It’s Not How Good You Are, It’s How Good You Want to Be Summary

Nearly all rich and powerful people are not notably talented, educated, charming or good looking. They became rich and powerful by wanting to be rich and powerful. Your vision of where or who you want to be is the greatest asset you have. Without having a goal it’s difficult to score.

Why do we strive for excellence when mediocrity is required? 

There is little demand in the commercial world for excellence, and there is a much bigger demand for mediocrity. Imagine the world where clients gave you total freedom to produce anything you wanted. You would react against it and get bored by it. That is the nature of the creative person; they need something to rebel against. 

So how good do you want to be? 

Everyone wants to be good but exactly how good is that? Talent helps but ambition will take you further. Few are willing to make the sacrifices it takes to be great. You must not confuse being good with being liked. The only way to learn to be good is to experience through mistakes, and you will become whoever you want to be.

You can achieve the unachievable. 

You need to aim beyond your capabilities. You must completely disregard where your abilities end and try to do things that seem incapable. If you think you can’t do something, then make that your aim. Nothing is impossible.

“I want to be as famous as Persil Automatic.” 

 – Victoria Beckham

Victoria Beckham’s dream was not just to become famous but to become a world brand. It’s not how good she was that mattered it’s how good she wanted to be. She didn’t compare herself to another famous singer but rather Persil Automatic and it’s that imagination that got her where she is today.

Have you noticed how the cleverest people at school are not those who make it in life? 

At school, you only learn to remember and accumulate facts. Some people simply don’t have a good memory, but it doesn’t mean they are stupid. People who are conventionally clever at school will be overtaken by those who continually strive to be better than they are.

Do not seek praise. Seek Criticism. 

You can always ask people who will tell you what you want to hear. Most people will say nice things rather than be too critical. Instead of seeking approval ask “What’s wrong with it and how you can improve it? And you are likely to get a more honest answer.

It’s all my fault. 

If something goes wrong blame no one but yourself.  If you accept responsibility, then you are in a position to do something about it. There are no excuses.

Do not covet your ideas. 

Give away everything you know and more will come back to you. People are secretive with ideas as they fear other people will take credit for them. But if you horde ideas you will eventually become stale. If you give away everything, you will be forced to be aware and come up with new ideas. The more you give away, the more comes back to you. Ideas are just floating out in the ether, they are open knowledge, do not claim ownership of them just put yourself in the frame of mind to pick them up. 

Don’t look for the next opportunity. The one you have in hand is the opportunity. 

You can always wait for a perfect project, but it almost never happens. Whatever you are working on is the perfect project you have to make it the best you possibly can.

Accentuate the positive. 

Find out what is good about your product or service and dramatise it as a caricature drawn by a cartoonist so that it is instantly recognisable.

Eliminate the negative. 

Don’t bother wasting time attacking the competition. It gives them undue attention.

Do not put your Cleverness in front of the communication. 

Creative people often feel the need to have ingenious ideas to justify themselves. But that can lead to work that on the surface appears clever but has little substance and does not tell a story. Spend time on what the problem is and you will discover a solution. Ask the right question and you will get the right answer. Let the answer and solution tell a story.

Don’t promise what you can’t deliver. 

It is easy to promise too much and if you don’t match your expectations people will not trust you. If instead you underpromise and point out possible weaknesses and how to resolve them then you will build trust. They will also be grateful when you over-deliver.

Know your client’s aims. 

A client’s motivations may be different from what they write down. Their personal aspirations would not be something they write down to give to you, but this is the clients real objective. All customers aspire to some form of status.

What do you do when your client doesn’t buy? 

If you show a client what you want but not what he wants he will tell you. Show him what he wants first and then you can then show him what you recommend which will make them the empowered chooser instead of boxing them in.

Don’t take no for an answer. 

Triumph through perseverance.

When it can’t be done, do it. If you don’t do it, it doesn’t exist. 

An idea cannot be judged by the description it needs to be done to exist. Until something exists, it is very hard for anyone to understand it. You may have to do whatever it takes to get something done so you can make it live. If you can’t solve a problem it is because you are playing by the rules.

The person who doesn’t make mistakes is unlikely to make anything. 

“I haven’t failed, I had 10,000 ideas that didn’t work”

– Benjamin Franklin

Of the 200 light bulbs that didn’t work every failure told me something that I was able to incorporate into the next attempt.” – Thomas Edison. “False starts are the precondition of success. Failure is a major contributor to success. Failing is not regrettable, but a lack of initiative is. 

“Fail, Fail again, fail Better.” 

– Samuel Beckett

It is wrong to be right. 

Being right is based on knowledge and experience, knowledge comes from the past and is out of date and the opposite of originality. Experience builds from solutions to old problems, and these problems are likely different from present ones. Experience is the opposite of being creative. If you can prove you are right, then you are set in stone and cannot move with the times or go with the flow. Being right is also called being boring, having a closed mind and being arrogant. It is wrong to be right because these people are smug, rigid and rooted in the past.

It’s right to be wrong. 

Start being wrong and anything will become possible. You no longer have to be perfect. You are exploring the unknown and you have no way to tell what will happen. You have a much greater chance of creating something amazing than if you were trying to be right. Of course, there is also a risk but people who don’t take risks are merely trying to preserve what they already have. People who do take risks often end up having more. Fortune favours the brave.

Don’t be afraid of silly ideas. 

Everyone can get mental blocks and the way to be unblocked is to stop being concerned with being right.

“High creativity is responding to situations without critical thought.”

– John Cleese

To clear a mental block do the opposite of what the solution requires. Pick a random object to be the solution to your problem.

