Things I Learned From Jody Lange

September 24, 2016 at 11:43 am Leave a comment

Jody Lange was my boss for most of the 90s. If you’ve never met her, you’ve heard me quote her.

So much more than a boss. Mentor, trailblazer, energizer, champion, comedian, friend.

Cuter than Dumbledore, more upbeat than Virgil, cooler than a majorette, and way smarter than a lemming, she led the way at DDI and then Burson. She’s the reason I became a copywriter and she was there for every word written in my first seven years. No other copywriter could have been so lucky.

She was empowering before it was a buzzword. She was generous with her talent and genuinely happy for the success of her colleagues in a world where others might discard friends, ethics, or panties to get ahead. She was unique and amazing, and she was other descriptive words not often paired with boss, like kind and wise and hilarious.

She was the single most creative person I have ever worked with. (And that is saying something.)

She was socially adept at a genius level. Jody brought out the best in everyone. And she was brimming with brilliant ideas — whether sitting through an all-day meeting or dashing down a hall to catch a plane.

On my very best days, I can’t come close. (And that’s not sycophantic; that’s fact.) If I am good at any part of my job and if, on occasion in my career, I was able to deal with the absurdity of the 9 to 5, it is thanks to her.

If you have worked for some of the same people as I, you are all too familiar with how bad a boss* can be. If you didn’t, believe me when I tell you, Jody Lange was a bright spark in a murky world. She was the positive force that kept a lot of doo doo at bay. She was an exceptional human being. She was a life preserver.

She once recommended, “Do one thing every day that scares you.” Today, I say good-bye.

#thingsIlearnedfromjodylange #jodylange

  • Learn enough and work hard enough to be good enough to win awards, but remember that awards really aren’t a big deal.
  • Getting the work done is more important than punching a clock.
  • Never be intimidated by a bully or a blow hard.
  • Always work under the premise that your audience is smart.
  • Assume good intentions.
  • There is always a good idea.
  • There is always another good idea.
  • When the ideas aren’t flowing, get up, walk around, leave the building. Get your blood moving to your brain and change your point of view.
  • Have lots of different jobs while you are young. That way, you’ll know what you don’t want to do when you get older.
  • Cucumber is an awesome garnish for a gin martini.
  • The best creative — in terms of message impact and profitability — requires a good agency and a good client.
  • A copywriter needs to know something about design. And a designer needs to know something about copywriting.
  • Edit. Edit. Edit.
  • Always be a good corporate citizen — but never hide behind fear or policy when a friend’s well being is at stake.
  • A suit doesn’t make you powerful.
  • Absurdity is bearable but at some point you need to close the door and laugh.
  • Important project? Prominent clients? Fancy titles? Family trumps them all.
  • True love is a beautiful, obvious thing.
  • Celebrate that which is unique in yourself and in others.
  • Everybody has the power to make the world a better place.
  • If there is someone from your past who you think of often and fondly, you should reach out and say hello to them today.

*This reference to bad bosses is not to be construed in any way as a reference to John W. or Art M., who were also good bosses and are also good people.

Entry filed under: Life Preservers.

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