Yep, it's advice time. Hurrah! Now, I'm not going to proffer advice on how to get into the industry, partly because that's already expertly dealt with elsewhere, but mostly because I fluked it meself. But we all have to start somewhere - yes, even me. One recurring element of this blog will be quick posts on 'things I wish I'd known before I made myself look a tit in front of the Chairmen'. (I was going to call it that, but 'Everything Is Your Fault' was snappier.)
1. Everything is your fault. Yep, everything. When, in a meeting with the senior client, the DVD that you checked doesn't play on the equipment that you checked, it is your fault. When the cab that you booked doesn't turn up, it is your fault. When Traffic fail to deliver the work that you've chased them on every day for the last week, it is your fault. If you fuck up, it is, obviously enough, your fault. If you remember that everything is your fault, all things will pretty much fall into place.
2. Always have at least £50 in your wallet. Someone once told me that Grey enforced the JAMP system - Junior Account Man Pays. That's unlikely to be the case if you're lunching at Joel Robuchon (unless your boss is what I like to call 'an absolute bastard') but in pretty much every other situation (cabs, bars, pubs, coke/strippers for clients, etc.) you should be the first to reach for your pocket. Whilst it will sometimes be acceptable for your AD (or higher) to pay, it is never acceptable for the Client.
3. Make sure you've got numbers for cab companies in your phone. I still think less of an AM with whom I work because of a time when she didn't know how to call cabs at the end of a client Christmas do. That was three years ago.
4. Status reports matter. Accept that.
5. Make friends with the PAs, the guys in studio and the guys in the AV Suite. At its most basic level, your job is to get stuff done, and these are the people that can help you with that. It's great to be matey with the CEO, but he's not going to help you jump the queue to get DVD before the last overnight courier goes.
6. Check everything before you send it out - from start to finish. A former colleague of mine once, in a hurry, checked the first 20" of an ad on a Umatic (who remembers them?) before it went to client – all good, in the post. It turned out the Soho edit suite they were using doubled as a production house for hard core pornography overnight - which was what greeted the senior client when he sat down to watch his new ad, with his family, on the weekend. If senior Suits can occasionally appear obsessive with their checking, it's for a reason.
7. Do the boring stuff, and do it well. I know it's frustrating, but I can promise you that you are not the first Suit to come out of university and find you have to spend most of your time fixing photocopiers, making DVDs, organising meeting rooms and booking couriers. We've all done it, and it will pass - and only once it's passed will you realise how important those jobs are and how much difference it makes to people when they're done well. You should also never forget those skills. In years to come, you might be the CEO of an Agency, but if the photocopier jams five minutes before a meeting and there are no other Suits around, you're the one who's going to have to un-jam it. Why? Because, as I may have mentioned, it's your fault if the photocopier's jammed.
That's all for now, but there will be more. The job of a Suit is wonderful and varied, which is why I love it. Any thoughts from readers will be hugely appreciated in the comments.