Thursday, March 15, 2012

What I learned at school

I have somehow ended up with a lot of friends that are professors at universities. Even more puzzlingly, they want me to come down and talk to their students about advertising, or judge their work. I’m happy to, because I enjoy it, and when they kick me out of this business I’d like to teach on campus. So the last couple of weeks, I’ve guest-lectured at University of Michigan, Indiana University (my alma mater), and University of Illinois (its Quad, seen above).

I hope the students learned something from me. But here are a few things I learned from them.

1. Students show up early for class these days. Don’t ask me why. 10 minutes before class starts, they’re in their seats. It makes no sense.
2. Most students don’t fall asleep in my classes. But some do. OK, one did.
3. They believe me when I tell them that it’s the best possible time to be getting into this business, because they’ve been living and breathing digital and social media all their lives, while people roughly my age– most of the people running the industry – are still trying to figure it out. I’m glad they believe me, because it’s true.
4. One student asked me about the hardest part of my job. I told them it’s coming up with ideas, and having them killed. Good clients recognize both are incredibly difficult, and respect the work accordingly.
5. In one big lecture hall I sat in on in the back after my class, ¾ of the kids were on Facebook and Twitter while their teacher taught. It’s sad and shameful on a lot of levels.
6. All of the teachers I assisted – Bonnie Layton at IU, Tim O’Day at Michigan, and Peter “Jesus of Cool” Sheldon at Illinois – are vastly smarter, more engaged and more passionate than most teachers I ever had. Kids, you’re lucky.
7. Students today are as inquisitive, energetic and open as ever. If not more so. I love being around them.


Patrick Scullin said...

Good for you, Gary. I wish I had had a wise sage like you back when I attended college.

It's good you give them the straight dope on working and dealing with the death of ideas you loved. The acceptance of that fact is the maturation process every creative person must deal with, and sadly some never do.

They are forever doomed to be 'misunderstood geniuses'-- a tragic fate.

Anonymous said...

Here is what struck me most about your visit to the U of Illinois. Students not only accept, but actually embrace criticism, when it is offered with insight, passion and a dash of humor. Nice job! And thank you.

G.D. said...

Patrick -- 'wise sage' is off a bit. I'd say 'omnipotent sensei'.

Peter -- usually on a any given day I only hit one of the trifecta of insight, passion and a dash of humor. So thank you.

Anonymous said...

Hey Gary!

I'm glad you enjoyed visiting, because we loved having you too! Murphy's was a blast! And thanks for the helpful feedback on my portfolio; it really made a difference at the career fairs this past week.

Take care and keep it real,

Anastasia Guletsky

G.D. said...

Anastasia --

Happy to help. Keep at it. I know critiques are hard. Feel free to keep me apprised on your progress.


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