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I get it. We’re all busy. Thank God.

But we’re no busier today than we were when we were children. There were things to be coloured. There were televisions to be watched. There were fortresses to be built and castles to be conquered. There was entertainment, and there were stories, and there was deceit, with or without friendship. Sadly. There were plays and bands, and awards and trophies. In between, there were showers to be had, meals to be eaten, exercising (then known as tag) to be crammed into a day.

Thankfully for people in our industry, nothing much has changed.

All of those fantastic things from our childhood still get to be enjoyed today.

There are however, other things from our childhoods that are still as important now as they were then. And those are the things our mothers taught us.

1. Tell the truth.

Remember when you were afraid to tell the truth, but if you did, no matter how bad it was, you never got into as much trouble, as if you didn’t tell the truth?

The same holds true when you are approached by talent to show you their portfolio. Tell them whether or not you have an opening in the first conversation. Before the interview. If you bring them in, and they are not a candidate for your company, tell them why. Tell them the expectations that you have of people in your department. Tell them what you want to see in their portfolio, in their attitude, in their ambition.

Do not tell them to keep in touch if you don’t want them to keep in touch. Don’t say, “We may have something in a month.”, if you aren’t 100,000,000% certain of that fact. (That’s when the trouble begins. For both of you. Not fun.)

It’s an interview. It’s like an audition. The Director doesn’t tell every starlet she might get the part. Okay maybe the Director does.

2. Clean your room.

Agencies need business. Which means agencies are pitching business. Which means people will be taking tours through your agency. Which means, if your office looks like a bomb hit it, your agency looks like a bomb hit it. No one wants to give work to an agency that looks like a bomb hit it. “Is this your agency brand?” the CMO thinks. “Chaos? I’m not looking for chaos, I’m looking for calm.”

Tidy up your reception. Precision stacked, current, relevant, and fun magazines say more than a $400 flower arrangement. If you have an Ad Age from September 2008 lying there, a rainforest won’t cover it. Clean your kitchen. Especially if it’s an open part of the tour. Make it ONE person’s job. If you don’t have that person, make it your next hire.

3. Say thank you.

Imagine if you could find 100 reasons to say thank you in a day? You can. In our industry they are endless reasons. What a job, what a job, what a job. There are so many places to work in creativity in this world that most people have never heard of. There are more places that we’ve NEVER heard of, than we have heard of. That fact alone is worth 62 reasons to say thank you.

Thank people that make you think. Thank people that challenge you. Thank people that tell you the truth. Thank people who make you smile, who think of you, who remember something you said, who point out a spelling mistake, who are polite and do their jobs well, and make you do your job better.

But more importantly, mean it.

4. Say sorry.

Not in that annoying start every sentence with sorry way. The “I’m sorry I got to the door before you and opened it.” sorry. That is not even a “Sorry”! It’s an “Excuse me please”. I mean the sorry’s that need to be said. The hard ones. The ones that shouldn’t be on email or Facebook, but in person. Eyeball to eyeball. Let the moment come, but when it does, do it.

5. When you fall and scrape your knee, stand up, brush it off, and keep running.

But take a moment to acknowledge that scrape, feel it, then get up. Don’t spend too long there. Or you’ll turn into a cry baby. Besides nothing is better for a wounded knee than to keep it moving. No one can spend 10 hours a day looking for a job. Or another piece of business. Use the rest of the time to DO something you have not been able to do until now. Do EVERYTHING you have been putting off. You want balance. Just keep moving.

We are smart. Smarter than most people. We know how to work hard. We are creative. Because those are skills that are valued in this industry. They are valued in any industry. Because it’s what all industries need to keep running. Intelligence and hard work and creativity. Pffffft, easy for us.

There are more lessons our mothers taught us that are just as relevant today in our adult childhoods. Many more, and I’m sure you can think of a few of your own.

Enough with this new reality crap.

There is no new reality. Just a reminder that the old reality was preferred. What we do is new. How our clients want us to do it, is old.

Clients are voting with their feet, and their pocketbooks.

What if the same principles that applied in 1960 and the successes of that era, were what we need now to renew that success? These would be the same principles practised by legends that included Bill Bernbach, David Ogilvy, and Phil Dusenberry.

Not “Party hard, screw tomorrow.”. Not those principles. The principles their mothers taught them.

Which are the same principles our mothers taught us.

What if we remembered them, and starting doing it?

~ heidi