Whether you take the main roads of higher education and internships or one of the many scenic routes that wind across the sprawling career landscape, there's no right or wrong way to arrive at a given field—least of all one as dependent on diverse perspectives as advertising. In today's episode, Lindsay and Nate are joined by Ari Diozon, Evan Brown, and Kelsie Utz to discuss the various trajectories that led them to the ad industry, the lessons they've brought with them, and how working in advertising has shaped their careers.

(0s): We actually use Scribd in our home.

(4s): Do you really love your Sleep Number? And we do.

(23s): Thank you all for joining us today on On The Mic. I wanna start off with some introductions, even though we have a few friends of the podcast here, Ari and Evan, I know y'all have been on a few times, but I'm still gonna make you introduce yourselves for any new listeners that we may have.

(38s): Hello, I'm Ari Diozon. I'm a senior copywriter here at a Results Media.

(44s): Hey, I'm Evan Brown, also a senior copywriter here at Ad Results.

(48s): And I'm Kelsey Utz I'm an audio insight specialist at Ad Results Media. It is nice to be here.

(55s): So Ari, you are kind of leading our conversation today, so this is a little bit of a different setup than we normally have. So I'm gonna pass it over to you to talk about career paths.

(1m 8s): All right, so before we jump into our personal experiences and our career paths, let's talk a little bit about a traditional or more by the book route to get into the industry. You would probably start with a relevant degree with advertising, marketing, PR or journalism or something related to that on the creative side. Some people even go to portfolio school for additional intensive trade specific experiences. And outside of school internships are immensely valuable because they're not padded with busy work.

So you get a lot of hands on experience in a very short period of time. So shout out to our summer intern Megan. She jumped right in and did an amazing job. We miss you. We hope to see you again soon. And with all of that said, advertising really touches everything, whether we like it or not. And a good idea can come from any small nugget of inspiration. So almost any work experience you can spin to be relevant. If you come from something like retailer sales, you probably have a very good understanding of consumer needs and how to communicate benefits.

If you're a project manager, you're all about juggling projects and managing short runways. Even teachers are excellent at distilling complicated information into digestible, even entertaining snippets. So the audio advertising geniuses here at Arm come from a lot of different places and I think that's what makes our team so agile and creative and able to come up with different ideas and solves that maybe you wouldn't be able to think of on your own.

I personally went the extremely boring route. So I went to school for advertising. I interned at AAF Houston, the American Advertising Federation of Houston. And that put me in touch with a lot of people who were spending money on things like galas and award shows. And that's how I got my first agency job. And from there I've just been doing the agency gig. So since my story isn't necessarily that interesting, let's hear a little bit from some other folks and their backgrounds and where they came from.

(3m 27s): I never really know how to get into this conversation. For me, I always feel like I don't really have a career path story because I didn't really have a career path period. I was very lucky to get a job with ad results right out of college. I didn't really have a super relevant degree. I had a degree in English literature and writing, which you know, probably sets you up pretty well for communications in general, but nothing marketing specifically PR, journalism, nothing like that. I just saw the posting and I knew what podcasts were.

So that was a connection that I made and it's, you know, it's been working out for me so far, but I feel like a lot of the more industry specific stuff I've learned through working and by, you know, talking to everybody at the company and just like learning through doing rather than having any specific education, which is really cool. It's cool that I had that opportunity, but it also can lead to a lot of second guessing where it's like, you know, I never received a formal education and stuff like this. So it's easy to get to a point where it's like, is this right? Am I right about this?

I'm not sure.

(4m 32s): I think that's a fun thing though because to be honest, all of us are kind of making things up as we go along throughout our careers no matter where you're from or whatever you're doing. But I think probably that background in understanding storytelling and tone is probably what makes you really good at your job.

(4m 52s): Well, I hope so. It's gotta be good for something, right?

(4m 55s): Honestly, one of the things that stood out to us during the interview was you telling us about your time in your acapella group.

(5m 3s): I was hoping this would come up

(5m 8s): And I know that that technically doesn't have really anything to do with the audio insights position, but your passion for it and the way that you lit up when you talked about it, I was like, okay, this is someone who's very passionate about what they do. Obviously she is very engaged with the things that she likes and that she enjoys. Like I think that she would just fit in really well and you know, work really well with the shows that we work with cuz we do a lot of, we interact a lot with shows and their producers and their representatives.

