What I learned last year – Gerry Graf

By christinewatson / / There was this movie poster in the subway by my office on 28th and 7th. I forget what the movie was, but that is not important. What is important is “Do Not Die” is a good rule. And when I think about it, it really is rule number one. You can’t really argue with that rule. If you’re going to try to start an advertising agency, not dying is step one. If you’re going to wake up at eleven and play Xbox all day, you need to be alive. No matter what plan you have for your life, “Do not die” is still the number one rule to that plan. Unless you are Jesus or Obi Wan or Gandalf. Dying and coming back was actually part of their plans. But for the rest of us, not dying is the first thing we should take care of each morning when we wake up. You should try it. Tomorrow, open your eyes and check if you’re alive. If you are, you should feel awesome. The rest of the day will be cake. And you’ve just accomplished the first step of whatever it is you’re going to do. 2012 was a big year for the agency I work at, Barton F. Graf 9000. We went from 18 people to 41, moved offices, brought in 8 new accounts and didn’t kill each other (see rule #1). A big reason why we managed to do all this is because I learned how to prioritize. Each morning I’d check to see if I wasn’t dead and then move on to the other things that had to get done. “What needs to get done today?” is something that constantly goes through my mind. I try not to project forward too much. When I do have a long term plan, I focus on what step needs to be accomplished today. We’re going to be the best creative shop in the world but right now we’re working on being the best creative shop on W. 28th st. And before we accomplish that, I need a great rich media banner for Little Caesars. I have definitely had to learn how to do this. It is not natural for me. I like monkeys. Like a lot of people, they make me laugh. And I can float away with my friend Brookes the monkey, swinging in trees and throwing rocks at Indian bears and laughing at all the stupid serious black panthers trying to tell us what to do. But then I get back on track. What’s the most important thing that needs to be done right now? It almost always has something to do with coming up with a better idea or keeping the focus on making a great idea better. Everything else, the money, the politics, the reputation is fortunately still on the bottom of the priority list. Right now the priority is not being too long-winded, getting back to digging a snow fort with my family, and looking forward to waking up tomorrow with a smile.