Originally published on LinkedIn in January, 2023.
I’m an advertising failure, and that’s what drives me. I haven’t won any awards. My campaigns haven’t broken the cultural zeitgeist and it befuddles me when people say they look up to me.
However, the reality is that even though I’m looking up towards giants and comparing myself. There are other people out there who look up and see me.
For every person posting about their success on social media there’s the failure, feelings of inadequacy and self doubt hiding beneath the veneer.
Everyone has them, no exceptions. And if someone says they don’t have them, they are lying.
It’s called “the image of success” for a reason. The projection of the things that go right, letting people see those things but not the failures. Over time you build an image of yourself and people believe what they see.
It’s something I’ve learned over the years watching others in my cohort.
This isn’t anything new to social media, the entire influencer culture is built around this phenomenon. But what they do that most people don’t is keep going.
It takes something like 100 videos on YouTube before the algorithm really starts promoting you. Some people will get lucky and find success early, but for most people it takes time. And not everyone who has early success is able to continue it.
We have become so accustomed to quick success that anything short of winning a lion in the first few years out of ad school makes us feel like we are behind. The reality is that winning awards is hard. Not because the ideas are genius and only a rare breed imagine them. But because getting any idea produced is in itself a miracle.
You need the right brief, the right creative leadership at your agency, the right client and the right cultural moment for people to notice your campaign.
It’s like winning the lottery.
But you only win the lottery by playing. So be resilient. Keep doing the work. Keep showing up. Keep fighting to be the person your CD turns to even when things feel terrible. Just keep at it.
That said, my resolution for 2023 is to take my own advice and live up to the image the aforementioned people have of me and prove them right. They believe in me and I need to keep believing in myself.
I may not win a lion this year or even decade, but that’s not going to stop me from showing up every day and neither should you.
– Josh D. Weiss is a Co-Founder of The Side Show and Freelance Associate Creative Director