Just Asking

‘What was the one experience that convinced you to work in advertising?’

When I heard Y&R L.A. would pay me $12,500 to do the work of three people, who could resist? —Michael Sheldon, president, Deutsch/LA, Marina del Rey, Calif.

When I was 10 and made a pitch to my mother to increase my allowance—and she did. —Chris Colbert, CEO, Holland Mark, Boston

At my first job out of college at Bank of America, we all were wearing three-piece wool suits—the kind that smell like your pet Labrador when they get wet—and the agency folk all show up for a meeting in khakis and cool shirts, without ties. I still have the suits, but the moths aren’t going hungry. —David Simpson, gm, Duval Guillaume, New York

Finding and reading a dog-eared copy of David Ogilvy’s Confessions of an Advertising Man in a coin launderette in Melbourne, Australia. It was the precise moment that this law student lost interest in becoming a lawyer. The very next day I applied for and eventually obtained a deferred internship at Ogilvy & Mather. —Brett Gosper, president, Europe, Africa, the Middle East, McCann Erickson, London

I was fresh out of business school and Leo Burnett was a five-minute walk from my house. They were looking to hire someone called an “account executive,” which, in my mind, had something to do with accounting. I went for the interview, found out what the job entailed and accepted the offer. I have been here 13 years now. —Mohamed Hamdalla, cd, Leo Burnett, Cairo, Egypt

Even though I could not explain for the life of me what I did for a living to my grandmother, I loved the idea that as a 22-year-old nobody I could produce an idea that would be seen by millions. It was a rush. —Doug Chapman, ecd, Kelliher Samets Volk, Burlington, Vt.

I was working as a commercial writer at a TV station in Philly. The client was Barrack’s Trading Post and among other things sold secondhand oscilloscopes. I didn’t know what an oscilloscope was (still don’t), but three days after running a TV commercial featuring them, the store sold every single one. I thought if I could sell secondhand oscilloscopes, I could sell anything. —Jack Rossin, director, client communications, Bromberg & Sunstein, Boston

Bill Tragos spoke once at a convention that my fraternity attended when I was a senior in college. He seemed like the smoothest character—he really knew how to captivate an audience. I also spoke at the convention. We met later on in the men’s room. Bill came up to me and said: “Hey kid, you should be in advertising—you’d be a great pitch man. You should come and see me.” The next day, I was on a Peter Pan bus to New York. —Jarrod Moses, president, CEO, United Entertainment Group, New York

Early in my writing career, I had this great idea for a TV pilot that I was pitching to a producer at ABC. He said he loved it, then he told me to go out and find the money to shoot it. What?! That’s when a light went on: I need to find a business where I can come up with great ideas and somebody else pays to have them produced. —Mel Maffei, managing partner, Keiler & Co., Farmington, Conn.