Taking Madison Avenue by Storm

Yesterday, I was standing in the lobby of Ogilvy Worldwide in New York City waiting to get through security. In front of me are three guys who are fresh scrubbed, new clothes, new haircuts, new shoes. They are looking around them with awe and anticipation.

I engage one of them, a tall Asian kid with spiky hair, in conversation and he tells me they are from the Miami School of Design. They are here to see what life looks like in the Big Leagues. I can see them thinking, “and some day I will stride through this lobby like I own the place…maybe.” They are very nervous. Clearly, it’s time for the old-timer to give a pep talk.

“Hey, you’ll wow them with your ideas,” I say.

One of the kids actually hangs his head, and says with heart felt sincerity, “I don’t have any ideas.”

“No, no, no,” I can hear myself thinking, ‘this is not the way you take Madison Avenue by storm.”

Peppier talk is called for.

“The ideas are already here, like electricity. It’s the strangest thing. You get into the boardroom, you start talking, and the ideas flow. The trick is to step into the moment. It’s like improv. Don’t censor. Just talk. The ideas are there in the heavens waiting for a chance to get into the room. You have to let them know that they can channel through you.”

He looks at me with surprise and relief.

“It’s a kind of group mind thing. Eventually, you are thinking out of one another’s heads.”

The kids look at me with hope and skepticism. I am old enough to know what I am talking about. On the other hand, maybe I’m too old to know what I’m talking about.

And then I say, “It’s as much fun as you can have with your clothes on.”

And they laugh at this. Obviously, I’m a nut.

They get signed in and as they move towards the elevators, I say,

“Knock em dead.”

One of them turns and laughs and waves.