And so I needed someone who could come in and be very outgoing and really just be able to talk to whoever is on the phone. And so that was one of the things that kind of stood out to us in your interview.

(5m 51s): Wow, I should come on the podcast more often if you're just gonna compliment me.

(5m 56s): I was gonna

(5m 57s): Say, I think, think I was a part of your interview process as well. And yeah, just to echo, I think there's this idea that if you don't have like exact one to one experience with a certain hard skill, that somehow you're disqualified. But you know, the hard skills are actually the ones that are the most trainable. And I think a lot of times when you're trying to find the right hire, you're trying to find the right person and that is like a soft skill, heavy kind of criteria a lot of the time. So yeah. And also, you know, three other, at least three other English majors on this recording that I know of or two other, I mean Lindsay, weren't you also an English major?

I, I have a creative writing background as well. Yes. You didn't make that up.

(6m 33s): No, you didn't. I, I, I switched majors. I actually went for musical theater and then switched over to creative writing about halfway through. So

(6m 44s): I love that. Oh my

(6m 45s): God, I didn't know that.

(6m 46s): Yeah,

(6m 46s): I don't think I knew that either.

(6m 49s): Yeah, one of the schools that I went to did not have a very good musical theater program and so I just didn't really have, didn't really have the opportunity to continue pursuing that.

(6m 59s): Can I ask Kelsey a question?

(7m 1s): Yeah.

(7m 1s): Cause audio insights is such a unique job. What were you searching for while you were looking for jobs that brought you to the listing in the first place? Do you remember?

(7m 11s): I do remember, I actually, I had kind of an interesting mindset looking for jobs coming out of college. They tell English majors a lot that you have to kind of lower your expectations when you're searching for jobs after you graduate. If you're not looking to immediately go into grad school or academia, there's not really like a set sort of field where it's like, oh, this is what English majors do. You're either gonna be a teacher or you're gonna write books and get an mfa or you abandon all of your creative principles and you go work for a corporation.

So I really was just, honestly, I was looking for anything. My filters were very wide. I needed to pay rent, so I was checking everything, but I was specifically looking for things. I had done some work at my university, like administrative assistant stuff, clerking, like working the front desk for the English department. So I was familiar with like working in an office setting, kind of taking messages for people, sorting mail, writing general communications, getting office supplies ordered, things like that.

So I figured, oh, you know, like a, a clerking position, maybe a desk job, you know, a front desk position, a secretary, maybe data entry. I knew I was really good at, I could do a lot of like organizational stuff pretty easily. I love spreadsheets, I love organizing things. So the original listing that I actually applied for was for a position that no longer exists at ad results. It was a traffic coordinator back when we had separate traffic and quality assurance teams. So the job was really just gonna be finding the spots, verifying that they ran correctly in the shows and uploading all of the information into the system for then another team member to go in and do like the more subjective work of like actually parsing through the spot and making sure that they did everything correctly.

So essentially I was collecting timestamps and audio and uploading that and I figured, you know, perfect, I can definitely do this. I know how to use all of these programs, I can do that. And then, you know, ad results went through a lot of changes and there were a lot of opportunities opened up where I could, you know, learn new things, add on a couple different tasks as the teams evolved. And it's been very unexpected the amount of opportunities that have come from that one sort of very entry level it like extremely entry level position really.

It just, you know, allowed me to see what was going on in the, in the podcasting world and the audio advertising world and sort of get exposed by listening to everything first and then sort of applying what I had been listening to in the future.

(9m 41s): So something that you mentioned kind of reminded me of why I wanted to be a copywriter. All I knew was that I wanted to write for a living somehow, but I just don't have the attention span to do the academic writing or to play the publishing game and all that. So when I just kind of accidentally stumbled upon copywriting for advertising, I was like, wow, this is it. I can just make stuff up all day and write about a whole bunch of different things and it be different every day and I don't have to be a starving artist, which my parents were very concerned about me becoming, but here we are.

