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“This job is a marathon, not a sprint.”

What’s your “How I broke into advertising” story?The advertising program at UVa was a smaller track within the commerce school. I didn’t really dive into advertising until my fourth year of undergrad. Definitely not the traditional route, but I think having a foundation in business is advantageous. Fortunately I went to the VCU Brandcenter right after college, where I learned a lot. After graduating from the VCU Brandcenter, I got my first job agency job in 2011. Halfway through the interview I dropped my phone in the toilet. They hired me anyway.

My advertising professor at UVA, Jack Lindgren. He was the first person who believed I could do this job. He passed away a few days ago so I’ve been thinking of him a lot lately. His influence on my career and my confidence. I wouldn’t be here today without his mentorship.

What piece of creative work are you most proud of and why?I wrote my dad a poem in seventh grade. He still has it. But other than that, probably my work on Google City Gym. It’s an important story and I’m glad we got to tell it.

You’ve been very successful fairly early on in your career. To what do you attribute that success?Gosh, I don’t know if there is even an answer for that. I think it’s a combination of a few things. 1. Opportunity. 2. A great partner 3. Mentorship and 4. Working really hard.

Speaking of working hard, how do you find a balance that keeps you from burning out? I’ve come to realize that work is kind of like running a marathon. You might be tempted to sprint the whole time, but if you do you’ll burn out. Better to pace yourself, know when to run and when to hold back. At least that’s what I hear about marathons. I’m more of a TV gal.

If you could go back 5 years in your career, what advice would you give to you?Invest in a Roth IRA. Also, this job is a marathon not a sprint.

What are your hopes for the future?Career wise, I’d like to still be making things, whatever that looks like. I don’t have each year planned out, but trust things will happen when they should. Life wise, I’d love to have a family. And maybe a dog. And a hover car.

What do you want your legacy to be?That I was creative and had character.

Any secret creative weapons?I’ve worked with my copywriter, Adam Wolinsky, since portfolio school. He encourages me and makes me better. He’s not a secret weapon, but he is the other half of my butter knife.

Your approach is proof that mentorship doesn’t have to be time consuming. Can you share that POV?I think leadership can exist at any level. I was cared for by older creatives when I was young in my career. I try to do the same around my office. Nothing formal, just building relationships and caring. I am grateful to try and love people the way that I have been loved.

How to you fuel your creative soul out of the office?I love culture. I appreciate good movies, documentaries, tv shows, podcasts, the New York Times. And before you think I’m pretentious for mentioning the New York Times, know that I still get excited when “The King of Queens” is playing on basic cable.

Story from The One Club/ Neat Creative Leaders 2016

-Avery Oldfield, Art Director at Venables Bell & Partners, VCU Brandcenter art direction track, class of 2011