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New York Egotist: The Egotist Briefs - Aaron Griffiths, CCO at Arnold Worldwide, New York

He's got the sort of career we're all jealous of. He's CCO at ArnoldNYC. He's done work for clients at all the big agencies like TBWA/Chiat/Day, Ogilvy & Mather Worldwide and Goodby, Silverstein & Partners. And awards? He's won 'em.

Give his interview a read and find out not only the best advice he's ever received, but the worst as well.

What is it about Arnold that most made you want to work there?
Arnold has something very few agencies still have: A heart. Sure, it’s being tested by the manic highs and lows of modern business, but it’s there and that’s very important to me. To quote our president, Pam Hamlin, “When you care about each other and you care about the work, everything else takes care of itself.”

What have you done at Arnold to help foster creativity?
I think the most important thing is to make sure everyone feels they have a direct line to me and that we communicate very openly. I don’t think creativity can survive unless its being affected and improved by everyone and everything around it.

We know this might be a tough question to answer, but how do you know a good idea when you spot it?
Actually, good ideas are very easy to spot even at the most basic stage. And great ideas tend to punch you right in the face and remind you that what we do isn’t that hard. The truth is, if you’re not sure whether an idea is good or not, it’s not.

With all the work you’ve done, which campaign or piece does your family talk about most?
Like a vast majority of humans, my family doesn’t talk about advertising all that much. But if I had to pick one campaign, it would probably we work we did for Fanta – I think it especially resonated with my three boys because of the animation style and the playfulness of it. And because wherever we go in the world, they see the characters we created on bottles, billboards and in stores. It’s pretty cool, actually. More recently, they love the work we did for Fab.com. The spot, in particular, is a lot of fun and was very successful in launching the brand. Of course, it probably has more to do with the fact that they got to come to the shoot.

Everybody wants to do great work, and yet junk gets produced, every day. Why is that?
The easy answer is that too many people are involved. Way too many people. But the deeper problem is that marketers and agencies have become obsessed with telling people what they think they want to hear, rather than just finding a compelling way to tell the truth about their brands.

Think back to when you were a junior. You’ve got a great idea, but it’s a little out there. How do you go about selling it internally?
Believe in it. Everyone carries a little satchel of doubt into a creative presentation – clients, creative directors… everybody. If you’re not convinced your idea is great, it’ll ignite everyone’s little satchels and you’re idea will burn to the ground.

What’s the best career advice you’ve ever gotten?
The first time I ever presented work to Rich Silverstein, I was going on and on, setting up my amazing idea until finally he stopped me and said, “Aaron, I’m going to give you a piece of advice that Hal Riney once gave me.” Of course, I almost passed out as the silver-lined clouds parted and the golden light of Advertising Heaven beamed through Rich’s eyes. He continued, “Shut up.” In other words, a good idea sells itself.

Just for fun, what was the worst career advice you’ve ever gotten? Why was it bad?
The worst advice came from the Dean of Marketing at my University. He was my advisor and when I told him I wanted to go into advertising, he told me that there were very few jobs in advertising and I should really choose something else if I wanted to be employed. Sure, there are days when I wish I’d followed his advice, but I have a hard time not getting angry with any plan that starts with giving up.

What recent idea out there made you think, “Damn, I wish I’d done that.”
RoboEarth! It’s so awesome. Kind of a wiki-robot-thing developed by Phillips and a handful of Universities in Europe. The idea is to develop a network of robots that can share information and learn from each other as they perform complicated human tasks like caring for elderly patients or nursing sick patients back to health.

Article first published on The New York Egotist site.