And it, it was just like a very interesting thing for me because I was like, I wanna write, I wanna be a writer. And then realizing like, okay, how do we do that in a way that is sustainable? And that's how I decided that copywriting was for me and why I wanted to pursue it from, from the get go was literally just trying to find a way to do the thing that I thought I was good at and enjoyed doing. But at the same time, you know, making rent.

(10m 55s): Yeah, paying rent's good.

(10m 56s): Yeah,

(10m 57s): That was a big concern for my parents as well, getting the degree that I got.

(11m 0s): That's probably a good segue to my story because I can, it took me a lot longer than Kelsey or probably all of you to get into the advertising world, but my education is a music which I, so I can relate to the whole lower year expectations thing cuz it's not really known for like landing you a job right out of college, a lucrative position. So I kind of had odd jobs for a while. I had a bit of a meandering career path I guess you could say. I had some just sort of odd jobs for a while. And then eventually I found myself working at Tech Startups and I later fell into entertainment marketing for about nine years.

And the one through line for most of my career was that I was writing in some capacity. So I was doing blog posts and social media newsletters and promo videos and product descriptions and just a huge variety of, of writing that really helped me hone my skills very slowly over a long time. And that was my in for getting into the ad industry. I, I think I had a similar epiphany to Ari just a lot later that, not, not pre-college or anything, that the, the writing stuff was what I enjoyed the most and it was what I had come to be pretty good at and I was wondering if I could turn that into kind of a full-time thing and just be creative a lot more often.

So that led me here.

(12m 22s): I kind of had a bit of a meandering start getting in. I didn't start, okay, so I've been with ad results for almost eight years and I came from the beauty industry. I was running a string of salon chains in Houston and I had started off as a receptionist and then moved up to their general manager and at some point the owner thought, well it would be a great idea if you could also just run all of our social and our marketing and just everything to get the salon out there.

And I was sitting here like, I have no idea what I'm doing, but sure I know Twitter. So I did a lot by doing ba like I learned a lot by doing basically. And so I used some of my photography skills that I had picked up while doing theater and like revamped our menus and started purchasing billboards and creating the billboard ads and creating magazine ads. And when unfortunately the salon did not work out, they did go under, when I was laid off, I ended up at Ad results because I had theater connections who worked at Ad Results and they're like, Hey, we need a temp and it's just two weeks but you know, if you just need something to do while you look for another job.

And I was like, sure, that's fine. I'll, I'll join the traffic team and do some data entry for a little while. And then I started talking to Marshall and Russell about podcasting and bringing more ideas to the table and they're like, Oh I guess you can stick around. And again, learned a lot about the industry just by kind of doing and brute forcing my way through. And yeah,

(14m 7s): There's a lot to be said for learning, learning by doing because, you know, I don't, I I do not have a writing background as far as being trained or in education in it. And I learned I was, my skills were very rough around the edges to say the least when I first started doing it a long time ago. And I just did it a lot and watched what saw what other people were doing and observed when someone else would write something and it would be way better than something that I wrote and be like, why is that?

What can I do to make that better? And you know, over time I just kind of built up a, a skill and nothing can replace hands on experience and just trying and doing.

(14m 53s): I, I feel like I'm somewhere in between the, the very meandering path and the traditional path. We didn't really talk about this other path too much, but, so I, I started out with an English degree creative writing focus. I loved that degree. Once I found it, I started out my college career with a business degree actually I went to a school in Nashville for music business, which was basically music industry studies built into a business degree.

I, I play some music as well and I was hoping actually for something like entrepreneurship for musicians that's now looking back, that's what I was really wanting. But instead I pretty much just got a straightforward business degree and it was not for me macroeconomics and I do not get along. And my now my now girlfriend who is just a friend of mine at in college at the time, she, she, you know, like we, I would, I was always at the coffee shop reading something and she was like, you should, you know, look into some English classes, I think you'd really like them.

You're always talking about these books you're reading. And literally like the first English class I took, I was like, this is, this is what I should have been doing this whole time. I fell in love with breaking down story, breaking down characters, breaking down. Actually some of my favorite classes were about like books and myths that I thought were so boring in high school, but for some reason as an adult they just were captivating. But then it was like, what am I gonna do with my career? Because I had not been thinking about career up until the point when I graduated. Literally I did, I did it totally backwards.

