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Becoming a Giant When You’re 5ft Tall
By Sarah Brighton
“If you always hire people who are smaller than you are, we shall become a company of dwarfs. If, on the other hand, you always hire people who are bigger than you are, we shall become a company of giants”
The above quote isn’t just a great sentiment from Ogilvy founder & advertising legend, David Ogilvy. It’s the basis of the Goliath Graduate program, which seeks to grow the agency with the biggest young advertising talent.
The problem is, it’s hard to feel like a giant when you’re applying for your first job. Especially when you’re fresh out of uni, have no paid experience and are only 5ft tall.
If you’re about to graduate or are chasing that first job, here’s what I’ve learned about becoming a giant, by being around some of the biggest:
Listen to Childish Gambino.
There’s no way to control the opportunities come your way. It is however, completely in your control how you present yourself, the proactive efforts you go to and the projects you take ownership of. Get ready for the perfect opportunities before they arrive - treat all the time before you land that first job as time to get ready for your dream job.
In the words of Childish Gambino, “they only see you how they wanna see you till you make them see you in some other way”.
Act like a 4 year old.
When kids hit the age of 4, they go through a phase where they ask “why?” about everything and everything. It’s annoying when you’ve been through several conversations about why manners are important, or why we need to wash our hands, but for kids it’s an important part of figuring out how the world works. When you’re working with senior people, it’s natural to want to look as smart and capable as possible. It’s a problem when this means you stop asking “why?”, especially if you’re not familiar with the project or team. Never has someone thought less of me because I stopped and asked for more information, but several times I’ve looked like an idiot for not understanding the bigger picture of what I’m working on. Become a subject-matter expert on every project you’re working on.
In the words of one of our senior producers, “I respect people who always ask questions when they don’t understand. I know I can’t get any bullsh*t past them.”
Work on your life outside of work.
One of my biggest misconceptions about advertising was that the industry was full of people who slaved away at their jobs - 12 hours a day plus weekends - and their passions outside of work included more advertising. On the contrary: some of our most senior staff are passionate surfers, bee-keepers, sports writers, motorbike riders, musicians, small-business owners and the list goes on.
At Ogilvy, I learnt that of what you do outside of work informs and enriches what you bring to your job, so bring in as much as possible.
I wish I could say I earned this opportunity just through merit, but I feel like I completely lucked-out in landing this job. Ultimately, none of this growth would have happened without being surrounded by a team who focuses not just on what I bring to this job, but how much I can get out of it too.
I’m still only 5ft tall, but my time at Ogilvy has helped me feel like a giant, even though I have a long way to grow.