Last week, I had the very fortunate chance to have Rob Baird Skype in to my Creative Strategist class. Rob, who’s the Creative Director for Mother Agency in New York, was a little under the weather, but that didn’t stop his enthusiasm or rich discussion with my class.
Mother is quite a small agency, kooky and cool. Here is one example of their kookiness in a short video that promoted Mother’s offices moving.
If you didn’t get it, well, these peeps at Mother like to have fun. But Rob made it very clear that Mother is a small agency and wants to keep it that way. But probably the most appealing thing Rob informed everyone about Mother, his bosses are nice too. Rob underlined the fact to everyone that finding people that you get along with, nice and energetic people, is key to having an enjoyable career in the agency.
As Deb Morrison likes to say, “No assholes!” That I completely agree with. Rob describes his two bosses Allen and Paul, brothers and the creative partners of Mother, as “nice Swedish farm boys,” whom he definitely looks up to as mentors. I found that Rob’s underlying theme of our conversation was definitely along the line of Deb’s “No Asshole” rule. Rob just wanted us to be nice.
While explaining how to make a portfolio personal and professional, Rob mentioned to always genuinely thank people for their time. Thank you cards are a must in my family for any present, but It was interesting to see a different side of advertising through Rob’s eyes. Being gracious is just part of his work ethic. He informed us to seek really hard for those wonderfully nice people at the first job, since they will open your eyes to other things, but you also won’t mind the long hours with people you actually like.
I don’t know why it had ever occurred to me that being the opposite of the arrogant Don Draper of Mad Men could get you anywhere in advertising. I thought it was all about big egos, big paychecks, and even bigger assholes, but I am happily proven wrong every time we have a Skype session. After all, advertising is about connecting with people, “creating a movement” as another speaker, Ashly Stewart from StrawberryFrog Amsterdam, told us. Why would advertising be such a popular career if there weren’t wonderfully nice people working in it?
Rob’s mantra comes from his father: “Work hard, and be nice.”
Since everyone works together to make things at Mother, the creativity must be flowing, along with the niceness.