I was not thinking about career the whole time. And so it was like, well yeah, I'd love to be the next mediocre American novelist, but I don't even know what to write about. Like I didn't have like a, here's, here's a novel that I've been baking. You know, I didn't have short stories that were just like dying to get out. And I think that's actually really normal for maybe someday down the line that will be my story. Maybe that'll be my focus in life. But I think sometimes, you know, as a creative person you bloom at different times and I just realized like I am not on the track to go to graduate school for creative writing right now, so what do I do?

I thought about being a teacher, I explored it and ultimately, and this is, you know, it's, it's just like it didn't quite fit for, for a lot of reasons. I had never ever, ever come across anyone who recommended copywriting. No one had ever talked to me about brand writing, I'd never even thought about it. And so I was doing marketing, I was interested in web design so I later ended up freelancing as a web designer, which was really fun. And as I was getting into visual design and HTML and CSS chops getting sharpened that I, you know, started, you know, playing around with HTML as at eight year old or whatever, you know like when you first get your, like your geocity page.

Yeah. Not like there was something like ridiculously yes ridiculously basic acml skills that I now as an adult is like oh I could actually do something with this. But then I started to notice, started to notice how many websites just had terrible writing and then when a website would have really strong visuals and really strong writing, I would find myself getting more and more pulled in to the writing side of things and started exploring branding and that led me to copywriting, sort of marrying this love for the language and love for story and love for character with a sort of practical but also I think I just was also interested in branding.

It wasn't even just a, I can make money with this, it was also, you know, a really good brand can spark a lot of joy and it's one of the better parts of capitalism. And so I just felt like it kind of felt right and I found ad results at the, at the time when I had really been listening to podcasts a lot for a couple years. And so that also felt kind of like a, a happy coincidence that there was this place where I could work with a lot of brands, I could work with the language and I could work with a medium that I really enjoyed.

(19m 6s): So I wanna go back to something that Lindsay mentioned that she got this job through a theater connection. Does anyone else have any interesting networking stories that landed you a job or a client? Because the advertising industry is very competitive and as always that networking gives you the extra edge.

(19m 26s): I've gotten a non-advertising job if that counts for the conversation, but have gotten jobs in interesting ways through networks. I think that your current coworkers can really turn into incredible network contacts down the line cuz they know the type of person you are to be around and they know about your abilities and they can kind of become your biggest advocates later on once your paths have diverged. And I once got a job from I, I sent a message to someone that I had worked not even at the same company at but in the same building as we just had some overlapping social circles and I was unemployed at the time and he always seemed like he was doing interesting things.

So I just, I sent him a Facebook message and I just asked him what he was up to and he was founding a startup company and he said, let's beat up and get you involved. And he offered me a job and it was just cuz I sent him a message seeing what he was doing. So you never know what's gonna come of professional and personal connections and I think it's important to always be building and maintaining relationships and not treating them as networking necessarily, but just understanding that your relationships with the people who are around you at any given time can lead to future opportunities and if not, you just have more friends.

So it's kind of win-win.

(20m 47s): So I think every job that I have gotten after my first one ride out of college was because of a, someone that I had previously worked with that reached out and said that they wanted to work with me again. And so I totally won a hundred percent agree with you. Even if it's not necessarily someone that you work with every single day. Well if you're good at your job and people like working with you, they will want to work with you again.

And you have no idea where those contacts will come from because it might be a project manager that you only talk to once a month or it could be someone that you were brainstorming with every day. You have no idea. So for this job I did not find my contact through a previous, a previous coworker but I, I'm still part of the organization but I have not participated in an event in a while.

But there is this comedy wrestling group in Houston called Doomsday Wrestling and I was, I was part of the show and so was Lindsay's partner and so I had just been, we were kind of, I guess we kind of had like a parasocial relationship. Yep. Because we were like friends on Facebook, we followed each other on Instagram and that's how I found out that they needed a copywriter and I was like, oh no, well we haven't really hung out, we're not super close.

But she posted the, the job listing and I was like, hey, it's it me. I can do that if you would like. And that's, that's how I got this job. So yeah, even even with all of the industry contacts and like my previous history, my contact to get this job, which is now the place that I have been the longest and would like to stay was from something completely outside of my working career.

