AdLand Suit is Dan Shute, a Board Account Director at Delaney Lund Knox Warren, a top ten London Advertising Agency. This is where I write about the life of a Suit - which can include pretty much anything. Delaney's didn't know I was doing this, but they do now. They still don't agree with everything I say though. They'd also probably rather I swore less.

Wednesday, 11 March 2009

Finding Your Way - A Short But Illuminating Tale

When I first started as a Suit, I didn't really have a clue what I was doing. I knew 'adverts', sure, but 'advertising' wasn't something I'd ever really thought about - as I've intimated in an earlier post, I pretty much fell into it.

Circumnavigating, by chance rather than design, the traditional grad recruitment merry-go-round, I turned up at the door of one of London's top ten Agencies (a fact of which I had no idea at the time) one July morning, ready to start on a Summer School. The Summer School was to last ten weeks, and I was to act as a kind of Account Executive's Assistant on one of the account teams - shadowing the AE, learning how to do what he did from what he did, and hopefully at some point inadvertently picking up enough knowledge to be able to apply for his job meself the following year (or at least learning what 'brand' meant).

Except, of course, on that first day, the AE was off sick and there was a massive presentation to the Client's Board that afternoon. Everything was pretty much in hand, apart from the presentation itself - all typed up in Powerpoint, it just needed to be formatted.

Which would have been fine, had Powerpoint not been one more entry on the list of 'Things I'd Never Heard Of'. Impressive, I know.

So what did I do? I said, with confidence, "Of course I know how to use Powerpoint", and then spent the next three hours bitchslapping the panic and vague nausea that had beset me, working out first what Powerpoint was, then how to use it and, ultimately, making the presentation look good - I found my way. And that, if you're looking for a maxim, is what I've been doing ever since.

You see, finding your way (or finding a way) is a key part of a Suit's job. It's particularly true when you start your career, but a Suit's life is full of doing things for the first time - whether it's formatting a powerpoint presentation, running a multi-million pound TV production, producing a microsite or sending porn to a client. And nobody knows how to do anything the first time they do it - all we can do is find our way. And when things don't go how we expected them to (and God, wouldn't life be dull if they did) then all you can do is find your way through, round or over whatever obstacles have been thrown in your path.

If 'everything is your fault' is one of the most important things to understand as a Suit, then 'finding your way' is one of the most important things to know how to do. And that's another one of the things that makes this job as much fun as it is.