Doubt, Rejection and Failure Aren’t All Bad

'Make 'no' your bitch,' says Taxi's Lavoie

It’s ok to fail. In fact, Taxi’s Paul Lavoie encourages it.

In a presentation on day four of Advertising Week, Lavoie preached experimentation and risk-taking. Also, rather than bemoan doubt or rejection, embrace it, because it may mean you’re onto something unconventional. Or, as Lavoie more colorfully put it, “Make ‘no’ your bitch.”

By way of example, Lavoie, chairman and co-founder of Taxi, showed two agency ads for Viagra that simply and colorfully sold the product without once uttering phrase, “erectile dysfunction.”

One ad featured two seventysomething men on a putting green. After one sinks a long put, the other says, “Can you believe that?” The first one replies, “Oh, that’s nothing. This morning I . . .” A giant Viagra pill then appears on screen over his mouth, muting his words. After he completes his thought, the pill disappears and his buddy guffaws. The ad ends with the message, “Talk to your doctor.”

Lavoie also asserted that thinking creatively is everyone’s responsibility, not just the creative department. In other words, left-brain people can use their right brain if they just slow down, turn off their phones and maybe take a walk.

To illustrate his point, Lavoie introduced Brian Bomeisler, an artist and SoHo neighbor who uses drawing to show people from all walks of life how to express themselves creatively. Each subject sketches a self-portrait at the beginning of a Bomeisler’s program and then another at the end. The first typically is rudimentary, almost childlike and the last is rich with detail and feeling.

The takeaway? “Creativity is more of a mindset than a skill set,” said Lavoie. Now, if we can just push back those client deadlines…