And I, I think that just goes to show that like no matter what you, you just gotta, you just gotta network.

(23m 1s): So what we're saying is you can make a lot of contacts through the theater and entertainment

(23m 6s): Industry through your local theater and comedy.

(23m 10s): I would, I would go so far as to stress that, cuz you mentioned if you are you know, a great person to be around and good at your job, that that goes a long way. I would go so far as like Nate was saying before where a lot of jobs are more of a person matched than anything. You know, obviously you wanna be good at what you do but if someone really likes being around you because you're positive and you're helpful and you're fun or whatever it is, that probably counts for more than anything as far as networking and, and having an in with a new job.

(23m 40s): I mean I can tell you like Evan and a are both great writers and that was totally a factor whenever I was meeting you guys I was like ah, I want these people on the team because they're great writers. But it was also like, y'all are people that I wanted to work with. What I love about this conversation about networking is whenever I was thinking about my career, the word networking made me cringe. I just hated the thought of this and it's because I had this idea of schmoozing, which is so like, I don't know, maybe it's like a, just like some sort of a thing that's in pop culture, it's like a mischaracterization of what it is.

But what I love about this story that AR was just showing is like you can't tell someone, well you should join Doomsday Wrestling because then you might get a job as a copywriter but at the same time kind of like you never know how the people you meet are gonna benefit you. I don't have a specific, I got a job kind of story, but just another kind of tag on is I made connections with people that I wanted to learn from whenever I was, especially when I was learning web design and just kind of figuring out how I was gonna start freelancing just from people that I knew that were even sort of tangentially related to that that, you know, I grew up going to school or church with and you know just like reaching out to them on LinkedIn and like, hey I'd love to talk with you sometime about this.

So I think there's more even to networking than just getting the job. It's however you want to grow. Seeing the people that are in your circle as a resource and thinking of ways that you can be a resource to them that's just good people skills and it's also good career skills.

(25m 18s): Before we move on, I would like to give a shout out to editor Jeff who is listening in on this conversation. Jeff is also a hire to add results sort of through networking. His roommate was in a theater show with me. He played my brother and we became friends and he invited me to play in a Dungeons and Dragons game with him and Jeff. And that is how Jeff and I met and Jeff ended up applying at Ad Results and he also does theater and has also done like 48 hour film projects with me.

And so again, you never know where you're gonna meet people. Maybe you meet them in a Dungeons and Dragons game, who knows?

(25m 58s): That's so

(25m 59s): Dope. I was just gonna say I definitely had that same experience, Nate, of feeling very turned off by the word networking and the idea of networking. You know, I tried to do a little bit of it in my senior year because I figured, you know, this is the only way I'm gonna figure out how to get a job. I should meet somebody who can give me a job. But all of like the events that they set up seemed so forced and people that maybe I wouldn't normally even want to talk to. So it all just felt very fake to me and I really had no concept of like how make like forcing a connection like that was going to put me in a position where I'd end up in a place where I would want to be naturally.

So I think it, it is very helpful when you can have that mindset shift of it's not necessarily just like reaching out and meeting as many people as possible with the hope of leveraging that directly into a job opportunity, but rather like keeping your mind open to the possibilities that the people around you that you already like being around might be able to give to you in the future.

(26m 54s): And people can tell the moment that you are trying to network with them, you know, for an opportunity. It's obvious and they don't appreciate it. And I agree like networking events, it's a, it's a hit or miss thing. I, I have often described some of the networking events that were put on by my music school as a room full of people without jobs trying to get jobs from people who don't have jobs. It's like there's, you know, it's great to make those contacts but you have to kind of expand your, your sphere a little bit.

(27m 24s): Yeah. And it, it's tough because if you feel like you don't know people, trying to figure out how to find people to know is a very strange like not natural thing to do, but like everyone has touched on, there are so many different ways to meet people and to network in ways that don't necessarily mean you have to have a name tag on your shirt and business cards in your pocket. And there are so many different organizations like, like AAF or the American Institute of Graphic Arts, there's all kinds of conferences that are open to everybody to go to like VidCon, Adobe Max South by Southwest.

