“What’s the most important character trait to prosper in advertising land?”


That’s my standard answer. 

It shouldn’t be. 

Curiosity is important. Without being curious, you have no chance to make it in advertising. Or in any profession while digital is transforming our world. 

Curiosity is the admission fee.

But if you want to move ahead, if you want to be a leader, if you want to change the world, then being curious isn’t good enough. 

You need to be aggravated. 

Hopping mad. 

Or just pissed off. 

Curiosity is about wanting to understand things. Like a researcher or scientist.

Being angry is about being unhappy with how things are.

And needing to change the status quo.


Nelson Mandela wasn’t curious about equal rights.

He was angry about apartheid. 

Change evolves out of anger that the status quo is even allowed to exist.

Change evolves out of being pissed off that people have to put up with the way things are. 

People in Eastern Europe weren’t curious about freedom in 1989. 

They were angry. 

There’s a lot to be angry about in our little slice of life and work

Overpromising, underdelivering. 

Brands that don’t get service. 

Companies that use CSR as a marketing tool not as a way to change their company. 

Marketers that pollute our screens and minds. 

Paid media allocations based on legacy thinking not reality. 

You add to the list.

To change anything in ad land, curiosity is not enough.

Curiosity has no opinion. 

Curiosity is not unhappy with today. 

Curiosity can’t create an action plan.

Curiosity can’t create a movement. 

Curiosity won’t keep you motivated when all the odds are stacked against you. 

Curiosity is not enough to change the world. 

Let’s step back from ‘amplification’, ‘engagement’, ‘conversation’ and all other marketing speak for a second: What people really want is a better life, better products, better service, better entertainment, a better world.

The purpose of our efforts is to help in that.

In small ways.

In big ways. 

We are here to change the world. 

And for that we need curiosity, vision, anger, impatience and action. 

Just ask Mandela. 

People holding up signs on the street. 

So, if you want to make a contribution, if you want to play a small part in changing the world for the better, then when are you getting angry?