October 07, 2015
John Mulder

The Epidermis of a Hippopotamus

Every day, we fight for ideas. Protect brands. All while wearing the cloak of creativity for protection – but it really isn’t all that protective.

That’s why advertising ultimately requires thick skin.

At every turn, our ideas are criticized, challenged, and then on top of it they have a very a short shelf life. Which means we have to do it all over again. Often. Quickly.

It is never safe to be excited about an idea until it runs. That’s because in the process from birth to maturity, ideas are under threat. One minute an idea is born and it sees the light of day. Then the next thing you know, it’s rearranged beyond Picasso’s recognition.

Many of us in the industry are creative superstars by most standards. We were typically built up as kids and told how great we were, so there’s often a crippling fear and need for approval to which we all succumb. To this day, it’s why we seek awards – as reassurance that we know what we’re doing. But then we find out that, in the end, the real judge is the general public and it’s what they think that matters most.

It takes courage to do what we do. It takes guts. It requires bravery to stand there and be judged.

So if you choose this as your career, be forewarned. Get tough. Be willing to take your lashing. You need to learn when to fight, when to surrender and when to compromise. You need to be sensitive and possess complete understanding of human behavior. You need to learn to see things others don’t see and to express things in ways others don’t express them.

Yes, it requires thick skin indeed. Thick enough that even hippos get jealous.

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