Little expensive. Yes. But there's always, there's usually for like even the super expensive big ones, there are usually smaller events that pop up around those things that you can also go to and just be a sponge and learn about things and meet different people who are interested in the same things that you are interested in.

(28m 27s): I used to network through a group called Add to Houston.

(28m 32s): Oh my god,

(28m 32s): Yes. I, I don't think I'm allowed to be a part of that group anymore because I think it's for people under 30 if I remember correctly. Oh,

(28m 38s): Is there an age cutoff? I

(28m 40s): Think there's, I think there's an age cutoff. I feel like I remember someone mentioning to me that it is, it is definitely for like professionals under 30 and so I think I've, I'm well above that now. I think I've been kicked out.

(28m 56s): I was also part of ADD two, Oh no, I forgot what my chair position was, but I don't remember if it was social social chair. This was almost 10 years ago now. But yeah, I was also part of ADD two. I didn't realize that there was a cutoff, but the purpose of that organization specifically was supposed to be the in between for people who just graduated college and AAF Houston, which is, you know, the people with the big budgets that want to buy multiple tables at an event and add two is that in between of I'm just starting my career.

So there's always going to be some organization or some at least one other person out there that has a similar path to you. But you, you have to like put yourself out there to, to find those things or at least be open to talking to people about what you love and what you want to be good at and what you want to learn.

(29m 51s): I liked that group particularly when I was still a member because it wasn't just putting a bunch of us together in a room and just kind of saying good luck. They would host like trivia nights and, and bowling and whatnot. So you had some more natural ways to kind of meet people and maybe get to know each other in a way that didn't necessarily revolve around advertising and marketing. And so it kind of opened up the conversations a little more naturally. I definitely people to look into groups like that if they're interested in networking, it's, it's definitely a lot easier than some of the other ones.

Evan, you remember VidCon, I met some great contacts there, but some of their networking events were literally throwing everybody in a room and it's like, well good luck talking to each other.

(30m 39s): Yeah, I was, I was gonna mention VidCon because there was a lot of that, but they also had that app that was specifically for networking. That

(30m 49s): App was great,

(30m 50s): It was amazing. You could put in a little description of who you were and what you were looking for, who you were looking to network with and then browse through a list of people who were there and I set up probably 10 to 15 one-on-one meetings with total strangers. But who we had, we had connected on this app and decided, hey, we may have something to talk about, we may be aligned with what we're looking for. And it was fantastic because that, that's just a pure networking method that doesn't involve putting everybody into a room and saying good luck, hope you're not annoying people or hope you find someone who's not wasting your time and here's an hour the clock's ticking.

So on the side of you know, just direct networking very specifically, this is what I'm here for, let's just talk business. It was awesome. It was a really, and I hopefully that's gonna become kind of the norm from from here on out because it cuts down on a little bit of approach anxiety and you know, just the going up to strangers can be fun but it's also intimidating. So if you know, you're both kind of, you've both set aside 15 minutes and you have similar goals, it just makes the whole process a lot more painless.

(31m 57s): The podcast movement app had a similar feature where you could scroll through and read people's profiles and see where they were from and see what they were about and then you could reach out and send the messages to, you know, connect during the conference. But one of the funnier things about podcast movement, which everyone seemed to kind of enjoy was our badges had QR codes on them. So if you just happened to be talking to someone while you were waiting in line for coffee or whatever, they'd be like, oh let's connect.

And then you would just like scan your QR code and I noticed that people were just like scanning everyone's QR code. It was like collecting Pokemon, like how many, how many QR codes can I scan and get into my rotation? Was

(32m 38s): There a prize?

(32m 40s): No, it was just, it was just a way of like that was how you, it was just an easy way to like share your contact information with people while you were chatting. And I had multiple people scan mine and I've received a few text messages over the past couple weeks just saying like, Hey, just wanted to reach out, it was great talking to you. Would love to connect further, you know, talk about on the mic or whatever. I don't know, it was just kind of a, it was kind of a funny, just a, a little funny bit that you could involve yourself in.

(33m 8s): Technology is so amazing, it's like dating apps but for setting up potential networking relationships that just seems like it, it streamlines the whole process makes things easier.

