The actor Warren Beatty had affairs with just about all the most beautiful women in the world.

He was once asked in an interview “What is the secret of your success with women?”

He said “I ask every woman I meet if she’ll sleep with me.”

The interviewer gasped “Does that work?”

Beatty said “Well, I get slapped a lot, but I get laid a lot too.”

Great advice about life in general.

When I was kid, there was a simple motto “If you don’t ask, you don’t get.”

But most of us are petrified to ask in case the answer isn’t what we wanted.

We’re terrified of rejection.

We’re so frightened of rejection we never ask.

So we never get.

We’re guaranteed failure, but that’s better than rejection.

Because at least no one knows we wanted it.

What stops us is thinking too far ahead.

Farmer Jones was ploughing his field and his plough broke.

He thought “Farmer Giles on the next farm over has got a spare plough, I’ll ask him if I can borrow it.”

And he started walking.

As he was walking he thought “I wonder if he will lend me his plough, he might not.”

As he walked further he thought “That would be mean, not to lend someone your spare plough.”

Finally he arrived and thought “I bet he’s just the sort of bloke not to lend his neighbour his plough.”

And he knocked on the door.

As Farmer Giles opened it and he said to him “You can stick your fucking plough up your arse.”

And that’s how most of us deal with life.

We react to situations that haven’t happened yet.

What if we get rejected?

What if that beautiful girl says no?

What if the creative director doesn’t like my idea?

What if the account men and planners don’t like it?

What if everyone thinks it’s too risky?

What if everyone thinks I’m greedy?

What if everyone thinks I’m a suck-up?

How we’d like life to be is that we don’t have to ask a question until we’ve got a guarantee of a positive answer.


I notice young creatives won’t do anything without permission.

They won’t take a chance on rejection.

But rejection isn’t death.

It isn’t the end of the game.

It doeswn’t mean it’s all over.

It’s just a speed-bump.

That’s what a creative’s job is about.

Handling the rejection.

Let’s say half your ads are good.

Let’s say the creative director approves half of those.

Let’s say planning approves half of those.

Let’s say the client approves half of those.

That would be a better rate than most people experience but, even at that rate, you’d have to do 16 ads to get a good one to run.

That’s a 94% rejection rate.

But at least now you know the numbers.

If you want 2 good ads to run write 32 ads.

If you want 3 to run write 48.

If you want 4 to run write 64.

And most of life is just like that.

If you avoid the rejection, you avoid the opportunity.

It would be nice if you could get permission and avoid the rejection.

But that’s not how it works.

If you can’t handle rejection you severely limit your possibilities for success.

Whether you’re writing ads. Borrowing a plough, or getting laid.


As they say in New York “You gotta kiss a lotta frogs to get a prince.”