Monday, September 08, 2008

PORTFOLIO NIGHT 6 - The view from the other side.

On Thursday night, I had the privilege of attending Portfolio Night 6 in Toronto as a VIP/guest. To say I enjoyed it would be an understatement. I hung out at the bar with the sponsor representatives and spoke with several young Hopefuls (Students? Wannabes? what do you call people hoping to get in, but aren’t actually IN the business? Let’s go with “hopefuls”) and CDs that passed our way. In the last period, I got thrown in to review some books and chose to do it at the bar rather than sit at one of the tables. I found that this made for a relaxed atmosphere and the Hopefuls opened up easily and weren’t as nervous. Okay, the truth is I had more room and didn’t want to spill my scotch on their books.

I noticed several things during the evening and there were a few memorable moments that I will now share with you.

I was blown away by the number of laptops in the room. When I got into this industry, it was renderings in your book. Marker comps have been replaced with electronic slideshow presentations. This is not a bad thing, I simply found it interesting as hell. I began trying to envision what would be in 20 years.

I noticed there were a large mix of ages in the room. There were 22 year olds, there were 30-somethings. There was no “look” or stereotype of somebody trying to enter the business today.

One of the Hopefuls came over and I asked how it went? She replied “he was mean”. I asked who she saw? Blank expression. She couldn’t tell me. I asked who she saw for the last two reviews? She couldn’t tell me. I found this unbelievable. I would have not only made sure I got their business card, I would have also had the name of their assistant and the best time to call them in their office to set up another review once I had a chance to revise my book. But that’s just me.

Humber copywriting students were the most outgoing and friendly. They were also the ones that stuck around and had (drinking) CDs looking at their books even after it ended and the majority had left the building. I even got an email from one of them yesterday thanking me for looking at her book. Well done (and much appreciated).

At one point I was speaking to a CD that has worked around the world. He told me that in all his travels, Toronto was the hardest city to break into. Where he was offered 4/5 jobs immediately in the United States, it took him 8 months to land a gig once he landed in Toronto and it was a very bumpy road to do so.

One CD informed me that many of the Hopefuls (when asked) mentioned that they wanted to work at one agency in particular. Call me strange but I would have worked at any agency that gave me the chance that evening. Every table held a CD that was worth working for.

Another CD was quite peeved about something he witnessed. He told me he overheard a few Hopefuls waiting their turns (downstairs) telling each other who to see and who not to see. Here’s a bit of advice guys, every person in the room is there for a reason…even a junior who has been in the business for 6 months. They are in the industry. You aren’t. They obviously know what it takes to get in and you can learn something from them.
I had one of the biggest names (at one of the best shops) in Canada come over and inform me that if I happen to see anybody with potential, to make sure I send them their way because they are looking. See that? Even the guy hanging at the bar that evening can help start your career. We all know each other. Next time, if there is a next time, be open minded.

It ended quickly. Once it was over, 90% left the premises like rats fleeing a sinking ship.
My guess is that it was a long day for CDs that came directly from work etc.
There were several there I would have loved to have spoken to (ex-partners, CDs I’ve worked for) but didn’t get the chance.
We stuck around for a bit, I got kidnapped and taken to another club for some more drinks, getting home at 2am.

On another note, two people during the event/evening (including the bartender) approached to tell me I look exactly like the lead singer from “Tool”. I have in fact been told this before. On at least 8 different occasions, I have been asked for my autograph from adoring female fans thinking I am Michael Rosenbaum (Lex Luthor on “Smallville”). After posting this entry, I will have to go onto Google images to see the resemblance for myself.

Congratulations to everyone that made this happen. I can only imagine what goes into making this event a reality every year and you really should pat yourselves on the back.
I will never forget being invited to the first Portfolio Night (the one where I got the date wrong and missed it) so I was quite humbled to be invited again (and especially, asked to review books). Thank you again. Needless to say, I’ll wear the TShirt proudly.

Until next time, keep dreaming.

No comments: