Cco and ecd. This is an honest question. Why did you deserve that spot? Because you believed you did, your creativity, your resilience, being nice and respectful to everyone or dumb luck. Cd/ acd /creative that got kicked out- why did you not make it to ecd. Self doubt, bias as a minority/ other bias, bad luck, laziness? I will start- I think I am starting to lose steam. At 40 with a family to raise, gender bias, agency inefficiencies and the constant heartbreak is getting to me. I (cont)

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Fun story: I’m 43. My first gig was at Arnold back when they were THE agency so I got a great taste of advertising in its dotcom prime. Layoffs happened, life happened etc. I took some shitty jobs here and there, didn’t want to move to NYC or LA to chase down career challenges and just stayed comfortable. I had a great life in my 30’s though. Work wasn’t killing me, I started making really good money, started a family etc. I also had some really big life challenges during my 30’s that I don’t think ad agency life would have let me deal with so I think everything happened on the timeline it did for a reason. A year ago, I got back into the game at Ogilvy. Bear in mind, I hadn’t done real advertising work for close to 15+ years but that being said, I was ready for my career’s “second wind” and I have to be honest, I am grinding the fuck out of things right now. Everything I do, I give 110% at every opportunity. I know this is my calling and I love 99% of what I do and who I do it with. I love being challenged by people who are better than I am and I love inspiring those for whom I am able to teach and mentor. It’s all about perspective my dudes. I’m not chasing awards but I am pushing myself to create amazing things. I feel fulfilled. I think I want to be CD eventually but I enjoy pushing pixels too much (I’m an ACD now). If I age out, I age out but for right now, I’m not too worried about career path. I finally love what I’m doing and I think that’s all I need to know 👍🏻 Hope this can add some perspective to anyone worried about where they’re headed in life. Find what you love doing and do it. It’s so corny but honestly, I knew I loved ad work and the manic excitement and frustration it brought with it but was too chickenshit to follow the work. I could have been doing this all this time but just... didn’t. My big advice: don’t wait 👍🏻

likehelpfuluplifting

Good on you, O1. Similar, but different tale for me: spent years feeling like I was never good enough, didn’t have the stuff, couldn’t make it, wasn’t smart enough or hard-working enough (I also valued work/life balance at a time when professionally it would’ve been better if I didn’t). Cut to today where after 15+ years of trying, I feel like I’m finally getting it. Much like that great Ira Glass quote about striving to do good work and not giving up on it, then eventually you turn around and see that you’re actually doing it. I may not be a creative power player or higher up but I’m freaking good at what I do and I love doing it. Lucky to be raising a family, too. Moral of the story: don’t give up. And don’t assume that you’re timeline is the same as everyone else’s. Stay positive, keep at it, and be patient with yourself.

likeuplifting

I was a CD (functioning as a GCD but too naive to know that was a title if you can believe it) focusing on great work at a well-know shop until 2012 (I was 40 at the time) when the regional office I worked in ultimately closed. I hopped to a local digital design firm to get experience there for a couple years. Still a CD. Then a global digital shop hired me a little bit after opening an office in my city. I started as a ‘copy lead.’ But bc they didn’t understand advertising really, I oversaw an interdisciplinary team to grow a marketing practice which is what got me to GCD. Got a CCO job offer from another niche player and leveraged that to ECD. I’m a decent creative, but ultimately what got me here is the ability to be a part of a senior leadership team working well with other disciplines while also advocating for creative and demonstrating the power of good concepts. Ive been told I’m a good team builder. And, last but certainly not least, I can sell. Proud to say that my team has won more industry awards than I ever have.

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Worked hard at the job I had up the ladder, no matter how unsexy. Volunteered for nearly every new business opportunity I could get, and paid attention to the great leaders that exposed me to. Learned how to persuade clients, not just present to them. Genuinely cared about others below me and helped them grow as I did. Led wins totaling over $200M over 20 years. Never ever felt I was owed anything beyond the paycheck I’m grateful for. Oh, and I’ve never once screamed, threw things, or pulled other diva shit that dogs some. For 20 years with that nose on the grindstone approach, I’ve never chased a title; the title found me. I’m lucky, humble, but good.

likeupliftingsmart

Thanks for asking. Truly the answer is no, I didn’t put the gig above all else. I worked my butt off the 8-10 hours, and some nights and weekends. But I always took time for my head and my heart. It’s okay to leave on time for your family, your friends, or just to recharge. Not just okay; vital. I wake up early to walk/run and clear my head for the day. I concept on those runs, without headphones. By 9am, I am firing. And by 7 I’m wiped and ready to see my kid and my wife knowing I put in a day. Corny, perhaps. But as you get deeper, the balance you craft is the thing you’ll treasure far more than the title on your card. But I’m also an introvert stuck in an extrovert’s job, so your mileage may vary. Appreciate you asking. Onward.

