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What Bruce Springsteen Taught Me About My Career

More than a few years ago, an advertising colleague told me a great Bruce Springsteen quote I often think about. I can’t remember who told me the quote and I can’t actually remember what the quote was, but I can assure you it was great. He said something to the effect of this: when you go on stage, you have to think like you’re the biggest rock star in the world. At the same time, you have to remember you’re not saving lives out there; it’s just music.

For me, this means you should pour your heart into every ad you make—but remember, in the end, you’re just making ads. You have to believe you’re doing the most important thing in the world while simultaneously remembering at the end of the day, this is advertising, not mortal combat. You need passion and drive, but you can’t fall apart every time an idea you love gets killed. You have to pull yourself together and come up with a new idea to fall in love with—and life goes on.

To end, I’ll leave you with a few more great lessons from the Boss that I think translate well for advertising (and these are real quotes!):

“I tend to be a subscriber to the idea that you have everything you need by the time you’re 12 years old to do interesting writing for most of the rest of your life – certainly by the time you’re 18.”

“You can go from doing something quite silly to something dead serious in the blink of an eye, and if you’re making those connections with your audience then they’re going to go right along with it.”

And last but not least:

“Being an artist is this kind of occupation in which you have to make people care about your obsession.”

Or in our case, vodka and mutual funds.