Saturday, September 23, 2017

Notes from Skype Mentors: What Doreen does when someone else can say it better.

As many of you know, my classes include a session with a “Skype Mentor.”  I ask former students (many now at ECD and Principal level), industry leaders and all around nice people with extensive experience – the jobs, awards and kind of books you want – to spend an hour one-on-one with my students. 

Students show their work, get advice, discuss industry trends – exactly what, I’m not sure.  These sessions are private between student and Mentor.  If anyone wants to share, I love to hear.  If not, that’s fine too.  

Since I started doing it, we’ve had (look for their agency and/or portfolio sites) creative giants including David Baldwin, David Glaze, Nick Cade, Ryan Martindale, Robert Clifton, Rich Toltzman, Robyn Cohen, Allison Hammer, George Logothetis, Josh Shelton, Sara Steinberg, Cal McAllister, Derek Barnes, Britton Rice, Jameson Rossi and others.

 If I've forgotten anyone, let me know.  I'll make it up to you somehow. 

This term I asked my students to send me a short paragraph or two about their biggest takeaway from their Mentor Session.  Nothing personal, just something I could share here on the blog to inspire others.

If you really want to be impressed, google some of the folks who participated.  Their work, of course.  But also their accomplishments. 

Skype Mentor: Britton Rice

“Brit told me that there will always be times where your writing doesn't fit what the client and/or the agency wants but don't take it personally. He said the difference between creatives who went to Circus and the ones who didn't is Circus grads take the criticism, hit the ground running and come back with even stronger work. 

“He also told me to always stay curious because you never know when something random you wanted to read about might spark your next idea.”

Skype Mentor: Alison Hammer 

“Alison told me it may feel necessary — as a junior — to be first to speak or give feedback in group settings. We may feel pressure to assert ourselves in an effort to prove worth but don’t. 

“Fight the urge. 

“Not last to speak but not first. Listen more talk less. Whatever words we choose to use during conversations/feedback should always aim to add value

“This is something I’ll remember forever. So true. So important. But takes practice.”

Skype Mentor: Jameson Rossi

“If you ever get really stuck or burned-out on an assignment, forget about the strategy and previous lines. Start as far away as you can from everything. Start going "What if [blank]" and go as messed up as you want. You can always dial it back later.”

Skype Mentor:  Sara Steinberg
“Even if I don't have work I'm happy to share, get it on a site now. That way I won't be scrambling to figure out how to do it later…

“The way she works: getting a brief and going off alone to write headlines before she meets with an AD or anyone works best for her. Headlines help her come up with concepts.

“Talked about where to work, small vs big shops, freelance, how to find your place/niche, etc.a)... She said while your first two jobs should be a small shop and a big shop, smaller shops are scrappier. There you wear more hats, less going through the higher ups and higher higher ups.

“Lastly, we talked about the difference in San Fran industry and other major cities. She said other spots are really big on the extensions [outdoor, e-media, social, broadcast, environmental, promotional, etc.], and there's such thing as "concept writers"... people with ideas that can only go so far, and they don't actually do much WRITING.

“She said she's heard the big guys talk about young writers who have lost their craft. They're all about executing quickly, getting shit done. But what you need to be able to do is WRITE.

“She gave me some people's books to check out (Ken Ziegler, Dave Adams, Jeff Lam, Jeff Greenspan, Ivan Cash). They're really cool, each for different reasons.”

Skype Mentor: Nick Cade
“It's all about the ideas — particularly for a student book. CDs want to see big ideas and executions that make them sit up and take notice. This is particularly true of transgressive ideas — things that take guts to execute, regardless of if you get support in doing them. For an example, check out his hack marriage campaign at It was low-budget, high profile, and it took just three guys with vision and courage to make it happen.  
“Interestingly, he also said that the industry is primed for writers right now. He downplayed his own skills as a writer, and said that now people want to see good copy decks. People who write well are in high demand. That's good news for us.”

Skype Mentor: Ryan Martindale

“Find someone who can take you under their wing, to teach you the things school doesn't (how to talk to clients, how to navigate the politics of agency life, etc.).
“Also, remember most CDs are old-school. They appreciate someone who can write their ass off. Incorporating new tech is great and important, but writing is your craft and you have to do it expertly.”
Thought these nuggets would get you thinking.  Would like to add one more, this for a former student now working in Singapore, paraphrased (probably badly).
“If you’re not a US Citizen and want to work here, enter every award show you can.  No matter how silly, insignificant or prestigious it is.  Anything you can add to your resume to show your unique talent will help at VISA time.”

This food for thought, along w/everything else published here at, is ©Doreen Dvorin/KamikazeCreative™

No comments:

Post a Comment