I've been busy. 

Examples illustrating what I've been up to following shortly.

The Most Vulnerable Thing I've Ever Written

Recently published an article about my mother who died seven years ago.

It was painful to write. I kept putting it off until one day I felt I couldn't go out into the world until I finished it.

Finishing it has changed me. Friends I haven't spoken to in years have written me about it. People I barely knew have shared their stories.

This won't be my last article, but it's definitely a special one.

Read it here

Madison Avenue's Terrifying Truth

I've been thinking a bit about Howard Gossage and the reasons I wanted to make ads in the first place.

And why some people hate what we make so much.

The common criticism is that we're all liars, but if all advertising was false then our work wouldn't resonate.

The problem isn't that great ads aren't 'true' on some important level...

It's that the solutions offered (e.g. buy a better perfume) aren't sufficient to achieve the aspirations presented (fulfilling relationships).

More than A.I., this will be the biggest problem facing our industry going forward.

2 helpful cures for insomnia

 I can't guarantee following these two rules will always help you sleep, but I can guarantee disregarding them will almost certainly keep you up at night. As evidenced by the fact that I am writing this at 3am PST:

1. Meditate daily.

2. No caffeine after 2pm.

11 Rules of Undertaking New Projects

I just finished my first freelance business proposal. It took longer than expected but I learned a lot. Here are 11 things:

  1. Always start as early as possible.
  2. Don’t just google “How to ____”, google “Samples of ______”
  3. Structure first.
  4. Never be afraid to be more clear.
  5. It can always be simpler.
  6. Don’t get caught in the trap of what things should look or sound like. If most businesses fail, then why be like most businesses?
  7. Learn from past successes (and failures), but don’t be afraid to try improving.
  8. Get a really good editor and partner.
  9. Everything you write should speak to your target.
  10. The more you set money aside and focus on why they need your help and why you want to help, the more convincing you will be.
  11. Every plan has weaknesses, make sure to address yours.

Let me know if you'd like more or have any to share below.

How to Keep the 2016 Election From Happening Again Part 1


Trump won. Protesting isn’t going to change that fact. And neither side is going to forget that this was one of the ugliest and most surprising elections in memory. So what do we do?

We can go on doing the things we’ve done that only soothes our regret or indulges our ids, or we can learn. And I’m speaking to both sides here. Beating up colored people won’t improve your circumstances anymore than occupying Wall Street will, but learning how not to be manipulated by messages crafted to deceive and mislead might. And they were crafted. On both sides.

Trump may be a bully, but he’s not an idiot. This election just proved that he’s more persuasive than Mark Cuban, Robert Cialdini, Hollywood, MSNBC and Hillary Clinton combined. So the first order of business is to learn what Jedi mind tricks he used to get here.

Remember: magic loses its power once you learn how it works. The glass sheet just under the surface makes the walk on water less miraculous.

It won’t be easy, in fact it actually takes more energy to be objective than subjective. But it will help you avoid days like Wednesday, when you were either harassed because you voted for Trump or harassed because you looked like someone who’d vote for Hillary.

I’m an ad guy, and I’m obsessed with persuasion and behavioral psychology. In the next few days/weeks, I’m going to break down some of the ways both candidates manipulated you. And then we’re going to look at what we can do to keep that from happening by thinking like Sherlock Holmes. Finally, we’ll learn how to fight back.

So if you’re interested, stay tuned.