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How a Career in Advertising Prepared Me for Motherhood

Right now at MGH, 10 percent of our staff are either brand new moms or about to become moms again.

This fun fact made me think back to when I became a new mom, about 10 years ago. I had been in advertising for just over 10 years at that point (no need to do the math – clearly, I’m not a millennial), and didn’t realize until years later how the things you learn as an account person in an advertising agency are put to good use when you become a first-time mom.

Two things to keep in mind as you read this: I love my kids. And I love my job.

What I learned – the infant years

Things are going to get crapped on (figuratively in one case, literally in the other). You learn to clean them up and keep going.

You WILL be able to function on two hours sleep, whether it is the result of all-night pitch preparation or a colicky baby.

Accept help. There’s a reason for the saying, “It takes a village.” Don’t try to be Supermom or SuperAccountExec. Delegating diaper duty or conference report duty doesn’t make you lazy. It makes you smart.

There’s a learning curve and you may feel that you’re “not cut out for this.” Don’t give up – it gets easier!

What I learned – the toddler years

Toddlers refuse to take “no” for an answer. “No” is also their absolute favorite word. This is the same with some clients I’ve had in the past. You find ways to compromise.

Temper tantrums will happen — in the grocery store, at home, in a meeting room, during a creative review. You’re horrified. You’re embarrassed. You might even be a little pissed off. You figure out how to handle them and, eventually, how to pre-empt them.

If there are too many kids in the sandbox, the castle will never get built. If there are too many people in a meeting, nothing will get done.

What I learned – the school years

Simpler is better. If you take too long to get to the point, your audience will lose interest — just like a 6-year-old boy. Hopefully, your audience won’t be playing video games and simultaneously picking their noses.

Be prepared for EVERYTHING. You never know when a client is going to need something ASAP, when a website is going to go down in the middle of the night, when someone is going to drop the ball on something and you’ll need to fix it, or when your kid is going to puke in the car halfway through a 9-hour car ride and you have no napkins so you use your sweatshirt. The better prepared you are, the better you’ll be able to handle things without freaking out. Nobody needs a freak-out.

Be a champion for your people – your kids, your family, your work team, your clients. Support them, encourage them, push them harder to do what you know they can do, love them…well, maybe you don’t LOVE your work people, but you can like them a whole lot!

So, what I’m saying is this: If you’re looking to start a career in advertising…or you’re in advertising already and are looking to become a mom…my advice is to go for it! Some parts are easy. Some parts are crazy hard. You will love every part.

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