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From what I’ve seen, it’s a hiring crapshoot. Some folks aren’t so hot at the ECD/CCO thing (might be the biggest understatement in fishbowl history). Getting the gig has a lot to do with awards. Usually. Slashed on some notable campaign, etc. And that can include right place/right time, dumb luck. It can also include some serious talent. Excelling at a leadership gig is about way more than being creative though. It’s being collaborative, a good listener, communicator, a great salesperson, client-friendly, passionate, focused, convicted, inspiring, energetic, spotting and growing other people’s big ideas, etc. etc. The roles are few and not everyone’s bag, but I personally aspire to them. Don’t believe I’ve been “kicked out.” Whatever happens, I like this gig. Just maybe get better at the things above and land a fancy role someday. Hopefully not suck at it if I do.

likehelpfulsmart

The above is the best comment here.

45, and I've always been at the top tier of any agency I've worked at creatively, but I never made it to ECD because I thought creative was all I had to be good at, but really I think it's much more office politics, which I ignored and refused to play, much to my own detriment. There were a few runs of bad luck, bad timing, bad judgement, family issues, and suddenly all the opportunities began to dry up. Now there's no way forward without taking a few big steps backward.

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I’m not sure I want to. I don’t like who this business makes you become. I look at people in leadership and don’t envy their position. Their battle scars and decades of politics seep through their skin. They’re worn down, disingenuous, and constantly fighting to keep their position or climb the corporate ladder. It doesn’t seem like an enjoyable way to live. The only reason to be a cco or ecd imo is money, to extend your career if you still enjoy it, or to take steps to start your own shop. I’m not describing everyone. I’ve met a few exceptional people at the top who couldn’t be better people. But a large percentage of leadership did whatever they had to do to get there. And it shows.

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I focused my attention on making the people around me better. I relentlessly celebrated other people’s successes and avoided the temptation to ever say “what about me?”. I always believed great work mattered more than politics and that good work begets good results. I treated people with kindness and respect and listened intently. And probably most importantly, I didn’t just win clients, I built our business. Creative org chart, creative talent recruitment, creative services, creative studio, creative operations, and all of our creative processes. Your creative leader needs to inspire the whole agency under a clear vision, that’s the difference.

likeupliftinghelpful

Thank you for that ECD. I feel like I am hearing a common theme. Focus on the work, don’t complain and the title will follow. Help the whole agency and not just the creative. I can do that!

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Encourage and nurture the junior creatives underneath you to do the work they are excited about. Find an idea that you do love, real or fake, and see how to implement that thinking with your clients and within your company. Hire someone who isn’t from ad school and mentor them to unlock their creativity. You can do this!

likeuplifting

I earned this title. I started out at a small agency in midtown right out of school with a creative team of 4. Worked my ass off. 4 yrs at my first job. 6 at the second. Then 12 at a big global shop and on and on to managing 70+ creatives. Climbed my way up. Delt with a lot of shit. Bad clients. Won more than I lost. Layoffs. 9/11. 2008. All of it. I fucking earned it.

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Random thought: I believe there are more people out there that feel they “earned it” than actual CCOs. Nothing is guaranteed in life. Nobody is earned a spot at the top and people start from different bottoms.

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If I get kicked out now or if I don’t make it to ecd, I would blame it on me not being able to be excited about it anymore. All advertising is starting to look the same. How do I get excited again?!

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I’m a woman. A minority. An introvert. Will never know if those things are what hold me back, or if those things lead to the self doubt that holds me back.

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I’m a woman and an introvert but not a minority. Those two things were definitely roadblocks, but for the introvert thing you just let gotta fake what you can and put on your best extrovert face

helpful

Not all great basketball players make great coaches. Not all great CDs make great CCOs.

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For me it was a mix of working for the right people, on the right accounts, at the right agency, at the right time. Knowing when to fold up and leave, when to stick out the bad opportunities knowing the good ones would follow. Fostering the right kind of talent. Knowing how to lead. Being my bosses’ calm in storms. Being my teams’ anchor. Never getting a big head. Wanting to be better. Feeling like you’re never good enough. Working harder than I thought other people would for the same thing because I wanted to be the one with the winning idea. There’s no one thing I can credit, just a mix of all of that

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Being my teams’ nosebleed section, and my bosses’ bench warmer. Like that?

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What makes you a great creative isn't what makes you a great creative leader. They are two almost completely different jobs. Lots of people can't do both.

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It’s lonely at the top and everyone wants to take you down. It’s not about titles, it’s about happiness. Most creatives don’t leap magically from ACD to CCO. The CCO title is dying a slow death anyways.

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