It’s a New Year and there’s nothing more cliché than making a resolution.  So here we go… My resolution this year is to try, and I emphasize ‘try’, to be a better mentor to the team I work with. It comes in the from of a collection of things I’ve learned over my 30 + years of working in ad agencies. Hopefully, you can incorporate a few of these little pearls of wisdom at your agency.



First things first, if there’s an issue or problem, find a solution. Don’t point fingers. Make it right. Fix it.

No one likes indecision. So make a decision. And know that you will make a bad one sometime in career, Lord knows I have.  If you make bad decision… learn from it.

When you commit to something, commit. Whether it’s for a client, or a coworker, or your family. When you commit to something … MEAN IT. And follow through.

You need resilience in the agency biz.  This business is hard. There are no participation trophies here. You either thrive on and embrace the chaos, or  you’re overwhelmed by it. When the tidal wave comes… ride it. Don’t drown in it.

You need to know yourself. Take a deep look at your reflection. What are you good at? What you NOT good at? Know where you need to improve and be honest with yourself.  It’s OK not to be good at everything. Know when to bring in other people who are good at it into the mix when you need to.

With Ad Agencies, You get out, what you put in. To quote the Beatles, “the love you take, is equal to the love you make”. If you bring value or contribute, or mentor, or just help out when something is needed. The Agency gives back. There are a million opportunities at agencies, be a part of it.

What’s your goal? What’s your end game? Find your path at the agency you work at. If you look, the path becomes clear. Or if you see an opportunity, make your own path.  Light the fuse. Blaze a trail. Make your mark at your agency.

We’re all lucky to be in this biz. But remember it’s not brain surgery. No one is going to die is you f’up. Yes it’s a business, but this is suppose to be a fun industry. We can be serious while having fun, right? Let’s ALL lighten up and have some fun.

We all want something. Money. Fame. A new account…. even simple acknowledgement on a job well done.  My favorite rewards are a call from a client saying “best month ever!.” Savor even the littlest rewards. And the big ones will seem bigger.

Believe it or not, the people you work with are all family. And just like family, sometimes we need to pick up the slack for some folks. And sometimes the slack needs to be picked up for us. You need to work together with your team for the success of the agency. You win when you work as a team… a family.

It’s OK to run with scissors every once in a while. Know the rules and know when to break the rules. Be innovative. Be outrageous. Be disruptive. Run with scissors.

Every once in a while we run into roadblocks. Don’t let them stop you. Don’t be hindered by them. Figure out a way to succeed. There is always, and I mean ALWAYS a way to get it done. Over. Around. Under… but ALWAYS a way.

Take a break when you need to. Take a breath, a moment, take a walk… Just take a second and chill. Try and find the silver lining. This also applies on the home front. There’s a fine balance between trying to forget work when you go home… and dealing with the important things for work… when at home.

Celebrate every win. Ask anyone who knows me, I celebrate EVERY little win. Good news is great news. Great News is awesome news. It’s all good.

You have a responsibility to your clients at an agency. We are shepherds of their business. I always say, “don’t do what’s asked, do what’s right.” Also know there are 2 sides to a coin. Know when to take the agency’s side, and also know when to take the clients’ side. Listen to their point of view. They may be right.

Here’s a phrase I picked up when I was in the United States Marine Corps, “I would rather be a small part of some thing exceptional, than a large part of something ordinary.”  R/West is an exceptional place.

If you take a few words of my advice, you can make your agency exceptional.


Written by R/West Senior Vice President, Johnny Basso

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