Rudy’s Rules for Success in Advertising (and life)

by Danny Villanueva, Group Account Director

As my work anniversary is approaching, I’ve been reflecting back on the success we’ve had as a team, as well as my own, and can’t help but to think of Rudy. A multiple Cannes, Effie and One Show award winner, Rudy knows great advertising, at his core he is a great marketer, and overall human being. He’s got a presence to him, and though at times he can be tough, his approach is methodical and aimed at making those around him better. I found this out on day one.

Within the first 10 minutes on my first call with Rudy, in a commanding (and somewhat unhappy tone) he asked that I clear the conference room so that we could have an open discussion about his expectations. He made it crystal clear that creative work must go beyond the basics of the brief. What makes the difference between sh*t work and exceptional work is acknowledging the intangibles that aren’t spelled out. He went on to share three rules that he gives to anyone new to his team, and which I now give to my team:

Rule number 1: “Know your sh*t”

“I know my part and what I’m supposed to do, do you?” This first rule is about knowing what each of us individually contribute to the team and to the work. Everyone has a part, and everyone is expected to bring value to the table. Knowing your sh*t is more than understanding your role. It is about deeply understanding the needs of the client and what the agency and its talent offer to meet those needs.

And while these days every agency seems to talk data, at Dieste, our analytics and creative teams work hand-in-hand fusing data, insights, creative and technology to provoke consumer action through segmentation and multicultural understanding.

Rule Number 2: “Bring it”

“Once you know your sh*t, you’d better ‘Bring it’, everyday.” Rule number two is aimed at ensuring that we are ready, even at a moment’s notice, to handle conversations around strategy, tactics and elements of the client’s business. Bringing it is about being prepared and always on. It goes without saying that “success loves preparation.” In the fast-pace market of today, being adaptable and nimble are core requirements.

Rule Number 3: “Elevate the work”

“If you’ve mastered the first two, then you understand that it’s not enough, and that’s because you need to ‘elevate the work, always.’” As a client, Rudy was never satisfied. After dozens of reviews and conversations, this was ultimately clear. Some may consider him as just being difficult or unreasonable, but my take is he simply wants to make the best even better.

Investing in and acquiring talent is just as important. At Dieste, as we see ad spend continue to shift from TV to digital, there’s more of a need for software engineers, designers and analysts to become part of the agency makeup so that they can quickly build tools and drive the customer experience clients are looking for.

Bonus: Be Ballsy

The one I felt he left out, not because it slipped his mind, but because I think it embodies his style and is part of his “secret sauce.” Being “ballsy” is about having the courage to stand behind your work and your convictions. To be able to stand up to Rudy and tell him why or how something works, is better, or counter to what he thinks or believes absolutely earns his respect … if done following the three rules.

Though Rudy and I haven’t worked directly together for a couple of years now, the rules have served as the bedrock for my team at Dieste. Every new member gets the same rundown as part of the onboarding, this I personally make sure of, and it has helped make our team’s work, and our client relationships stronger. Rudy and I have since become and remain friends. He’s not one that wants to be in the limelight, so if you’re left wondering “who is this Rudy guy,” drop me a note, and I’ll share the secret.

At Dieste, we continuously strive for truly great work, and in turn we’ve not only helped our clients to record setting growth and year over year sales, but we’ve won a few awards along the way. Better thinking and better creating, from three simple rules.

Gaby Sosa
Gsosa@dieste.com