Why Is Your Name Upside-Down? Stories From A Life In Advertising by David Oakley

Posted on 10/28/2015 in misc


Last weekend I was skimming Twitter and I saw a tweet from David Oakley offering free copies of his book. The tweet was less than a minute old, and I'd had his book on my wish list for a while. I clicked through and the freebies were gone, so I sent him an @reply commenting on how quickly they vanished, and he answered with an offer to send me the book if I promised to actually read it. I upped the ante and promised him a review on this blog, where tens of readers would see it. So here we are.

If you skim the reviews on Amazon funny is the dominant descriptor for the book. It is damn funny, but that misses the more important element of the book. It's damn insightful for anybody involved in selling something to somebody else. And we are all selling something to somebody, some of us just do for a living too. It's a book of stories from his life, not all directly advertising related. It's not a how to manual for anything. If he had titled it Secrets of My Success he'd probably sell a lot more copies, but then he'd probably get sued by Micheal J Fox, or Night Ranger, who wrote the song with that title that goes with the movie with that title.

I can work the 80s into anything. BTW, it's not a very good song, or movie.

So what did I learn? In my case, it may have been more reinforcement for stuff I already believe, but maybe don't hold true to as often as I should.

So I give you the top 5 things I highlighted as I read the book.

You may never get a second meeting.

Don't leave anything in your bag. If you have a crazy idea use it. This works equally well in job interviews too. So many people play it safe and answer every question with the safe, obvious answer that they memorized from a LinkedIn article. Don't be that guy. He's boring, and I'm not going to hire him, or her.

If you have a simple concept and you keep adding things, it can quickly turn into a pile of shit.

Or, see just about every software product ever produced, and probably too many of my web site proposals.

Do great work for people you like.

If you are going to spend 8-10 hours a day working, you might as well like the people you work for. At my day job we say, "Do good work for people doing good works." Don't be afraid to fire a client that is making you miserable. The money isn't worth it.

When somebody interviews you for a job remember to interview them back.

I actually learned this one in college, it was a spin off of reading How To Win Friends and Influence People. I realized that if everybody's favorite subject was themselves, then me sitting there answering questions about myself was not the optimum way to get a job. So I started writing down three questions before interviews that I wanted to ask in the first 5 minutes. I don't always pull it off, but when I do the interviews tend to go fabulous. I approach client pitches the same way. I try to get them talking about their issues as quickly as possible. I consider it a very successful pitch if I don't get halfway through the Prezi I brought as a crutch. Maybe I should just drop the Prezi altogether.

Live music always beats Powerpoint.

Should be obvious, and related to above, I need to break away from the Powerpoint / Prezi pitch and tell a story when I'm in front of a potential client. And bring my ukulele.

Just kidding about the ukulele, as far as you know.

As for the laughs in the book? There are some great stories in the book, particularly involving George W Bush, strip clubs, and Vegas. If you are wondering if that is one story or three, well I suggest you buy the book :)

Also, the billboard is explained in chapter 1.

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