Archive for January, 2008

7 Ways to Save Money in the (Expensive) Big City

Tuesday, January 22nd, 2008
Soon after arriving in Chicago, I came across a glorious book called The Cheap Bastard's Guide to Chicago (also available for New York, Boston and San Francisco). This guide has everything you need to live cheap (or at least entertain yourself for less)—free theater, free happy hours and buffets around the city, free acupuncture, free yoga, free educational events and all kinds of advice on saving money. The list just goes on and on. Since discovering the book, I have come up with a few big city money saving tips of my own, which I now pass on to you, dear reader. 1. Find a roommate. Preferably a non-creepy one. Since I didn't know anyone when I moved to the city, I used craigslist to find a roommate, followed by a thorough facebook stalking. It worked out great and we both save a ton of money on rent and utilities. 2. Ditch your car. Unless you need it to get to work, don't bother with a car. Big cities tend to have reliable public transportation (unless you live in Detroit), and car payments, insurance, maintenance, gas and parking can get pricey. For those occasions when you absolutely need a car, you can sign up for a car-sharing program like zipcar or something similar in your city. 3. Socialize outside of the bar. I have a group of friends that gets together on a regular basis to have a sort of potluck dinner at rotating apartments. It's a great way to get out and socialize without spending a fortune at the bar. 4. Eat out on Wednesdays. I can't tell you how many restaurants in my neighborhood have amazing deals in the middle of the week, from 25% off the bill for neighborhood residents to 50% off on pizza. This is definitely the day to explore your local eateries. 5. Actually look at all those coupons in your mailbox. I get all sorts of coupon mailers sent to my apartment. I used to just throw them away, until I realized that these mailers were filled with magnificent buy-one-get-one coupons from local restaurants. Dinner with a friend for half the price! Not a bad deal. 6. Get a library card. In Chicago, you can check out free family passes for museums all over the city (which works for a group of friends, not just family). The library is also a great resource for free happenings around the city. Oh yeah, books and movies too. 7. Read your local newspaper. Your local newspaper is another great place to find out what's going on around town, and it will usually have at least a few free events or good deals for your entertainment.

The Dip – From College to Career

Saturday, January 12th, 2008
Seth Godin is a best-selling business and marketing author and blogger. He's known for stating the obvious in a way that gives us a kick in the butt and gets us motivated. I just finished The Dip. I thought this would be a good introduction to Godin because it was short enough to download the audio book on my iPod and listen to the entire thing during the course of my commute to and from the office. I wish I'd read this book last summer, when I went through my own personal dip. I went from the comfort and familiarity of my college life to flat broke in a new city, working as an intern with the hopes of it turning into a real job and missing my friends, my family, my boyfriend. I met other recent grads who didn't last the summer in Chicago. They couldn't take the challenge of something so new and unstable, so they went home to live with their parents until they could figure out the next step in their lives. I'm so glad I didn't give up and go home. Starting over—transitioning from college to career—can be a bit tricky at first. We become accustomed to our bubble that is college, so when we realize that we have to completely reestablish ourselves (for those of us who relocate this applies to both career and personal life), it can be a bit shocking. We have to put in our time and figure out what the hell we are doing. We are the juniors. If you're in a new job, you may have to work harder than your more experienced coworkers as you learn the basic of the company and how it functions. If you're in a new city, you may have to go out of your way to be social, even on evenings when you really just want to stay home, so you can begin to establish new friendships. And if you need some additional inspiration while you're at it, just ask Seth.

The Future of Advertising Jobs? Go Digital.

Thursday, January 10th, 2008
If you're in the business of advertising, or studying to get in, you've probably heard about the recent layoffs by BBDO and Ogilvy. I was just giving a passive sigh of relief over my own feeling of security here in Chicago when it became a bit more real. My friend from BBDO Detroit called. He lost his job in the layoffs. Suddenly the picture changed from an anonymous crowd to real people like my friend, pulled into boardrooms where it was explained how unemployment would work and how long they would maintain their benefits. All this as they averted eye contact, trying to hold it together. Where do they go from here? What does this mean for the future of advertising? We all know the ad world is shifting. This is causing a shift in talent needs. I work in interactive and we can't even find enough qualified people. So this may seem like a somewhat shallow answer to a bigger problem, but here's my advice. If you still have time, start exploring the digital world. Listen to podcasts, read blogs, experiment and explore on your own time, talk to people, start twittering (I actually first learned about the layoffs through Twitter - thanks Chris Penn). I'm always amazed at how much I learn simply by loading up my iPod in the morning for my daily commute. If you need help getting started, try these: There's a lot to learn, and you'll have to invest some time in this if you really want to understand it, but it's not too late. Start now.

