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.

Sunday, 22 November 2009

Quick Sunday Evening Tip

I received one of the best pieces of advice I've ever been given about 5 years ago now, shortly after I'd joined the Agency where I still am to this day. I was working with a female Account Director whom I'd already gathered had a reputation for being a bit of a ball-breaker. As it turned out, not only was she damn good, but she was also lovely - to be clear though, that doesn't in any way mean that the ball-breaker reputation was undeserved.

I was, in many ways, a typical male account manager. Overflowing with big ideas and impatient for promotion, recognition and some kind of acknowledgement of my own brilliance, I didn't really have time for 'organisation', or 'planning' or any of those other things that I'd already really rather leave to the Account Exec. Needless to say, I was set straight on this pretty sharpish. Frankly, I needed a slap, and I got one.

But that wasn't the advice - that's just a fact of life. As I believe I've touched on once or twice elsewhere, if you're not buttoned down and organised, things will go wrong, and when anything goes wrong, it is your fault, even if it isn't. Because everything is.

No, the advice was much simpler than that - three short words that I've never forgotten, and that served me extremely well as an AM and to this day:

Get in early.

Or, to build on that slightly, get in earlier than your Account Manager, Account Director, or anybody who's likely to look at your desk and wonder where you are.

There are two main reasons for this. The first is practical: 8am to 9am is the best time to get anything done. Your phone is likely to be ringing less (you can certainly guarantee that you won't be disturbed by any creatives or TV producers), and as such you'll be able to get all of the niggly, irritating, admin-heavy work done, which will enable you to spend the day doing the good stuff. (Trust me, having to miss a creative briefing because you need to sort out the billing spreadsheet is not a good result for you or anyone else.)

The second reason is simply that it looks good. It looks good to your AD when he or she has to call ahead because something needs doing and you're there to do it, and it looks good to your Client when he or she calls the Agency at 8.05 expecting to have to leave a message. (Be aware - while a Client's day may often end earlier than yours, it also tends to start at 8am on the dot. And you'd be amazed how much a Client will respect a Suit who's at his or her desk at the same time as them.)

So there it is. Be at your desk at 8am. Sort out the billing spreadsheet. Update status. Do your timesheets. Get all and any admin out of the way so that you can focus on the fun stuff for the rest of the day. Impress people. And, if you really have nothing else to do, read blogs, and learn about ads. Because making room for that in your day is as important a part of your job as writing good contact reports. And 8am is the best time to do it. Promise.


shib said...

Good advice Mr.Suit. Good for all juniors, regardless of role.

I will tweet this in your absense :)

AdLand Suit said...

Thanks, Shib - that's much appreciated.

graemeharrison said...

I totally agree , getting in early is the best thing that a suit or planner can do - its a fantastic habit too.

I suspect that if you surveyed the most successful people in business, that you'd find that most start early doors - whilst others are still in bed.

My second client, used to call me at 8am every morning and leave me a voicemail (or several) - and she'd then go in meetings for the entire day - only to call me at 5pm to go through everything. Quite quickly I became to realise taht my life would be far easier if I was actually at my desk at 8am to talk to her every day. And she taught me the essential benefits of getting in early - thank you very much Marie Ridgley, wherever you are!

These days I try to do deskbased, writing, thinking & concentration stuff (starting early) in the morning and then chatty meetings, pontificating and brainstorm stuff in the afternoons.

If anything its worth getting into the habit for when you have children because at that point you'll never get another lie in ....ever!

Anonymous said...

8 is early?

graemeharrison said...

Dear Anonymous

blah blah, lunch is for whips etc etc - i arrive earlier than you blah blah

If you're so great and arrive at 6am then surely its at least worth showing your face

Anonymous said...

That is so kiss ass - and so London.

I wonder if you think you're due a promotion more than the person next to you who gets in at 8.45 because... well because you get in earlier. And maybe they have to drop the children to school first or something.

Creatives don't all start at 8 because they probably care more about whether they are good at their job than "how good they look"

Don't mean to offend.. I'm sure you're a lovely person. Just another viewpoint - got tired of people more interested than looking good than doing good work.

AdLand Suit said...

I fear the last anonymous commenter has missed my point slightly - I'll take some of the blame for that.

Being there at 8 if your client wants to talk to you at 8, or if your AD needs you to do something at 8, is absolutely about doing your job well. Getting your admin done before the working day kicks off is absolutely about doing your job well. Nobody's going to be happy if you can't come to a meeting because you need to get the billing spreadsheet in order, least of all you.

And, possibly unfortunately, playing the game is part of a Suit's job in a way that it will never be part of a creative's - it's not enough to be good, you have to be seen to be good. Superficiality will always be discovered, but you have to know how to sell yourself - if you can't, how are you ever going to be able to sell anything else?