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The ONE advice India's top creative heads swear by spoke to industry veterans to know their favourite piece of advice they received at some point of time, from the people that mattered to them a lot

There is so much to learn from the veterans in the advertising industry where it is not a jack’s trade or a job easy to excel at. One needs proper mentorship, passion, eagerness to learn, eye for creativity and talent to excel in the field of advertising. curates a list of advice the maverick set of creative people got at some point of time in life. Advice that will definitely guide beginners in the industry.

Take your job seriously, but not yourself too seriously

Piyush Pandey

Piyush Pandey, Executive Chairman and Creative Director, Ogilvy & Mather, India and South Asia, is a gem in the advertising industry. At his level where people fall for and fade in the top management, Pandey is rooted to the core of creativity. The backbone of Ogilvy & Mather remembers a piece of advice from his Managing Director at Ogilvy, the late Mani Iyer, ‘Take your job seriously, but don’t take yourself too seriously’. One should not think that he is the most important person in the world, advises Pandey.

Focus on today and stop worrying about tomorrow

Bobby Pawar

For Bobby Pawar, MD and CCO, Publicis, South Asia, living in the present and not worrying about tomorrow is an advice that Steve Hayden, Former Ogilvy Worldwide CCO, gave him. Pawar has come a long way and is one of the finest creative directors in India. He doesn’t worry much about what people have to say for him and lives his life to the fullest. In a very simple line, Pawar said, “If you keep worrying about the future, you won’t be busy trying to create it.”

Be generous

KV Sridhar

KV Sridhar (Pops), Founder, Hyper Collective, is himself a very generous man. He learnt the value of generosity from his earliest Guru at Clarion. Sridhar is a mentor to many and spreads his knowledge whenever gets an opportunity. His guru told him to be generous whenever he becomes big and to always share knowledge with people.

Hire people with talent and commitment

Sridhar has another piece of advice that Mohammed Khan gave him was about how to hire people. Sridhar said, “In hiring people: Talent can be bought. There are many hardworking people, even if you give them half the money they will work for you. But if you get somebody who is talented and hardworking at the same time, then don’t leave that person. There are a lot of committed people, but they may not be talented. If you find both the qualities in one person, then you should go ahead and never look back.”

Writing is acting

Agnello Dias

Agnello Dias, Chairman and Co-Founder, Taproot Dentsu, is one subtle and humble man that the industry has ever got. He got his favourite piece of advice from Kersy Katrak, Founder of the legendary MCM, ‘We are actors in print, we can become anyone through our writing’. It opened Dias’ eyes as a writer and this is what he follows for life.

You are meant to fly

Sonal Dabral

Sonal Dabral, Chairman and Chief Creative Officer of DDB Group India, shares his life story and found his inspiration in his mother. He has grown up in several small towns across Uttar Pradesh. “I was a child when my dad passed away. I finished my schooling from Agra. I learnt many lessons just watching my mother bring us all up with a smile on her face and her head held high. One of them was to be limitless. To be not bound by any limitations of the environment you find yourself in. To tell yourself that you were meant to fly. Years later, I read this same lesson beautifully worded in the book Jonathan Livingston Seagull. “Don’t believe what your eyes are telling you. All they show is the limitation. Look with your understanding. Find out what you already know and you will see the way to fly.”

No job is small or big. Every job is an opportunity

Santosh Padhi

Santosh Padhi, Co-Founder and Chief Creative Officer, Taproot Dentsu, calls himself a good listener and a student. Sharing his early career experience at Mudra, Padhi said that no job is big or small. One can prove his mettle by taking every smaller job seriously. Even small stickers or mailers are an important piece of communication. To treat all jobs equally was taught to Padhi, “In those days when juniors were dumped with many small things, Nalesh Patil always told me that everything is an opportunity. You can prove your creativity through a sticker or a direct mailer or every small thing that the world ignores and even that’s an opportunity. Don’t treat it like a stepchild.”


He further said, “20 years back, I was told that even a smallest of a piece of communication can be a biggest opportunity if you put your heart and soul in it, you can turn that piece into a highly creative and get equal glory for the agency, its a mantra that's very relevant in today world too, hence I keep telling my juniors the same.”

Self-confidence is sexy

Tista Sen

Tista Sen, National Creative Director and Senior Vice-President, JWT, is a very jovial and cool person in real life as well. She is among the few outspoken women in the industry. Sen is exemplary at writing. The position where she is today is where many women can only dream of. The advice she will always cherish for life was given to her by her first boyfriend at school, ‘Self-confidence is sexy as hell’.

Treat humour differently on paper and screen

Swati Bhattacharya

Swati Bhattacharya, Chief Creative Officer, FCB Ulka, is a passionate film-maker as well. In the early days of her career, Prahlad Kakkar (film director) told Bhattacharya that when it comes to humour, what works for paper might not work for the screen. “While writing humour, one has to be very careful of what looks great on paper. What can make a client really laugh at the boardroom might not work with the consumer.”

Be thick-skinned

Sajan Raj Kurup

Sajan Raj Kurup, Founder and Creative Chairman, Creativeland Asia, talks to the point and straight and has all by himself built the agency to where it is now. The biggest advice to him was given by R Balki. Kurup recalled, “Balki once said: You will do exceedingly well in the business. Just make sure you grow a really thick skin so you don't get affected by anybody.”

Only focus on creative quality

Arun Iyer

Arun Iyer, Chairman and CCO of Lowe Lintas, got this advice from R Balki. He told him to first worry about the quality of the creative output, everything else will fall into place. “When you are running a creative shop, only worry about the creative output first and then everything will fall into place.”

Be a good human being

The other piece of advice Iyer got from the founder of his first agency MR Enterprise, “The Founder of the agency Parag Nabar told me that you are a good human being, be that way and everything in life will work out for you.”

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