11/16/2014 12:54 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Lessons from a Legend Part II -- Excerpts from Keith Reinhard's Any Wednesdays


Recently, I shared some of my favorite excerpts from Keith Reinhard's recently published Any Wednesday. There were so many pearls of wisdom and nuggets of insight though that I felt one post couldn't quite do it justice so I've shared a few more below. Keith, one of the original Mad Men, wrote Any Wednesday as a series of company-wide essays when he was at the helm of advertising giant, DDB Worldwide. They are a rare glimpse into the mind of a progressive CEO who ushered in a new era of creativity and inspired global leadership. And though these were initially focused on the creative industry, there is much leaders in every sphere could learn from Keith's sage advice.


Taking Notes

Perhaps the best reason for taking notes is that it is difficult to talk while you are doing it. And, as the old saying goes, nobody ever learned anything by talking.

In Conversation with fellow advertising legend David Ogilvy on Pressure

While discussing the pressures of the advertising business, David shared a favorite quotation, an observation by St. Augustine, the first Archbishop of Canterbury:

"To be under pressure is inescapable. Pressure takes place through all the world: war, siege, the worries of the state. We all know men who grumble under these pressures, and complain. They are cowards. They lack splendor.

"But there is another sort of man who is under the same pressure but does not complain. For it is the friction which polishes him. It is pressure which refines and makes him noble."

May our men and women never lack for splendor and nobility under pressure.


Those of us who seek to work magic in our craft should learn to recognize it and applaud it wherever we encounter it. Which means, we not only need to exercise our talents, but nourish them as well. Or as Goethe put it:

"One ought, every day at least to hear a little song, read a good poem, see a fine picture, and, if it were possible, to speak a few reasonable words."

What Not to Be

The essence of positioning is sacrifice.

Deciding what a product will not be is as important as deciding what it will be, and often more difficult. But the exercise is well worth the effort. It is axiomatic that by trying to stand for everything, you end up standing for nothing. And simply fade into the crowd.


From the office wall of then Chairman and Managing Director of DDB Mudra in India:

What you spend years building may be destroyed overnight.
Build anyway.

Honesty and frankness make you vulnerable.
Be honest and frank anyway.

People are unreasonable, illogical, and self-centered.
Love them anyway.

The biggest people with the biggest ideas can be shot down by the smallest people with the smallest minds.
Think big anyway.

If you are successful, you will win false friends and true enemies.
Succeed anyway.

If you do good, people will accuse you of selfish ulterior motives.
Do good anyway.