101's Ross Farquhar shares his tips for getting ahead at work

Ross Farquhar: a partner at 101
Ross Farquhar: a partner at 101

Whether you're a brand manager pulling a team together or an account manager firing people up for a brief, radiators always do better than drains.

Revisiting your career since being a Campaign Face to Watch feels a little like trying to work out if you have avoided or fallen into the trap of being a child star.

Am I a Macaulay Culkin or a Leonardo DiCaprio? To be fair, I’d be happy to be one of the ones from the Mickey Mouse Club that you never hear about any more. Someone else from my batch can be the Britney or Justin of my generation.

In 2012, the world was full of liberal optimism and it didn’t feel like society was crumbling around us. While everything seems to have been tipped upside down now, my career has been thoroughly straightforward and all the more enjoyable for it.

I’m fortunate to still be gainfully employed by 101, the same company that nominated me all those years ago and which I’ve watched grow from seven people sharing one multi-plug to a 50-strong creative agency.

I’m now a partner, meaning I have unrestricted access to the posh biscuits.

I’ve realised my dream of relaunching the first car I owned, the Vauxhall Corsa. I’ve recast the icon of my motherland, the Scottish Widow. And I finally got to make a script that starts: "We open on a beach…"

Here are some bits I’ve picked up along the way.

Energy beats experience

In any creative endeavour, whether you are the brand manager pulling a team together or the account manager firing people up to tackle a brief, radiators always do better than drains.

It’s why I always hire for energy and attitude first, experience second. Be the one who brings the spirit to every task and you’ll rise with the tide.

Be opportunistic

None of the successful people who I’ve met and liked had a career that played out exactly as planned. More often, they were clear on the destination and extremely opportunistic in getting there. A maternity cover, you say? Sure. A six-month secondment overseas? I’ll take it. When the unexpected happens, jump at it.

Round yourself out

Specialists hit ceilings; generalists tend to keep going. Push yourself into roles and opportunities that fill in gaps and round out your skillset and experiences. As someone who has spent half of his career to date client side and the other half agency side, I can confirm that it benefits you in the long run.

Be known for believeing in something

I believe brands insulate businesses from heavy weather and they’re built over the long term. I believe great ideas do more than produce good ads – they galvanise organisations.

I believe the death of telly has been greatly exaggerated. I believe lots of other things that sometimes mean I’m not the right person for a given job. But, more often than not, having a point of view has helped get me on the team sheet.

Listen to Baz Luhrmann

There will be times when you feel like you’re not getting ahead fast enough. At those times, I’d suggest remembering that careers play out over five decades, not five years. And listen to Everybody’s Free (to Wear Sunscreen).

 "Don’t waste your time on jealousy. Sometimes you’re ahead, sometimes you’re behind. The race is long and, in the end, it’s only with yourself."

Ross Farquhar is a partner at 101. He was featured in Campaign's Faces to Watch in 2012.

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