What was your first ever job?
I got my first job when I was 13, working as a Kitchen Porter in a pretty large old pub in the arse end of nowhere. That meant arriving for work around midday, just before the lunch-time rush kicked in and spending the next eight hours running backward and forward between serving meals, tackling a never-ending pile of washing up and smoking roll-up cigarettes.
“Stop fantasising about your future and start building it.”
It was exhausting (the tobacco probably didn't help) but strangely fun. We called it a 'family pub', but none of us were actually related, we just all got on really well.
Interestingly enough, my 'uniform' for that gig was a formal black shirt tucked into suit trousers with a leather belt and formal shoes, and that's the outfit I've worn to the office every day since - I get a lot of questions about that one.
Why did you go into advertising?
Everyone seems to say they 'fell into' advertising. I got into the industry because it's so broad and ubiquitous. A lot of people think about advertising as just creating print or TV ads, but the industry extends far beyond that.
The people we tend to think of as modern-day artists (interaction designers, UX designers, writers, filmmakers) tend to have either come from our industry or have worked in it at some point, and the greatest companies in the world come here to find us. If you just want to spend all day being creative, the advertising industry is a great window to that.
How did you clinch your first job?
In advertising? I skipped college and university and applied for a year-long apprenticeship (somewhere between an internship and a junior role) when I was 17, with the chance of a permanent position at the end of it.
"I always tell people 'I'll tell you about it when it's done'. I've learned that doing anything less than that means you're just bullshitting."
When I applied, I started out in a group of about 15 candidates, which were 'eliminated' by the handful until it was just myself and one other guy. We then both had about four interviews each (the last of which was with the agency COO) before we both got offered positions at the agency. I think we were the youngest employees by about five years.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?
I've found that most of the great advice I've been given doesn't come from being told something, but by watching people's actions as they lead by example and realising later on in life how important that was and how wise they really were.
How would your typical day play out?
It typically consists of getting up at 5:30 AM, showering, meditating, getting dressed, travelling, working, travelling, getting home, working, sleeping. I'm trying to fit exercise and relaxation in there somewhere. Right now, the lack of balance probably isn't healthy.
What do you see as the next big thing?
I think we'll see wearable technology explode over the next few years. I can't tell you if it's going to be Google Glass, Smartwatches or fitness trackers, but I don't think that really matters. What matters is that we're going to bring technology itself closer to our senses, to the point where we're effectively augmenting ourselves.
"It typically consists of getting up at 5:30 AM, showering, meditating, getting dressed, travelling, working, travelling, getting home, working, sleeping."
Looking at how far we've come over the past decade alone, I think it makes perfect sense that we would attach technology to ourselves to enhance the world around us, instead of just dragging it around in our pockets. I don't know if it'll make us even more distracted than we already are or if it'll do the opposite. I certainly hope it's the latter.
What do you keep busy with in your spare time?
I make sure I'm always working on something. The vast majority of it never sees the light of day, but I like to look at that as training for the things that I do. I always tell people "I'll tell you about it when it's done". I've learned that doing anything less than that means you're just bullshitting.
What inspires you?
I find a lot of inspiration in film, particularly in sci-fi movies. There's something about the combination of a great writer, director and production designer/art director that really captures my imagination. I love seeing people imagine the future, because that's what visionaries do.
If you could share a desk with anyone, who would it be?
It probably sounds clichéd, but it would have to be 1986 Steve Jobs, right when he founded NeXT and started Pixar. I've always been fascinated by just how strongly he bounced back and I would love to have been there to see the real work being done.
What's your one piece of advice for someone looking to to enter advertising?
Doing something leads to something. Doing nothing leads to nothing. Again, that probably sounds clichéd, but it's something not a lot of people realise. When you're looking to make any sort of change in your life it can sometimes feel like you're standing still. It's easy to distract yourself from the real work by 'planning' what you're going to do tomorrow. Stop fantasising about your future and start building it.
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