5 Questions for Jean-Francois LeBlanc

Saturday, January 5th, 2008
I met Jean-Francois LeBlanc during the Cannes International Advertising Festival last summer. He currently works for Bleublancrouge, an agency in Montréal—he has won a number of awards and done work for many well-known clients, including Coca-Cola, Toyota, Burger King, Home Depot and Bauer/Nike, among others. So naturally, I thought he would have some good advice to offer those of us who are just getting started in our careers. I sent along 5 questions to JF, and I found his answers to be incredibly interesting and entertaining. I hope you enjoy as much as I did. 1. What was your first "real" job out of school? Well!...my first job after college...hum? It was a long time ago in a galaxy far away...I was doing some cheap handmade lettering posters with just a brush and One Shot paint for a vegetable store called Le Végétarien in Sherbrooke Quebec. Ouf! At the same time I was doing some graphic work for a silkscreen printing shop in Magog at 7$/h...Nice! But it didn't matter because at night I was the lead singer (Ok I was yelling) of a Speed Metal band called Blaylök and making records, touring, was my ultimate goal. It is not an easy thing to make a career in the Metal industry and I salute you Tom Araya (Slayer rules!). So that's when I decided to go back to school to have a back up plan if the band didn't work out. Exile! Montréal here I come. After four years of Graphic Design at university I tried freelancing. It was perfect for my flexible hours with the band. "Ok sir, when are you gonna send my check, I've got a microphone to buy?" was not for me at all. So six months later I saw a fulltime graphic designer job offer that I was really interested in. This agency was called Desjardins Bibeau inc. with about 35 employees. It was really perfect except for just a small problem... "I'm sorry but we have no more computers available for you," said the creative director. "...and what about I work during the night..." stupidly I said. I really wanted this job. "Good, I'll see you tomorrow," he answered with a smile. "F@ck! What have I done? The band is going to kill me," I said to myself. 2. What was the most important thing you learned in this job? "Hello? Anyone there?" It was kind of freaky to work at night in an empty agency. I was working from 5pm to 2am. "...All by myself...Don't want to be..." was the song I had in mind. That's when I began to understand the true meaning of «responsibility». When you have no one to turn to, you double-check everything, you make decisions on your own, and so you slowly start to build your confidence. That's what this job is all about. Three months later, I was joining the rest of team during daytime. After three years of hard work and the determination to always do great things, I was offered the job of the Creative Director. A year later, the agency split in two and I became partner with Desjardins in our new agency called STATION. So long Blaylök! Design is fun and it pays more! What did I learn: Believe in faith! Never give up! Listen carefully to what people tell you, but do what you feel in your heart. Stay alert and never forget to have fun! Always smile, it's such a great job. 3. What was the hardest part about transitioning into "the real world"? What! Is there a real world? Hardest part in 7 steps:
  • 1) Clients: They have the tendency to say "NO!"
  • 2) Account people: They have the tendency to say "Not on the brief"
  • 3) Producers: They have the tendency to say : "No money"
  • 4) Media buyers: They have the tendency to say : "That's the only format available"
  • 5) The boss: He has the tendency to say : "Do this"
  • 6) The coordinators: They have the tendency to say : "Hurry up!"
  • 7) Yourself: You have the tendency to say : "It everyone else’s fault"
The hardest part is to take time to think, everything is going so fast. Also it's not always easy to work with different people with different minds and point of view. Selling your concepts to everyone is tough. You have to trust your judgment without thinking your God. Some creative have the tendency to do. It's only advertising. 4. When you first started out, where did you picture your professional life taking you? I don't really know, around the world!... Working for Coca-Cola I guess, and so I did, but that's not important. For me it was always about having fun and doing cool stuff, learning, discovering, exploring the different aspect of creativity. 5. How does your present situation compare to this original picture and how did you get there? Well I think it is close and far away at the same time, it changed and it didn't. Like I said before, it was always about seeking new experiences. I could have been a Metal dude, a film maker (witch I'm starting slowly), a painter (which I'm doing as a hobby), a writer or something else; I was and still am looking for something that is related to my imagination. There is always new things to do, and for me you can never «get there» when you have a creative mind...