It all Addys up

Nearly a year ago, I dropped everything I had built and switched gears completely. I had decided that I could be a writer. And, thanks to a relentless classified search spearheaded by my wife, Kerrie, I sought out a position in advertising.

I knew nothing about the field. But I applied and wowed them enough to convince HenkinSchultz to give me a chance. I had raw talent. It was a risk on both sides. They were hiring someone with no experience, no knowledge of the industry and no reliable portfolio – just a guy who could write, could think fast and would fit in well with the staff. I was leaving a management position – a very safe one, where I had great benefits and little stress. We both figured, “why not?”

And from that day forward, I was a copywriter. A writer.

Now, you’ll have to forgive me if I gush – if I seem a little more star-struck than usual. Teachers don’t have awards ceremonies. Neither do call center managers. This means I’ve never had the chance to go to an awards ceremony in any sense of the term – until last night.

Last night was my first Addys award ceremony. A who’s who of Sioux Falls advertising personalities joined together for a well-dressed celebration of the most creative advertising work.

I remember telling Kerrie that my goal for the year – my first year in advertising – was to win an Addy. I barely knew what that meant. I didn’t realize how easy it is to get a local Addy.

It’s not quite as selective as one might think. I didn’t fully realize that an Addy is the basic building block toward much larger awards, that a Silver Addy is the equivalent of an “Honorable Mention,” and that a Gold Addy was a bronze medal. Best of Class – silver medal. Best of Show – the coveted gold. Additionally, an Addy isn’t awarded to one person. It’s awarded to a team.

During the ceremony, I found myself developing was a heightened awareness of the great advertising work that is happening here in Sioux Falls. You wouldn’t expect this dusty little town to be a Mecca of promotion, but with at least six major agencies and a handful of smaller outfits, Sioux Falls cranks out a fair amount of worthwhile pieces.

In fact, I saw enough of those pieces to be, if I can admit this, really really jealous. And it lit a fire in me to be more creative. With everything. With everyone. I want to be a part of something special – something out of the ordinary that really wows the public. I want to have my name associated with success on a creative level.

Getting my start in advertising was more of a lesson in getting comfortable than a “all in at once, head first” type of forward thinking. Until recently, I found myself living the advertising life as safely as possible, thinking that I needed to learn the bare minimum in order to get by.

Now, I’m ready to make the next step. I know I can do this. My shackles are off. My insecurities are in the past. I can do copy, I can be creative, and it’s my job to do that for everyone I work with. I’m ready to take that leap – the same leap I took when I dropped everything for this often competitive, always changing world of advertising. I’m tired of being the usual, just trying to make a name for myself in the business.

After all, I can’t make a name for myself unless I create something that’s worth putting my name on.

Glory is all fine and good. And the most creative items don’t necessarily end up being the most effective items. Creativity has its place, and for the clients I work with, I find straight forward pieces work better and are more respected.

But every idea should be given a chance. The line should be toed, every day, with every project and every thought. Because if its not, I’m not doing my job. I’m not forcing people to think a different way – my way, the company’s way, the client’s way. And even more than the glory of an awards ceremony, a belief in personal worth – of feeling I gave the best at everything I’ve done – is even more valuable. And because it’s so easy to fall into the rut – to take someone’s vision and construct it exactly the way they say instead of expanding upon it and making it beautiful – it’s common to lose sight of that personal worth.

Yes. Technically, I won a Gold Addy in just my first year of advertising. But that doesn’t mean anything to me anymore. What matters is making sure that everything I do is special – that everything I do was given not just part of my brain, but the very top of it, the part that has helped me drive through three careers over five years, ultimately ending up at a place I could be proud of.

Now, I just need to live up to that pride. Come on, brain. Start creating.

This was lovingly handwritten on February 18th, 2007