Play your cards right. 

How you portray yourself will determine how people regard you. Give yourself some spin. Be more ambitious. How you perceive yourself is how others will perceive you.

It’s not what you know it’s who you know. 

You can be the most talented worker in the world but someone less skilled will be seen as a greater authority if they are able to talk and present themselves better. Unfair as it may seem this is the reality of life. If you know what the tricks are you can play your cards right.

Don’t give a speech. Put on a show. 

Instead of giving people the benefit of your wit and wisdom try painting them a picture. Tell them a story. The more strikingly visual your presentation is the more people will remember it and the more they will remember you.

Getting fired can be a positive career move. 

It means that you were at odds with the company and the job was not a right fit for you. This can be because you have too much initiative.

Doing a layout means having an idea. 

Treat a layout with the same passion and intensity that you bring to the main idea.  Don’t just arrange words and pictures arbitrarily, Invent a brand image, a look that dramatises the product or service. You want it to be recognisable at a hundred paces. You want it to be striking and stick to peoples subconscious even if they only catch a fleeting glimpse.

Compose your ad from the weakest point. 

Start a layout knowing where the big problems are that will need to be solved and make this an integral part of the idea. Be unfashionable and take risks.

Rough layouts sell the idea better than polished ones. 

If you show a client a highly polished layout they will probably reject it. There is nothing for them to do and it is all your work and not their work so they will not feel involved.  If they don’t like what one expects they will reject it upon seeing it. It is hard for them to imagine anything else if you show something with so much detail. Instead, first, show the client a scribble, explain it to him, let him use his imagination and get him involved. Work with him rather than confronting him with your idea.

If you get stuck, draw with a different pen. 

Change the tools you are using and it may change the way you are thinking. Experiment with different tools and see what different results you get.

Suppliers are only good as you are. 

You are the magic. Don’t hand work over to a supplier expecting them to produce the magic. You have the vision and allow them to expand it into something they haven’t done before. Lead them along the path to enlightenment. Show them a better way and show no fear.

Don’t be afraid to work with the best. 

The best people can be difficult, single-minded and have tunnel vision and that is what makes them good. Approach them with the attitude to do good work and they will respond well as they want to do good work also. If you are clear and strong about what you want to do you may have arguments with them but they will respect you afterwards.

Get out of advertising. 

90% of advertising inspiration comes from other advertising. To be original you must seek your own inspiration from unexpected sources and merge influences.

Do not try to win awards. 

Awards are judge by consensus, in other words by what is in fashion but originality can never be in fashion. Do not follow the fashion be true to yourself and it is far more likely that you will create something that is timeless. That is true art.

How you can make your company great. 

Everyone wants to be proud of where they work. But not everyone is fortunate enough to work in a glamorous company.. What you can do about it is to start talking your company up. Begin thinking like a winner and behaving like a winner. This will halt negative thinking and a defeatist attitude. If people are talking your company down take issue with them. Don’t expect anyone else to lead the way. A company’s reputation can be built by one or two people so aim to be one of them. Decide you are going to make the company great. Just do it better.

How a senior manager can make a big difference. 

A senior manager can broker an abnormal deal that can make huge differences to both creative standards and morale.

How a junior account handler can make a big difference. 

You can use your initiative to further your agency’s image and your own. Set aside some time and money to make astonishing fresh creative work. Speak to the very best creative people about doing some extra special work. Do not make it politically correct but focus on making it creatively excellent. Take risks. If you fail do it again.

How a media buyer can make a big difference. 

They have a huge influence on when, where and what advertising is seen. They normally make these decisions based on statistics and are boring and dull. Instead, make your advertising more visible.

What is meant by the word “creative”? 

“Creative” is the currency in which ad agencies operate and means something different to each client. So you must find out exactly what your client means by it as it will probably be different from your definition.

How to improve your strike rate. 

Slogans win business. You need to find a way to sum up what the client wants to feel about his company but cannot express themselves. You need to make them proud of the company they work for. Make your slogan an integral part of the headline. Every version you show will imprint the idea on the client’s mind. Advertising starts with a name, if you have a presentation use their logo and colour schemes. Make them feel at home. Present the creative work first don’t bore them with charts and statistics. Do not do something too original or too controversial on your first meeting with a client. Present on a Tuesday.

My finest hour. 

The subject itself is the story and it is better to beg for forgiveness than ask for permission. Would you rather be fired for having taken a risk or not be fired for playing it safe?  Take the risks

Notes from the pulpit. 

People can regard advertising as trying to sell people things they don’t want and as rather distasteful. But everyone is selling something, everyone is hustling trying to make people buy something, it could be their services or their point of view. The way you dress is selling yourself, you clean your car to sell it so you show it to its best advantage. We are all selling it as a part of life.

Lifes creative circle. 

The popular idea of creativity is that it has to do with the arts but this is nonsense. Creativity is imagination and imagination is for everyone.

Wit and WisdomI

It’s better to fail in originality than succeed in imitation” – Herman Melville.

“Success is going from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm.” – Winston Churchill

“The first thing to decide before you walk into any negotiation is what to do if the other fellow says no.” – Ernest Bevin

“There are no shortcuts to any place worth going.” – Beverly Sills

“Those who lack courage will always find a philosophy to justify it.” – Albert Camus

“Some people take no mental exercise except from jumping to conclusions.” – Harold Acton

“If everything seems under control you are not going fast enough.” – Mario Andretti

“Going to church doesn’t make you a Christian any more than going to a garage makes you a mechanic” – Laurence Peter