21 suggestions for a successful advertising career

  1. Find the right place to gain as much experience as possible in the shortest amount of time. This may mean a hot-shop independent agency, a large multinational or hopping jobs every 2 years depending on the available options you may have.
  2. Work somewhere that's worthy of your time and talent. Don't settle for any job.
  3. Put more effort into your job than expected and do it cheerfully.
  4. Become the most positive and enthusiastic adman in the agency.
  5. Be forgiving of yourself and others. We're humans and we make mistakes even when we only have good intentions. Don't allow such mistakes make you lose sight of long term goals.
  6. Be generous with your contributions to the team's work. Do not try to take credit for every idea you came up with.
  7. Persistence, persistence, persistence. Great work never just falls into your lap. You need to work for it, refine it, perfect it.
  8. If you clearly see you're going into the wrong direction with your strategy do not be afraid to stop and rethink everything even if it means you have to start everything from scratch.
  9. Discipline yourself to save money on even a modest salary. This will give you the freedom to change jobs when things go bad and will allow you to take meaningful holidays that refresh your mind and body.
  10. Commit yourself to constant improvement. Technology and the industry is developing really fast. You have to keep up.
  11. Commit yourself to quality. Do not ever settle for something less than your outmost best. Perfect your work till time allows.
  12. Your professional happiness isn't based on the number of awards or how much you make, but on the relationships you have with your colleagues and clients. Treat them with respect.
  13. Be loyal to your clients and your agency. It will be appreciated even by the competition.
  14. Be honest with your work. Never lie or mislead the consumer. If you do you will feel miserable about your profession.
  15. Be a self-starter. If you identify an idea take charge and go for it.
  16. Do not blame others. If you're unhappy about something take the initiative to change instead of whining about it.
  17. Be decisive even if it means you'll sometimes be wrong. Timing is everything in advertising.
  18. Be bold and courageous with your work. When you look back on your professional life, you will regret the the things you didn't do more than the one you did.
  19. Do not overestimate the value of formal education. Most successful adman never had formal advertising eduction. Real work experience is more valuable than any education.
  20. Eat healthy, do sports. Your mind and body are your only tools available to you. Do not abuse substances. Save them for those critical special times when you really need a boost.
  21. Don't take all advice for granted. Pick what's useful for you. Make up your own rules and change them at your will.


Emanresu's picture
Activity Score 2148

I found the article very good and helpful. Thank you for that, Ivan. Someone asked this in the dungeon before and I am curious as well. Your first tip said "...gain as much experience as possible in the shortest amount of time." I am currently in my mid-20s and after three years working as a designer for one company and not advancing creatively or financially, I am soon going to put my plan into action in regards to moving onto my next ambition.

I would like to see what I have to offer to the advertising field, while at the same time -- to keep details about my life at a minimum -- I may be called for service and have to put my personal and career life on hold for a year or two. If that is the case, I may come back a few years away from 30-years-old. With having to get a successful book together, revamping my brand identity and website at that point in time, and maybe even going forth and studying or going to a portfolio school as I had pondered, I wonder if this will all pay off?

Will my ideas and determination (aside from other things) be what may or may not get me into an agency? Might my competition be on par with me, but much younger and a Creative Director would be more likely to hire them, especially since I will be older than 25 with no experience at an advertising agency? I know this is in my heart and mind to do and I am willing to give it a shot regardless of what path I take in the near future. However your input as well as any one else's thoughts is welcome and just as helpful.

Thank you!

ivan's picture

You asked many things. I think putting your career on hold is risky, but could result in a new career you like more. Education at this age most probably not benefit you as much as the the same time and effort put into interesting real life projects. Your life experience is valuable, so you being older is a benefit to a CD. Young have more life energy than the old, but it may be misdirected, so it doesn't necessarily result in good work.

Garry Hopkins's picture
Garry Hopkins
Activity Score 2

Clearheaded approach and practical. Good for starters and those looking for improving their existence in the advertising world.

tinchowww's picture
Activity Score 20

Ill translate them to spanish and viralize. Thanks a lot, Ivan.

yvancg's picture
Activity Score 222

I like number 20. I gave up smoking like 6 years back, or 7 now. But damn i am craving for space cake!

federo's picture
Activity Score 781

they are suggestions for whole life, I think

New Business Hawk's picture
New Business Hawk
Activity Score 2

Great points, and enjoyed reading the post!

One point really stood out for me...
"Do not overestimate the value of formal education. Most successful adman never had formal advertising eduction. Real work experience is more valuable than any education."

In my work I have given many presentations to advertising students and that is something I always stress.

My recommendation is that if you really want to succeed in advertising, don't study advertising. You would be better off taking a basic course and then study sociology, psychology, anthropology, religion, folk lore and acting!

All the best,


Robert H. Sanders
Sanders Consulting Group


ccurtis's picture
Activity Score 39

As someone who has recently started my career in advertising, I thank you for this advice!

Caroline Johnson's picture
Caroline Johnson
Activity Score 4

Hey! Thanks to provide such informative article in which i come to know most useful things which makes me so knowledge and after reading this passage i viewed that some of the advantages archived after using these 21 suggestions for a successful advertising career....
Great article static!!
Nice Job
Caroline Johnson

eltku's picture
Activity Score 6

As a student I found these tips to be very enlightening. I am currently still learning the field and have had many discouraging moments. I’ve found that being persistent is necessary in order to become successful in advertising. Thank you for the reminder in suggestion number 7.

Quickgun's picture
Activity Score 427

Hi Ivan,

Very Interesting and helpful tips. Will try to follow your suggestions! Tnx!

Guest's picture

Nice article
It will surely help me in many ways

Guest's picture

I wonder what you guys have to say to a person who has spent 18 years in advertising & still has the urge to learn more & join a gr8 agency but for lack of being part of a brownie group

Guest's picture

Hi ivan,

lots of thanks for your kind and meaning full article,

I really want to start an advertising agency so this article helps me alot,
but for me most important in being successful is to come to the market with a new Idea and strategy,

thanks a million bro


manumartin5's picture
Activity Score 1196

Hi Ivan,

I loved your article.. i liked all the points mentioned. !! :) This is something that I will bookmark.

zaheenkb's picture
Activity Score 69

Wonderful, Wonderful article! Thank you Ivan! :D

copywriter-in-the-making's picture
Activity Score 2

Hi! These suggestions are of most value (specially for a newbie like me), thank you! I'll keep them in mind.