(33m 19s): Yeah, I was thinking the same thing, like the idea of speed dating, that's kind of I think why traditional networking events maybe didn't appeal to me is the idea of like, everyone is just like desperate to connect and it's set aside just for that. Whereas what y'all were talking about, like the kind of casually hanging out, whether you're like bowling or whatever, that's where like really authentic conversations and connections happen. So I feel like that's a good mix of like we're setting this this moment aside to connect and then we're, we're finding some way to bring real intentionality to how that's gonna happen.


(33m 58s): I think, I think there's definitely something to be said about that whole dated idea of how people get jobs and I think people don't necessarily feel empowered to change those things. But for example, I think the reason why add two was pretty successful at doing these events is because it was for the people trying to get the benefit by the same people. So we had no direction from anyone else.

There wasn't necessarily like a hierarchy of other organizations telling us what to do. It was literally a bunch of people out of college saying what can we do to help ourselves? And doing those things like putting on those events, reaching out to people. And I think if you're not seeing what you want to see in your local area, if you're not seeing the kind of networking that you would like to attend, you should feel empowered to create those events.

And yes, it will be scary and yes it will be terrifying and yes you may not think that you can do it without a lot of help, but you can ask for help and you probably have friends that will be willing to help you. So if there isn't a group that you want to join, you can make that group and have other people want to join it and not play the game that we, I think, or a lot of us were told we had to play to get into an industry or to get a job or to prove that you'll be good at something in a very unnatural way.

(35m 36s): And chances are, if you feel that way, there are many other people in your area that feel that way. And yeah, and I also just wanna be clear like I'm not saying that networking events aren't good or like trying to, to demonize that style and networking event. I just think some people really gravitate to that and they like really thrive in that environment and not everyone does. So yeah, setting up the kind of event that you want to see is definitely, that makes a lot of sense.

(36m 1s): So what are some other ways that y'all think you try to stay engaged with your craft outside of work that kind of help you be an expert in your job

(36m 15s): Listening to podcasts?

(36m 17s): I say the same thing.

(36m 19s): Well I mean, you know, for, for Kelsey and I very specifically a a lot of what we do is grading ad reads on how well we think they're performing and how well we think they're gonna resonate with listeners. And so continuing to just kind of listen to shows overall or you know, now that we're really moving into YouTube, you know, taking notes from YouTube creators and, and even TikTok creators and just how are these things evolving And it, it really, you know, kind of helps us be able to evolve what we are listening for and what we are looking for.

(36m 58s): Yeah, it's a, it's good to just be able to feel like you have a grasp on what's popular in the space and like what's getting a lot of attention, what's resonating and then comparing that to, you know, how our clients are currently like allocating their budgets and stuff. Are there, are there priorities matching up with what we're seeing as being pretty popular and pretty resonant with most people listening? Does it work for me personally, you know, a lot of, a lot of the grading process, we do have some regular pretty objective criteria but a lot of it ends up coming down a little bit subjectively to does it hit for me when I'm listening to it, does it sound authentic?

Is it engaging? And a lot of that can in context with like other ads that I'm hearing in the space, like how does it sound compared to the way that other people are doing it? Does it sound more forced, does it sound more authentic? Are they including something that maybe other people in the space aren't doing is something that is generally pretty helpful and it's always good if we can stay on top of any curve balls that might be happening in the industry. If you've got your sort of finger on the pulse when something really crazy happens, somebody blows up, somebody says something they shouldn't on Twitter, it's good to be able to know that ahead of time.

(38m 6s): Yeah, and, and outside the podcast space, one of the, one of the things I like about being in the advertising industry is that it takes ad breaks just anywhere really TV or radio or anything and which could be seen as just kind of a, an interruption or a nuisance or whatever and it turns it into an opportunity for me to like pay attention and listen to hear what's, what's going on and, and study and kind of analyze what other people are doing and what makes an effective ad or what doesn't make what has become cliche or you know, there's insight that I could get out of it.

And it's funny because you never know when a brand that you've seen in an ad will become a client that you work with in the future. I mean, when I helped launch the A A R P campaign, I had seen a bunch of their ads before and I brought some of that experience to kind of show them that I understood their voice cuz I knew they had this view of how, you know, as we get older we don't necessarily feel old or they have kind of a young at heart theme with a lot of their ads.

