Avoid jargon-peddling and dickheads, says Goodstuff's head of planning

Tom Darlington, Goodstuff's head of planning, shares his best career tips, including "be nice" because "'work can be stressful enough without having to deal with dickheads".

It has been nearly four years since I was fortunate enough to be included in Marketing’s annual Power 100 Next Generation feature.

Crikey. It feels like yesterday. A lot has happened since then.

I left the role I was in, saying goodbye to a job I loved and some really talented and brilliant colleagues. I took a bit of a punt. A punt that has, thankfully, paid off – a move to a small, energetic and ambitious agency that, while very different to Channel 4, has proven to be just as rewarding and just as enjoyable.

When I was featured in the Marketing article, I was asked to share some of the best advice or tips I’d picked up during my career, just as I was this time around. I revisited what I said to see how kind (or cruel) time had been to these supposed words of wisdom.

Thankfully, I would stand by the advice I offered then, as well as add a couple more things I’ve picked up since.

Be nice

Our working lives can be intense and stressful enough without having to deal with dickheads. Be nice, work hard and be generous with your time. You never know when you’ll meet people again in this industry and karma can be a bitch.

If you don't ask, you don't get

The only thing you can be told is no. If you want something, make sure silence isn’t the reason you don’t get it. Approach people who you think can offer guidance and advice, no matter how unapproachable they may seem. Most people are only more than happy to help.

Network, network, network

As awkward as it can be to put yourself "out there", make an effort to cultivate a rich and vibrant black book. It really makes a difference to projects when you can call on friends to work with you.

Cut the crap

There are too many jargon-peddlers as it is – don’t be another one. Speak your mind and speak it in plain English. While you may think buzzwords sound impressive, clarity and brevity trump obfuscation every time.

Do the right thing

As glib as it might sound, always try to do the right thing. What would you do if it was your money you were spending, not your client’s? How would you behave then and what advice would you give? Working in advertising can be morally dubious. Listen to your conscience – you’ll sleep better at night.

Keep yourself fresh

Inspiration will not come from your inbox (and, despite it feeling like that sometimes, email isn’t your job). Dedicate time to getting away from the office into the outside world and away from the industry to look for ideas, inspiration and encouragement.

Have fun

Life is too short. Make sure your job is stimulating and rewarding, personally and professionally. If you’re unhappy or not learning, look to move. Sometimes it’s risky but, ultimately, it’ll be worse if you find yourself asking "What if?" six months down the line.

Tom Darlington is head of planning at Goodstuff Communications and was featured in Marketing’s Power 100 Next Generation in 2012 while he was marketing manager, 4oD and digital, at Channel 4.

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