Closers: The Buddhas of our time

Mariano Rivera

How much do I envy the calm and presence of a great baseball closer. Think Mariano Rivera. Think Papa Grande.

These are the guys who step up to the most nerve-wracking situation and deliver with the skills and confidence of a freaking Yoda.

I think about this sometimes when I’m facing crunch time. When it’s time to come up with the big ideas that strategic, executable, and awesome.

Yoda. ERA 0.00001

There’s nothing like facing the big void when the clock is ticking down to client presentation and proceeding as if nothing big is at stake. When something big is, in fact, at stake.

Juniors, do not dismay if you cannot summon your buddha-nature at this moment. This is the stuff that only comes with experience, when you know in your gut that you’ve done it before, so you’ll do it again. Take heart, oh young ones, because you too will eventually channel that Mr. Rogers calm. Someday you’ll know that no matter how tight the sphincter muscles of your account team are getting, it will all work out. You and your partner, or many partners will come through.

Austin Howe

I so clearly remember  starting out in this business and feeling so awed that Austin Howe, my mentor, could fire idea after idea after idea, like one of those long strings of Chinese firecrackers, while I sat there with my mouth open. As I’ve written elsewhere, it’s about having  fat pipes. Pipes that always deliver enough concepts that one or two or three of them are bound to be winners.

There is no shortcut to fat pipes. Just like there is no shortcut to throwing each pitch, time and again, as if it’s the first pitch you’ve thrown, and as if the last pitch, no matter how good or bad, never happened. One of the beauties of our business is that, if you stick with it long enough, you’ll get there.

But it’s also about knowing how to face the ninth inning without clamping up tight.

So I guess I want to encourage those of you who are struggling like a cheese-eating constipated bus driver to produce ideas when you can’t imagine you’ll ever produce again, that you will.

Jose Valverde

I just watched, with great humility, as Valverde got the side out in the ninth by throwing one pitch after another, and realized that this is what I want to be able to do, in my own advertising way. I think it’s good to be humbled on a regular basis. It reminds me of how much I still have to learn, and of what’s possible.


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