The Best Advice I Ever Received

The traffic manager at my first agency job was a true advertising veteran. She had worked at some of the biggest agencies in New York, and I was fortunate to be working with her at a small agency in southern California. I can’t remember the specific incident – it may have been as simple as asking if I could eat the donuts in the break room. But the gist of what I asked her was if I was allowed to do something.

She responded, “Unless you’re told otherwise, assume it’s so.”

Those few words did more than answer my specific question; they made me realize I could come up with any creative idea I wanted. Want to shoot a commercial with wild animals? Why not? Nobody told me otherwise. Develop a scholarship program instead of an ad? Great. Assume it’s so. Those few words have stuck with me for years, and they continue to guide my thinking today.

Client mandatories and scaled-back budgets put enough restrictions on advertising creatives. The last thing we need to do is put limits on our own thinking. Have a great, crazy, audacious idea? Go for it. Unless you’re told otherwise, assume it’s so.

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