Dear 1st Year Students–but by this how could I mean anything less than everyone–for what are any of us but inquirers into what the heck is going on?

This is a sticker I made up that I’ve handed out in class for a few years.
I’ve run out of them before the need for the message has removed itself.

hard work is a waste of time if your idea sucks

A student wanted to argue the grade I’d given him/her.
Me: What grade do you think you deserve?
Him/Her: I deserve an A.
Me: Why do you deserve an A?
Him/Her: Because I tried hard. I really worked in this class.
Me: I believe you.
But your work was never in the top half on any of the 15 weeks we had class.
Him/Her: But what you said really got to me.
Me: It didn’t get into your work, though, did it?

The talk didn’t end there, but you get the point.

Hard work makes a difference in digging ditches, not in creating advertising.
Not by itself.

The writer of an ad is after magic.
He can’t be after anything else.
Magic is the warm, ripe peach.
An ad without magic is the pit inside.

An ad must call its audience to it at the same time that it delivers its message.

Hard work applied to any creative attempt in which magic is missing is like rubbing your boy/girl-friend’s arm over and over and over in the same place with the same motion.
It’s a nuisance, not a turn on.