
    There's always disappointments (or even outright fails) in advertising; but it doesn't mean you need to be forever shy after that. Learn from what happened, but don't linger on the unfortunate moment longer than needed. This is tied to the first point on optimism, but more so focused on the time it takes you to process and address challenges or pitfalls. Too many people turn red and freak the minute something goes sour. Don't do that. This is the air you breathe, so learn to meditate.