And I was able to bring that to the table and and write copy that I knew would be in line with their values and views and it was all because I watch tv. So, you know, watching TV isn't so bad, it doesn't just rot your brain

(39m 24s): Being plugged in. Yeah. It, it helps

(39m 28s): Not a totally contrarian point to, to add on to Evans though, is I try to kind of compartmentalize when I'm looking at an ad to analyze like the ad for itself. And then whenever I'm like watching a movie, if I go to the movies or I'm, I'm watching TV or whatever, I try to, as much as I can think about just like I'm here to watch the show and does the ad grip me despite the fact that I'm not here to watch the ad and those ads really stand out. Cause I think it's tempting whenever you're like really into ads to think that everyone is into ads and you forget that most people need to be enticed to actually pay attention to an ad.

And that's like probably the number one hurdle that a writers and and brands need to be aware of is you're competing with really good content that your ad is showing up in. So I, I totally agree with you where it's like being plugged in and also being plugged into the mindset that most people are are listening to podcasts to listen to the podcast. So how your ad shows up in that podcast had better respect that you're not the top priority in that moment. I don't know if you guys resonate with that or if that's just my hobby horse right now.

(40m 39s): Oh, 100%. I totally, totally resonate with that because I think there's also, specifically in advertising, there's a section of people that try to make ads for people who like ads. And I think some things that get produced end up being ads for add people instead of ads for people who happen to be listening to what they're listening to. And when you get overly heady or you know, too into your own concept, then it turns into something that's pretentious and annoying.

And when it becomes inaccessible in that way, it's not fun anymore. And ads should be fun. They should touch on something that is real, something that, you know, it usually there's some kind of small insight that people can attach to and say, Wow, I think that, or like, wow, that is a ridiculous thought that I have had. And I think to be able to do that, like y'all have said, we have to be plugged in. We have to experience things so that we can collect these little insights to make the things that we produce interesting because otherwise we're just saying bogo limited time offer and that's it.

And we, you know, we do our best to avoid those things so that the ads that we make aren't just, you know, CTAs. And that's it.

(42m 11s): Nate, I think I really do resonate with what you said about like, is this gonna grip me despite the fact that I'm not here primarily to listen to ads. I think 99% of the time an ad is going to be an interruption to something that you're already trying to engage in something that you'd much rather listen to you. I'm more interested in like the true crime story that this podcaster is telling me. I'm watching a TV show and I wanna know what happens next and now there's an interruption and I have to sit here for 60 seconds, 75 seconds and wait.

So I feel like there's already an initial, like the knee jerk reaction is almost always going to be hostile unless we can find some way to make watching or listening to the ad, maybe not as engaging as the thing that you were there to watch or listen to the thing that you're passionate about, the thing that you're interested in, but engaging enough that they don't immediately feel like I'm gonna hit you, I'm gonna hit skip, I'm gonna get back to what I was watching. Like there might be something here that would be funny that a joke that could make me laugh or something that I hadn't thought about or an opportunity that seems like it resonates with me.

(43m 17s): Yeah, I mean I think as like creators, ad creators, we all wanna push through to that, that other side where all of a sudden people are googling the ad, you know what I mean? Like the most, you know, the most interesting man or the man you make smell like are the two that just came to mind where it's like they, they're, they connect so well that now people really are seeking out the ad and you've really, you made something that's different like to a, that's a whole other level at that point. And then also, you know, thinking about the fact that actually podcast listeners are generally more open to ads than other channels, that's something that is actually kind of cool about podcasts for brands, but they're still not primarily there for the ad and so it, there's a difference between them being more receptive and being more open.

(44m 1s): I hope that a big takeaway from this is that just about everybody at Arm is super passionate about what they do and how we got here may not necessarily be a traditional route to get to an advertising space, but I think we all do our best to have fun at our job and hopefully that comes out in something a little bit more authentic than a usual ad because we obviously love ads and we

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(45m 3s): On The Mic is hosted by Lindsay Smith and Nate Spell, edited by Jeffrey Stallings, and produced by Ad Results Media. For more information about Ad Results Media, go to adresultsmedia.com or follow us on Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn.

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