Feb 16th, 2017

JWT Perth CD Paul Coghlan Pens a Letter to His Younger Self

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Earlier this year, JWT Perth Creative Director Paul Coghlan was announced as 2017’s Head of AWARD School Perth, a training program for aspiring Creatives, Copywriters, and Art Directors.

Paul commented, "It's an exciting time to be in the communications industry. Big, bold, talked-about IDEAS have never been more important. AWARD School teaches you how to come up with those, and much more. I'm looking forward to helping discover and nurture our industry's next wave of talented creative thinkers."

With the honorable responsibility of helping to shape the next generation of creatives ahead of him, Paul took a moment to look back and write a letter of advice to his younger self, Paul the fledgling creative.


ATTN: Paul Coghlan

RE: Sage career advice

Hi Paul,

Well done on graduating from uni and starting your first job – a fantastic way to begin your career – and at only 20 years old, too! (Although I’m not sure about that peroxide hair and that op-shop leather jacket – it all looks excruciatingly try-hard).

You clearly have boundless levels of energy and passion, and absolutely love this creative world you’re now immersing yourself in. But let me give you a few snippets of advice to get you moving in the right direction from the get-go.

The whacky thing. Hmmm, I get that your creative tap is now turned on completely and gushing ideas everywhere, but don’t just be whacky for whacky’s sake. Be focused. Be deliberate. Link your thinking to the problem at hand. Link it to real human insights, real truths. Don’t just think that whacky will get people’s attention. If you want to do just that, become an artist.

Advertising is where art meets commerce. Some even think there’s a bit of science sprinkled in. Broaden how you define creativity. Demonstrate it. We are in the business of solving business problems through creativity. Show from the very start of your career that you GET the importance of that.

The working through the night on things, thing. Working hard doesn’t mean you’re working smart. If the level of great work coming out of your brain is adversely disproportionate to the sheer amount of hours you’re putting in, something must change. Have the maturity to step away and put your mind onto other things. Go see a movie. Go play sport. The best ideas come into your subconscious when you aren’t consciously thinking about them. All your CD is impressed by is your great ideas, not the sheer amount of ridiculous hours you’re pushing.

The energy displacement thing. Advertising is a time-based service. Don’t spend half of it worrying about what others think or doubting yourself. Put all your energy in the reason you’re there: to think up outstanding creative solutions to briefs.

That not speaking up thing. You have brains. You sometimes observe opportunities in moments that others don’t see. Voice your opinion on that. Do it with confidence. Trust your judgment. Don’t think that because you’re a junior you don’t have permission to have smart opinions on things. Speak up.

The peroxide hair/leather jacket thing. Ghastly. Just don’t do it.

Implement all of the above and you’ll climb quickly.

All the best, young Paul.

Kind regards,

The-older-now-Creative-Director Paul Coghlan

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